One thing that you may not know about me is that I am what’s known as a “Drag Race Superfan”, or “RuHo” for short. I am obsessed with this show, it’s one that I watch every year and every queen in some way delights me. In fact, on this very blog (OK, reposted from my Moviepilot days) I did a speculation of who was going to be in this very cast… I did pretty well, 6/10, that’s a pass. I’ve also made a list (Again, a repost) of lip syncs from the series that got overlooked. So I think it’s safe to say that I was so excited for this season, and to see just what these queens brought so every week I’m going to provide a quick recap (Heh, quick, like that’ll happen. I have an hour to get through and 10 queens to talk about, grab snacks now because we’re going through everything that happened) along with my personal opinions on what happens. There will be spoilers, lots of them so be warned that from here on out we’re going to be spilling all the T… that doesn’t sound as good in pure text form as it does when said out loud. Anyway, Let’s begin.
So the episode opens on… The Henny-Maiden’s Tale? There’s an entire sketch with previous All Stars winners Chad Michaels and Alaska Thunderfuck living in the “Drag Race Hall Of Fame” with a set that probably cost them more to rent for an hour than they spent on the first season. They’ve got an actual budget now which is always good to see, means VH1 is treating them right. I hope this little sketch becomes a regular thing for this season, there are almost a dozen winners who could come back to be part of this Henny-Maiden’s Tale world. Bonus points to the editors for putting the label “Ofrupaul” under the picture in the hall of fame, very clever little touch.
The actual episode starts properly with the first queen in the workroom being Trixie Mattel in a grand pink roller chick outfit, complete with roller blades which she uses for great comedic effect and her hilarious entrance line which may be the best of them all, but then again I’m a sucker for corny one-liners.
Next up is Milk with her denim ensemble and hair that kind of looks like she went to the wig maker and showed them the head of a penis and said: “Make that, but out of hair”. It’s a look that very few could pull off and Milk is one of them, bonus points for the eyeshadow matching the outfit, a sea of blue denim that really says “I’m here to win, right after I milk the cows and tend to the sheep”
Chi Chi DeVayne walks in with the first of what will be a recurring motif this episode… swimsuit with shit glued to it. To her credit, she glued some good shit to it, the colours are bright and she turned the trash bag into something pretty spectacular and I genuinely love it but I hope this isn’t the start of a season full of swimsuits with shit glued to them. That never works out. After a while, Michelle will clock you and it will hurt. I do love seeing Chi Chi back though, she was a force to be reckoned with on her season and I really hope to see as much out of her as possible.
Thorgy Thor is the next to run on in, almost breaking an ankle just by walking in. Her hyper energy is definitely infectious and that’s either going to help her shine or rub the girls the wrong way but I’m excited to see what happens with her. I’m hoping this is the last time we see this outfit though. Maybe this looked amazing in person but I think it’s the top that’s throwing me, it’s mismatched and after what’s walked in the room so far it’s kind of a downer. But, again, her pure bright enthusiasm makes me so happy… as does the shady editors who are at their most shady by following Thorgy saying that she’s learned tricks on how to focus and relax with 10 seconds of her looking for a stray hair that was in her vision.
Shady editors, how I missed you.
The clouds part and a bolt of lightning cracks the floor and up from the pits of hell is the most iconic bitch of them all, Morgan McMichaels. When I call her a bitch, I say that with pure love because she is the one who had the first fight on Untucked and this show needs a good shady bitch. They got the best of them all because she’s not only quick-witted and not afraid to speak her mind, she looks goddamn perfect all the time and I live for her. Plus anyone who proudly says “You can’t kill evil that easy” in reference to herself is my kind of queen.
Rolling in on a beautiful pink scooter, fresh from Season 9 is Aja and she’s perfect, she’s beautiful, she looks like Linda Evangelista if Linda Evangelista put on a gorgeous bright yellow wig and nails that could cut someone in half. I’m so damn happy to see her, she has grown so much and created the most iconic moments of season 9. She is everything and guess what? Her smile is beautiful.
BenDeLaCreme comes in, repeating her original entrance so perfectly that they were able to edit the old footage in and the change is barely noticeable. Her bubbly joyful smile is always good to see and even though the other queens read her for it, I love that Ben took her old Season 6 finale dress and repurposed it to create something different. They’re clothes, you can wear them more than once and if you can alter an old outfit to make it look fresh I say go for it. Also, I’m sure everyone’s going to just have endless screencaps of her confessional look which is pure Jughead from Archie Comics… I would show a screencap but it’s a pain in the ass to get those. Just trust me, it’s adorable and pure.
