Canada’s Drag Race: What A-Boot It?

S1/Ep 3

Photo from Bell Media

I’m not the biggest Ilona Verley fan — her drag just isn’t doing it for me, but after last night’s episode I couldn’t get her words out of my head.

“Qu’est-ce que le fuck?”

Or, if I may add, “Que’ est-ce que le fuck” Tynomi? Miss Tynomi Banks is crumbling under the weight of this competition ladies and gentlemen, and it’s getting really hard to watch.

Kicking things off with the Mini Challenge, the queens meet Jeffrey and guest star (but not guest host) Traci Melchor, a Canadian TV personality who watches as the queens co-anchor the fictional news show, Canada Gay-M. Featuring scripts in English, French, and Gay-lish, it’s a whirlwind of mispronunciations and tongue pops, with Priyanka and Lemon declared the winners and team captains for the Maxi Challenge.

For this week’s Maxi Challenge, everyone is split into two teams for a group rap battle in which the queens have to write their lyrics and learn choreography with Hollywood Jade (who, by the way, is infinitely more entertaining than Todrick Hall, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s resident choreographer).

Lemon picks Tynomi, Jimbo, BOA, and Kiara, who decide to name themselves The Dwolls, while Priyanka’s team of Rita Baga, Scarlett BoBo, Anastarzia Anaquway, and Ilona Verley go with The Mooseknuckles. Ilona has a little moment about being picked last — again — and relates it to being in gym class back in school, reaffirming my position that yes, drag really is a sport.

God bless Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, who can throw a one-liner so fast you won’t even realize it hit you; after basically calling Lemon a wannabe Iggy Azalea in response to labeling herself a “rapstress” (white twinks always think they can rap), the queens hunker down to write their lyrics in the werkroom.

Before we even get to the choreo, the first hurdle is recording the lyrics with singer-songwriter Ralph. The Dwolls’ time slot is relatively smooth; in a surprising twist, Jimbo tops Lemon and Kiara in her delivery, while Tynomi and BOA are asked to amp it up. The Mooseknuckles’ recording session, while featuring standouts like Scarlett, Priyanka, and Rita (who doesn’t so much as rap as she does belt out her lyrics Celine Dion-style), hits a roadblock with Anastarzia, who just doesn’t seem to be able to land her vocals.

Hollywood Jade doesn’t waste time being patient with the girls and throws them into the choreo. Basically everyone stumbles at some point, except for Lemon (a professional dancer), and Tynomi (also a professional dancer). You practically see Ilona having a meltdown in the back.

Kiara on the runway; photo from Bell Media

The actual rap battle is really well-executed. Rapping to the song “Not Sorry A-boot It”, the queens perform on stage altogether as if it was a musical. BOA takes the cake with the shadiest line, hitting Scarlett with “that nose gives me eggplant Friday”; take it from me, an Arab man with an Arab nose, when I say that homegirl really went in for the sucker punch.

The less said about Anastarzia’s performance, the better; she didn’t even try to lipsync the group lyrics, and the judges definitely noticed.

Category on the runway is “Quebec-ky with the Good Hair”, and the queens go all out with their wigs. Jimbo looks like a total badass with a massive flame-inspired wig, leather thigh-highs, and silicon-pumped boobs, while BOA channels 1970’s porn star with a massive bush that you uncomfortably can’t help but stare at.

Priyanka on the runway

The judges (with guest judge Deborah Cox) love Scarlett’s clown outfit with the wig that spells out “BoBo”, but I’m not sold on the look — even if she knocks it out of the park with insane dance moves in the Maxi Challenge. Likewise, Priyanka’s outfit is praised for its ingenuity, but it’s basic compared to Jimbo, or even Anastarzia, who gets ruthlessly (unfairly) harsh critiques for her hair monster/Chun-Li look.

Anastarzia Anaquway on the runway

Priyanka, with the combination of her electrifying performance and (just decent) outfit, is the winner.

Then there’s Tynomi, a veteran performer who looks like she’s running out of tricks; the only way to describe her outfit is “shapeless rainbow hair”, which the judges did not have time for.

“You were the one to watch, and I was watching, and I was also watching you forget your lyrics.” Jeffrey honestly and truly does not take prisoners. Tynomi previously danced backup for Deborah Cox, and to hear a critique like that in front of her? Devastating.

The power dynamics between the Toronto queens continues to be one of the best parts of the show. In the werkroom, tensions between Scarlett and BOA boil over when Scarlett accuses her of constantly giving digs and talking smack, telling her that she “doesn’t treat me like that in Toronto.” BOA, in confessional, seems to think that Scarlett is so used to being “top dog in the hierarchy” back in the city, that she doesn’t know how to react to BOA’s consistently positive critiques from the judges.

The judges place Kiara, Tynomi, and Anastarzia in the bottom, with Kiara scraping by, leaving the other two to duke it out to Deborah Cox’s hit “Absolutely Not”. I don’t know what Anastarzia was thinking, but playing the “pageant queen” card is not the best way to win a lipsync to a clubbing song — Tynomi lives to fight another day.

Just between us squirrel friends…

“Let it be gay wrists, let it be a moment, be a moment”; The Gays (capital “T” and “G”) are definitely going to start using that line from Hollywood Jade.

“I feel like the Toronto girls like to fight, like to insult each other, and we are not like that in Montreal.” Rita Baga it’s hard to be civil in a city where you have to pay $9/shot in the club.

Canada’s Drag Race airs Thursday nights at 9 PM EST on CraveTV

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