The time has come! For you to gag. for. your. LIFE!
Children, what a fantastic season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. We got glamor, creativity, comedy, and some memorable moments to go down in herstory forever.
And this week, Season 8 went out with a bang as the final 3 queens vied for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. The finale was big, bold, and entertaining from beginning to end.
Red Carpet EverythingThe show started off with the curtains rising to reveal Ru, in all her glory, flanked onstage by all the past season’s winners, in their same looks from the first photo shoot this season.
The audience absolutely lost their shit, kids. And since the finale was filmed during the 2016 Drag Con, the crowd was star-studded with the likes of Shangela, Todrick Hall, Alyssa Edwards, Kelly Mantle, Ivy Winters, Max, Tempest DuJour, Hot Chocolate, and more. All these Drag Race fans had the theater looking like the damn Panem Capitol from Hunger Games, but it was clear they were having a great time. (I suspect vodka.)
For those of you who saw that first episode’s photo shoot, you know Bianca Del Rio was not actually present for photograph, so they had a literal clown stand in for her. Well, said clown joined Bianca on the stage for the finale and added some whimsy to the haute couture served by our Drag Race pantheon of winners.
Season 8’s contestants then came out in order of elimination, starting with Dax Exclamationpoint in a sleek black gown, including a white wig and valkyrie fascinators, channeling the Marvel heroine Storm. Laila McQueen entered in a beautiful purple and black goth-lite duster jacket while Cythnia Lee Fontaine took to the runway in an artful crimson gown, showcasing her cucu (à la Prince’s 1991 Video Music Awards outfit).
Naysha Lopez served us a stunning ruby red dress, Acid Betty delivered an exceptional teased scarlet wig with a matching—spiked—gown, and Robbie Turner donned a lustrous auburn wig with a saffron vintage dress, zeitgeisting with Beyonce’s “Hold Up” music video wardrobe.
Thorgy Thor’s neon green mesh bodysuit and technicolor dreadlocks certainly contrasted with the others, while Derrick Berry stayed true to predictable form in a see-through gown and two-piece lingerie beneath. Bitch, we get it, you have abs. And in a gorgeous black ensemble sashayed Chi Chi DeVayne.
Then the top 3 joined the rest of the girls onstage. Bob entered in a white cape dress with a colorful racer beneath, plus a matching white clutch of course; can’t go anywhere without her walking in purse first. Kim Chi then graced the stage in an amazing light blue jumper, with a silhouette so widely ruffled it looked like an actual dress. And lastly, Naomi Smalls emerged in an emerald green off-the-shoulder sleeved gown and copper hair.
In the proscenium balcony sat this season’s stalwart judges: Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, and Ross Mathews.
Looking Back… at Dat AssRu informed us that the top 3 queens would each be performing one more number created specifically for this finale event, and that we’d get a chance to recap their best moments throughout the season.
First was Bob the Drag Queen, who lip synced a song called I Don’t Like to Show Off—huh, sure you don’t—dressed in a black jersey, matching bandana, tight jean shorts, and gold chains. The song was hilarious and the backup dancers were, how do you say, stacked in the back, but what really sold the number was Bob’s great comedic timing in her lip sync, and her sharp choreo. The bitch actually can dance.
Ru then sat Bob down and recapped her memorable moments throughout the season. Highlights included Bob’s two-character Snatch Game performance, and her acting challenge channeling Taraji P. Henson’s Empire character Cookie Lyon. When Ru asked how Bob got started with drag, Bob explained that she watched the movie To Wong Foo. (Give her the crown right now,) and when Ru asked, “Did you study the show before you came on?” Bob laughed, “No, I’m just really talented.”
Then it was time for a fan question. Miss Hallelu herself, Shangela, stood up in the audience and read: “Tucker from Florida wants to know, does your humor come from overcoming a dark place in your life?” Bob replied with real humility, “If you find something to filter your pain and anger into, it’ll flourish.”