Kennedy Davenport flies into the workroom in with an outfit that I still have no idea how to handle. I think it’s the mirrors on the face that throw me cos everything else I love. The gown is perfection, that hair is impossible and I’m pretty confident is CGI, but god those weird mirrors on the face just throw me. I do love that Kennedy’s back, this means we have a good chance of a Chi Chi VS Kennedy lip sync which will naturally kill us all with how amazing that will be. Seriously, I hope one of the episodes is rigged just to make that happen. Though if that does then that’ll destroy Trixie’s theory of them being the same person just from different time periods, and if they touch then the world will end… that was a Southland Tales reference, because that movie clearly needed to be referenced when talking about Drag Race.
Last into the workroom is Shangela who comes with a Tiffany’s box facade to reveal that she’s here. While some people might have a problem with her repeating the Box joke… the show kind of made that a thing. It’s part of her origin story, it’s part of what got her here. Yeah, it’s a joke that’s now appeared in more seasons than Santino Rice but it’s a joke that needed to happen because otherwise, she wouldn’t have entered the room properly. Plus, love that she matched the box to her outfit. She looks amazing and she is ready to take that crown because right now, she is amazing as hell.
And that’s it, that’s all the queens… at least, that’s what everyone thought at the time. Now is when the spoilers really kick in, last chance to back out. Seriously, last chance because we’re about to see the 10th queen and you can probably already see the picture since you’re scrolling and I’m not putting a gigantic gap between this paragraph and the photo of the 10th queen… and that queen is-
Bebe Zahara Bonet, the original Next Drag Superstar. There were so many theories about who the mystery 10th queen was and I saw everyone listed, from Willam to Laganja to Lucian Piane (Remember her?) but it was obviously always going to be Bebe. Bebe is the only person who would be a legitimate surprise, a winner returning? That’s a twist worthy of the first episode back and god damn does she look flawless. She is absolutely graceful and perfect, every inch a crowned queen and while I kind of have hopes for one of the other queens to win (Team Shangie, I’m just saying that now), I will not be shocked if Bebe takes it home because she is pure perfection.
With our batch of queens all ready to go, it’s time to open up the library and with this group, we’re in for one hell of a reading challenge. They’re in it to kill and because every queen was so good, I’m just going to give my top 5 favourites in the order that they were said on the show, just cos that’s easier than trying to pick an actual favourite read.
- Chi Chi, to Milk “Just like the drink, you give me the shits”
- Milk, to Shangela “I always thought her name was Angela and people were always telling her to shut up”
- Shangela, to Thorgy Thor “You know I love clowns, and I never met an unfunny one until I heard you reading”
- BenDeLeCreme, to Bebe “I hear this is the year you might get two crowns, which is not a lot of dental work as far as those early seasons are concerned”
Bebe, to Kennedy “I’m the only African here, but why does it look like with Kennedy Davenport you can sponsor her for 30 cents a day?”
Needless to say, none were as brutal as Katya’s infamous “I think about you every morning at the bus stop” read but they were pretty damn funny. There’s also a bunch of deleted reads up on VH1.com which is where you’ll actually find my personal favourite read from these queens (Seriously, this is All Stars, we would’ve handled a 20 minute long reading challenge).
- Shangela, to Aja “Bitch that outfit is so cheap, it looks like it was made by me”
I’m a sucker for a good self-read, what can I say? So after everything is said and done, the winner of this weeks mini-challenge is…
The former Miss Congeniality BenDeLeCreme brought the evil shade that we love seeing so much and I’m so glad to see it. I had a feeling it was going to be her… mostly because hers was the one we got to see the most of. I do really wish they’d show us all of them, or at least an even amount of reads so we can actually be surprised but when everyone else gets 3 reads and Ben get’s 4, you can kind of tell who’s got the win.
While they’re in the workroom preparing for the talent show a few big issues come up. The first is just how everyone is intimidated by having Bebe being there, the former winner is really the toughest competition that any of the queens could’ve imagined but they point out what is pretty important for the fans to remember… Bebe has the most to lose here. Anything less than winning is a step down for her at this point and it’ll be interesting to see how she handles that pressure as the season goes on.
The moment that seems to throw everyone is when Morgan admits that she’s just going to send the strongest queen home no matter what. I’m with her on that. While I get what the other queens are saying about how they’d feel bad doing that, this is a competition and I can’t think of a bigger compliment to give to a queen than turning to them and saying “As long as you’re here, I can’t win so you have to go”. That’s a goddamn compliment and a half right there… plus, let’s be honest, if I wanted the person who the judges decided was the worst to go home, I’d ask RuPaul to eliminate the queens. This is All Stars, this is where the queens are in charge so goddamn it I want the dramatic moment of someone being told, explicitly “You are too much competition for me to not take this chance right now while I have it”. So yeah, I’m with Morgan on this one… and judging by some of the confessionals, I doubt Morgan’s the only one who feels like the best option is to get rid of the top dogs.
