Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under recap – Episode 8 – Grand Finale

The grand finale of Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under plays out in much the same way as any finale of the Drag Race global franchise. That is:

  • A lot of pontificating on being part of the Top 4 from the girls
  • A meaningful interview with Rupaul and Michelle Visage (or Fred, or Art Arya, or Supremme or Brooke depending on your nation)
  • An all-singing, all-dancing performance tied into a re-release of an old Rupaul club hit
  • A best drag runway
  • Two tearful soliloquys from each queen, one told to a photo of themselves as a child and another explaining why they should become the next Drag Superstar
  • A lip sync performance from the top finalists
  • A winner being crowned.

We received all of this in the Down Under finale as well, which made it a little by-the-numbers but also a comfortable and dare I say enjoyable end to a very controversial first (but hopefully not last) season.

Firstly, let’s talk about poor Karen From Finance. I can’t remember another queen on the show who dedicated her talking head to explaining why another queen should win the competition but Karen did just that to justify Art’s place in the finale. Combined with her generally middling performance and something that I really struggled to consider ‘best drag’, and she was hit with one of the two worst edits of the episode. It was clear she was not a contender from the start.

The other one who didn’t play their cards right at all was the racist one. When they used her very sad revelation about her biological father simply to give Art Simone an opportunity to talk about her own experience, I thought perhaps it was curtains for her as well. But when she answered the question “Why should you win Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under?” with what amounted to “Because I’m better than the rest of them and have won more challenges,” I became even more certain it wasn’t going to be her either.

And then there’s Art Simone. This was a glowing episode for her. She nailed every look, I loved her verse and the aggressively Australian pronunciation of the lyrics. Her speech was also pretty great and her best drag was elegant and beautiful. But her earlier elimination and mystifying return ‘in the trash’ played against her in popular opinion and probably ruined her chances. But it was clear the producers considered this to be a top 2 with Art Simone and Kita Mean.

Lovely, gorgeous, surprising Kita Mean. Her childhood trauma is still quite raw, but from the start of the episode when she wiped off Elektra’s message about being sent home by the winner of the season, I was pretty sure that was what’s known as foreshadowing. I actually got teary when she spoke on the main stage and her wings look was like a more elevated, more dragtastic version of Courtney Act’s look way back in season six. And then there was the lip sync. This has been a season for props. Maxi Shield and her glittery microphone and now Kita Mean and a rubber glove. The versatility of using it to mimic a rectal exam, fisting and then a cow’s udder? Brilliant. Show stopping. Give her the crown and scepter already!

And so Rupaul did just that. And with a collective sigh of relief, Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under ended on a high note, with the fan favourite winning over the queen who won the most challenges. Condragulations Kita Mean, you deserve it!

Other bits:

  • Rupaul did not grace the main stage with her presence in the crowning, lending even more weight to the conspiracy theory that she was not even there.
  • Rhys Nicholson is wonderful and should continue in season 2 (please let it continue into season 2).
  • Where were all the eliminated queens for the best drag runway? Also no reunion? We have really been left starving this season.
  • Who will host season 2? Will it be Rupaul again? Or will Art Simone step up to the plate?

Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under recap – Episode 7 – Talent Extravaganza

I don’t think I’m alone in saying I’m left a bit flummoxed at the end of the penultimate episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under. All season long we’ve been confused, delighted, devastated, enraged. It’s been a wild ride.

This week, the queens are competing in a talent extravaganza usually reserved for the first episode of an All Stars season (season 6 of Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars is coming 25 June). This is the third time something has happened in Down Under that is from All Stars. Snatch Game was in episode 2. Art Simone was brought back without reason (face it, there is never a reason to bring a queen back). And now a talent show. This might be part of why it’s been so hard for the Down Under queens, because All Stars relies on prior knowledge of the queens and references from past seasons which they don’t have.

But moving on to the talents.

Karen From Finance has been a very comfortable ‘safe’ all season long. Her talking heads have me convinced they told her she was THE frontrunner, as week after week, she singles out her ‘single biggest competition here’, which was generally Art Simone. This week, mystifyingly, it’s Kita Mean. Foreshadowing her eventual win perhaps. Karen creates a single balloon animal while dressed in a tattooed (?) nude illusion bodysuit with a bondage harness over it plus her Karen hair. It’s absurdist comedy?

Art Simone eats some stuff. If you’re not watching Art Therapy on her Instagram, you need to start. She rupologised at the start (Rupaul hates watching people eat), shoved a whole meat pie in her mouth, pretended to eat a stack of lamingtons then swallowed her own fist. It’s absurdist comedy!

