Well here we are again, kids, RuPaul's Drag Race SEASON NINE - my, how time flies!
In fact it's flown so fast no one has been bothered to update the set, so after eight years we're still stuck with the "internal organs pink" flooring and the fake brick walls that flutter in the breeze every time a queen tosses her locks. So to speak.
Although there is one notable addition to the Werk Room:
I sincerely hope that at the end of each episode the eliminated queens start a new tradition of adding an accessory to this hideous statue as a parting gift, so that by the end of the season it just looks like Jaidynn Diore Fierce fell over in a Cheap as Chips.
But anyway, enough of this decor banter - the first queen is arriving!
And it's a hearty Bland Canyon welcome to Peppermint from New York, who is just dropping in on the way to her audition for the role of Morpheus in the upcoming drag remake of The Matrix - The Gaytrix:
"Oh my goddddd... heyyyyy!" she says to the empty room, which as far as first lines go isn't quite up there with "MOTHER HAS ARRIVED" but isn't as bad as "Who's ready for some hot tuna casserole?", so, you know. Well done Peppermint, I guess.
Next into the room is Valentina.
We know this, because she says "Hello. It's me. Valentina."
Valentina is 25, very pretty, and from California.
She also may or may not be:
a) a cartoon jewel thief,
b) a 1960s era Bond villain,
c) a mime,
d) a sentient pair of eyebrows attached to a hat.
"Come on, give it up for the big girl!" yells Eureka, 25 from Tennessee.
Eureka describes herself as "country as a biscuit" but neglects to say what type, so I'm going to go ahead and guess it's one with raisins in that no one likes.
Next up is Charlie Hides, who hails from "Boston and London", so prepare yourself for the least specific transatlantic accent since Max haunted us all on season 7.
At 52 Charlie is the oldest queen to ever appear on Drag Race (other than Michelle Visage, of course, who is approximately 7,700) and describes herself as "rude, crude and socially unacceptable".
She is also apparently a "famous celebrity impersonator" which is great because I've always wanted to see what Lady Gaga would look like in her 50s.
Next into the Werk Room is our first witty pun for the season, Farrah Moan, who looks a bit like Courtney Act got caught up in a necklace:
Moving on to the first proper weirdo, and therefore the first Bland Canyon Official Fav (BCOF) of the season - Sasha Velour, who saunters in looking like the evil queen from Snow White via Studio 54, and commences screaming at her hands like a confused junkie:
Sasha is 29 and from Brooklyn, and describes herself as "a visual artist" which is a bit wanky but she is giving me such severe Dallas Dellaforce vibes (click that link, you'll be glad you did) I love her completely and she can do no wrong.
Next through the door is 32-year-old New York queen Alexis Michelle, who looks a bit like what you'd get if Raven and Laila McQueen had a daughter and kicked her into a pile of glitter:
Alexis describes herself as "New York's premiere Broadway queen".
Hands up who thinks Alexis gave herself that title and no one else has ever used it?
Meanwhile, did I mention Alexis looks like Raven?
Suddenly, a pile of accessories walks in the door and starts rhyming:
"My name is Shea Coulee and I didn't come to play I came to slay," says the pile, and everyone is very impressed at its command of English.
Shea is 27, from Chicago, and doesn't know not to wear stockings with open toed shoes.
Next up is 31-year-old Trinity Taylor from Florida, a self-confessed plastic surgery addict who describes herself as "the look and feel of real".
Trinity looks a bit like what Kath from Kath and Kim would look like if she took a lot of ecstasy and decided to go to a sex club on another planet, which is to say - a bit weird.
"I don't like to use the words 'pageant queen', because there's such astigmatism with pageant queens," says Trinity.
Meanwhile over in the corner Eureka is doing Face Crack of the Century version 2.0 because apparently Trinity beat her in some pageant once and so therefore: DEEP. SEATED. SEASON. LONG. RIVALRY.
Moving right along to Kimora Blac, another queen from Las Vegas and another queen who looks like the spawn of Raven - this time with Gia Gunn.
Kimora, as her Las Vegas sister Farrah Moan tells us, is "famous for her ass", and her boobs, and basically serving herself up to all comers like an all-you-can-eat casino breakfast buffet.
