RuPaul’s Drag Race – Season 7 Episode 11: “Hello, Kitty Girls!”

As if this show needed an excuse for more pussy jokes.

Stick Your Hand Up It And Make Its Lips Move: Once we’d expended the appropriate amount of time mourning for the second death of Trixie Mattel (I think it was about 52 seconds), it was time to resurrect another classic mini-challenge and subsequently derive faintly disappointing returns from it: yasssss, it was time for puppets. The random draw left Pearl with Kennedy, Kennedy with Pearl, Violet with Katya, Katya with Ginger and Ginger with Violet. Pearl got points from me for dressing Puppet Kennedy up as the Zombie Chicken Hooker from the Death Becomes Her runway, but then lost points for basically just reciting Kennedy’s explanation of that look word for word. Do something funny with it! Kennedy made Pearl fall asleep in a so-so retread of Roxxy-Andrews-as-Jinkx, but gained some accidental comedy points in forgetting to make the puppet’s lips move. Violet posed the interesting question of precisely where Katya’s accent went, Katya got a few good swipes in at Ginger and her southern ways, and Ginger made a reasonably good self-effacing gag about how Puppet Violet could never achieve her dream tiny waist with Ginger’s fat arm inside her. Essentially everyone’s effort was passable, but nobody even came close to the majesty of Alaska-as-Puppet-Roxxxy, so Ru basically just gave Ginger the win because that’s pretty much the default for a performance challenge at this point. I had no objections, mostly because I didn’t develop strong feelings about anyone’s performance one way or the other.

The Cat That Got The Cream: So as the Pit Crew wheeled out the accessories wall (as much as this season has underwhelmed, I rather feel that underusing Hot Ginger Pit Crew Guy has been far and away its greatest offence), Ru announced that there was a very special, internationally-renowned guest judge signed up for this week’s episode, and if you think that’s an odd way to refer to Santino Rice, you would be absolutely correct; it referred, in fact, to Hello Kitty. I’m amazed by this particular degree of brand synergy, because I wouldn’t have necessarily thought Hello Kitty would want to be associated with drag queens, but I’m kind of thrilled that they were obviously secure enough in their product to go yep, sure, why not? Ru explained that the task was to make a glamorous, Hello Kitty-inspired outfit for the drag ball, and Ginger whined that it was ANOTHER sewing challenge. Yeah, I’m sure all both of them this series must have been really difficult for you, child. Also, “making outfits for a ball” is the penultimate challenge of every season. Learn your herstory, dammit. (This week was also the week where Ginger’s immense professional experience as a choreographer and costume designer hit the internet, and loath as I am to defend Ginger, I am also someone who traded on my experience as “choreographer” of my A-level Theatre Studies group project for several years even though it basically involved a few hand movements and a bit of rhythmic walking, so I suspect that’s pretty much what Ginger was up to here. (Besides, saying that you were “costume designer” doesn’t necessarily imply that you put them together.) Anyway, I don’t know what Ginger’s sobbing about because they only had to make one outfit this year instead of the usual three. This was Drag Ball: The Kids’ Table. Predictably, Violet and Pearl knew exactly what they were doing, Ginger only had a basic idea, Kennedy only had a basic idea in the other sense of the word, and Katya ran around going “OMG ONOZ OMG ONOZ OMG ONOZ” for several minutes.

Rice Pudding: Special Guest Judge Back For One Night Only (Hopefully) Santino Rice then returned to walk through the workroom, chat to everyone about their ideas, and basically live out every Tim Gunn fantasy he ever had. Well, maybe not every Tim Gunn fantasy. It turns out that the mere sight of Santino was enough to flood Ginger’s basement all over again, and at this point I think she really needs to call a plumber in. Santino also flirted alarmingly with Violet, who I think was batting it all away admirably but could just have plausibly been flirting back. I’m not very good at reading these things. That was all immaterial (ha!) because Ru did one of her patented Columbo-esque “just one more thing” turns, where she revealed that the contestants would also have to decorate a Hello Kitty head and come up with an outfit for it and basically create a new BFF character for Hello Kitty. Everyone immediately freaked out about having to do TWO outfits even though this was still one less than they should have been expecting to deal with, GOOD GOD ALL OF YOU. Weirdly, Katya managed to come up with a Hello Kitty character she was quite happy about, but was still struggling with her main concept.

