[Review] "Dragula" S2E1: Cenobites

July 20, 2019

Vander von Odd survived the competition of the first season of "Dragula", and her reign was a great one for the Dragula style of performance. She even became a production designer for the show itself, allowing her to truly leave her mark on the "Dragula" empire. But all good things must come to an end, and a successor must be crowned! And this time around, the $10,000 prize is being put up by dragqueenmerch.com, so bitch, we have a budget this time around! Who will rise to the occasion? And who will find themselves six feet deep for their troubles? And how glorious will the kill scenes be this season?

 

The opening shows a boardroom meeting between the Boulet Brothers and a cavalcade of generic suits from a generic television network. The suits are complaining about how violently queer (and how queerly violent) the first season of "Dragula" was, and how the head bigwig will stop at nothing to keep the show from airing anywhere ever. After a lovely Mommie Dearest moment, the Boulets wreak havoc, and leave the boardroom as a final resting place for the suits, in a telekinetic, almost Scanners-esque scene.

 

The contestants are unzipped from their body bags and unveiled for the audience:

 

  • Biqtch Puddin, Atlanta, GA 

  • Dahli, Phoenix, AZ

  • Abhora, Atlanta, GA

  • James Majesty, Seattle, WA

  • Erika Klash, New York, NY

  • Monikkie Shame, Seattle, WA

  • Disasterina, Los Angeles, CA

  • Kendra Onixxx, Pomona, CA

  • Felony Dodger, Los Angeles, CA

  • Victoria Elizabeth Black, Orlando, FL

 

The inaugural challenge for the season is a bloody beer-chugging challenge. Whoever finishes their pint first will win an advantage for the floor show. Whoever comes in last will have a distinct disadvantage. Victoria wins the challenge, meaning she gets a one-hour foot massage before the floor show! Monikkie comes in last, meaning she will be giving the foot massage.

 

The main challenge is a Hellraiser tribute, as the queens are tasked with creating a Cenobite look based around their drag persona. The winner stands to earn a limited edition signed copy of Clive Barker’s Last Testament as well, so the stakes have been raised for this challenge and for the season. How does each queen envision her drag persona’s death? How vile, kinky, and leathery will things get?

In the dressing room, the drama is almost unbearable. There is an ungodly amount of tension between performers, for one reason or another, and, to quote the great Latrice Royale, "the level of Romper Room fuckery was far too much." James Majesty wastes no time showing off her ego, which is immediately clocked by Dahli and Abhora in their respective confessionals. Monikkie calls James basic, which brings up the beef between those two, including an iconic roast that’s something something f-word something Xanax (just watch the episode below, you’ll see).

 

These two aren’t the only ones with skeletons in their drag closets, as Abhora and Biqtch start going at it. Allegedly, back in the Atlanta drag scene, Abhora and Biqtch have worked super closely, so close, in fact, that Abhora recounts an incident where Biqtch grabbed her and made out with her onstage, in front of Abhora’s boyfriend. It is episode one and there is some massive drama happening, and thank the gods for Erika Klash serving as the Switzerland type here, remaining neutral and playing mediator.

 

James comes back into the forefront for a minute, as Kendra, who also reveals that she is ex-military, calls out the use of apps like FaceTune and such, and as such, clocks James being at the bottom of the barrel of the cast. Erika breaks her Switzerland stance and agrees in her confessional, but the callout does start a conversation about so-called "look queens" (which won’t be the only one we’ll have this season) before the floor show begins.

 

Gage Munster, a makeup artist who made runner-up on the inaugural season of "Face Off", and Willam Belli, the iconic drag musician and the only "Drag Race" contestant to be disqualified from competition to date, are the guest judges for this episode’s floor show. Abhora starts off with a grotesque vision, complete with vomiting faces on her chest and her crotch. Biqtch has a gory, deformed fantasy that plays out well on the stage. Dahli goes full on piggy with her Cenobite realness, and it ranks high on the Filth-o-meter. Felony has glass shards for a headpiece, which looked super cool, but otherwise her look felt halfway there. Erika had a surgical nightmare in every color of the rainbow that plays into her "pastel gore" stylings. Kendra is covered in leather and barbed wire, perhaps the most BDSM-reading look of the bunch, and the glass breaking is a nice touch for the performance. James is in chains and barbed wire while still managing to look dusted as can be. Monikkie distresses her mask for her look, and even staples herself on-stage (the total number is around 20, she would reveal after the floor show). Victoria has my personal favorite, with a mold of her face strung up on a wheel, with her own visage looking gory and skinned in a jaw-dropper of a visual. Finally, the hack and slash nightmare that happened to Disasterina’s crotch has me filled with questions, but not with a desire for answers.

 

Between the judges, the standouts include Victoria, Abhora, and James. Disasterina’s runway walk is read to filth, and could hurt her if it is not improved upon soon. When the girls are brought in front of the judges, all four of the above girls and Dahli are hailed as the upper half of the standings for the week. Victoria’s makeup skills are highlighted and praised the house down, though James nails the challenge with her body mods and sexual delivery of her character, and thus wins the challenge. Abhora’s look managed to be high fashion and horrific, and Dahli’s character work was a high point for the judges as well. The top five are sent away, done for the night, while the bottom five are brought forth.

Felony Dodger is called out for what Drac calls "1993 club kid boots." The back of her costume read more Cenobite than the front did, and those boots… oof. Biqtch didn’t read that much Cenobite, and the characterization wasn’t up to snuff, either. Erika’s look was a standout, evoking a Rubik’s Cube, which does tie into the iconic Lemarchand’s Box from the Hellraiser films. Kendra is accused of not going all the way with the barbed wire, while Monikkie is clocked for being messy. Ultimately, Biqtch and Kendra are deemed safe for the week, leaving Monikkie, Felony, and Erika to face the extermination challenge.

 

I fucking cannot do needles, so had I faced this extermination, you bet your bottom dollar I would have bitched out and been all the way done, right then and there. Nope. Not today. The extermination is a flesh-piercing endurance challenge. The girls will be separated, unaware of how far their opponents got, while needles are pierced into their skin. The better the queen handles it, and the more needles they handle, the better for their chances of survival. In so many words, Monikkie handles this like a champ, treating it like another Tuesday. Erika is somewhere in the middle, as she has never gotten so much as an ear piercing in her life, but she handles it well enough. Felony tries, god damn does she try, and I am happy for her making two years sober at the time the episode was recorded, but she just doesn’t handle things well.

 

As a result of the floor show and extermination performances, Felony Dodger gets the Porkchop treatment, and is chainsawed while hanging clothes on the line. The presence of blood in the kill scene immediately tells us that there’s a budget this season, and I’m here for more gruesome deaths for the exterminated queens. Nine queens remain, and next week, the town won’t be big enough for all of them...

 

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