"I love anything see-through," says Kimora.
Suddenly there's a shriek from the doorway and everyone turns around to see...
No wait, it's actually just a poorly made puppet with a gloved hand up its backside, which can only mean one thing: COMEDY IS AFOOT.
Jaymes Mansfield is 26 and from Milwaukee and describes herself as "a kooky comedy queen who builds puppets", so if that doesn't fill you with foreboding I don't know what will.
She also says she has "more up my sleeves than anyone knows" which, as she's not wearing any sleeves, doesn't fill me with confidence for her talents.
Jaymes immediately sets about demonstrating why she will be the first queen to be eliminated by telling top class jokes via her puppet, such as "These are my summer diamonds - summer diamonds and summer not!" and "Hi I'm Jaymes Mansfield, I'm going to win RuPaul's Drag Race!".
BUT FORGET JAYMES AND HER PUPPET BECAUSE WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?
"I'm Nina Bonina Brown and I am back in town to shut it down," says the hallucinogenic mouse.
Meanwhile, in the corner:
Nina Bonina is from Georgia, looks like one of Madonna's dancers from the Blond Ambition tour, is definitely the next BCOF, and will probably win this whole damn thing.
THERE, I'VE SAID IT. NINA BONINA BROWN IS THE WINNER OF DRAG RACE SEASON NINE. EAT THAT.
Moving on like we care anymore to Brooklyn queen Aja, who impresses everyone right off the bat by doing a bang-on impression of season seven's Pearl emerging from the trash after a hard night on the grog.
"Aja is the number one name in Brooklyn that people are talking about right now," gushes Sasha Velour, carefully neglecting to mention exactly WHY she's being talked about.
I can hazard a guess.
"Aja's make up is very rough around the edges," says Trinity.
"Does she KNOW what she looks like? Because if not, I need to tell her."
And finally in walks our last queen, some Lady Gaga impersonator from Newark with big sleeves and an even bigger attitude:
But I can't help thinking there's something strange about Ronnie.
Something's not quite right.
Yes, surprise surprise, it's not Ronnie the unconvincing drag queen from New Jersey but Lady Gaga, the unconvincing drag queen from New York.
Of course, all the queens react to this news calmly and sensibly.
(By the way, before any of you kids start yabbering on at me about how much Lady Gaga has done for the community etc. etc. please know that I don't care because I think she's a big fat phony and her "Marry the Night" video was shit.)
"GAGA YOU DON'T EVEN REALISE HOW MUCH YOU INSPIRE PEOPLE LIKE ME YOU ARE SO AMAZING I THINK YOU'RE SO INCREDIBLE YOU ALLOW US TO BE WHO WE ARE AS ARTISTS," vomits Eureka.
"I have always admired the craftsmanship that goes into what you all do," breathes Gaga.
Suddenly there's a loud BOOM that sends shockwaves through the Werk Room and causes the walls to shake (more than usual).
All the queens drop to the floor and dash under the table - none faster than London queen Charlie Hides, who instantly remembers her training from the Blitz - while Kimora offers everyone additional shelter under her giant ass.
Just as Lady Gaga is about to open her mouth to say something empowering to the gay community, the door at the top of the stairs swings open and...
"Oh, my Gaga!" gushes RuPaul while simultaneously filling out the Golden Globes application form for "Least Convincing Display of Admiration on a Reality Show" award.
"This season is going to be stuffed with more stars, more stunts and more shenanigans than ever before," declares RuPaul.
"And for the first time in Drag Race herstory - NO ONE IS GOING HOME."
Wait, no one is going home?
What does this mean? Is season nine actually some sort of Huger Games style scenario where all the queens have to attack each other with stilettoes until there's only one left standing? Will it just continue on forever until everybody dies, and then the true winner is revealed to be old age?
We may never know, as this statement is never explained and RuPaul simply barges on with explaining the day's challenge - competing in the "Miss Charisma Uniqueness Nerve and Talent" pageant.
RuPaul explains the two pageant categories: the first is a "frock inspired by your home city".
The second is a look inspired by Lady Gaga, who is still hanging around for some reason.
