The Age of Aquaria is Upon Us


JOANNA: Last night you texted me, “I feel insane/ soaring highs/ followed by dark lows/ moral emergencies.” I feel like that’s a good place to start.

MEGAN: Honestly, those feelings remain with me, hours after this show has ended. Last night, on the season finale of the world’s longest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, we saw dear, sweet Jo Vanni Palandrini, aka Aquaria, win. I was not surprised. But I felt exhausted by the spectacle and the lead-up, and a season of television that has gone on for what feels like most of my adult life.

I knew this was going to happen but….I still feel fucked up about it!

JOANNA: Right, it felt like a foregone conclusion, only we had to witness the most fucked-up way of getting there. Did you see Avenger’s Infinity War? Doesn’t matter. In that movie, someone says something like, “I’ve seen all 208430928403 ways this situation could pan out; there’s only one that results in us winning, and it’s fucked up.” I feel like that.

MEGAN: It’s hard to parse exactly why and how I felt so bad about what happened, but I believe during our frantic text exchange last night, you said “This show is racist.” A great place to start—and a fabulous place to end this conversation, also, probably—but I think we could start not with our general fatigue or the lackluster competition, but the frantic energy and desperation of the lip sync extravaganza that comprised most of this finale.

It was so nice to see the season 1 queens do a lil’ sync with the season 10 queens! And then we were forced to contend with what felt like hours of stressful and very nerve-wracking lip syncs that were less about artistry and more about EXPLOSIONS YAS MAMA.

JOANNA: This show does seem, unfortunately, to be racist mixed with a traumatizing mishap that allowed for the top three to be all white, even when one of those white people should not have been anywhere near the top three. I feel after ten years, and ten season finales, Drag Race needs to address how it’s doing these live shows and determining who the winner is. The live show is at its best when we see the queens wearing their most insane, high-fash looks and when we’re focusing on DRAMA and THEATRICALITY. I still want to cry when the queens come out one by one and we see how much they’ve grown since the season ended, and the music is loud, and everyone is cheering, and they look like gods.

I do nawt, however, cry when three frantic queens are performing kind of sloppy lip syncs that have become so reliant on reveals that we get…………….. The Asia O’Hara disaster.

MEGAN: I am still upset about what happened, and I had heard from a little bird that something of that nature was going to happen. The fact that I knew about it made it no better—in fact, it was somehow worse. What I had heard was that the butterflies contained within Asia’s bosoms were dead, and fell out from said bosom in a macabre display. What I think actually happened is that the butterflies just didn’t feel like it that day but were very much alive—a fact confirmed by the camera’s shady pan to the butterflies hanging out on the stage but not flying into the sky/audience. I feel devastated for Asia, because I love Asia. I feel anger for Asia, because Kameron didn’t deserve to be in the top 4 in the first place!!! I feel rage at those goddamn butterflies, who needed to just wake up.

What also struck me about this lip sync was how LONG it was—after it was clear that the butterflies were not going to do what they needed to do, Asia really threw whatever plan she might have had out the window and just got into it. Had she just danced like she did in the second half of that lip sync, maybe she would’ve won???

JOANNA: Megan, I just don’t know if you’re right about the “tired” butterflies. I’m trying to find a tweet I saw last night that indicated that we just saw some tired butterflies but there were more that we… didn’t see… which makes sense to me because I can’t imagine her big finale reveal would be four butterflies…

REGARDLESS!!!! It is not her fault and she’s issued a professional apology and she is still the number one queen in my heart:

I do think this points to a larger issue: we need to revolutionize/revamp the finale lip sync. We have seen the Roxxy Andrews double-wig reveal; we have seen Sasha Velour pull roses out of her head. I’m not sure how we can one up those performances in a way that doesn’t involve being suspended from a rig, or 1,000 dead butterflies. Prove me wrong?!?!

MEGAN: Would that I could prove you wrong, my sweet friend. But alas!! You’re right. Reveal culture has gone too far. If in two seasons from now, all of the finale lip sync participants are required to learn the silks, like P!nk, I’d be happy with that. The only way to really revamp this entire endeavor is to either bring it back to its roots—just some good old fashioned lip syncing, thanks!—or to level the playing field by giving everybody has some sort of very specific handicap, like the aforementioned silks or perhaps a pack of slightly feral cats on a leash.

Reveal culture has gone too far.

I have processed the Asia disastre and would like to put it behind me. I would now like to discuss the hell that is/was the TOP THREE BULLSHIT THERE ARE THREE FINALISTS AND ONE LOSER lip sync extravaganza at the end…..

JOANNA: I attribute that to Kameron blitzing the finals lip syncs and forcing her way into the final, because she could not be top two? I don’t know. Either way, a triple lip sync, to “Bang Bang,” on that stage, with those queens, was sensorily upsetting.

It also reminds me that while we had seen America’s Next Drag Superstar Aquaria dance choreographed routines very well, we had never seen her do a lip sync—particularly a lip sync where you have to outshine two other queens in a large auditorium where the stakes could! Not! Be! Higher! Her energy is frantic!!! Also, shout out to Aquaria’s parents, Mister and Missus Jo Vanni, they were so fun.

MEGAN: Yeah, I think of Aquaria’s energy during the first lip sync against Eureka, in which she was dressed like a stegosaurus and feel panicky on the inside. Then I recall her energy during the manic, frantic trio of a finale and feel both exhilarated and very tired! I will say that she is a very acrobatic dancer, and while I love a grande battement a la Eureka as much as the next woman, I appreciated Aquaria’s use of the full stage AND I loved that she literally shot sparks from her fingers and then jerked off a confetti cannon in front of her parents. Ma’am!

JOANNA: But so how did you feel when it ended? Exhilarated? Let down? Tired? Constipated? I, personally, felt insane. The only grounding, 100 percent good and noncontroversial thing to happen was Monet X Change winning Miss Congeniality.

MEGAN: My feelings at roughly 9:30 P.M. EST when this entire thing was over were that I wanted to take a nap in a meat locker for ten minutes, as a means of resetting my brain and also my body. I, also, felt insane. Monet X Change winning was a nice thing. Swallowing the large, bitter, misshapen pill of my own disappointment was not. And now this show is over. And we will watch it again. I’m sure of it.

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