Then there’s the question about Aja, namely “She just was on a season, why is she here” to which the only answer is “Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova, but your dad just calls her Katya”. Katya literally went right off Season Seven onto All Stars 2 which was filmed a month after Season 8, so Katya literally went right back into the lions den just like Aja did and Katya made it to top three so maybe it’s not a good idea to underestimate her in this competition just because she just got off a season, that means she’s the one who best remembers every inch of that studio and knows the best places to hide the bodies of everyone she destroys on that stage.
With the judge’s panel filled with the iconic Michelle Visage, the fashionable Carson Kressley, the come-back kid Ross Matthews and the effervescent Vanessa Hudgens, the time has come for the main stage challenge. So, let’s go through everyone’s talent show performance and discuss what we, the home audience, got to see.
We open the show with Shangela doing an incredible dance routine. I’ll be honest, I kind of wanted her to just keep taking me to church in the choir lady robe that she walked in on because that was giving me all the life that I needed but then she threw it aside, bringing us our second decorated swimsuit of the episode and turned it out. Her performance was amazing, filled with references to some of her most well-remembered moments from the series and some iconic moves, including the death drop which it still stuns me that she does considering that she broke her leg doing it a few years ago. It’s everything you want out of Shangela and she gave it all.
Next comes Bebe in the same wig she wore for her most iconic look in season one (Go google Bebe Season 1, look for this wig, then come back and agree with me that her outfit was freaking iconic!), and I love it. That wig was huge and looked wonderful on her back then, and it looks wonderful on her now and when combined with her outfit and makeup creates an entirely different kind of iconic look, combined with a great performance piece that pays homage to her roots. Plus, her swimsuit with accessories tacked on it worked perfectly for the dance that she was doing and I loved it.
Thorgy Thor got out her violin to give us some classical music to change things up, showing off so much of her talent that it made jaws everywhere hit the floor. Her act started slow and ended up getting more energetic the longer it went on, even throwing in a one-handed cartwheel for good measure. Apparently, she was doing a violin version of Sissy That Walk and maybe I’m just out of touch, but I totally didn’t get that she was doing that song. I loved her performance, I just didn’t catch that she was doing a slowed down version of a RuPaul song. Way to utilise the show you’re on to pick a song that you know they’ll have the rights too.
Aja comes out next, doing an absolutely stunning performance to her own song Level Your Pussy Up (I think I linked to the correct version on Itunes, but if I didn’t just buy it anyway to support drag artists) and it is amazing. She pulls out energetic dance moves and outfit reveals that no one saw coming, while also hitting every syllable of the song and getting the audience going so that when she literally leaps off a box into a death drop, it killed everyone else in the room.
Kennedy is next, bringing us another swimsuit and another incredible dance performance. Kennedy isn’t called the dancing diva for nothing, she pulls out all the stops and spins her hair like it’s actually attached to her head and even leaps up onto the box that Aja jumped down from. It’s an insanely fun performance that put a huge smile on the audiences face.
BenDeLaCreme brings us a hilarious burlesque performance that utilized her insanely expressive face and her terminal delightfulness to create some genuinely great moments of physical comedy and a complete well-rounded performance that had everyone doubled over with laughter by the time she was done.
Chi Chi Devayne changes where the accessories to her swimsuit are glued, instead of around the edges they’re on the front and pure green, so Michelle will be happy. Her dancing isn’t as incredible as I remember and her hair keeps going in her face. I honestly didn’t have as many problems with her shoes as everyone else did because I remember about 5 minutes ago in the episode when Bebe performed in bare feet. I was more bothered with the messy wig that was hiding her beautiful smile and how that outfit didn’t work at all.
Morgan came out with a performance that was OK, I genuinely liked what she had recorded because her rap was appropriately snarky and funny. As expected, Morgan hit every syllable flawlessly because she is a master lip-syncer. Her big problem is that she spends more times looking to the other girls than at the judges while she’s performing, and also her wig seems to keep annoying her and flying away from where it’s meant to go. It’s sad because Morgan is amazing, I really was hoping for something a little more high energy. Also, yes, another swimsuit. I’ve now lost count of how many there have been in this episode alone.
Then comes Trixie with nothing but a harp and a song called Moving Parts, which you can find on the Spotify app and I highly recommend listening to it a few thousand times because it’s beautiful. It’s a risky move for Trixie to not go for comedy, just showing off one of the most beautiful songs in her repertoire because it could’ve ended like… well, the emotional songs sung in All Stars 2. Instead, she fills it with such charm and shows off so much talent that it’s undeniably a high point of the show.
