RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5 First Thoughts

Can we give a round of applause to this lazy-ass cast photo?

destaque_allstars

Is this the cast, or the FBI’s ten most wanted? Why do half of these look like mugshots? And we know that this Season was filmed like eight hundred years ago, so it couldn’t be Corona stopping a proper cast shoot. Just… what the hell, Drag Race?

Mayhem Miller (Season 10, 10th Place)

images (11)6676909598545612906..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

01f4398c-82aa-4d52-8963-08da5cf0b424

Remember when people were clamoring for Mayhem to get on Drag Race and then she proceeded to do nothing in Season 10? Good times…

It’s probably safe to say Mayhem didn’t live up to her meme of a performance at Micky’s. Mayhem never felt like she fit in with Season 10. Once upon a time, Drag Race was populated by roughly seventeen girls per season from West Hollywood, where Mayhem is from, and said WeHo Queens tended to dictate how the season would play out. But that’s long been abandoned, with the focus on New York and the call for less “pretty” and more “edgy” Drag, leaving Mayhem in the dust. In fact, while Season 10 tends to get recognized (correctly) for the strong showing of Black Queens, Mayhem is hardly ever mentioned, obscured by the much more prominent Monique, Vixen, Asia, and Monet. This is less a bad thing about Mayhem and more just the fact that VH1-era Drag Race doesn’t really know what to do with her.

All Stars, particularly this season, may however change that. It’s no secret that this is an old cast, with only one contestant under 30, and in particular half of them come from those past Seasons Mayhem would excel in. If Mayhem had a chance to blossom in a Drag Race season, it would be alongside Jujubee and Mariah. That eye-gif alone is promising.

Derrick Barry (Season 8, 5th Place)

images (13)3440695091836988780..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

 

4:16 in, just FYI

What a god damn miracle Derrick Barry is.

Season 8, for better or worse, lived and died by the slow-moving train wreck that was Derrick. Coming in with built-in hype as the Britney Spears impersonator, Derrick started weak and proceeded to trip over every single hurdle she can before having a mental breakdown over her ugly ass Tin Man leotard.

 

Stacy may be Henny, but Derrick is Hemmy.

It’s impossible to word the delight I experience watching Derrick lose her mind, all while the rest of the contestants metaphorically pelt her with rotten eggs as she trudges to a fifth place.

And because of all that, she’s fucking toast. There’s no way Derrick isn’t the first boot, eliminated after both bombing the challenge and proceeding to call everyone else ratchet. Derrick is not long for All Stars 5, but I will enjoy every single moment of her time.

India Ferrah (Season 3, 10th Place)

download (22)3559878945377778600..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

6658351_orig

So… India. She… was on Season 3. She was a Heather-adjacent. She had the same entrance look as another also-ran. Uh… Mimi almost performed a spinning piledriver on her, that was fun. What else… Oh, she was murdered in the ladies’ room by actual fucking legend Stacy Layne Matthews!

 

Why isn’t Stacy the one back?

Alright, let’s be clear, India’s inclusion is a joke, and it’s a joke I’m thrilled Drag Race isn’t in on. India Ferrah is the kind of casting that should tell a show, “Maybe we’re doing too many of these god damn All Stars seasons.” No show should pretend like having an All Stars cast that includes Season 3’s twelfth most memorable character (out of thirteen) is some sort of accomplishment. And yet Drag Race, which has become so pretentious and up its own ass, treats her as such (because *everyone* who has been on Drag Race is a legend, apparently). Not that I fault India for doing it, because hell if the reality show I humiliated myself on called me a decade later to both call me an All Star and associate me with their upper echelon, I would do it in a heartbeat. But Drag Race’s clear desperation for returning talent (who RuPaul hasn’t systemically pissed off) has only made the show more of a punchline.

I don’t know how India is going to do, because I don’t think about India. Like… she’s a cipher. I can’t read her. She could be anywhere from 10th to 4th.

Blair St. Clair (Season 10, 9th Place)

rpdr-allstars-blair-st-clair-2020-billboard-embed-15889573416737439021864643989.jpg

What You Might Know Her For

fyk8oao9odu01

I’m glad Blair looks like an actual adult now, and not the end result of a genetic experiment by top NAMBLA scientists to create the perfect middle school twink.

