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Canada’s Drag Race S1:E8 (Welcome to the family)

Last week’s elimination saw Ilona Verley bidding the werkroom a graceful, satisfied farewell. That positive final attitude was recalled by their sisters as they read the mirror message to ring in this episode. The five remaining queens deemed Ilona’s words inspiring and Priyanka praised them for coming in with a great message as she wiped the lipstick away. Sure, they read them good-naturedly for talking (and generally being) a whole lot, but they kept their words primarily on Ilona’s talent and fierce performance skills.

Gathering on the couches to debrief, Priyanka was teased for not wearing panties under her gown. She admitted she hadn’t done so because she was so confident in her pageant that she hadn’t expected to lip sync. The queens congratulated Lemon on her maxi challenge win and Rita Baga tried to shoot her shot at being Lemon’s plus-one on her prize trip to Iceland.

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Switching gears, the queens discussed their standing in the competition. Priyanka reminded us that Jimbo, Rita, and Scarlett Bobo have yet to be in the bottom like her and Lemon. Scarlett was vocal about her plans to keep things that way. When Rita asked who they thought might go next, silence ensued until Pri ducked her head, said she could feel their eyes on her, and demanded they quit playing “these mind games, ladies!”

The next day, the newly anointed top five returned to the werkroom and tallied up their wins. Pri claimed one maxi title in a performance challenge, Lemon boasted two maxi wins in acting and improv, Jimbo touted the Snatch Game title and one mini challenge, and Rita humbly listed her three maxi achievements; two in design and one for acting. Turning to Scarlett, the queens cheered as she triumphantly yelled “None!” Rita reassured her by quoting Anastarzia Anaquway from earlier in the season: “Consistency is everything.”

Priyanka inquired whether Rita and Jimbo had made up after their fight during last week’s untucked. Jimbo said yes and leaned into Rita affectionately, but Rita kept a very serious face and joked “I don’t talk to her anymore.” Ensuing shouts about who came harder for who were interrupted by the video message alarm, and Rupaul ruminated on whether drag queens are naughty by nature or nurture.

Entering the werkroom for the mini challenge, judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman introduced a Drag Race classic: the puppet show. Each queen would reach into a “tickle trunk” (a reference to the Canadian children’s TV show Mr. Dressup) and pull out a puppet version of one of their sisters. They would have 20 minutes and some supplies to drag their puppets up before doing an impression of their chosen queen. Lemon drew the Priyanka puppet, Pri drew Lemon, Jimbo got Scarlett, Scarlett picked up Rita, and Rita snagged Jimbo. After decorating their puppets, the queens returned to Jeffrey.

Lemon started the show with her miniature Priyanka, yelling “What’s my name?” and joking that this tagline originated when Tynomi Banks, which is why she’s always in the bottom. Then Lemon asked about her outfit and mini Pri explained it was a reveal from her Snatch Game, jabbing that the real reveal had been Priyanka revealing she’s not a threat. The reverse act followed, with full-sized Priyanka acting out puppet Lemon. In a low but inflected voice, Pri rambled about being from New York City. Asking her puppet if that’s why she had a crown on, puppet Lemon admitted to using the crown to hide her harsh hairlline.

Jimbo brought puppet Scarlett up to life with a drawling nasal voice. After informing us Scarlett had changed her name to Safe, Jimbo noted that her cheeks looked a little “low”. She pulled some extra stuffing out and gave Scarlett a fill, pushing it into a little hole in the puppet to plump up her face. Next was the real Scarlett and her Rita puppet. After some low-voiced Quebecois slang (“Bain oui luh!”), Scarlett joked that only two things would make Rita happy in this competition: more hot dogs and acting on her rumoured crush on Lemon. She said it would be a great balance; Lemon has so much personality and Rita doesn’t! Finally, Rita brought puppet Jimbo to life in a recreation of her pageant look. She reenacted Jimbo’s untucked diatribe against Jeffrey’s critiques word for word… right in front of him. She then turned the puppet’s critiques to herself, reenacting parts of their fight from last week too.

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Jeffrey named Scarlett the winner of the puppet challenge and she screamed “I won something!” This was a trip for two to Cuba. Then JBC spoke about how lucky queer Canadians are, particularly when so many other nations still condemn our community. He introduced Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian-founded charity that helps queer people from around the world escape persecution and find safety. The queens got emotional hearing that the organization has saved 700 lives since 2006; Scarlett even started crying.

