The Search for Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2017 : Week 2 – Strange things

VNDS2017_WK2-120Held at one of Davie Village’s go-to clubbing venues, Celebrities Nightclub, the remaining twelve contestants of The Search for Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2017 took their notes from the first preliminary round, licked their wounds, pocket their victories and stepped up their game for the quarter final round. And to spice things up the audience was treated to a side of drama … and some strange things (depending on where you’re coming from).

All the contestants: Beth Amphetamine, Cleopatra Compton, Sherrie Blossem, Molly Poppinz, Synder Starr, Kendall Gender, Jo Durée, Cheryl Trade, Eva Scarlett, Anna May, Marianne Toilette and ILONA really stepped up their game in this round. But is it going to be enough to convince the judges and the audience and move to the next round?

VNDS2017_WK2-101The winner of Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2017 will recieve, aside from the much coveted crown and title, two tickets to the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 Finale party, courtesy of TFD Presents, and a trip for two, flights and commmodation, to the party venue (possibly in New York city), courtesy of Celebrities Nightclub and Cruisey T. The panel of judges/coaches includes Tommy D of TFD Presents, Raye Sunshine, one of Vancouver’s top makeup artist and drag entertainer, and Mila Dramatic, Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2016 winner. The event emcee and host is Jane Smoker, Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2015 winner. Music provided by DJ DomTop.

Word from the Coaches
Last week the contestants were divided into three teams after the elimination. Eva Scarlett, ILONA, Jo Durée (pronounced as “Du-ray”) and Kendall Gender went to team Tommy D. When asked by Jane Smoker what it was like to work with the girls, Tommy D replied, “I have a lot of egos in my group, a lot. They all have a lot of opinions and they’re all wrong … all the time,” and said that it was a lot of fun to work with them. Sherrie Blossem, Molly Poppinz, Synder Starr and Marianne Toilette are team Mila Dramatic. She said about the group challenge that “it was fun challenge” and that they had fun. Anna May, Beth Amphetamine, Cheryl Trade, and Cleopatra Compton are team Raye Sunshine – who was not a fan of the overhead lighting at the judges’ table. She said her team are all new girls, who are all fantastic, and no one had an ego.

Kinky Boots Challenge
For the first runway challenge, the contestants were required to come up with fancy shoes. With RuPaul’s hit song “Glamazon” cued, the emcee called each contestant to stage to show off their footwear creation to the audience.

Beth Amphetamine wore a gen encrusted vamp blue-ish high heel. She used gems that were too big to add an aesthetically pleasing artsy detail.

Cleopatra Compton played it safe with her platform high heel ankle boots by gluing gems and gem ornaments over a thin stocking, which she wore over her heels to just below her knees. From the audience point-of-view, it looked like it was glued to the shoe. That was a clever trick. Since the gems were mostly glued on the lining, the front of the vamp looked minimal.

Sherrie Blossem bedazzled her black thigh-high high heel boots with pink gems and flowers. But her black outfit blended with her black boots, making it look like she was just wearing simple high heels and a unitard.

Molly Poppinz embellished a pair of high heel thigh high boots with crumpled silver paper, gems, and geometric reflecting hard plastic. She top it off with a black corset, black spike bra, fringe, and fishnet stocking. However, she didn’t need a purse, with stitched words that says “CASH MONEY”, and walked in “purse first.” To me it killed the look and presentation. We’re done with “Purse First,” it’s already season 9. Aside from that, hers is one my favorite.

Synder Starr walked in with a blue-ish pumps, which I’m not sure what she did to it. Maybe she turned it into strap heels, and added a pink lace lining? The embellishment was very minimal, but her overall look was not bad.

Kendall Gender was giving me Norsemen chic with her hairy knee high boots (boots with hair extensions) and matching thorny hair and fishy mug. I’m not really sure where she was going with the look, I think if she attached the hair all around the rim, and discarded the black ribbons, it would look more finished. But like I said, I’m not sure where she’s going with the look.

Jo Durée’s red high heels knee high “Slaytina” boots was gorgeous – “Slaytina” a reference to Alaska Thunderfuck’s single about her idea of a perfect drag queen. Her red faux fur coat, leotard, and hair and makeup was great.

Cheryl Trade was wearing a shimmery colored metallic high heels with matching blue-wash long-sleeve tube mini dress. Her hair and makeup were perfect. But her shoes seemed plain and out of the box.