Oh my god, I hope someone does this one:
Everybody immediately rushes off and starts preparing for the first runway - well, everyone except Farrah Moan, who spends the first five minutes trying to work out where to put her suitcases.
"I call her 'Blonde Benet Glamsey', because she whines like a six year old," says Shea Coulee, who has apparently never watched the end of the "Jonbenet Ramsey: E True Story" documentary.
"So Charlie, have you ever played Lady Gaga before?" Peppermint asks.
Well duh, Peppermint. Charlie Hides is one of the world's premiere celebrity drag impersonators, she's done Lady Gaga dozens of times! Here, look:
"Charlie has a very 'on the edge' sense of humour, it's quite an acquired taste," says Peppermint.
Yes, dear, it's called "British".
Meanwhile Aja is making heaps of new friends by showing off her Gaga outfit, which is literally a Gaga outfit that she stole off some New York designer friend:
"I was like can I go through your archives and like have stuff and he was like yeah take whatever you want," Aja blahs, twirling all over the Werk Room in her hideous dress.
All the other queens are really impressed.
While Aja is literally putting on a dress and calling herself Lady Gaga, Nina Bonina Brown is in the other corner turning herself from a mouse into a piece of fruit by glueing a cardboard cut-out of a peach to her head.
"I haven't seen many girls who can grab some paper and glue and create a new face," she says.
Meanwhile, Eureka is making sure the Deep Seated Season Long Rivalry With Trinity plotline continues until at least the end of the episode by declaring "The only thing I want from this challenge is to beat Trinity".
Doobly doo music, wavy lines, more doobly doo music...
...and we're on the runway and ready for our first pageant, and in comes our fabulous host RuPaul who... hang on, WTF?
Yes, the world's most famous drag queen has refused to wear drag in the first episode of her TV drag competition.
Anyway let's get on with it... IT'S RUNWAY TIME!
* In an effort to appeal more to the show's growing millennial audience, Michelle Visage has come dressed as a cross between the "cry laugh" and the "dancing woman" emojis:
* And because her Uber hasn't shown up yet, Lady Gaga is still there.
* First down the runway is Peppermint, repping her home city of New York in a really innovative and unique way:
* Next is Valentina, who is from East LA where apparently bullfighting is a popular pastime:
* Meanwhile, watching at home:
* Then there's Eureka, doing her home town of Johnson City, Tennessee proud with a moving tribute to its twin pastimes of smoking and surprise pregnancies:
* Moving along to Charlie Hides of Boston, who lives up to her name by literally hiding inside a pilgrim costume:
* Then there's Farrah Moan of Las Vegas, looking like one of those "Dolls of the World" you find at the $2 shop for some eastern European country you've never heard of:
* Next is Sasha Velour, who has decided to pay tribute to New York's "queer modern art" by showing everyone her Warhol:
* Then there's Alexis Michelle, representing New York in a really innovative and unique way - with a picture of the Statue of Liberty:
* As a tribute to civil rights and activist movements coming out of New York, Alexis has written several political slogans on her bodysuit, like "Black Lives Matter" and "Fair Rent" and...
* From tacos to hot dogs, it's Shea Coulee, who has rocketed into BCOF status by showing off her wiener and buns as a giant Chicago hot dog:
* Next down the catwalk is Trinity Taylor of Orlando, who uses her 10 seconds of screen time to promote a cause she is passionate about: colon health.
* Next down the line is Kimora Blac, looking less "Las Vegas showgirl" and more "Las Vegas highway roadkill":
* "All the girls in Vegas know me as the youngest, hottest, skinniest queen," Kimora says.
* Moving right along to...
* Oh look, here's Aja, representing New York in a really innovative and unique way:
* And finally it's Nina Bonina Banana Fo Fanna Osama Bin Laden Brown of Atlanta, Georgia, and just... I mean... COME ON, IT'S LITERALLY PAPER AND GLUE.
* Now it's time for the Lady Gaga runway, so prepare yourself for lots of faux humility and beatific looks from the Gagster as everyone pretends she's some sort of icon.
* First up it's Peppermint, doing Gaga doing Bowie at the 2016 Grammys, and amazingly managing to be nothing like either:
* Gaga, what did you think?