Five newcomers to Canada, all of whom were helped by Rainbow Railroad, entered the werkroom. Jeffrey explained that this week’s maxi-challenge was another Drag Race classic: the makeover challenge. Each queen would pair up with one of the refugees, transforming them into the newest member of their drag house through physical family resemblance, connection, and presentation. The cast was introduced to Elton from Jamaica, Rebal from Syria, Dennis from Uganda, and Eka and Rainer, husbands from Indonesia.

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As winner of the mini-challenge, Scarlett paired the queens up with their newest “drag daughters”. She opted to be fair and give each contestant someone she thought they’d connect with well (she later said this might have been a little “too Canadian” of her). Scarlett chose Dennis for herself, and then paired off Rita with Rainer, Jimbo with Eka, Lemon with Rebal, and Priyanka with Elton. The queens had the day (and some extra materials courtesy of sponsors like Wigs & Grace) to create coordinating looks, work on their daughters’ runway presentations, practice painting their faces, and essentially teach them the ropes in drag.

The queens got to work and also got to know their new friends. Scarlett asked Dennis what kind of drag queen he’d like to be, but he wasn’t sure what kinds there are. He claimed he’d never walked in heels, but he was such a natural that Scarlett was dubious. Lemon expressed excitement to Rebal and bragged to him a little about her wins. Rita asked Rainer whether he’d ever walked in heels before (he hadn’t), then learned more about his and Eka’s life together. He related being married in 2014 while on vacation to Ottawa. Across the room, Jimbo and Eka decided their matching inner energy was “slutty demon”. Priyanka praised Elton for being her first drag daughter and was thrilled when she learned he’d actually been to her shows. In fact, she’s his favourite local drag queen!

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Overall, the queens felt a shift in energy upon sitting down with their partners. Rather than being all about the competition, this challenge felt like a change in perspective. They felt inspired by the excitement their new counterparts offered up, but they acknowledged a reality check about how unsafe being queer can still be. The fact that these newcomers had overcome so much and still felt pride in their queerness reminded the cast that there’s more to being on this show than winning; representation and freedom of expression are pivotal.

Returning for the walkthrough, Jeffrey stopped by Rita and Rainer. Concentrating on plucking his brows, Rita informed him she was “trimming the bush” on her seventh drag child. Rainer reflected on learning about Drag Race after coming to Canada, as such content isn’t permitted in Indonesia. He explained that he and Eka moved here for a happier and more free life together, but joked that Eka was “the competition” in that moment, saying “I don’t know him!” Rita informed Jeffrey that her plan was to make them look campy but fierce.

Next up were Scarlett and Dennis, who was officially renamed Violet Bobo. On seeing their matching fringed bodysuits, Jeffrey reminded Scarlett that other queens had been read for wearing simple leotards on the runway. Scarlet insisted they’d amp up the style and make them look signature. When JBC asked how he became involved with Rainbow Railroad, Dennis described his history of human rights activism in Uganda and how this lead him to the life changing organization when remaining there was no longer tolerable for him.

By the time Jeffrey got to Jimbo’s table, Eka was already bodied and corseted. Jimbo explained her goals of keeping things fun and bringing out the spirit that’s already inside Eka rather than concentrating on being competitive. Eka’s enthusiasm and total trust in Jimbo lead Jeffrey to deem them a great pairing.

Priyanka had Elton in tights, a bra, and a new name by the time Jeffrey got to them too. Introducing him as Elektra, Pri showed off their plan for bright colours and an aesthetic that’s expensive but fun. She explained how Elton had seen her drag before and how that set her at ease. Elton confessed that he could only hope to match Pri’s energy, since her energy is a lot. Jeffrey agreed and wished Elton luck with that.

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Rebal told Jeffrey he wanted to be “gorgeous and sour, just like my mother“. When asked if she’s ever made anyone over, Lemon recalled painting seven friends as different versions of herself for the finale of a past pageant. JBC inquired how Rebal was feeling about getting into drag for the first time and he confessed mixed feelings. He was very excited, but also aware that Middle Eastern culture in Syria deems it extremely taboo for a man to dress as a woman. He spoke about having had to hide most things about himself for so long, but also about the relief he felt in experiencing so much love and support in Canada.