Eva Scarlett wore a fully realized McDonald-inspired costume. Her high heel thigh-high boots was perfectly wrapped with hamburger wrappers. It was adorned with fries, soda cups with straw, and burger boxes …from the looks of it, it was a meal for two! She wore jumbo French fries for a fascinator on her red hair, red leotard, two big burgers stuck to her bra, yellow gloves, and a nice shoulder purse … for that extra detail. Her shape was everything! This queen was NOT half-stepping!

Anna May wore high heel knee high boots that was covered with “paint on canvas,” and wrapped with satin ribbon. Her makeup, see-through dress and blonde hair was cute. She’s probably channeling art aficionado housewife realness. It was well put together.

Marianne Toilette gave me Poison Ivy realness. Her green short heels was adored with roses, flowery buds, and leaves. She had roses on her hair, roses for earrings, and roses for a bra. It was an interesting naturey look.

And last but not the least, ILONA. She walked on stage like a bloody monster. She had horns (and teeth?) on her head. Her claves smothered with blood. And her black elevator boots had teeth on the sole and rim. Her right shoe had a though bubble that says “I’m from Surrey!” So is she suggesting that people from Surrey are monsters who are thirsty for blood? lol

Notes: Only Jo Durée and Marianne Toilette bothered to strut their stuff on stage long enough to model their creations. The rest pretty much walked directly to the line-up. I really don’t know why some of the girls are in a hurry, do they not want to be seen? Their time to shine is every time they are called up on stage, not just in their solo performance. It’s how the audience and judges will notice them, and it’s the only time they get the opportunity to sway audience opinion to vote for them … well, aside from the personal campaigning during breaks. Live the moment girls, prance, flaunt, pose…. thank you.

My top picks for this challenge are: Eva Scarlett, Jo Durée, Molly Poppinz, and Anna May. Should I also say, “Trend alert! High heel thigh high boots!”?

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The contestants where then asked to move to the front of the stage so the judges can have a closer look and make their assessments.

Group Challenge
For the group challenge, the judges assigned each team a song to perform.

Team Mila performed the song “Mannequin” by Porcelain Black. It was a chaotic but fun performance. Sherrie Blossem seemed lost at times and looked awkward – maybe not intentional. I was quite surprised by Synder Starr, aside from having a little bit of trouble when she took off her pants for the reveal and it got stuck on her shoes, she was focused and held her own. Marianne Toilette was also on point, funny, and really did well. Her look in the group challenge, including the group photo challenge, has a striking resemblance of Ja’mie King, the character in the popular Australian show, “Summer Heights High.” Seriously, just compare the photos. Molly Poppinz took the reigns in this challenge. Her energy and performance was great! Her intro and “mannequin” look was the best of the four. I would’ve liked it better had they wore a uniform body suit for their nude mannequin illusion. But must mannequin-look always have to be nude?

Team Tommy performed the song “You Gotta Not” by Little Mix. The quartet enlisted their coach, Tommy D, to play the man in the song. Heck, if you’re going to lecture a man about growing up to be the man, why not your team leader? Theirs was no interpretative dancing. It’s basically women giving a man a lecture … and sometimes forcefully. They knew their words, they all look great from head to toe, especially Kendall Gender and Jo Durée, and they seem to enjoy “getting at” the man. I wish they were assigned to perform a more challenging song … you know, other than pop. Tommy, for his part, was able to keep up with the choreography, he didn’t have to lip sync. And then they pulled his pants down (see photo). That was interesting, considering he did a sexy dance duel with a contestant last year. It was fun to watch, but I wish the performance had a point. Maybe a different song that tells a story … a good story … like the song “Hands to Myself” that Mila Dramatic and Vivi Milan performed in the finals last year. Every time I hear that song it’s their dance routine I remember.

Raye Sunshine’s team performed “Black Magic”, another song by Little Mix. The girls did well overall. Their performance was a nice reference to the official music video. I like their hair and makeup and their second look. It was nice that they got off the stage and performed right in front of the audience, but they could’ve interacted or move around. Overall it was okay.

Notes: The group numbers were okay. It was fun to watch because they’re drag queens performing live and jumping about and shedding clothes. But none of the group performances was memorable. I supposed if I have to pick one it would be team Mila. I’m not sure if bubblegum pop is the best way to showcase depth, especially since these are mostly guys in their early adult life. I can almost hear Bianca Del Rio say, “Waiting for talent.” After last year’s VNDS, which was intense, I suppose my expectation this year is at least to be on par.

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Individual Challenge
Each contestants where asked to perform a song chosen by the judges.

