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January 20, 2024

Philly's Sapphira Cristál maintains a top spot in latest 'RuPaul's Drag Race' episode

After winning immunity in the season 16 premiere of 'Ru Paul's Drag Race,' Sapphira Cristál once again made it to a top position in episode 3 of the competition show

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RuPauls Drag Race episode 3 Sapphira Cristal RuPaul's Drag Race/YouTube

Above, Sapphira Cristál enters the Werk Room to meet the second half of the 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 16 contestants. Sapphira easily won both challenges in the premiere episode and was granted an immunity potion in the third episode.

After emerging as the undisputed winner in the season 16 premiere of "RuPaul's Drag Race," Philly's own Sapphira Cristál impressed yet again in episode 3.

The premiere episode featured Sapphira and six other drag queens, while episode 2 last week introduced the second half of the competition. In episode 3, titled "The Mother of All Balls," the two groups of competitors finally clashed.

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Sapphira already found herself butting heads with the second group, with New York City-based queen and fellow singer Plasma expressing incredulity at Sapphira's vocal range. "We already knew which vocal part you sang, miss diva. Miss bass," said Plasma in a low voice after learning that Sapphira had won the first group's competition.

"Did Strawberry Shortcake try to come for me?" said Sapphira in a talking head interview in response to Plasma. Sapphira clapped back by bragging about her six-octave range. "Oh, it's Julie Andrews in the flesh," responded Plasma.

The contestants later gathered in the Werk Room out of drag, where Sapphira and episode 2 winner Plane Jane found boxes that contained their "immunity potions." RuPaul entered the room and clarified that the two can only use their potions once, and not only do they expire, but they can be shared with any contestant, should either of them give theirs to another queen.

RuPaul described the challenge as the "mother of all balls," with the contestants having to design three outfits. The first has a "Mother Goose" theme, based on the contestant's favorite nursery rhyme. The second is "significant mother," based on their favorite famous mother. 

Lastly was the main focus of the episode, the "Mother/Father Eleganza." Contestants would have to make a women's outfit using only menswear. For this episode, the Rate-a-Queen rankings in which contestants rate each other privately would come before the judges' critiques, which would focus on the top three and bottom three contestants based on the Rate-a-Queen ratings.

Sapphira mostly stayed in the background of the episode as she crafted a gown made out of denim; meanwhile, the rest of the contestants were contemplating their rankings from their previous episodes, resulting in minor drama and a few mind games.

When it came time for the queens to present their looks on the runway, Sapphira instantly stood out with her Mother Goose outfit, an elaborate (and quite large) take on "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater." Sapphira wore a giant pumpkin with roots underneath, along with a top and wig that resembled a pumpkin stem.

Sapphira's famous mother was Eve, "the famous mother, the first mother," as Sapphira describes. With a glittery skintight suit with strategically placed leaves, Sapphira as Eve carried around a snake skeleton and skin as props to represent the original sin. "The snake thought he tricked Eve. But baby, Eve skinned that mothertucker and turned it into couture."

Finally, Sapphira's Mother/Father Eleganza was a look she called "Roberta the Builder." The outfit consisted of a plaid yellow bodysuit, a tool belt and a large blue denim skirt and overalls. "Sapphira Cristál loves big, huge skirts," Sapphira said. "I am not as small as I appear in drag, and I have to use proportions to make it look that way."

Sapphira opted not to use her immunity potion in this episode. And it paid off: based on the Rate-a-Queen results, Sapphira was in the top three alongside New York queen Nymphia Wind and Kansas City queen Q, the runner-up from the premiere episode. The judges praised the level of detail on all three of Sapphira's outfits. 

"You have like, an amazing presence," said designer and episode 3 guest judge Isaac Mizrahi. "When you were walking the runway in all three presentations, you have a really, really special way of moving."

Ultimately, Nymphia Wind won the episode 3 challenge, and Los Angeles-based queen Hershii LiqCour-Jeté became the first constant to be eliminated this season.

Sapphira Cristál has obviously made a huge impression on both audiences and the judges—she'll need to keep that up now that contestants will start dropping. And while Sapphira has a little bit of potion to her advantage, she'll have to use it the right way and at the right time.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on MTV.