‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World’ premiere recap: 9 international all-stars return in ‘Global Glamazons’

In Tuesday’s premiere episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World,” RuPaul Charles brought together nine all-stars from the series’ many franchises to compete against each other. Hosted in the United Kingdom, the new series sets three queens from the UK franchise, Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, and Cheryl Hole, as hosts to six other competitors: Janey Jacké from Holland, Jimbo and Lemon from Canada, Pangina Heals from Thailand, and Jujubee and Monique Heart from the United States. The nine queens all competed to become the first ever “queen of the mother-tucking world” and have the opportunity to record a duet with Ru herself.

Below check out our recap of the series premiere to (re-)meet all of the queens and find out which one makes the best first impression on the judges in “Global Glamazons.” “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World” airs every Tuesday at 4pm ET / 1pm PT  in the US and in select territories exclusively on WOW Presents Plus, day-and-date with its local airing on BBC3 in the UK.

Instead of entering the Werk Room for the first time, the parade of entrances from the queens took place on the main stage instead. One by one the three UK queens arrived first; Baga, Blue and Cheryl, reuniting from their stints on season one, were all excited to see each another. They were joined next by Holland’s Janey, Canada’s Jimbo, Canada’s Lemon, and Thailand’s two season host Pangina. The energy among the first seven queens was lively and supportive, but that quickly changed once Monique and Jujubee entered from the U.S. Back for her third time, Monique came to the stage with the confidence of a winner and ready to be combatively shady against everyone else.

Greeting some of the queens for the first time ever, Ru descended from the rafters to welcome them to the competition and to introduce the first challenge of the season. For their first test, Ru asked them to prepare a talent show for a “Royal Command Performance” in front of the judges. She also explained that, like in the All Stars franchise the queens will be eliminating one another throughout the season.

Once the queens finally made their way to the Werk Room, small cracks in the group quickly began to form. In one corner, friends from touring together Jimbo and Baga dubbed their storage space as the “clown corner,” while Monique and Juju extended the divide between them and the non-US queens in another corner. Blu and Cheryl noticed how much tension the US queens were already bringing to the competition and wondered if the girls would be playing fairly this season. Later, while getting ready for the talent show, Blu approached Monique to clear the air between the two. Unbeknownst to Monique, Blu brought up a time in the past when they had met while performing in the same show, but Monique, already a star, treated Blu with disregard. Monique apologized for her past behavior, but it was clear she had not remembered the encounter that Blu had held against her for so long.

Elsewhere, Janey and Pangina discussed the pressure they feel this season as sole representatives for their particular countries. Pangina explained that for her it was an even tougher experience, coming to the show for the first time as competitor rather than host. In the Thai series, Pangina is one of the hosts and so she hasn’t gone through the rigamarole of the competition like the other girls have. At another table, Lemon was telling Cheryl how she and Jimbo may have been on the same original season together, but the reality is that they weren’t that close of sisters. It didn’t seem like there was unfriendly energy between Lemon and Jimbo, but the insinuation was that Jimbo could be carrying a lot of baggage still from not winning their show.

On the main stage, Ru was joined by series regulars Michelle Visage and Graham Norton, as well as this week’s guest judge Melanie C. The night began with the showcase of talents in “The Royal Command Performance.” Lemon opened the show by lipsync and dancing to one of her own songs. Six other queens did the same thing in their own way: Monique, Baga, Cheryl, Jujubee, Pangina and Blu. Janey’s performance was similar, though instead of a lipsync she performed costume quick-changes while dancing. The only purely unique performance came from Jimbo, dressed as an ill-shaped ghost figure. She laughed maniacally while pulling slices of deli meat from her belly and throwing them all over, including one piece to Ru!