This is when things got intense and a little strange. I commend all the contestants for “bringing it” in this challenge. It seems like only the solo performances is really what most of them (mostly the new comers) take seriously, that is, based on the first two challenges.  Maybe I’ve misjudged. But nonetheless, this week is a huge improvement from last week for all of them.

Beth Amphetamine performed “Send My Love” by Adele. Her overall look was passable but looks unfinished. Her makeup was great. But her sideburns was showing. She looked “naked” without any nails, maybe she’s allergic to fake nails? Her only jewelry was her huge earrings. Tommy didn’t didn’t like her dress, and Raye admitted that it was her fault. I think the dress was fine, but she could’ve make it work … like with better choreography and execution … and with better accessories, and nails! Details, details, details,…

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Cleopatra Compton performed “Tambourine” by Eve. She looked fabulous. Flawless makeup, and her Carmen Carrera look (relying on that body) was amazing! She wasn’t wearing much, except for that faux fur coat that she took off later in the number, but she was well put together – hair on point, mug well blended and on point, she got her nails did, and she wore appropriate jewelry. She nailed the lip sync, great choreography, and to top it off she was joined by her new drag mother, Berlin Stiller – who seems to really enjoy flaunting her derrière, remember Queen’s Care? It was a sexy performance, reminiscent of Raja and Carmen Carerra’s lip sync. However, she has already done sexy last week. I was expecting something totally different.

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Sherrie Blossem performed “Make You Feel My Love” by Glee. First of all, I like her hair and her makeup, it’s so much better from last week, and she shaved her pits (lol, she read), which is a must for her glam look in my opinion. I like her metallic shiny dress, but it was off-center. It was clearly made for a woman with some assets to fill the top. And her tuck was protruding, which was a bit distracting because the dress was form-fitting. For her whole performance she just stood in one spot, with her hands mostly clasped together. I would have enjoyed it better had she used her hands and arms more to emote. You know, like how Hawaiian dancers gracefully use their arms and hands. She did a good job with the lip sync, but she made the rest of her body unnecessary. All that glam … she didn’t exploit. She could’ve shed a tear or so too, that would’ve been intense, like Eva Scarlett’s dramatic performance last year.

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Molly Poppinz performed “Like A Virgin” by Madonna. I think she has a mad crush on Tommy, and she really really really wants him, lol. Her makeup was great and I like her energy, but I didn’t like her flat hair, and her outfit could’ve been better. I suppose since her performance was sort of a playful joke, makes her curious look appropriate. Her performance was fun and normal at first, but then she dragged a blowup lamb (not sheep, because she said, from where she originally came from, New Zealand, they have lambs not sheep) on stage and stuck a cutout photo of Tommy’s face on it – a face picture he approved. That’s when things really got squirmy and interesting. She did some weird interpretative dancing, like taking the lamb for gaily a walk, perhaps to the rolling hills where the pasture is greener and the grasses are tall enough to do crazy shit. She then proceed to do stranger things, like giving the agreeable human-hybrid a French kiss, yes there was tongue, riding it, spray whip cream on its belly and behind (ass), licking the whip cream, simulated oral sex on her, humping it doggy style, and cradling it. And I started to wonder, did she got this idea from YouTube or childhood? Just when I thought the whole ordeal was over, she then grabbed a blanket from her tiny backpack with donuts print, unfolded it, and simulated some good old fashion bestiality action under the covers. The blanket kept coming off but she didn’t stop until she finished. I can honestly say the entire audience was gagging. And when it was all over, the little lamb, whom we shall now call Timmy, looked all raped but satisfied. Jesus Christ! What have I gotten myself into?! Is there a second act? :)

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Synder Starr performed “All The Lovers” by Kylie Minogue. I liked some of the elements of her look, like her hair, accessories, her outfit, and her shoes. She’s so fit and she has great legs. But she didn’t wear enough makeup, it was so toned down, and she wasn’t wearing any nails. What is up with the “no nails” agenda with these queens? She did a reveal but her leotard came off in the bottom, it rolled up and looked like a shirt. She did a cartwheel, which I’m sure Kylie does in her music videos (cough). Her performance was just okay.

