They say knowledge is the ultimate power, but for the second time in recent RuPaul’s Drag Race “her-story,” a purposeful lack of preparation led to a promising queen’s shocking yet understandable elimination.
Season 9 top-dog Valentina ultimately allowed her “charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent” to dwindle to its lowest point at the worst possible time in the competition – during the mainstay lip-sync battle closer at the tail-end of the latest episode, “Your Pilot’s On Fire,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
Going up against Nina Bo’Nina Brown, her assigned challenge partner who, like Valentina, similarly failed to bring the funny for a makeshift television pilot that saw the two contenders posing as former prostitutes turned drag queens; Valentina ultimately managed to make things worse for herself by completely failing to learn the lyrics to “Greedy” by Ariana Grande, that week’s “Lip Sync For Your Life” tune.
“I f***ed it up,” the 25-year-old Drag Race alum, born James Leyva, succinctly summarized to EW, following her elimination.
“I didn’t know the [words to the] song!”
Even more to her detriment, Valentina literally let it show that she hadn’t memorized the offering from Grande’s Dangerous Woman LP offering by physically shielding her mouth with a lace mask; a move that Ru refused to let slide and stronger still, actually called out.
“Valentina, this is a lip sync for your life,” a clearly irked RuPaul relayed to the contestant after first having producers of the show stop the song mid-play — another Drag Race first.
“We need to see your lips. Take that thing off of your mouth,” she demanded.
Although clearly busted, Valentina for some reason, requested otherwise.
“I’d like to keep it on, please,” she asked.
“It’s a lip sync,” RuPaul retorted, eyes wide.
“What part of that do you not understand?”
After another beat, Valentina followed the order but within seconds, it became painfully clear why she had begged the Emmy-winning hostess to go on unseen, so to speak.
“In that moment, I did deserve to be in the bottom [two],” she realizes.
“I remember feeling in a state of shock and it was something that I undoubtedly could not get myself out of. That, honestly, put me in a position to be sent home. They had no other choice. I was not delivering, because I, myself, did not feel the power in me to deliver because I was in a state of shock.”
Be that as it may, angry social media fans of Drag Race still took to Twitter after the show to bombard and occasionally blame judges RuPaul and Michelle Visage with thoughts on the elimination (Visage, at one point during the Twitter backlash, jokingly referred to the show as the “modern day Gladiator” and herself as Russell Crowe) and who they felt should’ve been on the way out (the online consensus seemed to allude to Alexis Michelle as being worthy of receiving the boot over Valentina).
Valentina, on the other hand, is owning her self-stated screw-up.
“I can only take responsibility for what I feel and what I think,” she expressed to EW writers.
“I had a great time being on [Drag Race], and I think every single week leading up to this episode, I was thriving, and I did great. I just got caught in this moment [and] it’s okay. I can live with that,” Valentina remarked.
Another thing she’s currently living with? Being one out of a handful of Drag Race stars to effectively irk “Supermodel of The World” RuPaul to the point of no return.
I feel so overwhelmed with joy after the season 9 premiere party in New York for @rupaulsdragrace Thank you to @logotv @vossevents @rupaulsdragrace and @rupaulofficial for this amazing event. My life has been changed forever. I've dreamt of these moments for so long and now it's happening. I've cried tears of joy knowing that this is my life. I also would like to thank the team of friends who helped me feel like the most beautiful little girl in the whole wide world. Hair styled by: @hisvintagetouch Using a custom ventilated wig by the amazing: @wigsfromscratch Custom outfit by: @alxgoz Jewelry by: @reikolyn Custom stacked lashes by: @ernestocasillas ????: @davidelaffe @welovequeens
“The only moment I ever felt anything [during the lip sync] was when Ru stopped the music and raised his voice,” Valentina admitted.
“That was the moment when I was almost awakened from my state of shock. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was in a real state of shock and I couldn’t even feel. It’s hard for me to remember, to be honest.”
Earlier in Season 9, another Drag Race hopeful, Charlie Hides, found herself in a similar boat when she appeared to be unfamiliar with “Music” by Madonna, her lip sync elimination song (Hides would later claim that a rib injury from an earlier challenge caused her to, in effect, stand still and look pretty for Ru and the judges).
Valentina and Hides will rejoin all the RuPaul Drag Race girls who faced elimination this year at the upcoming live-taped finale, which should air sometime this summer on VH1, the show’s new TV home.
[Featured Image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]