The best part? Bob then received a recorded video message from one of her Snatch Game inspirations: Carol fucking Channing herself. Quoth Miss Channing: “Thank you, Bob, for your colorful impersonation of me.” Was that a race joke? I wondered as I watched. “I was so honored to be a part of your history. Oh I’m proud of that.” After Bob’s brother in the audience provided some support, Bob also received a recorded video message from his ailing mother. “I’m very proud of you. I’ve always believed in you even when you didn’t believe in yourself. Always respect your fans and reach for the stars. I love you.”
To finish it off, Bob presented Ru with an iridescent purse to match her gown, so that Ru could relive a little Bob moment whenever she liked—and so Ru could promote Bob’s new single, Purse First.Next it was Kim Chi’s time to shine, performing a song called Fat, Fem & Asian. She wore a beautiful silk Korean hanbok and lip synced in English and Korean, with Thai-inspired “Thousand Hands” choreography that Seattleites will associate with the Shen Yun ballet. The lyrics were a poignant criticism of fat-shaming, fem-shaming, Asian-shaming Grindr profiles everywhere, and Kim’s performance transitioned from poised and sharp to self-deprecating and clumsy. Perfect combo for her.
While Ru sat Kim down to kiki, we learned that Kim still has not come out to her mom as a drag queen, even after she first began filming the show a year ago. We also learned that Kim took the $3,000 she earned from winning the season’s first challenge and gave it to her mother to help support her finances. “My Mom works really hard to pay the bills—she works as a server in a Korean restaurant. I want to do everything I can to help my mom financially.”
In the audience, Kim had many supportive friends, including Drag Race alumna Trixie Mattel. Also in the audience were the Pit Crew, who stood up to ask a fan question: “Sierra from Facebook asks, if you could lose your virginity to anyone on the pit crew, who would it be?” Shady Lady Kim Chi replied, “Well, I’m not trying to catch anything, so I’m gonna say none of them.”
Ru then announced that Kim had a video message, and we all thought, “Oh my god, it’s her mom!” But it turns out RuPaul did not out Kim without her knowledge for the sake of a plot twist and instead did something even better: called up Margaret Cho. Margaret hilariously imitated Kim’s Snatch Game characterization of a North Korean dictator, but also concluded with some heartfelt sentiments, from one Korean American to another. “I’m so proud of you. You’re so beautiful, you’re so funny, and I think you’re a good dancer.”
Well, I don’t know about the last part, but Kim definitely has the class and steadfast character of a real winner, as evidenced with her closing remarks: “As long as you stay true to who you are, and you remain creative and original, your dreams will come true.”Lastly in the trio came Naomi Smalls, who performed the number Legs. She was wheeled in on a mannequin-studded chair like Mariah Carey in a Macy’s warehouse, and sauntered down the runway in a tear-away skirt to expose her gams while the dancers carried her. Playing on Drag Race queen Jujubee’s past read about a rival’s “Legendary” being “Leg and dairy,” Naomi lip synched the lyrics, “All legs, no dairy.”
Ru recapped Naomi’s gorgeous fashion throughout the season, and her enormous family of 11 siblings! “I grew up in a family that was not the most fashion forward,” Naomi said. “I wanted to look like these amazing supermodels that were in the glossy pages.” Ru asked Naomi’s mother to speak from the audience, and asked, “Did you buy the fashion magazines?” Naomi’s mom June replied, “No, but I did start buying the wigs.”
Naomi’s video message came from the actress Lena Headey herself, who has been a guest judge on the show before and is apparently a huge fan of Naomi! Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, gushed over Naomi’s performance this season and encouraged her with a queenly call to action: “Now Cersei that walk.”
From the audience, Drag Race queen Gia Gunn asked a question from a fan: “How did it feel when Naomi Campbell checked you online?” Naomi replied, “She followed me on Instagram, and she had this interview saying, ‘I am really loving that Naomi Smalls.’” Miss Smalls was clearly twitterpated with the fact that her namesake paid her some mind—as well she should be.
To close out Naomi’s recap onstage, 4 of her brothers and a sister came onstage to give her some love. Cue the “aww” track.