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#Untucked: Drama
During the critique, one of the judges said he need her to have more confidence because, knowing what she’s capable of, the song didn’t require much effort but she performed less than what was needed. Then she got defensive, saying she have confidence but for some of the audience she comes off as a pageant queen and “that’s where I feel that I screwed up,” she explained. When asked to elaborate, she explained that when she first joined the competition in previous years, she didn’t got the chance to do the creativity [aspect of the competition], to which the judge disagreed. This was followed by a few more exchange of words which I didn’t pay anymore attention. I think she had all the opportunity given to her in previous cycles of VNDS to do creativity, I just think her reaction was coming from something else. Knowing what the competition is, having competed many times, one would think she’s mastered the mechanics and know the expectations for each contestant by heart. #EndScene

Kendall Gender performed “Home I’m Home” by Shania Twain. She looked fantastic. Her hair, makeup, outfit, nails, shoes, … accessories … all spot on. She was going for country singer. She and her two band members, one lead guitarist and a violinist, looked official in their custom made outfits complete with branding. But was their look country? I suppose it’s possible these days with crossovers and such. She nailed the lip sync and rocked the stage with so much energy that it was challenging to get a good shot of her. She connected with the audience and stomped the aisles. It was high energy and she sold it. Even though she had two backup crews, they were just standing at the back playing real instruments, so they were more of a prop as opposed to backup dancers, so this was a legit solo act to me — because I so want to watch her do a solo act in the competition.

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Jo Durée performed a Hex Hector Radio Mix of “Nobody’s Supposed To Ge Here” by Deborah Cox. Her look was amazing! Great hair, great makeup, and great costume. It was so on point. If I have to pick something because it’s already flawless, it’s the cheek contouring and lips. The former was a tad too strong and the latter could be tad fuller, overdrawn, with a little bit of shading and highlighting. With a mic in one hand and the lights dimmed, she started off singing on top of the counter at the bar. A warm spotlight was focused on her as she got off the bar and make her way towards the judges table, interacting with the audience along the way, and to the center aisle. She stopped midway, facing away from the stage, and “sang” to the judges. She continued to the front of the stage then to the side to change outfit. It took some time, but her new look was amazing, the delay was forgivable. It was so polished I was so impressed, if only the background was white so her black and shimmery costume stood out more. The song is high energy and she exceeded that on her own, no backup anything. How can someone be so new and be so polished?

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Cheryl Trade performed “No” by Megan Trainer. If it’s just about her looks, she’s the bomb. She’s probably the fishiest queen in the competition this year. But like the saying goes, “You can’t have everything, unless you’re Beyoncé.” She started off her performance in front of the judges’ table, then walked on the center aisle making her way to the stage. Like I said before, it’s only a matter of time when a contestant will make their performance entrance from the bus stop! Not the roof, it’s been done! She did some hair flipping, a mini-reveal – where she took off her fur coat to reveal a sexy leotard. She dipped her wears and worked the stage. Her lip sync was harder to make out because she doesn’t exaggerate the words, especially since she has a cute mouth. Then she held a picture of Tommy over her head and tore it into pieces. She’s probably not a fan of him (lol … due to the critiques?). She’s the complete opposite of the other contestant who wanted a human-lamb hybrid of him for a date. Even a sexy performance needs energy … to bend, crawl, dip, roll, purr, and contort. You’ve got to look mad, sassy, wanting, thirsty, and determined … and it was none of that. It was low energy … but at least she’s beautiful and well put together, right?

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Eva Scarlett performed “Good Morning Baltimore” by Hairspray. I’m not a fan of musicals because I can’t stand non-stop singing and singing in instead of actual dialog … it hurts my head, it’s not a choice. She’s one of two very polished queens in the competition. Her makeup is so well blended and flawless. I’m impressed by her attention to detail and her creativity. She’s a full-figured queen, but she serves sickening silhouette. Her ideas are well thought out and well executed. I’m sure her reference to the Hairspray character is spot on, but if I have to pick on something, she didn’t wear any nails and her costume was too compact and opaque – maybe if she dragged up the skirt and top with something sparkly or glittery … something that shimmers for that extra mileage. I like how she used the entire stage, got off the stage and interact with the audience, and had her own warm spotlight. She had so much energy, it was amazing!

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Anna May performed “Red Blooded Women” by Kylie Minogue. She has greatly improved from last week. Her makeup and hair was awesome. Her Sailormoon-inspired costume was cute, but seemed a little unfinished. So this is her thing, she likes characters. Is she a cosplayer? Who knows? The velvet chair she had for a prop was beautiful, I wish she used it more in her performance. Her performance has greatly improved too. She had a masked backup dancer who carried her off stage, which was nice. She interacted with the audience and walked on the center aisle and finished her number at the foot of the stage. It was very good!