Kita Mean did magic. Rupaul groaned, I groaned, the whole world groaned. Rupaul hates magic and so do I! The quick changes were very well done, but I agree with the judges that the looks (all season) were not the best.

The next queen did a pole routine. She may never have done it for a show before but I’d bet she’s been in pole classes for quite some time. We saw Shea Coulee do this same thing on All Stars 5 and she eventually won. Hopefully this isn’t portentous of the end.

And Elektra, bless her naïve dancing heart, did what every little gay boy dreams of, and just danced her socks off (literally) with all the seriousness of Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Again, we’ve seen this sort of vulnerability from Coco Montrese in All Stars 2 and it sent Coco and now Elektra home.

The runway theme was How’s your head… piece? and here all the queens excelled, which made the final decisions basically down to the talent show and their group performance. And of course my favourite question, “Who should go home tonight and why?”

Unfortunately, all the queens said Elektra and Elektra just went bananas and said Art Simone. I thought this smacked of producer intervention for a few reasons. One is that Kita Mean has been buddied up with Elektra all season long, so why now, all of a sudden throw her under the bus? Another is that Elektra was almost certain to say the racist queen. She clearly hates her. So why not? Add to this that Art Simone told The Veronicas she thought the racist queen should win and I’m completely thrown for six (or seven). Art and Etcetera were the most vocally disgusted at the blackface revelations. Why would she change her mind now?

But this cements Elektra’s place in the bottom. On the main stage, it should be noted that all the queens bar Kita Mean changed into wigs. Karen From Finance also dabbed at the end which is another strike from me. Kita Mean ended up in the bottom and sent Elektra home.

So, now we have a top four. Did I think this would be the top going in? Absolutely not. My choices would have been Art Simone, Coco Jumbo, Maxi Shield and Etcetera Etcetera. Which means I must be #TeamArtSimone.

That said, I think it might be Kita Mean who takes this out. Although the show is trying very hard to make us like the racist one.

Who are you rooting for?

Other bits:

  • When Rupaul did the workroom walkthroughs, they cut away to the same unimpressed expression for almost every queen. I wonder if she was questioning the choice of a talent show…
  • Also, Raven and Elektra had actual physical contact. Which means Raven and Rupaul must actually be there and pops the bubble of that particular conspiracy theory.
  • A couple of Australianisms I haven’t heard before on this episode, sabo for sabotage. And androdge for androgenous. Let me get the Macquarie Dictionary on the phone…

Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under recap – Episode 4 – Ru-cycle

I’m proud to say that I caught the blatant foreshadowing last week of someone being inside the trash pile and correctly guessed it would be Art Simone. It’s not rocket surgery, but it still feels good to be correct. Now hopefully I’ll also be correct that next week, the show and Rupaul will address Scarlett Adams’ storied history of cultural appropriation and blackface. I attended a viewing party this week which featured an appearance from Coco Jumbo and Maxi Shield following and when they discussed the runway, Coco said of Scarlett, “I didn’t recognise her in whiteface” and honestly it is too perfect of a commentary not to write down.

Putting that aside for now, Art is back on Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under (hooray and she is clearly incredibly talented and went home as a gag but also, where’s the second chance for Jojo Zaho and Coco Jumbo who I also adore?), it’s a design/sewing challenge (a.k.a. the best challenge) and the queens are blatantly reading each other all over the place.

Etcetera is becoming one of my favourite queens on the show. I love that her references are very old Hollywood and classic drag glamour, she is unafraid to tell it like it is, particularly when questioning Elektra’s taste level and Kita Mean’s design skills, and they are proudly, openly non-binary, which is incredibly important representation on any level, but particularly from someone as young and self-assured as Etcetera. I understood her 1920s reference on the runway, but agree that the skirt was a little too simple.

I’ve said it before, I want Maxi to win this competition. She’s far and away the funniest, most grounded cast member. Her quips in the workroom were hilarious, about not being an idiot and getting sewing lessons, about Scarlett being really lovely and that “she must just not like you, Elektra,” I just adore her. And her runway was glorious. I’m a sucker for any kind of graffiti print, and I love a Vivienne Westwood namedrop/reference, so as I slurred at Maxi later in the evening, “you were robbed!”

I thought all the queens did a pretty good job of creating an outfit out of rubbish, and while we have seen iterations of most of these before, that’s also due to the raw material being provided. If you don’t want to see pages and video tapes, don’t provide them, Rupaul’s producers. Similarly for ball pit paraphernalia, picnic rugs and those bags I don’t know the name of that Maxi used.

