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What went down on the ANTM & RuPaul’s Drag Race crossover

The queens meet Tyra’s princesses

The girls of America’s Next Top Model met real-life royalty last night, as RuPaul’s Drag Race queens joined them on a photoshoot for the first ever crossover show. They’re perfect, they’re beautiful, etcetera etcetera.

The episode, titled ‘Beauty is Pride’, means to celebrate queerness. How does Pride play out in the fierce world of Tyra Banks? Will we see a Raja season three Snatch Game-esque smize-off til everyone’s eyes bleed?

All becomes clear in a TyraMail that tells the girls the themed week will celebrate the LGBT community. They head to Micky’s in West Hollywood, a famous gay bar, where they take part in a runway show that’s meant to be fun, free, and gay as hell. Ultimately though, they’re all only a step above po-faced and don’t do much to get the crowd “pumped”, as they were assigned. They wear clothes by queer designer Christian Cowan and compete for a chance to walk in his NYFW show. For some reason, Kyla – the ‘activist’ one – wears a jacket with Caitlyn Jenner pasted on the back.

In a series of confessionals model Brendi talks about being a not-out bisexual from a family in Nashville, where she feels it would be unaccepted. Liberty, the ironically named (supposed) Trump supporter, chats about how she grew up without the presence of any LGBT people. A chunk of the episode is spent centring on Liberty’s clash with the others about feminism. She asserts she doesn’t want to be treated totally equally, asking about the concept of maternity leave. She adds in an aside that aspects of being Republican are “beautiful” – is it the erosion of birth control cover, or the horrific treatment of migrant women? 

The week’s biggest challenge comes in the form of a royal-themed photoshoot – Drag Race megastars Manila Luzon, Katya, and Valentina arrive as the girls’ co-stars, the queen mothers to their jealous little princesses. Each girl is paired up with a queen, and attempts to outshine her.

Katya, the slutty Russian queen from Drag Race season seven and the second installment of All Stars, let’s everyone know she’s keen to snatch the ANTM crown: “I absolutely see America’s Next Top Model in this group. And it’s none of those girls… it’s me.” 

“I grew up watching America’s Next Top Model, and I’m finally here alongside these ladies,” Valentina says. Strangely, the queen’s voice doesn’t have that angelic, save-me-Guadalupe cadence she had on her own show.

Manila Luzon was Drag Race’s third season runner-up, and also appeared on season one with a dazzling wardrobe and even brighter wit. Her most iconic performance was her emotive lip sync of “MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer. Katya was season seven’s Miss Congeniality and All Stars runner up. She’s a firm fan favourite too for her razor-sharp humour and frankness when talking about her mental health and past drug addiction. Oh, and for scalping Alaska in All Stars with her deadly delivery of that Party” line. Then, Valentina! Season nine’s early fan fave that reached heights of villainy among the other contestants before you could say Nina Bo’Nina Osama Bin Laden Brown. Her loss came as a huge shock, following a lip-sync that Ru had to stop for the first time ever. All three queens have sprawling, vibrant legacies.

On set, Manila attempts to stir the gossip pot, asking outright who the shadiest girl there was. Liberty has a moment with Katya and talks about how she’s trying to embrace new ideas and concepts – maybe, like thinking of queer people as humans and supporting political activism that does such, but who knows. She talks about some elements of how she was brought up as “maybe not okay”. 

The photoshoot ends, and no one really des a good job at outshining the queens. Duh. When it comes to panel time there’s lots of classic ANTM soundbites: “NECK”, “FIERCE”, “SNAPS”. The best photo of the week goes to Khrystyana (and Katya). It ends how would hope a Pride-themed episode would end, booting out Republican Liberty.

Not enough airtime is given to Katya, Manila, or Valentina obviously, but all three managed to show more personality and star quality than the cold dead fish ANTM models. Nevertheless, it’s still one for the herstory books.