That's a wrap, squirrel friends!
With last night's coronation of Aquaria at the season 10 finale of RuPaul's Drag Race, it's time to officially close the book on yet another sickening season. But before we say goodbye, we've got to talk about that finale because, honey, what you see isn't always the truth. (OK, it's not that serious, but who are we to pass up a solid Tatianna reference?!)
E! News was on hand at The Theater at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles as RuPaul gathered all her season 10 queens for one last lip sync eleganza extravaganza a few weeks back and, much like what you saw on your TV, it was an epic evening of entertainment. But there are a few things about the proceedings that one only learns when they're posted up in the audience. So, let's spill the tea, shall we?
First things first, the night of taping is looooong. That hour and a half you see on TV? It takes about five or six solid hours of filming to get all that footage. And as a member of the audience, you're required to never let your energy dip or waver, even if you're watching the same moment film for the second time, as was the case with the mega mix lip sync face-off between the season one and season 10 queens. You clap and wag your finger and cheer like it's the first time you ever saw it. Those are the rules.
And those one or two minute interviews between Mama Ru and each of her final four? Each one of them goes on for 15 minutes, at least, with long-winded answers just begging to be pared down to a few seconds of television.
As for the real reason we all were there, those sudden death lip syncs, there is no trickery, no second take, no do-over. But in person, they are actually kind of hard to fully take in. For instance, most of us in the audience were so focused on Asia O'Hara's shocking butterfly fail during her face-off with Kameron Michaels to Janet Jackson's "Nasty," that we had no idea how well Kameron actually performed until watching it on TV last night. At least, this author didn't. (And if you thought it was awkward watching Asia's stunt go so terribly wrong, watching the crew try to clean up the stage afterwards as she looked on with a terrified smile plastered on her face was 10 times more brutal.) If there are three queens involved, as was the case with the final lip sync for the crown between Kameron, Aquaria, and Eureka, forget about it. You just have to pick which one you want to watch and stick with them because there was so much going on on that stage that it was all but impossible to see it all.
And if you think Mama Ru actually reveals who wins to a theater full of rabid fans just itching to hop on Reddit and spoil the whole thing, think again. Aquaria's coronation wasn't the only one filmed that night. In fact, each potential winner gets to film their crowning moment meaning that, yes, we watched and applauded as if they'd won three separate times. And then the finalists wait like the rest of us to find out which one of them actually won, learning the truth when they see which possible outcome Ru and the producers tack on to the end of the episode. How's that for TV magic?
But mostly, what they don't tell you is just how unbelievably fun it is. Sure, it's a freakishly long night full of resets, retakes and waiting—changing into an entirely new drag look takes time, people—but it's also one of the purest celebrations of a community that hasn't always had the easiest time being accepted in this country. The deafening roar when RuPaul took the stage for the very first time, the shared ecstatic reaction when Monique Heart turned it out so hard during the mega mix performance that her wig literally came undone, even the collective panic as we watched Asia's hopes of winning fall faster than the butterflies hidden within her costume—watching it all on TV will never do it justice. It's a beautiful evening full of community, compassion, and some of the most sickening drag you've ever seen in your life. Butterfly fatalities aside, of course.
RuPaul's Drag Race will return for season 11 on VH1.