*Please note that this article contains major spoilers for season 9, do not read if you do not know who won. I wouldn’t like anyone to have their season spoiled like I had when I accidentally discovered the season 8 winner before even watching episode 1.
Start your engines… and may the best woman win.
I discovered the extravaganza that is RuPaul’s Drag Race last summer; I had heard many of my makeup friends taking about it on the beauty groups. After having Layla and being at home a lot I had run out of TV to watch; I was resorting to watching TV cop shows and consumer rights programs and was desperate for something to lure me in and hook me.
It is safe to say I was hooked from the very first season; the flamboyant characters, the beautiful dresses, the makeup and of course the ‘shade’. I never really knew much about Ru Paul apart from the fact she was a supermodel and did a duet with Elton John. I began to love the music of Ru Paul; from Champion, Sissy That Walk through to Don’t Be Jealous of my Boogie and Born Naked.
I did not really have a favourite in the first 2 seasons, maybe because the concept was so new and unlike anything I had seen in a long while. I binge watched season 1 and 2 in the space of about a week. I really like the double act that is Ru Paul and Michelle Visage; their friendship and chemistry is undeniable.
My favourite of season 3 was Shangela; I just loved her realness and honesty. She was not the most ‘put together’ drag queen on the show, but what she lacked in style she more than made up in entertainment value, can I get a halla-loo?
I definitely has a type when it comes to my favourites; I go for the ones with a sense of humour and some quirkiness about them. Bianca Del Toro is my absolute favourite along with Latrice Royal, Jinx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen and BenDeLaCreme. I really like the contestants that have wit over style, that was until I watched season 9.
I was super excited to finally watch season 9; having binge watched most of the other seasons, I was desperate to get my fix of wigs, glitter and rhinestones. The only slight drawback is I could only watch one episode a week, Netflix has well and truly ruined my ability to wait a week to watch the next episode, I resolved this by saving episodes up.
After a few episodes, Valentina became my firm favourite; her beauty was beyond belief and she looked like a vision of gorgeousness as she strutted along the runway. I was so disappointed that she got knocked out half way through the competition. The reason I was disappointed was not as clear as I first thought it was.
Everyone that watches Drag Race will know about the epic lip sync battles; the pure passion and talent shines through when you are ‘lip-syncing for your life’. Contestants have got that carried away in some battles that wigs have been thrown, padding has been flung and people have literally ‘man-handled’ each other in the name of staying in the competition.
So, back to Valentina, who had been put up for elimination. I thought ‘surely she is a hot favourite to win the competition, she cannot leave now’, then I watched the debacle that was her lip sync. Valentina had been wearing a mask as part of her Spanish inspired costume which covered her mouth, which she kept on during the lip sync, that was mistake number one.
Now, it does not take a genius to guess that Ru was less than happy with this, after all, the premise of a lip sync is actually seeing the artist saying the words.
Ru stopped the lip sync and demanded Valentina take the mask off, which Valentina actually refused to do at first, that was mistake number two; the reluctance to take the mask off is a sign that something was not quite right and why the heck would you refuse to take the mask off for the person who decides whether you stay or not?
After Ru stamped her authority on the situation in true ‘mother’ fashion and forced Valentina to take the mask off and restart the lip sync, mistake number three happened; Valentina did not know the words and practically gave up onstage.
So in true Ru fashion, Valentina was told to ‘sashay away’ in what was a dramatic exit. The whole issue with the mask and the elimination left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and it wasn’t from the chocolate I was also binging on.
Lip syncing relies on the performer knowing the words to the song, or at least most of them; as an actor I would never have gotten away with not knowing my lines, it a requirement to learn the lines so that you can focus on performing the piece. How can you lip sync if you do not know the words?
If you were committed to winning the competition then surely wouldn’t you give it everything you have got? Valentina made the fatal error of either believing she was so good that she would not be in the bottom two or out of sheer laziness or lack of organisation, these are qualities I really dislike.
What I do like is someone with integrity and grace; these are qualities that were in abundance in this seasons winner, Sasha Valour. I actually thought she was quite snobby when I first started watching, but it was clear to see that she has an undeniable passion for her craft and she always carried herself with grace and dignity.
Another thing that Sasha had in abundance was style, something I had never really given credit for before, but oh my, Sasha could make anything look like it had come off a New York catwalk.
I loved how she could turn something as mundane as a cowboy look and make it look unique and high fashion. She was always doing things that surprised me; like pulling rose petals out of her gloves and revealing a whole house from underneath her hat.
I also loved how she embraces the ‘weird and strange’ side of herself and celebrates it with confidence in abundance; choosing not to cover her head with elaborate wigs and using her bald head as a statement instead.
I actually would not have minded if either of the top 4 had of won; I think the competition has grown so strongly since the first season and the contestants tend to bond more with each other.
Maybe they are being conscious of what they say but I never really felt any malice between the top 4 in the end; unlike previous seasons (Season 3 being a particularly catty one for me).
The thing that definitely won it for Sasha was her ability to bring lip syncing to an art form; her individuality and creativity shined through, blinding the audience with its awesomeness.
Who would have thought of planting rose petals in their gloves and wig during the sing off to ‘So Emotional’; she took that song to a whole other level on the acting front, treading the fine line between love and obsession (at times she reminded me of a stalker but that maybe just my interpretation).
The final lip sync against the ‘queen of the lip sync’ Peppermint was phenomenal; who would have thought that someone could give such a passionate performance.
I loved the touch of the mask, perhaps a sly dig at Valentina, who knows? I was actually worried she would have her eyes covered through the whole sing off, but thankfully she made the removal of the head mask into a monumental moment.
As someone who has studied acting and theatre, what Sasha did was true ‘performance art’; it took great skill, discipline, imagination and empathy to deliver that type of performance.
She is one of my favourite competitors for the simple reason that I was truly blown away by the heart and soul she poured into the competition.
Sasha is the true embodiment of determination in the face of adversity; a graceful fighter who embraces who she really is with dignity and epitomises the shows mantra ‘If you cant love yourself; how the hell are you going to somebody else?’
I would love to hear what you thought about this season, let me know who your favourite was.
Ciao for now TV fans xx