Sashay, Shantay, Cats Are On The Runway: So Violet’s main look was an awesome high-fashion hot pink outfit with some sort of handmade giant shuttlecock on her head, and her best friend character, Lavender Trinket (clever!) was kind of restrained. You might say boring, and some certainly did, but I think Violet was looking for something that would be marketable alongside the Hello Kitty brand. Essentially Violet was preparing to be judged by Jeffrey Moran, even though Jeffrey Moran hasn’t been around for a while. So not a terrible idea, but perhaps not as go-for-the-jugular as some of us might have liked. Pearl’s runway outfit was basically a Hello Kitty rug wrapped around her frame and a giant Hello Kitty head perched on top of her head. It was definitely more avant-garde than most people’s attempts, and very Pearl. Her Hello Kitty BFF, Banjee Beatdown, was basically Aisleyne from Big Brother and I loved it even though Hello Kitty would not have gone near her in a million years.

Katya ended up going as a sort of space-age housewife who was possibly a prostitue on the side, and it was a great look but probably not a great BALL look, but she made up for it with Hello Katya, who was basically Blerta from the SNL Girls parody, promising to free Hello Kitty from her hedonistic capitalist ways and introduce her to glorious communism. Ginger glued a load of Hello Kitty dolls to a luminous pink dress, but easily came up with the best BFF character: Country Cow, who arrived in a cloud of bovine punnery and was basically ready to be put straight onto the production line. Finally we had Kennedy in a bland black leotard with bows sewed on neatly but boringly in lines, and offering up new ghetto BFF Sweetness, who was fine but unremarkable, much like everything else Kennedy did this week. Well, almost everything, but we’re getting to that.

The Romijns Of The Day: Santino and this week’s other guest judge Rebecca Romijn (who was game and maybe tried a bit too hard but in a surprisingly endearing way) were joined by Extra Special Guest Judge Hello Kitty, who basically offered critique by covering her eyes when she disapproved of something, and yet was somehow still more articulate than Carson has been most weeks. Violet’s efforts were roundly approved of by everyone up to and including Hello Kitty, though there were a few disappointed comments that her BFF character was a little on the bland side, even if people appreciated her commitment to not disrespecting the brand. Michelle loved the Madonna theming of Banjee Beatdown, and Pearl pointed out that she was the only contestant who didn’t just make a ball look by gluing a lot of Hello Kitty tat to a pre-existing outfit, which Michelle clarified was 100 per cent a read on everyone else. The judges weren’t sure about Katya – they loved the look, but not really for this challenge. As expected, Ginger’s ingenious Country Cow neutralised her faintly disappointing ball effort, and Kennedy was told that she played it too safe on both counts.

Russian Out The Door: This was pretty much one of those challenges where you could just about have called the outcome without seeing a single second of it airing, and so Violet ended up winning, with Ginger and Pearl in the safe zone and Kennedy and Katya lipsynching to ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry. After so many bland and disappointing lipsyncs this year, both of them absolutely brought their A-game to the lip-sync, but after Kennedy leapt from the stage and landed on the floor in front of the judges in the splits, it was basically game over for Katya whatever she did. Which was a shame, but the whole thing was so energetic from both sides that Violet couldn’t contain herself and screamed “YASSSSSSSS, COME THROUGH!” from the sidelines, which I think is pretty much what we were all feeling. So Katya joins the ranks of Ben Delacreme, Alyssa Edwards, Latrice et all in being the fan favourite who didn’t get to make it into the final but whose post-show career is already locked down, and let’s just say she should probably start preparing her acceptance speech for Miss Congeniality. I thought I’d be more upset about Katya’s ouster, but even though she was my favourite this year, she still had just as many shortcomings as anyone else who’s left, so I can’t bring myself to be too cut up about it. She’ll be fine, whatever happens.

This Week On Untucked: It was kind of weirdly…friendly? Like everyone was drowning in their love for Katya, who I’m pretty sure is on course for the biggest Miss Congeniality blowout since this show began. Elsewhere, Violet’s redemption arc graduated from subtext to text when she admitted that she was trying not to be the “rotten cunt” she was when she first arrived, although as the numbers grow smaller, the smoking break made it abundantly clear that Violet and Kennedy have absolutely no conversation when left alone, and Katya’s extended exit was every bit as moving and excellent as we all knew it would be. Now let’s do our best to be excited by the top four that we’ve been left with.

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