Each pair was granted runway rehearsal time. Pri and Elton went first and Elton was in awe of its size. Pri wanted to bring his personality to life, so she coached him through walking, posing, and letting the judges “soak it up”. Lemon and Rebal (now Lime) worked on walking too, since he’d never walked in heels before. Lemon taught him that the secret to drag is just to really believe your own fantasy (“Delusional self confidence is the Lemon brand!”).

Jimbo walked Eka (now Bimbo) through serving hips, smiling, and giving tits and teeth. Bimbo’s walk was good, so they worked on being in “a shower of good feelings”. Rita and Rainer opted for a skit with coordinated acting to celebrate the concept of chosen family. Rainer (renamed Tari) struggled with the walk but Rita encouraged him to embrace the moment. Scarlett and Dennis/Violet worked on poses too. Violet lacked smooth elegance, which worried Bobo a little. She remained convinced his looks would be an advantage.

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Elimination day found the queens scrambling on last minute adjustments. Jimbo admitted she might be stressed about the time constraints. She reminded Bimbo beauty is pain and stuck her arm right down her tights to get her hip pads situated just right. Lemon apologized to Lime in for all the discomfort involved in drag as she made her thick brows disappear. Priyanka shaved Elektra’s beard for her, revealing a beautiful bone structure underneath.

As the queens started painting themselves and their partners, Pri admitted how scary it is to paint someone else. Scarlett argued with Lemon about whose daughter would be prettier. Scarlett’s gleaned confidence from her years working as a makeup artist, where she learned coloured theory and blending. Even so, they all acknowledged drag makeup is challenging to do on someone else, especially in your own signature style.

Conversation turned to how fortunate the cast and the newcomers felt to be bonding with other queer people. The queens reflected on how important it is to learn from their new friends and remember to value the privileges queer people are afforded in Canada, rather than escaping into a safe bubble and forgetting that people need help elsewhere. Rainer and Eka recounted police raids in Indonesia, having to move frequently, and fleeing each time they were discovered. They spoke about harassment and threats from neighbours too.

Dennis related experiences of violence in Uganda as well. There, it was better to run into the police because at least there would be record. Being attached by a stranger was more dangerous because they cannot be traced. They are more likely to “make you disappear”. Rather than fixating on violence, Dennis turned the discussion towards hope. The group talked about their shared belief that people and places can change, but also how it’s more important to change actual mindsets rather than just laws.

As everyone got emotional, Lemon pointed out the value in meeting people with these experiences and putting faces to stories, instead of just stats and numbers. Dennis agreed and reminded everyone how difficult restarting a new life in an unfamiliar country is, pointing out that refugees need our kindness and support. The mood lightened as Lemon cracked jokes about the perks of waterproof eyeliner.

Come runway time, Stacey McKenzie warmed up the stage in braids and a beautiful navy dress, fitted and stoned on top with a flaring skirt. Jeffrey, glittered around the eyes, wore cropped plaid pants, a paisley neckerchief, and a sleek jacket. Drag queen Brooke Lynn Hytes resembled Poison Ivy in voluminous, bright orange crimped hair and a short, structured green dress with long matching gloves. Canadian actress Amanda Brugel of The Handmaid’s Tale was extra special guest host, in a black 1980s inspired minidress with baby pink pouf sleeves. Her hosting was excitable and even downright flustered when BLH made dirty jokes in response to her “Under his eye” greeting (“That wasn’t in the script, Canada’s sweetheart!“).

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Priyanka and Elektra kicked things off in lime green and hot pink; Pri’s in a leotard and Elektra a minidress. Each was adorned in maribou feathers at shoulder and hip, and AB stones to match the head jewelry over long brown wigs. Inspired by West Indian style and Carnivale, their presentation was high energy and fun. Upon reaching the judges, Pri took Elektra’s hands and asked her “Now, what did mommy teach you?” Elektra turned to the judges and shouted “What’s my name?” They all shouted “Elektra!” as Pri chased her down the runway, ushered her off, and struck a few poses for herself.

