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Frock Destroyers Blu Hydrangea, Baga Chipz, Divina De Campo
The Frock Destroyers on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK – Blu Hydrangea, Baga Chipz, Divina De Campovia BBC/World of Wonder

Drag Race UK’s girl group episode was the best in years, including America

As the Frock Destroyers reign supreme, this week’s episode brought another level of comedy, queer vulnerability, and campiness to the RuPaul franchise

Finally! We got a nod to The Cock Destroyers on Drag Race UK! In the girl group challenge, both the costumes and ‘The Frock Destroyers’ (comprised of Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, and Divina De Campo) served as a modestly lewd homage to the beloved Rebecca More and Sophie Anderson, who achieved viral fame a year ago with an iconic promo video for a ticketed gang bang. As you do. 

When Drag Race UK was first announced in the summer, many of us on Twitter agreed that the show would inevitably end up a pale imitation of the American version which would ignore distinctively British gay culture. British queens should be dressing up as The Cock Destroyers, we said, but they won’t. We were wrong. This show has embraced so much more of what shines about British queer culture than I could have imagined, from the Kim Woodburn references to MNEK’s cameo this week. 

Hands up: I’ve been wrong about this show consistently, and I’m so glad to have been proven wrong. It’s lovely I’m even still allowed to review it given how wrong some of my assumptions have been. Last night was the best episode of Drag Race – American or British – in years. The standard of comedy in the reading challenge was consistently brilliant with some truly laugh-out-loud digs. As I said last week, what I have enjoyed about this season is the fact that shade on this show has not come from a place of insecurity and meanness, but a place of affection and performance. More things I got wrong: I thought I’d find Baga infuriating, now I think she’s an extremely talented performer who has successfully won me over.

In one brilliant moment on the runway last night, Jade Thirwall of Little Mix fame told Baga: “You remind me of all those nanas at the working men’s club who have big boobs, and then they’ve got nowt else at the bottom”. Jade, known to be a committed LGBTQ+ ally who actually works to publicly support the community, was also the best celebrity judge so far, who neither behaved like she had never seen a drag queen before (Geri Horner, Maisie Williams) or like she secretly wanted to bang one (Andrew Garfield). 

If I have to call out one judge’s critique of the show this week, it’s that, as a viewer, I dislike obvious storyboarding and fixed results as much as Michelle Visage dislikes a saggy leotard. I know it technically can’t be a ‘fix’ because RuPaul can pick whoever the fuck she likes to go home, but still. Cheryl Hole’s ‘day at the races’ runway look looked like it was from the sale rack in Karen Millen. I think she deserved to be in the bottom two. Her and Crystal would have been a difficult victory to call – they’re the opposites. Cheryl radiates enthusiasm and passion, but is distinctly unpolished. Crystal is clearly the most imaginative catwalk designer-cum-model, but at this stage in the competition, lacks the versatility to shine (wahey) in the strict format of the show compared to other queens. These two would have been better matched as lip sync rivals. Instead, Cheryl was spared the lip sync because she needed to be retained for the next week when her near-namesake, Cheryl Cole, is booked to appear as a guest judge. I get it: Cheryl Cole is a big star for the show to have landed, and making her come face to face with her drag doppelganger has great potential, but it dispelled the illusion that the show is truly a competition. Personally, I think Crystal has a good case at the drag employment tribunal for unfair dismissal. 

“Crystal has a good case at the drag employment tribunal for unfair dismissal”

Similarly, The Vivienne clearly did not belong in the bottom two. She is consistently the most outstanding across the board, and right now, I would bet on her to win. Yes, this week it was a bit of a dip for her, and she very slightly fucked up her performance as part of drag girl group Filth Harmony. Her runway look and makeup was still on point, though, and requiring her to lip sync for her life was more about trying to create an interesting story arc for her than unbridled victory. I do believe her pain at having flopped it in the Maxi Challenge was real and it was good to see some vulnerability from her given that she’s had good cause to be indomitably confident of her position so far. She didn’t deserve the bottom two though, and we shouldn’t be able to see queens’ “journey” manipulated by production in such an obvious way. 

Divina De Campo is still my favourite queen, this week giving me a Mariah Carey whistle tone in her group vocals, choreography, the best catwalk look, and a brilliantly articulate history lesson to the straight and cis audience about what it was like for those of us who grew up queer under the influence of Section 28 – a 1988 law passed by a Conservative government that stopped councils and schools “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. Her impassioned monologue ended in tears that quietly expressed so much about the damage wrought by that policy. Divina, Baga, and Blu’s performance as The Frock Destroyers was unfettered joy with brilliant vocals and tight choreography that combined with bawdy comedy. Truly incredible – I’d pay to go and see a full show! I’m going to download “Break Up (Bye Bye)” on iTunes! Little Mix need them as a tour support act (thanks to Little Mix btw, for another banger for this week’s lip sync)! I think that performance will be a well-worn YouTube clip played at 3AM on the sesh and it’s entirely deserved.