The second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars starts tonight on both Logo and VH1!
That means we all get a second glorious run of weekly drag queens this year, only this time its starring 10 season queens we already know and who I largely love.
However, not ever All-Star can enter the Hall of Fame. How do I see things shaking out? Here’s my Power Rankings of these ten glittering queens heading into tonight’s premiere.
Here’s where I see their chances headed into tonight’s premiere. You can grab a season pass for all the eleganza in stunning streaming HD for $20 on Amazon.
1. Alaska Thunderfuck 5000
Runner-Up, Season 5
Pro: Alaska is the obvious heir apparent to the RuPaul crown in the same way Chad Michaels was at the start of the first season of All-Stars. She’s a multi-media superstar, she executes her twisted alien vision flawlessly, and Ru and World of Wonder come calling again and again for her to anchor tours, interview on red carpets, and pretend to be Anna Wintour on the S7 premiere.
Basically: she’s already treated like royalty. Her losing to Jinkx Monsoon was fair but it was a near thing that Ru can easily amend.
Con: Alaska isn’t the squeaky-clean queen that Chad was, both in presentation and reputation. There’s also her decidedly scatological sense of humor, which is riotous during a solo video or show but not as honed when competing for airtime with nine other girls. If Ru sees her fleet of Champions as the ultimate brand representatives, Alaska might not be the best choice to join them.
Plus, does she even need to the title to be more successful? In a way, she’s the next evolution of Raven – someone who will continue to endure and grow in popularity even as an eternal runner up. So, why waste a winner’s spot on her?
Ru-buttal: The Drag Race brand might need Alaska in the same way it needed Bob or Kim Chi in Season 8 – these girls represent a new generation of drag for an ever-widening group of mainstream fans who were born long after Ru stopped enjoying getting dragged up every day. Plus, Alaska is a trained actor – if Ru needs a spokesperson, she can nail it.
2. Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova AKA Katya
5th Place, Season 7
Pro: Katya’s insanity has eclipsed Season 7, some of Season 8, the entire schedule of World of Wonder web shows, and most other queens from recent seasons. What seems like non-sequitur, dadaist humor is the finest-honed, completely deadpan self-deprecation delivered with a natural sense of comedic timing.
Also? Her looks are frequently less man-in-wig and more actual woman on her commute to work realness.
Con: Katya’s not ready for this crown because her best feature is that she’s a compelling underdog. Even after her season, she continues to buckle under pressure when it’s time to impress, whether it’s her slo-mo dancing in big lip syncs or her bombing at a few high-profile gigs. She doesn’t vary her looks as much as her competition, and when she does it’s usually for determinedly fugly outfits – they’re on-brand for her, but not for Drag Race. Crowning her right after the similarly hilarious and salacious Bob seems redundant.
Plus, she’s still early in her recovery, and while that gives her a lot of manic energy, it’s also not the ideal story for Ru’s #1 brand representative. She needed another few years to bake, just like Alyssa and Alaska.
Ru-buttal: That’s all valid, but the fans have spoken on this one. If Ru wants to cross over into the mainstream with a modern update of her own outsized personality, Katya’s a fine choice.
3. Alyssa Edwards
6th Place, Season 5
Pro: Every word out of Alyssa’s mouth is a new catchphrase, she’s one of the fiercest (and most-trained) dancers in Drag Race history, and maybe was the first non-top-three breakout star of the show. (I don’t count Pandora Boxx because she’s not actually popular.)
Her face and figure are so obviously feminine that’s it’s a total mind-fuck to see her out of drag. Beneath the pageant competitor she has a heart of gold, and her Haus of Edwards has turned out a string of Drag Race’s most memorable competitors. It makes sense that the ruler of the Haus be inducted into the show’s royalty.
Con: Beneath the catchphrases, Alyssa is still the same old hot mess. Even if she’s more self-aware now that she’s seen herself on television, she’s still a walking talking human gaffe whose constant stream of unpredictable non-sequiturs at best betrays a lack of good sense (and, at worst, a more clinical problem). Her humor is almost entirelt ridiculous self-deprecation – in her season she failed to bring it to any performance.
Even if all that could be forgiven, for all of her hilarity Alyssa’s mindset is still stuck in the small-ball world of pageantry and stage choreography. Her fashion is Southern bombshell pageant overdrive – even if she can do couture, her range of looks is still smaller than almost all the rest of these girls.
Ru-buttal: Does any of that matter when you have the it-factor that Alyssa does? Clearly not, since she’s been one of the most regularly promoted brand ambassadors for Ru Paul for years. Why not make it official and crown a sure thing?
