‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’ S1 Finale Recap: K-Hole In One
The first crown to be won by fingerbang?
Phew. Kita Mean has taken the Drag Race Down Under crown — and hopefully $30,000 AUD, not NZD.
It’s been a rocky ride, to say the least, but our first Down Under season has nailed the landing. I wouldn’t go so far as some to say Kita was the only justifiable winner, but it feels good to end it by crowning a NZ queen who steadily gained traction all season.
Normally, you can pick a winner by E1 — sure, the show loves a misdirect (Rita Baga, Bimini, GottMik), but generally, entrances seal the deal. But Kita breaks the mold: she may haven’t stood out as an immediate front-runner, but that ball look and her Dr. Seuss impression aside, she’s just been consistently funny, polished and entertaining. If there’s one thing you can’t fault Down Under for, it’s predictability.
Honestly, Kita’s win was the best outcome for all involved. Had Art or Karen won, there would be non-stop cries of the show being rigged (I mean, it is, but who cares), and a Scarlet win would’ve been bad news for everyone, including Scarlet. Kita, meanwhile, will be able to elevate her drag even further and shine a light on NZ drag, too. Karen and Art didn’t need the crown, as they’re already Down Under superstars.
Plus, it was about time another drug-pun drag queen got her dues, given Sharon Needles won in 2012. Siri, play ‘Bumpin’ Bumpin” by Kreayshawn.
But First, Trauma
Finale episodes have a tendency to stretch out a little too long, but thankfully the Down Under add in some energy with a Zoom appearance from Olivia Newton-John and her ‘not going to happen’ daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.
Unfortunately, the energy is ‘ughhhhh stop’, as the duo claim to be “loving watching the season” that was very much still filming when they recorded the message. Then again, maybe Liv demanded to get a rough cut before agreeing to do the show, as such a big fan? Either way, it’s very clear there was at least one stipulation that she’d only appear if Chloe got a cameo too. The ‘personal life’ section of Chloe’s Wikipedia is a masterclass in telling 1000 stories in few sentences.
The final challenge is to record a verse for a Rumix of ‘I’m A Winner’, dance the house down and inflate RuPaul’s ego by nodding profusely while he and Michelle pontificate what your deepest traumas and flaws are.
The TicTacs have been replaced with Jaffas, but the old-hat jokes about refusing to eat one remain: I get that Ru loves a classic back-and-forth, but to me, Kita practically won the season by shifting the joke by struggling to fit two balls in her mouth. (For the record, if I was a RuGirl, I would simply grab the bowl and shove all of them into my mouth.)
Of the talks, it’s Art’s that seems to hit hardest, after Michelle points out that he is so busy supporting others that he might not have anyone supporting him. Whoa. It does seemingly stop her in her tracks though, and it’s never bad advice to make sure your community connections aren’t just business transactions. Speaking of, in the werkroom we see Karen comfort Art, and it strikes me that these two must be quite good friends, or, at the least, know each other very well. Why didn’t we see much of that during the show?
It’s a real trauma offload this episode, as Kita’s chat about her weight-loss and the ‘deeper issues’ it came from (a bit frustrating that Ru seems to think Kita’s weight-loss is her best talking point) leads the top four to discuss their daddy issues as they get ready for the main-stage.
Turns out they all have fractured relationships with their fathers, with both Art and Scarlet’s absent fathers attempting to reconnect to them as teenagers before going silent again when realising they were gay. I can’t speak for NZ culture, but that stereotypical hard Australian masculinity can be such a cage, tied deeply to the myth of what is and isn’t ‘Australian’. Seeing queer men talk about their relationships to it, and even just hearing that yes, it was pretty fucked up in myriad ways, is really replenishing.
Odd that the conversation about Scarlet’s father only came up now, as that kind of vulnerability goes a long way to understanding a queen, and perhaps where some of her meaner instincts come from. Trauma or pain is never an excuse to inflict it on others, of course, but hearing her talk to her ‘child self’ later on about how she is loveable and will be loved was quite moving, and a reminder that the death threats are a bit much.
I still think she shouldn’t have been cast in the first place, but I hope that this attention pushes her and Perth’s drag scene to be more inclusive/less racist: the real test is whether the work continues after the attention from Down Under dies down.
You’re A Winner, Baby
Before we get to the main-stage, there’s the obligatory dance rehearsal scene, where we see Kita and Karen struggle with their choreography. They are helped by Lance Savali, a choreographer who is not afraid of colours, and Elvis, his assistant who only gets airtime to do a bend-and-snap of sorts.
On the main stage, the performances are fine: the camera cuts are so intense that it’s a little hard to make out who is killing it and who’s just flailing their arms. That might be the point? Of the verses, only Scarlet goes for the traditional ‘I’m the bitch to beat! All these other queens aren’t so neat!’ approach. Art’s is cocky and funny, Karen goes for a ‘we’re all winners’ approach that doesn’t quite connect, and Kita sings for about three lines — I wish they were given more bars, as it feels like they have very little room to work with.
The queens re-enter in their finale extravaganzas, and Scarlet misses the teal memo. No-one is given a last-minute cut, and each of them lipsync to ‘Physical’, but not the Dua Lipa one.
Each lip-sync individually, then it’s edited together: Scarlet goes for sexy where the teal trio go comedic. This is the best thing Karen’s done all season long, but it’s all over when K kicks into gear with a rubber glove. What a disgusting delight she is.
And that’s Down Under dusted! However you feel about this season, remember that 90 percent of it was out of the queens’ hands: support them, buy their merch, see their shows, give them love, demand Jojo Zaho comes back for S2. In the meantime, Drag Race España is chaotic fun, and All Stars 6 begins on Friday, which, yes, I’ll be recapping.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under is exclusively streaming on Stan, as does España and All Stars 6, with new episodes dropping weekly Monday and Friday, respectively.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s Drag Race recapper and a freelancer who writes for The Big Issue, The Guardian and more. He’s on Twitter as @jrdjms.