Now that’s you’ve had one entire day to recover from the buffoonery, riggery and straight up tomfoolery of the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 finale, are you ready to cleanse your palette with a brightly-colored group of 14 new queens?
Well, ready or not, here they come: Drag Race Season 10 begins on Thursday March 22, and it’s bringing with it some majorly polished looks and massive personalities.
This is the first of a many-week marathon of Power Ranking the queens of Drag Race Season 10, so let me get you acquainted with what this is and what it is not.
First: My rankings are not meant to be a prediction of the queens’ final placement! Especially for this pre-season ranking, it’s more like a handicapping of who seems ready to burst out of the gate with strength. I’ve made some good picks in the past (Bob The Drag Queen) and some weaker ones (Tempest du Jour).
Second: This is not purely my list of favorite queens. It’s about who has the perceived heat and narrative momentum coming out of each week of the competition.
Finally: My rankings are not just about “track record.” I am sick of that phrase after the complaints about the past two winners of Drag Race. Sometimes a queen’s Wikipedia-accurate track record does not tell the story of her narrative arc on the show.
I think fans who focus on the wins and losses to a fault wind up unnecessarily surprised by the winner of this show, which has story editors whose job it is to leave us a narrative breadcrumb trail. The only big shocker of my five seasons of ranking this show has been Shangela getting eliminated by the jury of her queers this week before she could snatch the crown.
Will my outstanding track record (ha!) continue this season? You’ll have to check back every week to find out!
This first week of rankings is a non-binding, pre-season evaluation based on the cast’s “Meet The Queens” interviews and a smattering of their online media. One note to keep in mind is that the queens did not necessarily choose their own outfits or styling for their promo looks, so we cannot just go by their looks in judging their qualities!
All right, racers – let’s get started. And may the best woman … win!
1. Eureka O’Hara
Eureka O’Hara has built-in heat from having not only been on Drag Race before, but having done so well that we’ve already been told she’ll be back to the competition. This isn’t a “you should get a re-do” surprise pity return, this is a “you seriously had a chance to win and make for great TV” welcome back.
Eureka is a big girl who is stylish, and who styles for being a big girl. She can be sleek and sexy, but she also knows when to play off her size for a massive silhouette. While she certainly has a tacky streak (which we saw on Season 9), she’s also wildly inventive and has a zeal for translating high fashion looks onto her larger frame.
She’s also self-confident without an ounce of second-guessing. That’s what got her knee injured last season! Eureka will go all out every single time, and she’s had the benefit of entire year of international touring to hone that skill.
We’ve seen a lot of hair loaves from Eureka, which is going to get dull on the runway if they’re her go-to all season. Also, Eureka relies on relatively soft features to go light on make-up (relatively speaking), but she can’t let minimal look messy (as she does in Meet The Queens – check her lipstick).
It’s rare for a queen to start a regular season where it’s her competition to lose, but that’s really what it feels like for Eureka. On the flip side: every single queen will either be gunning for her or trying to get her on their team.
2. Kameron Michaels
Kameron Michael is the first of three queens in this cast who I’ve heard buzzed about prior to her casting and it’s easy to see why. She comes off as a sort of Alaska 2.0 – a confident oddball with a streak of androgyny and perplexing power to command your attention.
We’ve never had a true “muscle queen” on Drag Race before. There have been plenty of toned bodies (Courtney Act), and even some awesome abs (Jasmine Masters), but the closest to a muscle queen we’ve gotten is Milk’s All Stars promo look.
It’s a risky prospect. While flat chests are in vogue on the show, Michelle loves to say “I’m getting boy” to anyone without hip pads. There’s a chance that she won’t be able to suspend disbelief when it comes to a queen with manly muscles.
Also, Kameron’s Meet The Queens make-up look doesn’t exactly scream success. Her shading is dark, which puts the wrong kind of emphasis on the bright ring around her eyes and risks over-emphasizing her jawline. I’ve seen much better from her on Instagram, so maybe this was just a bad day.
Despite these potential weaknesses, Kameron comes off ultra-confident. She is the one queen in this cast who immediate sticks in my head. Ultimately, I think after three of the last four queens being New York City winners, Drag Race might be ready to reward a different kind of high-polished drag – and Tennessee Muscle Queen is definitely different.
3. Miz Cracker
Miz Cracker is an enigma, and I love it! She’s ultra-fish, but campy. She’s bubbly, but deadpan. I can think of a lot of queens with whom I can draw a comparison, but Cracker doesn’t feel derivative of any of them.
The first few times I watched her interview, Cracker left me sort of cold. Are you really gonna come for Bianca Del Rio in your pre-season interview? Okcurrrr, girl.
