Guess who’s back in the house, heels click-clacking about? That’s right, we’re back for another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars where I will talk about the stunts, shenanigans and explore deep topics like “Why are they doing this again so soon?” “Why can’t they space these out more?” and “Who allowed so many flats to be worn on All Stars 2?”. We’ll go through, see if we can work out who has a good chance of winning and, now that I no longer have to worry about silly little things like “Assessments” and “Obscenely expensive education to get a degree that I will probably never be able to actually use in any official line of work”, I won’t vanish halfway through the season. So, now let’s begin the season properly by talking about the queen’s entrances and how they’ve grown since their last season.
First one out is the iconic queen of everything, Monique Heart who is absolutely everything in her outfit. She was easily the most fun and fascinating queen on Season 10 with talent coming out of every pore of her body but she just lacked money. Let’s never forget that every look she wore on Season 10 was made while she was there and that alone showed the world she had talent. This look was really something, the headpiece alone is pure art in every sense of the word. Now that Monique had money to pay designers and buy material ahead of time, I see her as a force to be reckoned with… plus, maybe this season we’ll actually get to see her lip sync properly.
Next up, coming out of a toxic body bag is Trinity Tay- oh, sorry, Trinity The Tuck. Her name change alone tells you how much she changed. When we first saw her she was pure pageant queen but after Season 9 made her realise what she could do she’s so much more well rounded and she looks so amazing in this glorious green zip tie outfit that was a nod to a similar outfit worn by the iconic Sarah Paulson. Yes, that insane toxic fringe is nothing but zip ties and it looks amazing, everything about Trinity is amazing. Trinity was so good in her season that she basically could’ve won if she hadn’t decided to pick the lip sync assassin known as Peppermint to go up against in the finale. We know what Trinity can do. Spoilers, she can do everything.
Naomi Smalls walks in… well, her legs walk in and her body follows about 7 minutes later. I swear to god those legs are absolutely insane, she has like 3 sets of normal human legs stacked on top of each other before she even gets to the ankle strap that’s holding those heels onto the ends of the ladders that she calls legs. I genuinely love the hair she put on and that little headpiece is everything. Naomi is not one to sleep on, she might look pretty but there is so much more there and I feel like she’s determined to prove that she’s a lot more than just a pretty girl with extendo legs.
Monet X Change walks in a bodysuit. I’m going to pause for a moment while you all shake your head a little because… I mean, goddamn it. I love Monet, she comes with a sponge crown for the confessional and it’s a really nice bodysuit that has a normal suit pattern but… really? Actually? Honestly? You’re coming to All Stars with a body suit? Couldn’t have started with maybe a woman’s suit and done another tear away gag like you did in season 10? You just come in in basic black bodysuit? Not even a bodysuit cos the legs aren’t covered, it’s just like a onesie with a bib that sparkles. I love Monet, I do. I can’t wait to see what she brings to the challenges, she’s going to provide some fun but if this is an indication of the looks… I worry, I worry a lot.
Gia Gun walks in and looks flawless, to the point where she needs a crown of thorns (Move over BenDeLeChrist). She is genuinely gorgeous and looks so amazing. That hair is flawless, pretty sure she just grew that out of her head and it’s really amazing to have an openly out trans woman on All Stars. Her outfit is really cute, sparkly oversized sweater with shoulderpads and those boots… yes, yes to all of it. It’s also nice to know she still can throw fun iconic shade like she did back in season 6. She’s certainly going to be entertaining and iconic, as always, but I can’t wait to see how this journey of self discovery has changed her and how she displays her talent.
Farrah Moan comes in, does her iconic whiny moan that made her one of the most precious parts of season 9 and looks adorable as ever. It’s only been a little over a year but she’s just embraced her potential and looks exactly like Christina Aguilera. There is just something about Farrah doing this obviously sexy look, down to letting her ass literally hang out, that somehow looks adorable. I’m hoping that she’s going to be a lot more like Farrah in the finale of season 9, you know the one who read like it was nobodies business and was so on the ball that it was amazing. I really hope we get that Farrah this season… let’s see what the editors choose to show us.
