By Mike Fleming
Project Q Atlanta

When Ru says it’s time to get “totally leotarded,” we all hold our breath for the big girls on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Throwback fitness videos and skimpy workout gear won’t be their strong suit, or will it?

Delta, Mimi and Stacey prove that being one of three plus-sized queens in this season’s competition is what you make it. But they don’t start off well. The big girls team up for the mini challenge to create workroom looks with just leotards and duct tape. The result: big fat failure.

Boustiers by Alexis and Mariah are our favorites, but Carmen and Manila win the challenge with fitness looks that even include little iPod holders. They become team captains for the main challenge and choose their teams for inspirational fitness videos a la Jane Fonda and Susan Powter. Powter herself shows up to direct the shoots.

Each girl must make up a mock exercise showing her own Charisma Uniqueness Nerve and Talent in her team’s video. Not surprisingly, the screaming has-been Powter says she wants it “over the top” at least seven times.

Despite concerns that her team is funny and she doesn’t do comedy, Alexis brings the Latina to Chrissy Snow in a hilarious bit that combines stretch cables with applying lip gloss (top photo). Then in great examples of turning disadvantages in their favor, Jaya uses her heavy accent to camp up a really funny bit, and Stacey eats chicken while doing a shaking-and-baking exercise that gets every last wiggle out of her full form.

The one and only—thank god—LaToya Jackson is at the judges table next to Ru, Michelle and Powter. With an absent Santino this week, an opinionated makeup artist associated with Lady Gaga puts an ounce of testosterone onto the panel. In a Main Stage runway that feels disjointed from the fitness theme, the queens choose outfits to show off their best body part. It creates a haphazard runway, from uber-glam to uber-sham. In a stroke of luck over last week’s team challenge, the contestants are judged individually so that neither team was sent to safety on group merits.

In our final judgement, Atlanta’s Mariah didn’t kill it in the fitness video, but her bronze goddess was stunning. Alexis worked a glittery evening gown to her best advantage and bolstered her fitness video performance. Raja channeled Jim Carrey’s mannish workout wench to laughs in the video, then highlighted her legs in a MILF poolside ensemble on the runway. Shangela surprised us most: Who knew she could pull off a Kardashian? She did.

On the runway, Jaya lost ground from her video success. She looked awful in a simple dress and glaring fake contacts. Poor India, who did too little in the video did too much with a Main Stage look that hearkened an overdone P!nk in the “Lady Marmalade” remake video. Mimi is delusional. Despite her name—Mimi Imfurst—she’s not first in anything, but she thinks she’s awesome. Poor thing. She may have looked slightly better on the runway than she did in weeks past, but she chewed the scenery in the fitness video and chewed our nerves with her personality. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know what happens.

If the judging stopped before the Lip Synch For Your Life face off, India’s underwhelming looks and talent might have sent her home. But joining her in the bottom two, Mimi snatches defeat from the jaws of victory with full-on confirmation that she is mentally unhinged. Trying desperately to steal the limelight in the lip synch and failing, Mimi ultimately decides to pick up India mid-song and sling her over her shoulders (bottom photo). It ain’t pretty.

“You can be picking up drag queens,” Manila gasps. That’s what RuPaul is thinking.

“Drag is not a contact sport,” Ru warns, and with that, dismisses Mimi with much less comment than usual.

We’re starting to see who the stars are in this competition, and next week, were looking forward to see which of “the rest” is sent packing next week.

”RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs on LOGO (Comcast 288) on Mondays at 10 p.m., re-airs Tuesdays on VH1 (Comcast 51, 851) and repeats throughout the week on both channels.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.