Scarlett and Violet were next, in leather jackets with long fringed sleeves; Scarlett’s black and Violet’s gold. Underneath, they wore matching colour blocked lime green and royal blue leotards with silver fringe across the front. Their matching white and yellow Hollywood hair made Brooke compare them to Lady Gaga and Beyonce in the Telephone music video. Scarlett balanced out Violet’s “butch” movements by acting extra cutesy as they did a funny bit in which mother directed daughter where to go.

Lemon and Lime looked glamorous in short, neon hair flipped up at the ends; yellow on Lemon and green on Lime. They wore coordinating black and white sheer dresses glammed up with silver sequins and beads, each with a fur stole in the opposite shade. Their gloves matched their respective hair, adding another neon twist to their otherwise 1920s chic. Their presentation was very calm and demure, but also cute.

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Rita and Tari told more of a story. Rita appeared first in a black and white cape, pin curls, and clown paint, suiting her sad attitude. Tari appeared in a brightly coloured version of the look, with a much happier attitude and red clown’s nose. Handing Rita a silver nose of her own, the two clasped hands, shed their capes to reveal coordinated clown outfits underneath (a dress on Rita and a leotard on Tari), and skipped to the judges for a cute “Come to mama” moment.

Jimbo and Bimbo finished the runway looking like a pair of gorgeous “slutty demons”. They wore long, shiny coats in red vinyl, pulling back large hoods to reveal tousled blonde hair. Underneath, they donned red thigh high boots, zipping panties, and vinyl corsets over Jimbo’s signature breastplates. Their presentation was confident, coordinated, and downright sexual.

In the critques, Amanda deemed Pri and Elektra stunning and BLH said they did a “fantastic” job. She loved the way their outfits were complementary but also varied and elevated. Stacey loved them individually and as a set and called the style “very on brand”. Amanda complimented their comedic camaraderie and Jeffrey said he could tell they were having fun. This moved Elektra, who was very grateful to be there (which brought Priyanka to tears).

Lemon and Lime made the judges laugh with a coordinated “Hieeee” on their turn. Brooke praised their 1920s style and how pops of colour separated and tied them together. Stacey adored their styling bu expected more in presentation. Jeffrey did get a familial vibe but it was a little too mother-daughter, with Lime the mother and Lemon the daughter rather than vice versa. Lemon’s paint hadn’t done Rebal justice, but Lime was called a joy to watch.

Stacey exclaimed to Scarlett “You took a brother and turned him into you!” JBC admired Bobo’s bold move choosing someone with a much darker skin tone than herself for a lookalike challenge. Scarlett to talked about her great experience with Dennis; she’d felt attracted to his energy immediately and wanted to work with him regardless of differences. Amanda complimented their chemistry and told Violet she lights up the room. Jeffrey wasn’t a fan of their outfits and thought Bobo was Lemon at first, but he respected her choices in combining different aspects of her drag on different body types.

In contrast, Jeffrey thought Jimbo and Bimbo looked gorgeous from head to toe. Amanda concurred, begging Jimbo to make her the outfit. When JBC admired their tucks and asked Bimbo where she keeps “it”, she replied “I keep it in a drawer!” Stacey praised the looks but was less enthusiastic about the presentation; she found it a little uncomfortably sexual for the “family” challenge and stayed hoping for a “more refined” Jimbo each week.

Rita and Tari got unanimous votes that they definitely looked related. They were also, however, deemed the “least put together” looking. Stacey wished for something chic on the reveal and Brooke agreed the base outfits were a letdown. Rita joked that she hadn’t worn a leotard because her body was “too busted” after this seventh drag child. Jeffrey saw the presence of a storyline, but that he wasn’t entirely sure what it was. Rita explained the symbolism of their hand-holding as a nod to Tari’s history, but JBC didn’t seem convinced.

All 10 queens were dismissed and Priyanka welcomed the newcomers to their first ever untucked, saying “Now, instead of us fighting each other, we want y’all to fight each other!” Jimbo asked Rita how she felt about receiving the harshest critiques and, keeping her very French composure, she replied that there’s a first time for everything. She assumed she would be lip syncing, felt okay with that because she loves to perform, and was proud to have stayed true to her drag style (which Jimbo privately compared to a dollar store).

