Yes, you have to be able to walk in stilettos, sew a sickening runway outfit, and land at least one joke during Snatch Game to impress the judges; but there's one Drag Race rule - spoken at the tail end of every episode, just before two unlucky queens lip synch for their lives - that mustn't be broken: "Don't f- it up."
Sadly, Valentina, widely seen season 9's frontrunner until Friday's episode, during which she became its latest casualty, didn't heed the advice.
"I f-ed it up," the Los Angeles native tells EW of what's sure to be remembered as season 9's most shocking installment yet, which saw Valentina squaring off against Nina Bo'Nina Brown in the bottom two following their comical (yet no less haphazard) attempt at creating a sitcom pilot as part of this week's main challenge. "I didn't know the [lip synch] song!"
As evidenced by countless queens in the past, not knowing the lyrics to the lip synch track isn't always the final nail in one's Drag Race coffin. And it might not have been for Valentina, either, if she'd tried a little harder to mask her shortcomings - just not so literally, as she donned a lace mask as part of her (otherwise killer) runway outfit, a move that forced Mama Ru to halt the track and scold her for obscuring her lips.
"Valentina, this is a lip synch for your life. We need to see your lips. Take that thing off of your mouth," Ru clapped. When she refused, the Emmy winner's blood seemed to boil. "It's a lip synch. What part of that do you not understand?"
"In that moment, I did deserve to be in the bottom. I remember feeling in a state of shock and it was something that I undoubtedly could not get myself out of," Valentina says of her predicament, though she's not ready to throw in the towel on drag altogether. "This is only the very beginning. I'm so very blessed to have lived this experience to catapult me to have such a huge following... This was my moment to be discovered. My ultimate dream and goal moving forward is to become the face of drag in all of Latin America!"
Read on for EW's full interview with Valentina, where she dishes on her disastrous lip-synch, and why her Latina-centric artistry is vital at a time when she says members of her community are being targeted as "criminals and rapists."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: People had you pegged to win this thing! Were you as shocked as everyone else at your elimination?