Bzz, bzz, for an insect themed runway and an acting challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.
Bzz, bzz, for an insect themed runway and an acting challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.

TelevisionAugust 6, 2022

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under power rankings: Do not pass go, go straight to jail

Bzz, bzz, for an insect themed runway and an acting challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.
Bzz, bzz, for an insect themed runway and an acting challenge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.

An acting challenge set in a Timaru prison sends one queen packing, and another queen straight to the top.

This recap is for season two, episode two of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, available to watch on TVNZ+ now. If you’re waiting for the broadcast on Friday night please don’t read any further until then.

We’re back on track! The second episode of Drag Race Down Under is leagues better than the first: a bit of exciting drama, a challenge that tests the mettle of some queens while letting others show what they can, a unique insect-themed runway, and our first great lip-sync of the season.

After a weird mini-challenge where episode one winner Molly Poppinz arbitrarily gives out awards to her fellow queens, we come to the acting challenge, which is so loosely scripted I genuinely thought it was an improv challenge. The title: Caged Queens, a riff on the women-in-prison films from the 70s. As with all acting challenges, this one is a mixed bag. As we get further into the franchise, the types of queens who make it on Drag Race get more varied, and it’s not rare for look queens or Instagram queens to flop when it comes to theatrical performances. The more experienced queens do well, likely thanks to a long history of having to spin gold from straw, performance-wise. The less experienced queens… do not.

This week’s runway – featuring a perfectly lovely Lucy Lawless, who seems not to have aged since Xena – is a great one and the queens live up to it. There’s not a single dud look on the runway, as you’ll see below. Unfortunately, Kween Kong and Aubrey Haive land in the bottom, but fortunately they get to lip-sync to the unimpeachable 1990 banger ‘I Touch Myself’ by The Divinyls.

You would think/hope that Aubrey Haive, having taken her name from Austin Powers, would do well with a song that is prominently featured in that film. Alas, Kween Kong doesn’t take being in the bottom lying down. She gives the most dexterous cartwheel I’ve seen on the mainstage, and does what I can only call a balletic stop-drop-and-roll that leaves the judges breathless. Aubrey sashays away, and Kween is around the kong another for another day.

Aubrey Haive

Eliminated: Aubrey Haive

Oh, Aubrey. You made a good go at it, and for only having done drag for such a short time you should be proud of how far you came. Sadly, this trained actor was all business and not enough performance. She threw too many things at the wall as “an upper echelon Minogue” in the challenge, had a super unclear character on the runway despite a lovely look, and her attempt at doing a stunt in the lip-sync was completely eclipsed by Kween Kong just… doing the song.

And with that, Aubrey Haive heaves out of the competition.

Beverly Killz

8. Beverly Killz

I would’ve eliminated Beverly for her line-reading of Latrice Royale’s iconic “keep those nuts out of my face”, which suggested not just an unfamiliarity with performance, but with the general concept of comedy.

Yuri Guai

7. Yuri Guai

In a talking head during the challenge, Yuri apologises to anybody who has to watch, which is sort of the kiss of death. Yuri isn’t an actor, clearly. She does, however, know how to turn a look, giving a praying mantis look that is so good that Molly Poppinz jokes that hers is pretty much the AliExpress version of it. Yuri’s a fun presence in the competition, but her floundering in this challenge worries me – there’s often more than one performance challenge, and that could be what sends her home.

Pomara Fifth

6. Pomara Fifth

Hilarious in the performance, not so great on the runway, a little churlish in the workroom, complaining when Minnie Cooper says that she has dyslexia for what she believes in the umpteenth time. Can’t wait to see what she does in Snatch Game.

Kween Kong

5. Kween Kong

God, I love Kween. She straight up says, when the other queens disrespect Minnie, “we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her”, and while she flounders in the mini-challenge, she owns up to it on the runway. And man, does she flounder (although she does point out it’s a bit early for a challenge like this, given the queens haven’t had any time to play with each other and find their rhythms).

Her look, however, as a black death moth, is high fashion, and she absolutely blows Aubrey Haive off the stage. If there’s one queen I want to see go all the way, it’s definitely this Kween.

Molly Poppinz

4. Molly Poppinz

Fun performance, less than great runway, but Poppinz seems she’ll be around here to stay. Again, someone I can’t wait to see do Snatch Game.

Hannah Conda

3. Hannah Conda

A great turn-out from Ms. Conda. She goes all out in the performance, her runway is inspired (with some jawdroppingly good makeup) and she ends up in the top three again. No complaints, few notes.

Minnie Cooper

2. Minnie Cooper

God, I love Minnie Cooper. There’s a way of resolving conflict that these older queens have that I vibe with – right up the top of the episode, she settles a feud with Aubrey Haive in the moment; later on, she nips a conflict with Pomara Fifth in the bud by asking her to apologise. It’s mature, it’s refreshing, and it actually makes for good TV.

Unsurprisingly, Minnie nails the acting challenge, does a suitably sophisticated and charming runway, which is why she ends up second. You can also tell that Ru loves her, which is a definite boon in a show with RuPaul in the title.

Spankie Jackzon

1. Spankie Jackzon

We love an underdog story. After delivering a pantyhose-less look in the first challenge, Spankie Jackzon comes roaring back into the competition. Her performance as a Russian inmate with the most indistinct Russian accent was hilarious, her fly outfit was maybe less expensive and high fashion than the other outfits but she performed the hell out of it, and she’s proven herself to be a genuine delight in the workroom – a filthy-mouthed contrast to Minnie Cooper’s prim and proper persona.

Most of all, the top queens this week have proven that they’re not to be counted out. Experience counts for a lot, as we learn time and time again over on this show, and that fact comes into sharp relief here. Most impressively, Spankie seems to be a sort of den mother with genuine love and care for the other queens, and that’s the role we don’t see on Drag Race so often. A reminder that these spinoff franchises have more to give than just another 10 episodes of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under drops on TVNZ+ on Saturdays at 6pm, and airs the following Friday on TVNZ2 at 9.30pm.


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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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