* Moving on to Valentina, who looks hot as hell in some other look that Lady Gaga wore once. I dunno, I mean apart from the meat dress, who remembers Gaga's outfits? It's not like she's MADONNA.
(Also: anyone getting a Tatianna vibe from this one?)
* Then there's Eureka, who accidentally misheard "come as your favourite Lady Gaga look" as "come as the spouse of your favourite fast food mascot" and has turned up dressed as the Hamburglar's wife:
* What do you think, Gaga?
* Next is Charlie Hides, who after 23 and a half minutes has finally extricated herself from her pilgrim costume long enough to put on a folded bedsheet and some doilies:
* Moving right along to Farrah Moan, who has misheard "Lady Gaga realness" as "white supremacist realness" and has shown up looking like a KKK Grand Wizard:
* Thoughts, Gaga?
* Next down the runway is Sasha Velour, who has obviously tripped over all the names Lady Gaga has dropped over the last 10 minutes as her makeup is all smudged:
* Alexis Michelle gets five million bonus points not only for looking absolutely breathtaking...
...but for winning the Guinness World Record for holding a couch up one's butt:
* Moving on to Shea Coulee, who looks rather like Grace Jones got caught in an unfortunate toilet paper accident.
"My look is powerful, yet gentle," she says.
* Then there's Trinity, who has chosen as her inspiration the time Lady Gaga took too much MDMA and rubbed lipstick all over her neck:
* Here's Kimora Blac, wearing "what Lady Gaga would wear to the airport":
* And here's Jaymes Mansfield, apparently dressed as Lady Gaga's famous Vogue cover:
* Oh hey, Nina Bonina!
* And finally it's Aja, who is wearing what appears to be a mattress cut into the shape of a dress.
* Gaga criticises Peppermint for wearing hoop earrings when she was supposed to look like Gaga. Looking like Bowie. Pretty sure Bowie didn't wear crunchy duct tape along the top of his forehead either but sure, hoop earrings, whatever.
* La Visage criticises Sasha Velour for carrying too many accessories.
* Gaga criticises Shea Coulee for her attention to detail after it is revealed her white dress was made out of cloth, and not of animatronic origami as Gaga's original was. Try harder next time, Shea.
* "I thought Kimora's first look was not indicative of Vegas, it was very cheap looking," says La Visage, who may never have actually been to Vegas.
* "I thought I was getting a comedy queen, and I was left with drag blue balls," says Ross Mathews of Jaymes Mansfield, which is both a way of letting us know that Jaymes isn't funny, and also that Ross actually has balls.
* Carson suggests Jaymes would have been funnier if she'd come out "covered in cheese or wearing an udder for a wig", which says all you need to know about how funny she was to begin with.
* Describing Eureka, Gaga says: "I was laughing and entertained, and that's part of this," which is a nice reminder because this episode has been so bloody boring I'd actually forgotten entertainment was supposed to be a part of it at all.
There's some more deliberation and the queens return from the backstage lounge which, given the way the main portion of the show is going, is probably no longer even a lounge but just a fenced off area of the carpark with some upturned milk crates and a few packets of Funyuns.
RuPaul announces that Nina Bonina Brown is the winner of the C.U.N.T Pageant, the prizes for which include a gently used bottle of Febreeze, a half-eaten blueberry muffin that Michelle Visage threw away after discovering it contained gluten, and an overnight stay in a smoking room at the Tuscaloosa Comfort Inn.
No one is eliminated, because WHAT EVEN IS THIS SHOW ANYMORE, and everybody applauds as Nina takes to the runway for her victory lap.
"Oh wait a minute, wait a minute!" shouts RuPaul.
"The real competition is just about to begin," declares RuPaul, as everyone does their best "surprised face" behind him.
"...a fourteenth queen into the race!" says RuPaul triumphantly.
Who is the mysterious fourteenth queen?
Will RuPaul ever get into drag again?
Do we care?
The answers to all these questions and more (probably) in EPISODE TWO. Go on and click it!
Or you can go read my SEASON EIGHT RECAPS - start right here with EPISODE ONE.