RuPaul Defends the Shocking ‘Drag Race’ Double Elimination
The RuPaul’s Drag Race namesake explains why he had to boot two queens last week and the blunt story behind one queen’s return. (Spoilers for this week’s episode.)
For only the second time in show herstory, RuPaul sent home two queens at the end of last week’s episode, “Bitch Perfect.” The shocking double elimination was only Part One of the drama, however, as the episode ended with RuPaul making a phone call from the judges’ table: “How soon can you get here?”
A week of social media guessing over who RuPaul had called, and whether that meant that a queen would be returning to the competition, was finally laid to rest Monday night with the revelation that Naysha Lopez, the proud pageant queen who had sashayed away in the Season 8 premiere (and Drag Race’s 100th episode), had been invited back.
Now that the episode, “RuCo’s Empire,” has aired and Naysha Lopez is officially back in the mix—serving as team captain for the Empire-spoof acting competition and roller skating her way down the runway to safety—RuPaul untucks the double eliminations of Laila McQueen and Dax ExclamationPoint, as well as Naysha’s return.
First, why, for the first time since Honey Mahogany and Vivienne Pinay were sent home in the same episode of Season 5, was this an occasion for a double axe?
“Well, if you watched the lip-synch, it’s very clear why I did it again,” RuPaul tells The Daily Beast. “If you watched the lip-synch, you’ll know why I did it. Because it was fucking awful.”
After landing in the bottom two and being tasked, as is weekly tradition, with lip-synching for their lives, Laila McQueen and Dax ExclamationPoint were assigned Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” for their showdown—easily the most iconic lip-synch song there is, in drag performance or otherwise.
“There’s not another lip-synch song on the planet, in the history of lip-synching songs, that has been lip-synched more than ‘I Will Survive,’” RuPaul says. “And even if you’ve never lip-synched that song, you’ve heard it 500 times in your life. So you know the words to it. Everybody knows the words and you know what the song’s about. You know what the emotions behind it are.”
As for the listless performances by Laila McQueen and Dax ExclamationPoint? “None of those marks were hit during that performance,” Ru says. “None. Not one. Not one.” Then, after a big sigh: “It was awful.”
It’s not shade if it’s true, right?
There’s no arguing the reason for sending home two queens after Gloria Gaynor-gate.
But if you’re hoping for a better understanding as to why Ru decided to bring back Naysha Lopez instead of having an episode with no eliminations, or even bringing back a different queen from a past season like some on social media were predicting, RuPaul, in his lovingly blunt way, would like you to know that there’s no explanation needed.
“I have a simple answer for that,” RuPaul says. “Because the show’s called RuPaul’s Motherfucking Drag Race, bitch. I get to do whatever the fuck I want.” Cackling with glee, Ru goes on: “We’ll leave it at that. Because I fucking wanted to. Boom.”
While Ru might not be telling you why he chose to bring back Naysha Lopez, he did genuinely enjoy the past week on social media, in which fans guessed and debated who would be returning to the show—fantasizing about their favorite queens coming back and breathlessly discussing who Ru could possibly be talking to on the phone.
“I love that,” RuPaul says about the social media frenzy. “That’s what makes this great. The show has an interactive feel. That’s why DragCon, which is coming on May 7th and 8th here in Los Angeles, is important, because these kids, who only know each other through social media, get to meet their tribe. It’s just another extension of the Drag Race experience.”
And for RuPaul, who has been preaching the gospel of Born Naked for three decades, the fact that Drag Race has not only surpassed the 100-episode (and 100th-queen) milestone, but also that its community of fans care so much about things like double eliminations, not to mention each other, never ceases to amaze.
“That’s what it really is all about,” he says. “The fame, the money, all the stuff: after a while—I’ve been doing this for 34 years—it’s all about the legacy work. The legacy lives through these girls. And the kids, who love the show and who have learned so much about themselves and about the history of the bohemian through the show.”
Can I get an amen?
This is a portion of a larger piece on RuPaul that will be published on The Daily Beast.