Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Project Runway: "Good Queen Fun"

Image for article titled Project Runway: "Good Queen Fun"
Image for article titled Project Runway: "Good Queen Fun"

If we learned anything from tonight's episode it's this: RuPaul is alive and well and still giving tutelage about the hiding of one's candy.

Another important lesson from tonight's drag parade would be that drag queens make Project Runway better—especially when it comes to seasons like this one when everyone seems so intent on making ugly and or lackluster things, no matter what the task at hand. This crop of contestants doesn't like to listen: to Tim, to the judges, or even to the challenge that is laid out before them in plain English. (It's no coincidence that two of the best outfits this episode were created by Joe and Korto, two of the designers who listen to criticism and can follow directions.) But a challenge like this one basically demands that they set aside their dusty, tired aesthetics, and forces them to make spectacularly loud, exuberant things. After all, you can't stick to your tiresome insistence to layer swatches and fabric strips together in a vague shape when making an outfit for a drag queen.

Scratch that. It should read: you shouldn't stick to that boring swatches and strips aesthetic. But Keith obviously didn't do what he should have done. His drag queen outfit looked like Bea Arthur's Turkey Lurky costume from The Golden Girls, but wet and soggy. Michael Kors was right: it was a sad, sad chicken.

Still, there were some designers who were actually able to incorporate part of their aesthetic into their drag outfits. Terri, for one. Her keen ability to embrace the loud, the weird, and the off-kilter only helped her to create that striking Kiss Kabuki kimono ensemble. For Leanne's space-age, drag Judy Jetson look, she was able to tap into her love of all things sleek, overlapping, and intricate. Kenley finally lived up to that feather or flower in her hair, and made something vintagey—though I did think that her black and silver, peacocked Marilyn Monroe dress was a little obvious and a bit subdued for a drag queen. Even Stella worked some things of her own (plaid, grommets) into that gown: the end result being a dress that was part Avril Lavigne, part Liz Taylor, all drag.

But it was the designers who usually dabble (or drown) in ugly who had the most trouble this week. Jerell will overaccessorize an outfit until he can't wrap another belt around it. He lives for tacky. He is tacky. Yet when he's asked to fully embrace his tackiness–to inflate it, even, if that's possible–he goes with a somber frog green sequin dress with matching lizard hood. Not big, and bold, and tacky enough, Jerell!

Likewise, week to week Blayne's models always look like they're wearing leftover costumes from an Eastern European rave video, but when he's asked to make an actual costume, he just makes some droopy hot pink wings with bicycle streamers hanging down. I loved when he said, "I hope the judges don't think it's poorly constructed," as his look flopped down the runway. He might as well have said, "I hope the judges have lost their ability to see."

Then there's Suede, who can make a bleeding ballerina mummy dress, but when asked to make a look for a performer called Hedda Lettuce, he ends up making a chartreuse suit that any pageant girl would happily wear. Suede's dead grandfather was right about the lettuce-lined gloves, though, if only because they were the only element of the outfit that made it the least bit theatrical. But where was Suede's grandfather when Suede was whining to everyone about the clearly lighthearted joke that Hedda Lettuce made about the gloves? Suede wants everyone to know that Suede is a victim and Suede will not be thrown under the bus by comedian drag queens who are so mean to Suede and Suede's lettuce gloves. He's a much bigger drama queen than the professionals.

In the end, however, the plain and uglies slipped under the radar, and Daniel's utterly plain, neon yawn of a ballgown was deemed the worst. Like Keith, Daniel refused to abandon his own dull style, even when it had absolutely no place in the challenge. But Daniel's also lacked any element of theatricality at all, and so he had to go–an event that no doubt still confuses him to this day.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

—I really enjoy challenges like this one (and the WWE challenge from last season, and the Miss USA challenge from the year before) that only tangentially have anything to do with fashion, and are mostly costume contests.

—Chris "Fat Chris" March and his giggle are so refreshing.

—"Blayne don't know nothin'. He just knows girlielicious. What is that?" Stella (a genuine character) takes issue with a phony character.

—Speaking of Stella, naturally it would be a drag queen who's come the closest to ending the "STELLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAA!" watch. He nearly said it as she was fitting him into the Avril/Liz gown.

—Two strange things about Keith: 1. He was basically clinging to Daniel's lap after Daniel was eliminated. It looked like he would need a spatula to get him off. 2. He has a rattail. Or at least a ratnub.