Next is Milk with this strange performance piece where she repeats the lines “Walking with fashion/touch with fashion” a few dozen times, walks down the runway with cardboard outfits velcroed to her body. It’s a strange performance that you either love or hate, it’s the mother! of performances and I definitely don’t think it was the best, but I can get how some would love it.
With the show over it’s time to discuss tops and bottoms. Bebe, Kennedy, Milk and Trixie are all declared safe, I definitely understand that. They were definitely the ones who were either good, but not “Oh my gawd” good, or they were so strange that it’s hard to pick top or bottom. Normally this show has 3 tops and 3 bottoms but here we had 4 tops and 2 bottoms, the 4 tops being Shangela, Thorgy, Aja and BenDeLaCreme. It’s a pretty impressive pack and they all take their critiques well. For example, Shangela is told by Michelle that her outfit is a bodysuit with boots which 4 other people had on… so she promised to burn it. Something tells me that she won’t be caught in one of those for the rest of the season, without a good reason. Morgan and Chi Chi handle their negative critiques well, they explain what they were thinking and admit their mistakes, it’s nice to not hear excuses.
After a quick deliberation, BenDeLaCreme and Aja are revealed as the top two and so they end up being forced to pick who goes home out of Morgan and Chi Chi. This means they have to head off to the workroom to deliberate, including a discussion about a potential pact that I don’t think anyone actually agreed on. I mean, Ben seems to think they did but as Shangela put it “Did you see All Stars 2? The group consensus thing didn’t work out!”. I’m glad this is going to be a permanent part of All Stars, it adds a great level of drama that really makes this show much more entertaining.
While this is going on by the way, on stage Vanessa Hudgens does a lip-sync of “Cover Girl” against a literal pork chop and that better happen in every episode from now on. Considering who we have as guest judges this season, I need to see all of them being dorks beside a slab of meat while lipsyncing to a RuPaul song. It’s gloriously silly and lets us have a little more fun with the guest judge. Heck, I’d be happy to see them doing the full 2-minute lip sync because I’m sure some of them will be insane.
Aja and Ben pick their queens, their lipstick votes slipped away into their outfits before they hit the stage to perform Anaconda by Nicki Minaj. I’m not a fan of this song, but oh god am I a fan of these queens lip syncing it.
Aja is giving an energetic performance that perfectly fits the song how Nicki Minaj sang it. She hits every beat, she get’s every lyric, she is giving you sex and it’s amazing. She shows why she was a lip sync assassin in her season and god damn I hope she tops again soon so we can see this kind of performance more often.
Ben goes full comedy for the song, pulling extreme faces and doing the silliest dance moves and it’s pure BenDeLaCreme in the best way. She devours that stage like she was an Anaconda, she’s having so much fun up there and making her audience howl with laughter.
BenDeLaCreme wins the lipsync, her first lip sync win ever. It’s a well-deserved win and therefore, she’s the one who gets to eliminate someone. She gives her explanation, she takes control and states very explicitly that she doesn’t want Morgan’s plan of eliminating the biggest competition to be the one everyone goes with. She seems to think that there’s a group consensus that they’ll just send the worst queen home and, if we go by Aja’s confessional, that’s not the case. BenDeLaCreme ends up sending Morgan home, but I will not be shocked in any way if next week we find out that Aja picked Chi Chi based on her reaction to Ben’s speech. It’s also just kind of funny that, instead of picking the person who clearly got the worse critiques that instead, Ben picked the one who was a threat to her while condemning Morgan’s suggestion of eliminating people she viewed as a threat… little funny, also a little sad.
Now eliminated, Morgan goes back to the workroom where she gives her goodbye speech, but RuPaul has something planned for her… and so do Chad and Alaska, if their sudden appearance in the workroom behind her right at the end means anything.
So this episode definitely shows that All Stars 2 wasn’t a fluke, this is how an All Star season should be run because you genuinely have no idea who’s going to go home and who’s going to succeed. It’s a little early to call it but I’m going to say that this episode showed me not to be shocked if Aja makes it to the end because she’s in it this time, same with Shangela and Trixie who all are my current top 3. I’m a touch concerned that Milk and Thorgy are getting, for lack of a better term, a villain edit because it definitely seems like we’re seeing more of their shady sides than usual but hell, we need villains and I kinda love seeing Milk reading people in the confessionals. It’s going to be fun seeing where this goes because, unlike the last 2 seasons of All Stars, I couldn’t tell you who was going to win even with a gun to my head. So can’t wait to see how this season turns out.
…so, that was quick right?
Note: All the gifs used here were taken from the official Drag Race Giphy page which I will probably be using every week. All screencaps were taken by me from the episode on Stan (local version of Netflix, basically) so I apologise for any blurriness.