Emerging from her cocoon is Jasmine Masters, the season 7 Jush Queen who everyone should’ve loved but didn’t for some reason because the internet is monsterous. We love her now though (TOOK US LONG ENOUGH) and she is the ultimate meme queen who in last weeks Christmas Special (Which I didn’t review because… why bother?) was one of the stand out people involved and this week is no exception. She walks in wearing an incredible suit that just clings to her in all the right places and makes her look like the executive of everything. She looks flawless, her hair is right, makeup is right, the body is right, everything is right and she is that ball of pure joy and love that she was in season 7. I don’t think we know what we’re about to get with Jasmine, but it’s going to be meme-worthy
Strutting in is the one and only Villaintina… sorry, typo, Valentina (Whose smile is beautiful). She still looks gorgeous, that outfit looks genuinely amazing and she’s definitely much more confident than she was in her season. No one can deny her talent, she really is something else but we all saw that finale and I wanna know if we’re getting that Valentina. Are we getting Villaintina? Because I won’t lie, I’d be here for that. I also genuinely want to see her lip sync because I feel like she can, I’ve seen clips and she’s a good performer but she got too caught up in the idea that she was never going to need to do it and didn’t… now she’s in a situation where winning means you have to lip sync, so she’s going to be prepared for that and I can’t wait to see it. She’s the wild card, I don’t know what will happen but it’s going to be entertaining.
Now for one hot minute, they try and pretend that it’s just going to be eight queens but we all know that’s not true. They play it up for a while, having RuPaul come out and explain the rules as usual but… there’s a problem with this, namely that they didn’t keep Latrice and Manilla being a part of the season a secret. Last year they worked hard as hell to make sure no one knew about Bebe being on the show. Sure, super fans figured it out right around the second the season finished filming but she wasn’t in promos, she wasn’t in posters. They didn’t say a damn thing until the second Bebe walked on screen and it was a gag-worthy moment that no one expected. Even people who knew it was Bebe were still gagged because there was a chance we were wrong. Here, Latrice and Manilla have done press tours, they were in the commercials, they are part of the giant photo that I put on top of this. Bebe wasn’t a part of the promo photos, not the original ones anyway (They ended up slipping her in between Shangela and Milk if you look up promo photos) but now we have Latrice and Manilla coming back. I’m happy to see them, god I wish they hadn’t said anything about it until right now.
Anyway, Manilla is wearing her old big bird comedy challenge outfit, the one she wore when she did the iconic McCarthur Park lip sync that will always be considered one of the greatest lip syncs to ever be done on this show. The addition she made of it looking like she’s been run over was genuinely brilliant and gives the look a new life. It’s kind of like when BenDeLeCreme took her Finale outfit and shortened it. I’m absolutely here for queen repurposing looks because they’re outfits, if you expect them to never wear the same outfit then you have a strange sense of how much clothing a person can fit inside a confined space.
Finally, Latrice has on a gorgeous purple outfit that sparkled just right. It’s bold and elegant, just like Latrice herself. That wig is everything and her face looks stunning. I don’t honestly care what she wears though because I get another season with Latrice and I believe it’s scientific fact that there is not a single fan of the show who doesn’t love Latrice. She is the ultimate Miss Congeniality, no one will ever be more amazing than she is and seeing her come back is delightful to me… seeing her handcuffed to Manilla, less delightful but that literally lasts 2 minutes and 20 seconds before they release them and reveal that they’re playing like normal. Literally, that’s how long it was between them walking in to them breaking the cuffs, including the opening credits and confessionals. Again, this isn’t as big a shock as they thought, the shock would’ve been if they’d had to do it as teams again but as it is, the shock is them being back and VH1 dropped the ball with that reveal.
With everyone back we get to enjoy the standard welcoming gift for this series… the library cards being swiped. To try and keep this down to under 5000 words, I’m just going to pick my top 5 favourite reads from this portion of the challenge.
Monet X Change: Manila Luzon… Emphasis on Lose. Twice.
Naomi Smalls: Farrah Moan is so dumb, she thought Valentina was her best friend
Jasmine Masters: And Ru! Thank you for having me back bitch, I want my suit back!
Latrice Royale: Valentina, take that thing off your face. Oh, it is your face… your other one!
Manilla Luzon: Monique Heart, do you remove your makeup with flushable toilet wipes? Because you’re an ass and your makeup is shit!
By the way, though I didn’t list it, for those curious just what Monique was talking about when she brought up a 90’s video with Ru in a Bodega… I believe I know what she’s talking about. I saw the toes, and they were about to jump.
In general, it was a good reading challenge, only Gia and Farrah seemed to struggle by not getting that the reads should be funny, they just went for mean. Even in the extended reads, they didn’t have good ones… although I wish they had shown the best read of them all by Valentina when she pointed to Latrice and said “Ru, Mystique was a mistake”. I hit the floor.
Anyway, the winner of this reading challenge was Latrice Royale proving that she is the queen of shade. I can definitely see why though, even with Valentina’s cut showstopping read, Latrice was more consistent and able to just destroy in a way that was consistently funny.
