A strong cast of competitors — some strengthened by sisterly bonds, others ready to scratch somebody’s eyes out — continues to pay dividends on Drag Race Season 10. Episode four’s frolicking photobomb mini-challenge, and a drag ball extravaganza on the main stage, gave way to the season’s first epic lip-sync battle.
Alas, one of the bottom two still had to sashay away, and this week it was not Monét Exchange, a.k.a. Sponge Bob the Drag Queen, but her NYC sister Dusty Ray Bottoms.
“I’m really glad that I got to go with a bang,” says Dusty Ray of her wild-eyed LSFYL to Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm.” “I thought for sure Ru was going to keep both of us. But I didn’t stand there and touch, step, and clap. I gave it everything I had and I’m very proud of that. I can’t be mad.”
On the contrary, the pointillist-painting queen seems energized by her run on Drag Race, and delighted to see that she already has made an impact on the audience with her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. “I only had four episodes, but I think that I got my dots across,” she says. “I was just in Denver with Nina Flowers and Vanjie. And I was performing and looked out into the audience and there were literally 30 or 40 people with my makeup on their face that came to see me. It was just so humbling and just so awesome to see.”
Although Dusty Ray’s signature dotted makeup has won fans on the road, in this season’s premiere episode it earned her a stern critique from Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, who was not a fan. However, Dusty feels episode one might have been a little too soon for the notoriously tough judge to start nitpicking.
“I think if it were episode three or four and she gave me that critique, I could understand,” Dusty says. “After all, she waited for the fifth episode [of Season 7] for Max’s gray hair, you know?”
Of course, Visage picking apart a contestant’s signature look has become as much a staple of this beloved enterprise as the queens sharing emotional backstories in the workroom. In one truly moving workroom session earlier this season, Dusty Ray, who grew up in the Bible Belt of Kentucky and Indiana, shared a heartbreaking history of rejection from his strictly religious family.
On a path to conversion therapy, told she’d never find love or be loved, Dusty escaped to New York City, and discovered drag and a life with her now-fiancé. Since the season began airing, Dusty and family still haven’t spoken about the show, but have “been in contact — it’s all a work in progress.”
Bottoms (right) in the LSFYL finale – Photo: VH1
Beyond just bringing talent to the Drag Race stage, Dusty is glad she was able to tell her story. “I hope that I was able to change some lives by that, and if I was, that is the greatest thing that I can ask for. That I could leave Drag Race touching someone’s life, that’s all I need.”
Dusty’s also happy to have made her mark in Drag Race history as the show’s phenomenal success breaches the mainstream. “I think it’s pushing the art because we are now on a platform that’s bigger than ever,” she says. Noting the show’s influence on the next generation of queens, Dusty singles out spectacular 10-year old drag kid, Desmond Is Amazing, who’s already racking up magazine profiles and TV appearances.
“We have Desmond up there now who is turning looks and turning the party. We have these young people who are now knowing that it’s okay to create this art form without a filter at a young age instead of just figuring it out like I was [at] 27. Imagine what drag is going to be after Desmond turns 27, when Desmond is 30. I can’t wait to see what that evolution is going to be and what these young kids are going to create. The things are endless that we could see. And I’m just so glad that this platform allows that and will show that.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on VH1.