4. Ginger Minj
Runner-Up, Season 7
Pro: Ginger Minj’s runner-up finish in Season 7 comes down to two basic elements: Violet being stunning look queen who overshadowed Minj’s own superb choices, and fans not always loving a villain. There’s no denying she is one of the most-talented competitors in the history of the show (even with her lacking dance skills), and I’d go so far as to say she has had the best fashion of every “big-girl” queen we’ve ever seen (until Kim Chi, of course).
Now she’s back against a whole crew of primadonnas who don’t always need a lot of help to look bad, and she’s already acutely aware of what the fans think of them. That makes her an easy pick for Ru, who can finally add a big girl to her line-up of winners.
Con: Yes, Ginger knows how to dress her body in a flattering way, but her outfits have always lacked a certain couture quality. Also, despite being a stunning actor and singer, she didn’t leave us with a lot of memorable moments outside of her lackluster Snatch Game win as a less-funny Adele and her spot-on Divine impression.
Even assuming Ru can get over her past villainy (and Ginger can avoid repeating it), this workmanlike quality isn’t necessarily the mark of a superstar.
Ru-buttal: Ginger’s expectations for success are handicapped by the dullness of Season 7 – it’s not entirely fair to sandbag her for not being exciting enough when everything about her season was a snooze. She will be different in the mix against some of the best queens in the history of the show, and the sheer quality of her competitors is going to bring out her A-Game. There are so many freaks, bitter Bettys, and failure addicts in this line-up that Ginger comes off as the most normal one in the bunch, even with her snark intact!
5. Adore Delano
Runner-Up, Season 6
Pro: Adore represents a singular achievement in Drag Race’s history – she not only grew within her season to become a more compelling, confident queen, but she left the show and found mainstream success with two strong original albums and several tours. Sure, her American Idol background laid the groundwork for her achievements, but if there’s a brand that can lay claim to her it’s Drag Race.
Ru has a lot of affection for Adore, and it’s easy to picture this season as her victory lap – especially considering she’s good at just about every kind of performance that Drag Race knows how to throw at a queen.
Con: Adore is utterly unstrategic – she goes wherever the party takes her. Or, in her words, “I’m a fucking Libra.” While that made her a riveting mess on Season 6, she’s up against some of the most tactically-minded girls in the show’s history. Doing whatever comes to mind – especially when it comes to runways – isn’t going to get her very far with this crowd, even if she might be the most-talented queen in the lineup.
Also, let it be said that Adore might be a little too independently popular for Ru to crown – Drag Race (and, drag in general) doesn’t entirely own Adore’s narrative anymore the way it does with other girls.
Ru-buttal: There’s a reason Adore slid into the top three of her season over Darienne and Ben De La: strategy doesn’t always trump star quality. What Adore lacks in the former she makes up for in spades in the latter. In the two years since Season 6 Adore has codified her previously messy look into a sort of electro-grunge Courtney Love Barbie Doll that always reads as feminine and sexy. All she has to do is dress like herself and act like herself to be the polish remover to dissolve all these other girls.
6. Detox iCunt
4th Place, Season 5
Pro: Detox walked into her season with the mindset of a winner and got tossed for the relatively minor offense of living her own neon oil slick candy fantasy rather than conforming to the show’s rainbow colored expectations (and also for delivering a fantastic lip-sync against one of the best lip syncs of all time).
Since then, she’s pretty much maintain the high profile of a winner with the confidence of a winner. She’s one of the most stunning body queens of all time, wickedly acerbic, good at just about every aspect of drag, and managed to be a utter villain while barely getting slagged for it. Basically, she doesn’t commit unforced errors.
Also: just look at that photo. Damn.
Con: Is Ru really going to crown this salacious, rebellious queen as one of her chosen few? It doesn’t help that one of her biggest headlines outside of Drag Race was fronting DWV with noted WOW-hater Willam and Vicky Vox, who is always eager to say she’s not interested in Drag Race. That’s a lot of baggage by association.
Unlike Bianca or Bob or even Katya, who say some very wrong things but with a lot of intent, you never quite know what Detox will say or do.
Ru-buttal: Who are we kidding – all of these queens are weirdos! Detox embodies charisma, uniqueness, talent, and nerve moreso than the vast majority of other queens who have ever been on the show. Her outspoken, no-holds-barred personality pairs well with the post-Jinkx winners Bianca, Violet, and Bob. It’s not like Ru is trying to assemble a squad of meek charm school girls, and Detox has nerve for days.
7. Roxxy Andrews
Runner-Up, Season 5
Pro: Roxxy Andrews was a villain who was as canny as she was mean. She has a keen fashion sense that hardly ever misfired and knows how to dress for her curves. In a season that was practically it’s own All-Stars show (as evidenced by five of them appearing here) she accounted for a massive reel of highlights (Candy dress! Tamar Braxton! The children’s show!).