Blair sits weird for me, but that’s probably because of how Season 10 shook out. I’ve touched on this with Mayhem, but Season 10 is a Season with the highest highs but the lowest lows, and the few things that ride them middle tend to get lost in the shuffle. Blair is easily one of those: not being anywhere near iconic as the likes of Monique or Vixen but is a hell of a lot better than the likes of Eureka and Kameron. Blair’s Season 10 doesn’t conjure up as much discussion, for better or worse, and which not as egregious as India, her inclusion does reek of filler.

That being said.

Historically, All Stars have produced surprise superstars each Season that I didn’t see coming but can’t see myself without. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Alyssa, Bebe, or Gia Gunn the way I did during their seasons, and yet their exclusion would make the show so much worse. And looking at this cast, I think that might be Blair. That may seem out of nowhere, but if any of the Queens I’m very middle on can… well, I don’t think it will be Mayhem, I’ll put it that way.

Miz Cracker (Season 10, 5th Place)

mizcrackerallstars52931850242521605108.jpg

What You Might Know Her For

hqdefault (5)883150121004078806..jpg

You know? Fuck it.

I was gonna be nice and cordial, but even after trying to give Trixie and Trinity a fair shake I still had people telling me I was being unfair. So fuck it.

I don’t like Cracker.

She’s boring and is a sinkhole of charisma. Cracker lacks any proper starpower, and no matter how hard she tries (and Jesus does she), she never wowed me or made me laugh. Her attempts at being a character come off painfully forced, as her delivery is limp and she lacks all comedic timing. She deserved to be eliminated at final 5 (in fact Monique and Vixen deserved to stay longer than her), and the only reason her elimination was in anyway shocking was because typically Drag Race throws people like her every life preserver they can.

Why am I being so bitter? Because she’s gonna fucking win.

No matter what words I try to use to convince people, Cracker is still a popular Queen with a devoted fanbase. It doesn’t matter that the average age of her fan is as old as Blair looks, they still count for VH1 and Drag Race. Cracker is going to win, it’s going to be bullshit, and we will all swear off the show before returning next year to watch All Stars 6 be rewarded to Sonique.

Alexis Mateo (Season 3, 3rd Place/All Stars 1, 6th Place)

images (10)8045924116176798883..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

 

I think a lot of people have sort of forgotten about Alexis Mateo, and I can see why.

Alexis was part of the “Boogers,” Raja’s sophomoric name for the Queens she didn’t consider to her caliber, ironically being the only Queens of the season of any worth. Alexis found herself grouped with the likes of Yara Sofia, her ESL buddy and supplier of the most heart breaking moment of all of Drag Race, Stacy, who would become an ironic-turned-unironic Trans legend in the years to follow, and Shangela, who is Shangela. Alexis was still a lot better than her Heather peers, but being in an alliance with those titans, and earlier Mariah, would lead to anyone being overshadowed.

In fact it’s hard to ignore that Alexis has spent her Drag Race career as someone’s plus 1, originally as part of Yarlexis, and latter when her stock rose by proxy after her glamorous Cookie Monster of a drag daughter become the biggest breakout of Drag Race, period. All of this is to say that I fear Alexis will get overshadowed and end up an unremembered second boot. It’s not from lack of talent or charisma, but just from having the bad luck of having someone else outshine you.

Shea Couleé (Season 9, 3rd Place)

rpdr_allstars_press_shea_coulee1674613328268913756.jpg

What You Might Know Her For

HonoredWellinformedFirecrest-size_restricted.gif

It’s what she deserved.

There’s few Queens who frustrate me more than Shea.

People talk a lot about how robbed Shea was in Season 9, and on paper I agree. Shea had by far the most potential of the entire Season 9 cast, From the very start, Shea had literally everything going for her, and it looked like it would be a smooth ride all the way to a Shea win. Do I think she was the most talented? Yes, especially in that final 4. But do I think she deserved her lose? After how she got to the end, also yes.