With the queens well read, they have to prepare for the main challenge which is the All Star Variety Show for the troops which is really awesome… it’s mentioned maybe twice and I swear once they show the troops being there, there’s nothing mentioned about it. I mean, maybe them being there inspired one of the routines later but other than the branding, it’s not mentioned. It’s really nice that they did it but maybe next time have the episode themed around the troops and give them a really good time. Still so good seeing that now the LGBTQ troops can be on TV and still serve and not have to worry about it.
Before we get to the talent show though, we need to address Gia Gunn and how she seems to be turning into the villain of the season. First, this is a highly edited show. We are seeing one hour out of a 2-3 day shoot and the editors are going to try and create a narrative, that’s just how reality TV works. There is no point showing someone being light and fluffy when the interesting part is them calling someone else an ugly slut so we all have to acknowledge that a certain element of this is going to be brought on due to editing, either by changing context, adding sound effects or even just removing the positive elements of what the person did. For all we know, Gia could’ve gone around and done every single person’s hair and given them footrubs with essential oils and we won’t know because they won’t show that… but what they showed wasn’t exactly sunshine and roses either. She doesn’t come off as likable in this edit and I really hope that’s just her trying to do some power play in the first episode and we’ll see the shining talented queen we know there is. We can admit that some things she says in this episode are awful but we must also state that there is no need for anyone in the fanbase to come for her. This happens every season, the person who is blunt and a little pointed in their opinion get’s so much hate from the fanbase so I want everyone who reads this to pledge that if you see someone coming for any of the girls, you shut it down. We can critique, but do not insult. There is a line and we’re going to try and stay on the critique side of that line, OK?
So, let’s talk about the talents that these whore sluts have, shall we? They were giving us everything this episode with one of the best guest judges ever, Queen Jenifer Lewis who I am going to bet had a lot to say and I want every single bit of film of what she said on that day. Can we get that VH1? Someone make a petition to just get all the footage of Jenifer Lewis reacting to everything that was happening on that day. I just need more Jenifer Lewis in my life, is that too much to ask?
First up on stage was Monique Heart with her new song Brown Cow Stunning. I love nothing more than when a queen takes a bad moment from their season and turns it into something glorious and iconic in All Stars. She did that with her great Brown Cow outfit and that song was so fun. She gave us so much life and shows that she can sing and dance her ass off. She got the crowd moving and shaking, she was showing off the insane talent that we all knew was there. This is the queen I wanted to see in her season and god damn it’s amazing.
Next is Naomi Smalls lip syncing and strutting. It was a very good number but I had flashbacks to Milk talking about touching the fashion and changing your life. It didn’t turn into something glorious until she tore off the top of her wig to reveal a bald head which I’m genuinely stunned no one’s done before. We’ve seen wig reveals, but we have not seen someone doing a half wig removal like that and it was genuinely amazing.
Next up, Gia Gunn came out doing some classic Kabuki theatre performance and it was just beautiful. She wasn’t kidding when she said she’d studied it because everything was effortless. The little touches with the petals in the fans was a beautiful little bit of magic that made it special. Not only did she introduce a bit of culture to the show that we haven’t seen before, but she also created a glorious piece of art that you couldn’t look away from.
Next, Trinity came out and did a hoedown tuck tutorial that was one of the funniest things. She really explained how to do a good tuck and gave a strange and amusing performance. It was proof that she’s come so far from the pageant queen that we saw in season 9, she’s a fully grown comedy queen now who can also just look flawless while delivering a joke. My favourite part was how she actually bleeped her own track, it’s a subtle clever joke that worked so well.
Farrah… oh boy. Here’s the thing, I got what she was going for, she was doing a full burlesque number and it looked gorgeous. She had the moves down, she has the outfit looking right, she had the reveals and she had everything right… and then she fell and it clearly threw her off. It’s no shock because that was a hard fall, you can tell that it hurt a lot. If she hadn’t fallen, that would’ve been a great routine. When she got back into it, it was great, but that window between her falling and her getting back into it is what caused her to… we’ll get there. Point is, the rest of the routine was amazing and accidents happen, no shame in that.
Next out was Monet X Change and here’s the thing, you can tell she has a good voice. My guess is that she just had a bit of a sore throat, she was a little off but it was still exciting. Her number was genuinely fun, bringing back the sponges is also a really good idea that I wish she’d done more with. In general, it’s a fun number that rides on Monet’s amazing personality and her performance skills, but the look isn’t right and that opening bit of vocal just didn’t work.
Manila Luzon comes out looking like Barb Ross (HOW WAS THAT PUN NOT MADE ON THE SHOW) and does a little bit of Mr Squiggle speed painting realness. By Mr Squiggle, for my American readers, I’m talking about a classic Aussie show that had a puppet doing a picture upside down (Google it, it’s delightful). Manilla did just that, delivering a glorious upside down speed painting of a bunch of flowers that was a display of glorious talent that no one’s really been able to show off before. I would hang that painting up on my wall.
