On last year’s Season 9 RuPaul’s Drag Race finale, artsy, avant-garde finalist Sasha Velour delivered arguably the most gagworthy lip-sync in Drag Race herstory. At the peak of her “So Emotional” performance, the famously chrome-domed queen removed her wig to Ru-veal not another wig à la Roxxy Andrews but something even more spectacular: a dramatic shower of crimson rose petals. The Interweb/Twitterverse immediately exploded with rosy memes, and Sasha won the show.
So, going into the Season 10 finale Thursday, this year’s top four contenders — Aquaria, Eureka O’Hara, Asia O’Hara (no relation), and Kameron Michaels — had some mighty big high-heeled shoes to fill. How could they ever top Sasha’s floral tour de force? One of them, Asia, did try — but she epically, tragically failed, when nothing went according to plan.
Remember that old adage about never working with children or animals? Well, no drag queen should ever work with butterflies, either. And you know that familiar RuPaul catchphrase “Don’t f*** it up”? Asia clearly ignored that warning.
Competing in the first lip-sync battle of the night (to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty”) against perennial underdog Kameron — a contestant who’d narrowly avoided elimination three times this season — Asia, the oldest and most experienced queen among the top four, seemed sure to prevail. Wearing a butterfly-themed mullet dress that could turn even Mariah Carey glitter-green with envy, she already looked like a winner. But then a crucial part of that gown — a breakaway brassiere, housing a swarm of live butterflies ready to take glorious flight on cue — suffered a wardrobe malfunction worse than Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl debacle.
Why? Because when Asia unleashed those delicate winged beasts … nothing happened. Almost none of the butterflies were still alive; most had suffocated while waiting to be un-cocooned. (This brought new meaning to the term “death-drop.”)
— Pam (@jammer1027) June 29, 2018
I don’t understand why, when Asia’s first attempt (opening a butterfly-cage bracelet on her left wrist) didn’t create the desired butterfly effect, she kept going. If she’d realized right then and there that the stunt wasn’t going to work and changed course, she still could have won over Kameron. But instead, Asia tore off one butterfly-boob and then the other, tossing both desperately into the air, only to reveal more dead or dying bugs, many of which she then stomped on while werking the stage.
— Linda Evangelista (@LesFleursDeFeu) June 29, 2018
And, so, Asia was left standing onstage at Downtown L.A.’s Ace Hotel Theater with two hollowed-out, half-coconut-shell-shaped butterfly-caves anticlimactically dangling from her chest, while three surviving Monarchs feebly fluttered on the floor. At that point, RuPaul didn’t directly address the elephant — um, I mean butterflies — in the room, but he quickly announced that Kameron was the winner of this showdown and it was time for Asia to sashay away.
The Interweb/Twitterverse exploded anew.
The butterflies are to Asia as Roxxxy Andrews is to Alyssa Edwards. RIP gurls. #DragRaceFinale
— Jeffery Austin (@JefferyAustin) June 29, 2018
— ᴀɴᴅʀᴇᴡ (@readundant) June 29, 2018
Asia with the butterflies pic.twitter.com/4yNqlAvKkO
— Andres Johnson (@AndresJohnso) June 29, 2018
— BraunTakeOver (@AmIHeelOrFace) June 29, 2018
— vy 🇻🇳 (@vythtran) June 29, 2018
— Aladdin Sane⚡️ (@stereomachman) June 29, 2018
this could've been asia o'hara when she unleashed all of her butterflies but we all know how that ended pic.twitter.com/llXC9N8UkA
— matthew 🏳️🌈 (@matyuv_) June 22, 2018
— jasmine (@skytonias) June 19, 2018
This Asia O’Hara/butterflies thing has proper messed with my head – how on earth was it allowed by the producers? I feel sadistic for saying it but… pic.twitter.com/sOahpWdra2
— Hannah Richards 💫 (@hl_richards) June 9, 2018
Poor Asia looked humiliated. But she shouldn’t be. She carried herself with class during her one-on-one interview with Ru earlier in the night, and speaking to EW after the debacle, she explained: “It wasn’t a careless act. I have the utmost respect for everything that draws breath and would never purposely hurt a butterfly or any animal. I rehearsed with a professional company that specializes in safe butterfly releases and the moment was intended to be an amazing display of optimism as well as a surprise for everyone involved, including the audience, production, and the network. As you know, however, that moment did not go as planned and I would like to publicly offer the entire world my deepest apology.” Asia also apologized to her fans on Twitter.
Anyway, when it came time to announce the actual champion, RuPaul should have just made an unprecedented executive decision and let the above-mentioned Sasha Velour keep the crown for another year, after Sasha sauntered out in an evil-queen, nude-illusion Garden of Eden unitard, complete with rhinestone-studded serpent and apple, and immediately upstaged everyone. (Isn’t the saying “May the best woman win”? Well, Sasha is THE BEST, period.)
— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) June 29, 2018
But the Season 10 title ultimately went to very worthy successor Aquaria, who absolutely killed her lip-syncs to Janet’s “If” and Jessie J’s/Ariana Grande’s/Nicki Minaj’s “Bang Bang” — without killing any butterflies in the process.
However, the true winner Thursday was anyone in the audience lucky enough to witness the finale’s epic mass lip-sync between the queens of Seasons 1 and 10, to a megamix of RuPaul’s dance hits — thus full-circularly celebrating a TV decade of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. Bebe Zahara Benet vs. Miz Cracker! Ongina vs. Blair St. Clair! Shannel vs. Mayhem Miller! Annnnd… PORKCHOP PARKER VERSUS MISS VANJIE!!!!!
Can I get an amen? It was all enough to have me already looking forward to All-Stars 4 … when maybe Asia will get another chance. While her butterflies may not have taken flight on Thursday, hopefully her career can still soar after this.
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