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Lemon piped up to tell Rita that her rival would likely be herself or Scarlett. This took Scarlett aback and Pri agreed; they thought Bobo’s feedback had been glowing. A shady free-for-all sparked, in which Lemon scoffed that Scarlett was just wearing a bodysuit, Scarlett balked that Pri was too, and Pri loudly rebuffed “Fuck you bitch, I got ostrich on mine!” This went back and forth with grins, but Lemon stayed convinced that Scarlett should be learning lyrics.

Priyanka quit bickering, gushing to Elton about what a blessing he was to her. She loved the togetherness of the whole challenge. Jimbo told Eka he made her proud, looked stunning, and killed it on the runway. When Rainer flirted with his husband across the room, Scarlett caused shy giggles by shouting “These two are going to keep the drag on and smash later!”

In deliberation, Amanda was enthusiastic for just about every team. The resident judges, however, were largely on the same page throughout. They decided Priyanka was “back” and that a trip to the bottom lit a fire under her ass. They did not feel the same about Lemon, who should have helped Lime with posture and confidence. They reiterated that her paint did her partner no favours and agreed that she seemed preoccupied, which dulled her performance. Scarlett was praised for managing such an impressive resemblance with a person so unalike herself. They felt like she set out to prove herself, and she did. Jimbo and Bimbo looked amazing but their presentation didn’t hit the mark. It lacked the “Jimbo quirkiness” they love and didn’t harness Eka’s energy quite as well as they’d hoped. Finally, Rita’s outfits and skit-like presentation fell just short of her consistently high standard.

While the newcomers watched on a screen from the werkroom, the queens returned to the runway. The maxi-challenge was awarded to Priyanka and her prize was very unique; a donation of $10,000 would be made to Rainbow Railroad in her name. This is important because that’s roughly how much it costs for the organization to bring one person to safety! Priyanka was moved, ecstatic, elated, and just about vibrating with excitement all at once.

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Although she was highly praised, Scarlett was safe once more. Instead of feeling down, however, she was caught up in the overall spirit of positivity and community. She thanked the judges with a genuine smile and left in much better spirits than last week. Jimbo was safe too, leaving Lemon and Rita up for elimination. Lemon looked nervously down the runway at Rita, who mouthed “I love you“. Both queens took a visible but confident breath as “You Oughta Know” by Canadian singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette began playing.

Lemon’s energy was palpable right away. Rita took a slower, calmer approach, nonchalantly tearing a few rhinestones off her face and flicking them away while maintaining eye contact with the judges. She removed her cape and tossed it aside, the epitome of confidence. Lemon showed off quirky personality and sass, gesturing for emphasis. As Lemon got moving, Rita remained planted and strong, building a sort of still power. The chorus erupted with a spinning jump split from Lemon, timed perfectly on the beat. Rita held that eye contact with the panel. This dynamic continued until Rita, walking slowly down the runway, threw herself to her stomach and crawled towards the judges. This sparked a handstand split from Lemon, a knee slide from Rita, and powerful emotion from both until the very last note.

Collecting themselves for the judge’s decision, the two queens repeated their earlier interaction; Lemon looked to Rita, who mouthed “I love you” back at her. It was Rita’s calm command that held the judges’ attention in the end, just like she’d held their eye contact in her performance. The judges wished Lemon the best and she left the stage with mock sass, leaving everyone laughing over claims that she’ll “…be bitter forever!”

Don’t forget that you can watch Canada’s Drag Race every single week, starting at 9 pm EST each Thursday! Catch it on Crave in Canada, WOW Presents Plus in the US, or BBC Three iPlayer in the UK (every Friday). You can also catch up with each week’s eliminated queen every Monday by checking out Talk About It with Drag Coven, featuring myself and Ja’mie Queen West.

Written By

Courtney Conquers is a drag artist and archivist, writer, consultant, public speaker, and live show videographer. She is best known for her work as part of the queer media collective Drag Coven (she's the short one who films the videos). Courtney has a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from Carleton University in Canada and is an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in drag and queer spaces. She also regularly promotes, coordinates, talent handles, and casts drag events throughout North America. When she’s not traveling for her own gigs, assisting other drag performers, holding a video camera, or writing about drag and queer fem issues, Courtney can usually be found knitting in obnoxious colours. 

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