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Marianne Toilette performed “When You’re Good To Mama” performed by Queen Latifa, from the hit musical Chicago. She’s another queen who has improved so much from last week. I like her whole look, if only she blended her cheeks, jawline and chin contours a bit more so it didn’t look like a thick strip of paint. I like her fascinator and her dress, that was some regal dress she wore. The song to me sounds dirty and taboo, but she made it fun and amusing. Her reveal, yes she stripped, she’s burlesque performer, was not bad. Overall I was impressed and actually enjoyed her number. But if burlesque is all she does, it can get really repetitive quickly, unless she does something unexpected or incorporate some elements into her act – like props or a storyline. Otherwise it’s the same old story … queen fully clothed takes her clothes off, done.

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ILONA performed “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. She has used confetti, glitter, fire, and cake on stage. And now … feathers. There’s no need to talk about her makeup and her hair, she’s 100% slay bitch. Her headdress was giving me a hint of 1920s flapper realness, and a nice reference to the single’s cover. I simply love her white chiffon dress with fixed cape. The song was a great one for her, it has really deep meaning to it, kind of spiritual, and it has a fast tempo, which is great for a high energy performance and she nailed it. This is the kind of song I’d love to see the other queens take on. Hers was the kind of performance where you need to hold your breath so you won’t miss anything. She conveyed the emotions of the song to the audience with so much commitment. As she danced, the light fabric flowed with her movement, she cleverly flung the cape, there was so much movement and grace. And to top it off, white feathers was dispersed all around her. It was so fitting and right for the song Stevie Nicks would be proud. Throughout her performance, the audience was mostly quiet and still. When her number was over, the audience was still quiet …. because everyone was shocked and mesmerized! It was intense from start to finish. It’s the kind of performance that makes you think about our existence, lol. Frankly, I just want to sit there for an hour and stare into blank space … and think about my place in the universe.

My top picks for this challenge are: ILONA, Jo Durée, Eva Scarlett, Kendall Gender, Marianne Toilette, and Cleopatra Compton. In my mind, ILONA bested Jo Durée’s performance by a hairline for its continuity, intensity, and uniqueness.

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#Untucked: Drama
Before the second half of the solo performances began, Synder Starr got back on stage with Jane Smoker. She wanted to apologize for her reaction during her critique. The judge(s) was also a good sport and reminded her (and the rest of the contestants) not to take the critiques seriously. All is well again in paradise. #EndScene

Judgement
After all the scores for the quarter finals was tallied, Eva Scarlett won the runway challenge. For that she got two tickets to Kinky Boots! Jo Durée won the individual challenge.

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Synder Starr ranked the lowest and was eliminated from the competition, see you in 2018? Sherrie Blossem and Beth Amphetamine end up in the bottom. They were to lip sync to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” to remain in the competition. I thought Sherrie Blossem was slaying the lip sync. Beth Amphetamine was kicking off her bedroom sandals off stage, both flew over my head. Great another injury, lol. In the end, the judge(s) picked Beth Amphetamine to remain in the competition. They think she had more potential and wanted to see more of what she can do.

Notes: Last Two Laps
From my casual conversations with some of the audience, quite a number of queens believe Jo Durée will win this year. My top five for the finals are: ILONA, Jo Durée, Eva Scarlett, Kendall Gender and Cleopatra Compton. This could still change in the quarter finals and finals. For the last two rounds, the ticket is “take the audience to church” from start to finish. ILONA and Jo Durée has proven that a solo performance can still be intense, it’s all about execution and commitment. If a Queen wants to pop out from the stage, they need to be mindful not to blend in the black background – black costume on black background, you’re invisible. The contestants also need to work the whole stage and showcase themselves every time they’re on stage.Walking around the aisle is fine, but also be aware that the more you’re on the floor the fewer people will be able to see your performance. The best place to be scene by more people is on the stage. And of course, find the light! Tribe size matter, so it’s crucial to campaign and bring people to vote. I’ve only seen ILONA, and I think also Eva Scarlett, that campaigned for votes. ILONA handed out stickers that says, “VOTE for ILONA.” That was neat. Bring the whole village to the finals and bring your AAA game. Of course it’s not a done deal, the ten remaining contestants can still make a big impact in the semi-final and final … if they learned from their notes and do something about it. Ego won’t win contests.

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Check out photos from the quarter finals here.
Note: I’m not posting full albums on Facebook anymore because it’s reach
policy is a load of crap. Download original photo edits on the site.

 

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