See, Shea’s popularity doesn’t piss me off the same was as Cracker’s, as it’s based on actual talent, but in that regard I find her more infuriating. Because Shea could totally be that Bad Bitch who calls out shit in the name of justice, but she never does. Shea was the obvious front runner, something I would be down for if she didn’t hitch her wagon to the human embodiment of Wonder Bread, Sasha Velour. Instead of dominating the competition, she coasted on mediocre performances and runway looks, not to mention being terrible as Blac Chyna. Speaking of, I get that Nina is not the easiest to deal with, but dismissing her as soon as wasn’t profitable to Shea’s story is phony and shows how manufactured Shea was. Shea sacrificed her image and conviction to get to the end, and while it’s stupid Sasha beat her, to quote an online forum, “Its beautiful when the fate of the bland is authored by the awful people they enabled.” Shea did this to herself.

Do I think she’ll do well? Of course I do. And between her and Cracker, I definitely want her to win more. But that’s almost be default, and Shea still has a lot of work to do before I’m impressed.

Ongina (Season 1, 5th Place)

images (39)9074347263470747752..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

 

It’s weird that we finally have Ongina on Drag Race. Ever since All Stars 2, Ongina has been a popular request from the fanbase, with each passing seaon gaining her more and more hype. And now that she’s cast, I just have one question: “Why?”

Like, Ongina is fine, there’s nothing objectively wrong with her. She had some big Moments, like coming out HIV Positive (which is honestly harrowing) and being absolutely murdered by Bebe at a lip sync. But that’s kind of it? Two moments may seem like a lot for the muted Season 1, but this is the same season as Tammie Brown doing Tammie Brown things and Shannel openly plotting to murder Rebecca Glasscock. Ongina sadly never did much for me.

I think her outcome will be similar to Alexis: an early boot obscured by the obvious front runners. I could be wrong (I often am), but I just don’t feel excited about Ongina.

Jujubee (Season 2, 3rd Place/All Stars 1, 3rd Place)

images (12)3165214429643571543..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

 

This minute alone justified Drag U’s otherwise boring ass.

It’s impossible to put in words how important and legendary Jujubee is.

Season 2 was the most important season of Drag Race, and arguably Juju was its most important character. It’s easy to call her overrated now, but with the likes of Tyra, Tatianna, and Mystique being god tier amazing (while Raven was being fucking trash), Jujubee was the perfect audience-level legend. She was funny and smart, but sensitive and relatable. Endlessly watchable, but familiar. This is most obvious in the episode 7 Untucked, where Jujubee drinks the entire Wow Presents budget’s worth of alcohol before having a panic attack and talking to her dead father, but not before dramatically throwing off her fake lashes.

04tdmd23032704762518684012.png

This is an art piece. Sasha Velour wishes her art was this good.

All of this naturally leads to Jujubee lucking out by the lip sync song fitting her current drunken dollar store hooker presentation.

 

And that’s the thing about Juju. Is she as cartoonishly hilarious and iconic as her peers? No, but that’s kinda not her point? There’s something inherently human and raw about Jujubee that you don’t see in a lot of current Drag Race. She’s human without being basic. Iconic without playing it up.

How she’ll do in All Stars 5 is up in the air. Jujubee is timeless, but she’s also very of early Drag Race. My hope is she soars, and the buzz around her is positive. Of the Queens who actually have a shot, I want her to win.

Mariah Balenciaga (Season 3, 9th Place)

image (16)2021296269816659840..jpg

What You Might Know Her For

 

MARIAH MOTHER PARIS FUCKING BALENCIAGA!

I am so fucking happy Mariah is finally back to grace us with her presence in All Stars 5. Mariah is an absolute legend in Season 3, somehow topping both Shangela and Yara in terms of quantity and quality of quotes. All her moments, from the inspiration speech, to elephant show and cantaloupe, to a pineapple gown with glitter on it (BITCH!), are to this day instantly recognizable. And that’s just from Season 3, this isn’t even getting into the quote of life, “I’m Shannel and I wear costumes.” Mariah is a quote machine, a Paris is Burning side-character transported into the modern day.

Speaking of off-show, that is actually my favorite part about Mariah, and how she even got here: her absolute hustle. Mariah, especially lately, has been popping up fucking everywhere in the Drag world. If you find a YouTube video that features more than one Drag Queen, there’s a 50% chance Mariah will show up and say something iconic. Mariah is all about that hustle; if there’s 3 Drag Queens in a camera in one room, you better believe Mariah will be one of those 3 Queens.

Will she do well? Maybe not. Does she deserve to do well, absolutely! Mariah is one of Drag Race’s best characters, and no matter the quality of the rest of the Season, It will be worth it just to see her again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.