Next up, Jasmine Masters… who didn’t prepare. She didn’t. She admitted that she didn’t have anything back in the workroom and was just going to wing it which is never a good idea. I love Jasmine, she’s funny, we’ve seen her be funny but she should’ve had an outline or something just so she would be able to do a routine. It also doesn’t help that they have a minute to do their talent, doing stand up in one minute off the cuff isn’t easy but she should’ve written something down. Instead, she basically recited one of her videos which would’ve been fine if she could’ve adapted it to an actual routine but she didn’t, and it wasn’t good. She looked good in her suit though, I will say that.
Next on the stage was Latrice Royale and she came to play. She did a flag dance to her single Excuse the Beauty and finally, we have someone who showed off something that felt like it belonged at a show for gay veterans. The flag routine felt energetic and bright and showed off her incredible talent as a performer and her movement with those flags was everything. She just owned that stage and showed why she is the most beloved queen to ever walk into that building.
Finally, Valentina comes out and I’m so proud of her. She not only opens with a joke about the infamous mask, which is all I want from the talent show, but she proves beyond a doubt that she can lip sync and perform her ass off. She was dancing, she was shaking and she hit every single syllable effortlessly. Sure, it’s not top 2 worthy, but considering how Valentina left on her season it’s the exact performance she needed to give to show everyone exactly why she’s here on All Stars and makes it clear that she’s one hell of a force to be reckoned with.
So, we go through the critiques and the bottom two were Jasmine Masters and Farrah Moan, while top two were Monique Heart and Trinity The Tuck… yeah, that’s pretty much perfect. I can’t really see anyone else as the top or bottom, though I do kind of think that they should be giving critiques to all the queens. Yeah, it would take a little bit longer… IT’S ALL STARS! WE CAN HANDLE 2 HOUR EPISODES! Stop holding back on us, stuff us so full of drag that we burst from all the glitter and glam and glitz. The best part of the critiques was Michelle Visage doing a double take when Ross Matthews said he was funny… he is, but her reaction was hilarious.
Anyway, we have our deliberation in the workroom (Which is the Untucked of All-Stars, everyone remember that for when you see someone asks where Untucked is) and the girls have to pick their lipsticks and… Editors, go frame by frame and cut out who picked what lipstick because I know that Trinity picked Jasmine, you can see it right away. You can’t see who Monique picked, so we’re going to find that out next week and see just how this competition is going to be with the lipsticks. I notice no one tried to do a “We pick the weakest” discussion so… who knows.
The lip sync is to Emotions by Mariah Carey and it’s amazing to see that VH1’s budget keeps getting us such good songs. Now from the second they start, it feels so even. Trinity is giving a very controlled performance that just shows she knows the song like no one else. She barely needs to move to give a bright fun drag performance. Monique shows off a more energetic performance filled with good dancing and absolutely amazing lip sync ability and finally someone did a wig removal that’s iconic enough that I don’t care that she’s bald. When I saw that wig hitting the rafters and staying there, I wanted a double win just for doing something we’ve never seen before. Everything about the lip sync was fun and fascinating, hilarious in all the right ways and when those queens got to the whistle-tone, oh god I was howling with laughter. This was how you start a season and make it known that we’re in for some good lip syncs.
Trinity wins the episode with one hell of a great performance and has to eliminate someone. Since I saw the lip sticks, I knew it was Jasmine and it’s seriously sad to see the Jush queen go. She’s charming and funny and I wanted to see more of her because she’s so much more than just a meme queen. She goes back to get her trophy and write on the mirror but she doesn’t get a dramatic message about “Oh girl, you’ll be back for revenge” which is worrying. I’m sure they’re going to bring them back for a team up episode or something (If it’s for Jury Duty, I’m going to scream) but I want to at least get a hilarious image of Alaska, Chad and Trixie putting them in a sack or something… it’s worrying, I don’t know what’s coming and I worry that it won’t be something I like.
So, that’s it for this week. Go support Jasmine on tour, buy her merch (You have to do it by following the instructions on her Instagram), watch her videos, cheer on this queen and next week we’ll have supergroups and Stacy Layne Matthews and just… so much more iconic queen-related things. Thanks for reading.
Trinity: I’m made of plastic, I might as well wear plastic bitch
Jasmine: I am back for All Stars 4, you junkie whores!
Farrah Moan: I lost a nail
Trinity Taylor: It’s OK, It’s OK… it’s not the only thing you’re going to lose
Trinity: Go Tuck Yourself
Trinity (She is the quote queen this season): A lot of people have viral things… they go to the doctor and get rid of it.