Elektra and Kita were deemed safe, which I suppose is fine but I found their colour schemes pretty repellent. The primaries of Kita’s and that umbrella hat that Etcetera rightly lampooned, were pretty unpleasant on the eye. And while Elektra looked sleek and glamorous (if not glam-diculous), the mustard browns of the ties was again fairly repellant. But while safe is good because you survive the week, it’s also boring because you were just not good enough and not bad enough to be a top or a bottom.

And then we have Karen From Finance. I must admit, they’re not giving Karen a lot of screen time. Since she won the first episode, she’s faded into the background a little, and she was literally in the background glowering at Art Simone while Kita Mean explained the rivalry between them in her talking head. Based on this week’s baffling decision to poorly recreate Schapelle Corby and her boogie board (this is somehow acceptable to make fun of a woman who spent nine years in a Balinese prison for smuggling, while making fun of Lindy Chamberlain is not? I’m not saying either is ok or not, we can make up our own minds, but I’m wondering where Karen’s line in the sand is…) and her safe status over the past few weeks, plus Art’s now glaring favouritism, I’d be a little concerned if I was Karen as well.

But Karen did somehow win the rather pedestrian lip sync, and poor, lovely, beautiful, kind even when she was being quite shady, Anita Wigl’it is sent home. I actually really loved her VHS and book pages dress and thought it was done in a high-fashion way, but she shouldn’t have told Rupaul she’d be doing it with a glue gun, because that’s probably what elicited such negative critiques.

Other bits:

  • I watched this episode at Ginger’s at The Oxford Hotel in Sydney, hosted by the wonderful Felicity Frockaccino and featuring performances from Coco Jumbo, Carmen Geddit and Maxi Shield afterwards and it was absolutely fantastic.
  • I was very happy to see Elz Carrad, star of the New Zealand film Rūrangi, part of the Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival this year, on the judging panel this week.
  • What will Ru need to ‘address’ on the main stage next week? Hopefully the Scarlett Adams controversy.
  • Rhys Nicholson is proving himself every week to be absolutely filthy and hilarious, I loved the repetition and changing emphasis of ‘I didn’t peg her, period’ and ‘You didn’t peg her period?’ Beautiful.
  • Glam-diculous. Patent it, put it on T-shirts. Also looking forward to Maxi Shield’s fair suck of the sav, which Ru openly stole, making its way to Drag Race US.

New horror (and a little bit queer) story by Adrik Kemp

City in the Ice featuring Adrik Kemp

I have a secret love of Antarctica, so when the opportunity arose to set a science-fiction story there about a city beneath the ice, my imagination went crazy and I ended up with a historical horror piece about a doomed United Nations expedition of four men into the stark landscape to investigate what happened to the last eight parties.

I’m immensely proud of “The Ninth Expedition” for many reasons and I hope you enjoy it. You can get it from Infinite Realms. It’s got some incredible stories, all edited by H. David Blalock.

New novella by Adrik Kemp, “Blood of the City”🔥 out now

Blood of the City by Adrik Kemp

My latest novella is out now from Pride Publishing. “Blood of the City” is a sequel to “Blood of the Land”, last year’s tale of gay vampires in Australia. It follows the same characters as they navigate their new lives in the heart of Kings Cross in Sydney and their almost inevitable journey back to the countryside in which they were raised to discover what they truly mean to one another.

It’s sexy and thrilling with a fascinating new mythos about what makes a vampire tick. Please read, rate and recommend on Amazon and Goodreads.

“Blossom Fall” a new short story by Adrik Kemp in Aurealis Magazine

Aurealis Magazine #89 featuring Adrik Kemp

Very excited to have a story in the latest issue of Aurealis Magazine. This is Australia’s longest running science fiction and fantasy publication, so it’s a great honour to have a story featured within.

‘Blossom Fall’ is the tale of pen pals across galaxies, one on the planet Heres and the other back on Earth. Their messages span generations and as Blossom Fall approaches on Heres, we follow Meleiac as she prepares her granddaughter, Liff, for her coming of age celebration and reminisces about a life that could have been with her pen pal from Earth.

It’s a beautiful tale of celebration and family that I’m very proud to have published. You can get it on Smashwords in the latest issue of Aurealis Magazine.

A new short story, “Mischa and the Mermaid” by Adrik Kemp

Underwater featuring Adrik Kemp

“Mischa and the Mermaid” is a short story close to my heart, about a young boy and his fateful encounter with a group of mermaids off the coast of a small town in Australia. The impact of this unfortunate meeting with be felt for the rest of his life.

You can pick up a copy of this stellar anthology from Transmundane Press on Amazon.

A mini interview with me and an excerpt from the story are also available at one of the editor, Alisha Costanzo’s site, to whet your appetite.