‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 13, Episode 6 power ranking: Looking for some hot stuff, baby, this ranking

A hustle back to the disco era has an up-and-comer shining like a mirror ball

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. A disco-mentary challenge gives the queens a chance to boogie down, but which queens danced well enough to avoid falling down the rankings? And who leads the pack for the very first time?

11. Tamisha Iman (last week: 10) — ELIMINATED

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Tamisha Iman is no longer coming for you, because she’s out of the competition. And I’m very sad about it! But at the same time, I’m not that surprised. Her ball performance last week was a shock to the otherwise flawless edit she’d received up to that point, and her fight with Kandy Muse in Untucked hinted they’d be thrown against each other in a lip sync at the first opportunity. This, of course, was that opportunity. I’m glad the two could resolve their differences; it would have been disappointing to see them end on a bad note. I do think Tamisha is all but guaranteed an All Stars spot. As she explained in her confessional, she was limited physically in what she could do this season. Moreover, her popularity with the fandom has been absolutely off the charts. I see her doing very well upon her return, and am hopeful she’ll take the chance to come back. Missing her already.

10. Kandy Muse (last week: 7)

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

Kandy took a tumble into the bottom this week, which was ironic since she’d made a big point about not wanting to listen to the opinions of a bottom-placing queen (in that case, Tamisha) last week. My hope was that she’d take this dip in her performance to reflect on what the judges aren’t responding to about her work and course-correct. Unfortunately, if Untucked is any indication, that’s a pipe dream: She chalked up her place in the bottom to her red jumpsuit, as opposed to anything else. (In fairness, her critiques were off the mark: Kandy missed steps, which was a bigger deal than her serving too much Kandy in the performance.) She lip-synced her way to safety, but to avoid another trip back to the bottom, she is going to need to make a change. She’s got personality for days and, as she proudly declares, a real star quality. But as proven by queens like Shangela and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo—huge stars who nonetheless have never won the show—that quality only goes so far in this Race.

 

9. Utica Queen (last week: 2)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

Utica was introduced as “Utica Queen,” but has exclusively been called Utica ever since. Should I just switch her name to Utica? A dilemma I consider every week as I write these rankings.

Anyway, Utica is officially getting the “hiding behind camp” edit, a recurring critique most notably given to BenDeLaCreme in Season 6. Good company! But DeLa notably had two wins under her belt by the time she started getting that edit. Utica has one near-win from last week’s ball, and the reason Ru cited for her not winning was her campy presentation. I’m of two minds on this: I think Utica’s facial movements are too much, and they’re part of why I initially didn’t respond to her. But as time has gone on and I’ve gotten to see more of her kind, genuine personality (look at how she responds to Gottmik’s prank in this Tik Tok!), the quirkiest parts of her have felt less like affect and more like true expressions of her personality. Losing those would be losing Utica. I think she’s got to find a way to open up to the judges more, so she can convince them of the same.

8. Denali (last week: 4)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: VH1

I actually puzzled over whether I was placing Denali too low here. (If I was in Denali denial, as it were.) She’s such a strong dancer that this challenge should’ve been a cakewalk, and yet she landed in the safe group. And I don’t even think that was a particularly egregious call. Her partner Rosé, who I do think deserved a top spot, was much more passionate in her performance. Her facial expressions told as much of a story as her actual moves did. Denali, as impressive as she is technically, didn’t translate that to her face. She tends to look a bit serious as she dances, when a challenge like this really called for a fun, expressive performance. This was notable in her “Phenomenon” verse and her “If U Seek Amy” lip sync—but very much wasn’t a problem in her excellent “100% Pure Love” lip sync. If she can channel that energy every time, Denali will be golden.

7. Gottmik (last week: 1)

Judging based on what we’ve seen so far, a dance challenge wasn’t going to be a chance for a Gottmik win. She’s just not as impressive a performer as some of these dolls. Remember, she freely admitted she’s not a Lip Sync Assassin in the premiere. She did well enough to score a safe spot, and got a great video message from her parents in Untucked to boot. As Ra’Jah D. O’Hara once noted in Untucked, when a queen gets those video messages, it can be a big sign of who production is investing in. But I don’t want a cynical read to get in the way of noting that the message itself was lovely, and that Gottmik was clearly touched by her parents using her name. It was a heartwarming moment for a queen who is taking an increasingly central role.

