‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 13, Episode 3 power ranking: Phenomenal

The Porkshops make the most of their second helping

Welcome to RuPaul’s Drag Race power rankings! Every Saturday, we’ll debrief the week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. Six queens square off in the second proper premiere of the season, performing their own verses for RuPaul’s song “Phenomenon.” Who is the breakout star of the Porkchops?

6. Kahmora Hall (last placement: 9)

Credit: Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Oof, Kahmora. You are not going to get far in this competition with poor time management skills. What’s perplexing is that, unlike other queens this season, Kahmora has two drag family members (Soju and Jaida Essence Hall) who could have warned her about the time constraints. The judges didn’t seem to mind that much outside of a couple harrumphs at the mini-challenge fashion show, but the fact that it’s in her edit doesn’t bode well. More troublingly, while they love her sense of fashion, the judges don’t think Kahmora has any personality behind the clothes. She’s going to have to change their minds fast, or else she may soon be packing up all her Bob Mackie gowns and heading home.

5. Joey Jay (last placement: 10)

Many a fan expected the judges to hate Joey wearing her own hair. It’s been a bugaboo of the panel’s for years, going back to April Carrión and Joslyn Fox not concealing their masculine cuts in Season 6. So I’m pleasantly surprised they respond well to Joey’s own hair, while warning her not to rely on the same look over and over again. Michelle Visage has been read (even by Bianca Del Rio herself) for needing versatility from the queens, but I think it’s a valid critique. Even when you have a signature, you should be able to diversify. Joey’s looks all reading similarly this week didn’t help matters. But she worked it out in the performance, so she’s still got promise in this competition.

4. Utica Queen (last placement: 12)

As much as I do not jive with Utica’s personality, I am very much interested in her sense of fashion. Her Vamp runway was my favourite of the mini-challenge, and her Stevie Nicks-inspired sheer look, while a bit messy, had some great ideas in it. She’s also accomplished something big by giving the judges an interesting character detail to focus on: Being a Seventh Day Adventist. Standing out from the crowd is so crucial in early Drag Race weeks, so it’s not surprising that upon learning this, the judges (especially Ross Mathews) took another look at Utica. She got compared positively to Yvie Oddly, Thorgy Thor and Crystal Methyd—good company, if she can keep it. Colour me a bit more intrigued than I was before.

 

3. Rosé (last placement: 11)

Credit: Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

Bad news out of the way first: Rosé becomes the first queen to lose two lip syncs this season, which wouldn’t sting quite as much had she not declared herself a Lip Sync Assassin in the premiere. Good news: Rosé impresses in a few different looks, including her artsy Lady and outré Vamp fashions in the mini-challenge. Her sheer runway isn’t quite as great, and I wouldn’t have put her in the top two for her “Phenomenon” performance. But she left a good impression on the judges, and that’s what matters. I’m waiting to see more from her, but as a major narrator this season, she’ll likely have plenty of time to show her stuff.

2. Tamisha Iman (last placement: 8)

Tamisha has absolutely exploded in popularity in the fandom since the season premiere, and I don’t see that slowing down after this episode. In addition to stunning on the runway in a gown Ru called one of the most gorgeous to ever walk the main stage, she wrote and performed a strong verse and looked great in the mini-challenge runways. Not only that, she also impressed as a choreographer who could get the girls together in rehearsal, and opened up about being a veteran queen and a father of three. Getting to hear her talk about her famous drag daughter, Tandi Iman Dupree, was also a delight. Tamisha was the star of this episode, and I’m a little miffed she didn’t get a top two placement! The judges are clearly in love with her, though, which bodes well.

1. Denali (last placement: 7)

Credit: Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: VH1

I’ve found myself thinking about Denali most out of the Porkchop queens in the weeks since the premiere. She’s got a determined, competitive energy that I really respond to. She’s not self-aggrandizing, but she’s focused on her goal. That fighting spirit came across in her verse and performance, which were both sharp and impressive without showing off. She continued to demonstrate just how technically precise she is in her lip-sync to “If U Seek Amy,” which was one of the better pop dance performances we’ve seen in a Drag Race lip sync. Being the best of the bottom group is a dubious honour, to be sure. But in my opinion, Denali was the closest to winning her premiere lip sync of the Porkchops. She’s demonstrated she’s more than a Porkchop, and I hope she’s here to slay the long game.

Kevin O’Keeffe is a writer, host, instructor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles, California. His favourite pastime is watching a perfect lip sync.

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TV & Film, Culture, Drag Race, Opinion

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