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Drag Race Season 14 Recap: Big Opening No. 1, Lewks, Talent, & the Deliciousness of Kornbread



Since this season was another two-part reveal, I wanted to wait until we had the full picture to do a review. S14.1 introduced us to seven new queens from around the country. How I feel about this premiere is a bit of an enigma, because on the one hand something felt refreshingly more raw and less-polished about these queens, but on the other they are all very obviously aware of their need to create their TV persona, on top of their drag persona.

The less-polished, but still beautiful looks of queens like Willow Pill brought me back to earlier seasons before you had to have tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of couture in your drag bag. At the same time, queens like Alyssa Hunter lean in to that newer era of queendom where every word out of her mouth/every performance, feels like a decidedly branded performance. Alyssa is stunning in looks, and serves side-eye with the best of them, but her punk rock “talent” was surprisingly disappointing, especially for an artform Ru has famously called Punk Rock.

My favorite queen of S14 Part 1 was probably Kornbread Jeté. She brings just the right side of cheesy grits to her heavy helping of Kornbread. One of two trans-queens this season, along with Kerry Colby (a RPDR first to have two), Kornbread flexing the talent of singing an original song she wrote while also dancing her ass off was the perfect talent to show off given who the guest host was for this first half: MOTHERFUCKING LIZZO.

Lizzo is one of the single most talented performers out there today, and her entire brand is an honest approach to self-growth, knowing that you’re beautiful, and tearing up the floor no matter what your size is. So having her open Season 14 was the smartest choice the producers could have made. I want to apologize to the readers for the fact that it took me four paragraphs to get to her, and all I ask is that you don’t revoke my Gay Card at the next committee meeting.

The talent show portion of the S14 first half was the most notable disappointment for me. Very few of them demonstrated actual talents. Most of their talents were essentially just “doing drag.” Although Kornbread was my favorite of the queens so far, my specific favorite talent was probably Bosco’s. I’m such a sucker for burlesque and it’s deep roots in Vaudeville, and without Vaudeville and burlesque, we wouldn’t have the modern understanding of drag performances the way we view it today.

Finally, our first elimination came in the form of another first: our first queen to hail from Michigan, Orion. Unfortunately, Orion’s belt will not be adorned with stars, but with one more notch in her drag career list of experiences. I really enjoyed Orion story from a persona angle; she seems like a kind soul both in and out of drag. But when it came down to it, her lip-sync battle was decidedly not up to snuff. It could have been one of the weakest showings in a “lip-sync for you life” moment I can remember in a while. Them’s the breaks, though. Gay sera sera.

All fagtors considered, this first half of Season 14’s premiere was a delight. Ru seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself, which was really refreshing. As Drag Race continues to penetrate the mainstream, I sometimes think Ru is just coasting along episode-to-episode, new international iteration-to-new international iteration. But in this episode, I saw a genuinely playful spark in Ru, even if that spark was a bit extra cunty.

Check my follow-up article for my thoughts on Part 2 of the Season 14 premiere of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, where we meet our first ever cis-gendered, straight male performer!

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