6. Symone (last week: 6)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

Something I really admire about Bianca Del Rio’s Season 6 performance was that, in addition to stomping the challenges, she also played the game of Drag Race very well. She crafted her own storylines by playing drag mother to Adore Delano and Trinity K. Bonet, and leaned into potential TV moments like saying she didn’t know RuPaul loved Judge Judy before impersonating her in Snatch Game. It made her a strong competitor, and a compelling character—someone for both audiences and producers to attach themselves to. Symone is very much pulling off a similar strategy. Last week, she happily engaged in the dreaded “inner saboteur” conversation, seemingly knowing that it’s a favourite of Ru’s. Then this week, she pulled out a wig referencing Ru’s own in his “Back to My Roots” music video. Symone is finding ways to shine even in the episodes she doesn’t win, and gets camera time every week. That’s the edit of a winner, and she’s doing all the right things to help make that happen.

5. LaLa Ri (last week: 11)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

LaLa would’ve been in the top for me this week, so I fully understand her disappointment over being safe in Untucked. She killed her choreo, and seemingly had a blast working with Symone in their “Disco Sucks” routine. She also continued to be the master of the confessionals, actually crying with laughter over Utica’s dismal rehearsal. LaLa is bringing a lot of joy to this season and I’m very hopeful she sticks around to keep delivering it. But I do think her lack of top placement this week is a sign that the show isn’t putting much stock into her as a long-term threat.

4. Elliott With Two Ts (last week: 9)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

Personally, I didn’t get Elliott’s high score this week. She looked good next to Tamisha, but there were at least two I’d have placed in the top over her. I also was glad to hear Michelle Visage call out Elliott’s runway look as “regular,” which I think is a more descriptive term than it seems upon first blush. It goes beyond “basic,” which I ultimately think is an unhelpful critique. “Regular” indicates that Elliott’s runway looks are too much like what you’d see someone in the real world wearing. It would be one thing if Drag Race was a show that celebrated realness on the runway. But there is an expectation that runway looks gag the judges and the audience. And as polished as Elliott can be, her fashions have rarely been gag-worthy. (I’d cite her top hat look from Episode 2 as her one garment that truly transcended.) Since it seems like we’ll be spending a bit more of this season with Elliott—I can’t imagine she’d get this high score only to immediately go home—I’m hopeful she can take the challenge and level up her runway looks fast.

3. Tina Burner (last week: 8)

I was genuinely stunned Tina got as close as she did to winning this challenge. She was fine in the performance; she knew her steps, and she translated that joy to her face. But the whole package didn’t quite land. At most, I’d have given her a “good work this week!” before dismissing her as safe, especially after her seeing her Little Black Dress look. As Olivia Lux said in Untucked, it did seem like the judges were looking for more of a feeling and a vibe than they were technical perfection. So maybe her energy is what Ru seized on? Regardless, this is Tina’s first trip to the top, which gives her a bit of a boost after her fellow Mean Girls got praise the last two weeks. (Still not over what an ill-advised alliance name that is.)

2. Rosé (last week: 3)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

I am truly on a Journey with Rosé. I didn’t think she deserved a Top 2 spot in the Porkchop Queens’ individual premiere, but then thought she earned her high score in the acting challenge. Last week, I’d have put Denali in the top for the Bag Ball over her, but this week, when she finally didn’t place in the top three, I’d 100 percent have put her there. In fact, I think there was an argument for her to win this challenge. Her performance was high-energy, she nailed the steps and she managed to outshine her fellow dancer Denali. I thought she was cruising to a win, and was shocked to see her just called safe. That said, I am begging her to step away from the tulle. Too many runway looks with tulle! She is to tulle what Tina is to that fiery colour palette. Still, a very good week for Rosé.

1. Olivia Lux (last week: 5)

Courtesy of VH!; Brian Wong/Xtra

Credit: Courtesy of VH1

With acknowledgement that in another universe, Rosé could’ve taken this win, Olivia made a pretty damn great case for herself this week. She just shines onstage! Her smile was winning, her hair was big, her dance moves were on point and she picked the perfect outfit for the performance. Her runway look was pretty disappointing, but the fact that the judges just glazed over it to rave about her hair was a good indication that Olivia would be sailing to the win this week. She’s one of my faves this season—probably second only to Symone—so I’m thrilled to see her take a relatively early win. Now to keep up the momentum moving forward!

Want more Drag Race talk, henny? Untuck with us every Friday at 4 p.m. EST at our Facebook Live Kiki with Kevin.

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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