After their performances, the queens strutted the catwalk for the first time in the “I’m a Winner, Baby” category. Lemon wore a yellow gown and crown as a grown-up version of the pageant girl character she walked as in her first season. Monique walked in a hunter green gown made from more than 180 yards of fabric. Janey was also monochrome in red lace and dripped in jewels. Baga got creative in a sleek gold dress with a sword, shimmying across the catwalk as a statue. Jimbo kept it dark in an all white and black dress inspired by evil chess pieces. Cheryl’s white gown was topped off by two big gold stars on her chest and a stiff gold train. Juju’s simple dress was beaded purple with a high slit up the front. Pangina honored her country in an all white couture gown with a Thai headpiece inspired from a goddess. Blu closed out the runway as a “BDSM troll doll who just had sex with a highlighter pen.” The hot yellow and pink of the garment were in line with Blu’s self-described brand of bright colors.

Ru explained that the structure of eliminations this season would be determined by the queens themselves. Ru and the other judges would decide the top two each week, and the winner of a “Lipsync for the World” would earn that power to eliminate one of the bottom queens. Based on this week’s performances and runway presentations, Ru gave safety to Monique, Jujubee and Cheryl and asked the other six to remain on stage to hear critiques.

Graham acknowledged that Lemon had the tough position of opening the show, but stepped up to the plate. Michelle said that what Lemon did has been seen before and Melanie clocked her for not being animated in the face. The judges loved Janey’s dress for the runway, but Michelle said she didn’t bring that level of taste to her talent performance. Melanie and Graham said she looked “cheap” and “not world class.” Baga, however, was praised by Melanie for being as bad of a lipsyncher as a Spice Girl and delivering “much betta” vocals than Posh Spice. Michelle was confused by Baga’s runway look and Ru said luckily there won’t be any copyright infringement with the Oscar. The judges were on board with Jimbo’s weird performance and were blown away by her “magical” runway look. Melanie told Pangina she gave one of her favorite performances and appreciated that she celebrated her culture and the judges agreed that she looked beautiful on stage. Blu was also praised by Melanie and Graham for her creative performance, but all the judges admitted that her runway look didn’t fit the prompt.

Based on those critiques, Ru declared Jimbo and Pangina the top two queens of the week and then gave safety to Baga and Blu. That decision left Lemon and Janey vulnerable as the bottom two queens, to be determined by the winner of the lipsync.

Backstage, Pangina told the other girls how nice everyone’s been and that she’s humbled to be the top two in their company. Jimbo said it’s been a dream of hers to “clown for Ru” and to have that acknowledged by her is an honor. On the other end of the spectrum, Lemon was “shook” to be in the bottom, calling back to her Canada season where she also placed in the bottom in the first episode. Janey said that it all comes down to nitpicking because the nine of them are all stars and it’s going to be a tough competition. Separate from the group, Jimbo told Lemon that she’s going to listen to both of the queens and not just automatically save Lemon because they came from Canada. Pangina said that she’s made a connection with Janey because they’re both the only representatives from their country, but was not impressed with her talent performance. Comparatively, Pangina told Lemon that her performance was “iconic,” but wondered if it was original enough to save her and promised that her closeness with Janey won’t be a factor in her decision. Jimbo told Janey that it’d be to her advantage to get rid of Lemon so that she’s the only Canadian queen left, but said that her quick-change was a little messy and so she might “rock, paper, scissor” the decision.

For the Lipsync for the World to “Say You’ll Be There” by Spice Girls, Jimbo kept her runway dress on while Pangina had switched to a pantsuit to give her more mobility. Pangina got right to it with a dance-heavy rendition of the song, especially compared to Jimbo who was hindered by a more restrictive outfit and darker face makeup that made her facial expressions impossible to read. Twice in the performance, Jimbo stumbled, including one instance of falling over Pangina. Though the judges were laughing at Jimbo’s clownery, Ru rightly picked Pangina as the winner. Now, in the tough position of deciding who will go home, Pangina said she isn’t using favoritism in her decision to give Lemon the chop.

NEXT WEEK: Ru drops a sewing challenge on the girls, asking them to create a dress that “mama Ru would want to wear herself.”

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