The Queens Talk BackAfter the top 3 finished their performances and interviews with Ru, Ru invited the rest of the season’s cast onstage for mini interviews of their own. Laila and Dax both shared appreciation for their fans and the opportunities that opened up for them as a result of the show, while Cynthia shared that she battled stage 1 liver cancer between the show’s filming and its airing, stating she is in the discharge process right now. And of all the queens who supported Cynthia through her treatment, Acid Betty (the season bitch, if you don’t recall) came to Cynthia’s side. According to Cynthia, “She was like, ‘Bitch, you’re not alone, I’ve got your back.’”
Next in the interviews came Naysha, whom Ru got to admit on national television that yes, in fact, her ass is pumped full of medical-grade silicone. A lame focal point since 1.) Naysha seems genuinely talented and we could talk about literally anything else, and 2.) that ass truly is a masterpiece.
When Betty’s turn came, she raved about her fans, including a boy she met at Drag Con who says he was inspired to enroll in a fashion academy because of Betty’s out-of-this-world looks. Then, Betty got a video message too! Nancy Grace, whom she portrayed in the Snatch Game, poked fun at herself and claimed, “You were robbed! We got a case here.”
Robbie Turner got to share more of her personality in her interview with Ru. When Ru asked how such a young queen could know so much about old hollywood and vintage esthetics, Robbie replied, “My mother and father wouldn’t allow us to watch contemporary films, so I would watch vintage films thinking they were contemporary. You can imagine little Robbie Turner being told Judi Garland was dead for many years, saying, ‘What?!’” After this, Thorgy got to chat with Ru about her ambitions to create a ‘Thorchestra.’ Thorgy, a classical violinist, said, “I want Rufus Wainright to come out on a piano with me!” I wish that had actually happened, but what came next was a welcome surprise: she was presented a goddamn violin, right then and there, and played a little fiddle ditty.
I’m not going to waste time talking about Derrick Berry’s interview.
Lastly, Chi Chi DeVayne sat with Ru and talked about her experience after filming the show. After having quit 2 jobs to join the cast, she proudly exclaimed, “I have one job now, Ru, and I’m a full-time drag queen! That’s what’s up.” She also received a video message, this time from Jennifer fucking Holliday of Dreamgirls fame, praising her for her passionate lip sync performance to And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. Chi Chi was noticeably brimming with emotion and thanked Ru for changing her life for the better.
Congenial QueensThen, it was time to name Miss Congeniality for Season 8. Last year’s congenial queen, Katya, was the presenter. When the backdrop of the stage only rose halfway, she rolled under it Indiana Jones style, and presented Ru with a bottle of water—a hat-tip to last year’s would-be upset when Ru called Katya onstage during the winner’s crowning, only to ask her for a drink.
Katya announced this year’s Miss Congeniality as Miss Cynthia Lee Fontaine! The title was well-earned by the beloved queen, and may even guarantee her a spot in this year’s Drag Race All Stars cast.
All past winners stepped onstage in different outfits from the beginning of the night, and last year’s winner, Violet Chachki, emerged from backstage in a jaw-dropping hooded gown with threaded embroidery. She told Ru her year as the crowned winner was incredible, working with the best people in fashion, in burlesque, and in the drag world.
But it was time to crown a new winner, because it’s Season 8, and who the hell is Violet Chachki?
Kim entered from the audience in a voluminous white gown, Bob came onstage in beautiful gold, and Naomi joined them in a glamorous powder blue fur-lined frock.
She’s Crowning!Now we know from seasons passed that all 3 winners are filmed “winning,” so that the editors have a chance to put together a great finale episode. This means that when the episode is aired, the top 3 queens find out once and for all which of them is actually the winner of Drag Race.
We waited with bated breath, and Ru announced for all the world that America’s Next Drag Superstar is none other than… Bob the Drag Queen!
After a full season of genius comedy, beautiful fashion, talented acting, and memorable personality, Bob certainly demonstrated versatility and gusto. She absolutely deserved this win and makes a fine addition to the Drag Race winner’s circle.
Her first words as the reigning queen?
“Take whatever you love about yourself, and walk into the world purse first!”