Yet, unlike many other look or performance queens, a lot of what’s memorable about Roxxy is her off-stage confidence and personal victories. Without Jinkx to fuel her villainy, she might be the reformed queen we’re all ready to root for.
Con: Roxxy has proven herself to be both vindictive and impulsive, which isn’t a good combination for a supreme ruler of drag. Ru favors highly evolved human beings to wear her crown, and Roxxy hasn’t reached that state of enlightenment.
Also, while she’s a killer queen, she hasn’t shown herself to be the same kind of cross-platform viral star as the other girls on this list. Ru can teach her how to be supermodel of the world, but she can’t teach that.
Ru-buttal: Not every great queen needs to be a video star. Roxxy does just fine for herself on Instagram, her mug is always beat to the heavens, and she knows both how to look epic and how to edit. When it comes to well-rounded Drag Race queens, she’s near the top of the list. Plus, she represents a multi-season growth and redemption arc if she can reign in her villainy and emphasize her strategy – and Ru loves a success story.
4th Place, Season 2
Pro: Tatiana has the same advantage here that she had back on Season 2 – everyone will underestimate her. No one is looking at her as a threat because they forgot about her, but she’s drop-dead gorgeous, utterly talented, and still young and relatable enough to set the world on fire for Tumblr and Instagram fans.
Everyone knows that Tyra is the least-favored champion of them all, and Raven is always going to be a little too salty to be royalty. Tatiana gives Ru the chance to set the record straight on Season 2 once and for all, and in doing so show how much her show helps a queen to evolve.
Con: Amongst such luminaries as the ladies ranked higher on this list, Tatiana’s achievements feel a little … provincial? Even with less exposure from the show than queens from Season 4 and forward, she’s had a lot of time to develop herself into a major star … yet, she feels like just another pretty drag queen. I don’t think she can hang with these heavy-hitters in a way that would justify Ru elevating her to champion status.
Also, she has a certain “mean girl without a clique” quality that isn’t going to play well in this crowd of big personalities.
Ru-buttal: I’ll say it again – underestimation is danger. Also, Tatiania plays dumb but she’s smart like a fox. She was terrific at taking direction and showing growth on the show six years ago, and she’s had the chance to sit back and watch all the other queens all that time while honing her own craft. We honestly have no idea what kind of arsenal Tatiana will have with her, because she’s under-the-radar compared to the rest of this cast.
9. Phi Phi O’Hara
Runner-Up, Season 4
Pro: Phi Phi is a knock-down, dragged-out competitor who is a multiple threat talent. It’s pointless to say she didn’t win because she was a villain, because she was never going to beat the one-two punch of the Sharon Needles phenomenon and the never-a-hair-out-of-place Chad Michaels (and it’s honestly still surprising she edged Latrice out of the top three).
However, this season is a different ball game, and Phi Phi has spent four years honing her pitch. She can execute more looks with a roll of duct tape and some finger paint than most of these girls will have in their suitcases. Plus, she offers Ru a very tempting villain-to-hero arc that takes more than a single season to craft.
Con: Here’s the thing – on raw talent alone, Phi Phi really ought to be a contender here. Her social media game is sheer fire and she’s successfully crossed over to new groups of fans with her cosplay. Despite that, she has the most ground to make up for out of all of the queens when it comes to improving her image with viewers.
What are the chances she can do that and prove herself worthy of joining Ru’s hall of fame in ten episodes or less?
Ru-buttal: Even as one of the biggest bitches in Drag Race history, Phi Phi was a sculpted fingernail away from the crown in Season 4. If she can come back and show she’s not only more than plastic showgirl fantasy but that she’s also absorbed and metastasized Sharon’s Party City vibe into something bigger and more vibrant, then she might deserve the win.
10. Coco Montrese
5th Place, Season 5
Pro: She’s a well-seasoned queen who is one of the most deft lip-sync assassins in the history of the she. She has a biting sense of humor, she’s feisty, and she can pull a win out of the clutches of defeat.
Con: Girl, it’s never going to be Coco. She is a choke artist and self-saboteur of the highest caliber who lives in a realm of negativity, and it’s shown through repeatedly in her stilted performance choices. She can find a defeat within any victory. If you think about the nine reigning queens whose pantheon we’re adding to, she just doesn’t fit.
Plus, I’m bitter that she’s occupying a spot meant for another S6 queen (originally meant for Laganja, but just as deserved by any of them as far back as April Carrion). The Alyssa and Coco story is old news – it would have been more interesting to bring a second Haus of Edwards girl.
Ru-buttal: Maybe she really did learn a lot from her season. She’s got a great look (apart from the orange) and solid fashion sense (aside from the little girl baby doll stuff), plus a lot of experience.