Yet, as I compared her responses to the other queens, I realized that confidence was a lot more than braggadocio. Miz Cracker is so careful in how she presents herself here – bubbly and girly with her model walk in the photo shoot, but ready with a shiv for other queens in the sit down interview.
One comparison I will make is to Courtney Act. Cracker has that same sort of girlish face and deadpan bawdiness, but it’s clear that she’s dressing up her features more than Courtney and her humor isn’t so dry that you can’t tell it’s humor.
I think Cracker is going to very casually cross off a few other queens on this season who claim to be multiple threats, but I don’t think we’re going to get our third New Yorker in a row as a champion.
4. Asia O’Hara
Asia O’Hara is another queen I had heard of prior to this season, as one of the major queens to beat on the pageant circuit.
Asia is wearing perhaps the most hideous wig in the history of Drag Race in her Meet The Queen segment. It looks like a filleted dead pigeon has been laid out on her head. It’s a struggle to look past the wig to see the queen beneath.
If you can manage it, you can see Asia will be a major threat. She already interviews like a seasoned newscaster – clear, crisp, and full of personality. Her face is beautiful, and she’s giving the illusion of barely having any make-up on aside from her lips and eyes. That’s a very subtle paint that works extremely well on camera. In closer shots you can see how gently she’s lightened up her chin and beneath her eyes to contour, and used a subtle blush rather than a heavy cut of shading on her cheekbones.
Asia strikes me as being similar to Trinity in that she’s a pageant queen who can do a lot more than present the standard pageant looks (and outlook). I have a feeling she will pull out some surprises.
Aquaria was the final queens in this cast I’ve heard about from prior to the season. That’s because this 21-year-old queen very popular on Instagram, and in general has her social media house in order.
Whereas Miz Cracker was completely unique, Aquaria feels like Miz Cracker Version .1. She comes across as a little plain in her interview, like she is is a drag robot programmed entirely by watching Drag Race and Mean Girls. She does the Trixie Mattel doing Ru head swivel thing constantly, perhaps to the point that it is entirely unconscious. She trips over her words a few times, and some of the bits that are meant to be funny are a bit flat.
Even as a boy, Aquaria has a small face, somewhat delicate features and sharp cheekbones. In this preview, she relies a little heavily on bright white around her eyes, which can leave her looking orange at the edges of her face by comparison (as by her wigline). She leverages the contrast for some lovely contouring. I enjoy her striped eye make-up with heavy wings.
Any queen this on top of her marketing is going to be able to crush other queens in more conceptual challenges, and from the looks of Aquaria’s YouTube she is no slouch in the lip syncing department. She could be a repeat of Violet who is just a little more self-aware, though I wonder if she will eventually be felled for not showing the judges enough personality.
6. Monet X Change
Monet X Change has the most visually arresting presentation out of the entire group with her contrasting blue and orange cat suit snatched tight on a super-curvy body. She looks like a neon superhero who could be dropped right into the penultimate challenge of All Stars Season 1.
Monet is also the perfect balance of self-aware and confident without being over-the-top. Not that “over the top” has ever hurt a queen before (ahem, Bob), but it’s refreshing to see a queen come off this confident without seeming at least a little delusional.
Monet isn’t lying when she says she has a naturally feminine look to her. She’s got a lot of make-up on here, but in terms of transforming her face (rather than just adding color) it’s subtle – a dark cut of cheek bone, a barely-there nose contour, and two big slashes of eyebrows.
Monet isn’t as big of a braggart about her many skills as the other queens here, and it might be that’s she’s missing one major facets of these other well-rounded queens. Yet, I also think she’s going to have some fresh runway looks for us.
(That said, I docked her a few spots from her initial ranking because her social game is not as strong – she doesn’t have a homepage, and her profiles don’t link to each other. This is some basic shit that Top 4 girls tend to have mastered by the time their season debuts.)
7. Mayhem Miller
Mayhem Miller might be taking her name a little too literally in her Meet The Queens video, because her make-up is all over the place and her wig line is a bit suspicious. She’s cute in a number of different ways without being the master of one.
Mayhem has a very easy, conversational quality to her on camera, but her drag and her influences aren’t reading as cutting edge.
She almost reminds me of Morgan McMichaels as an older-school queen who can probably turn it out in any barroom, but might be slightly challenged by the TV format.
8. Blair St. Claire
Blair St. Claire reminds me a lot of Farrah Moan, but in the Jinkx Monsoon mold.
That’s not only because Blair and Farrah are both young, (over?) confident queens, but because of their girlish faces. It’s like an optical illusion. I look at them one way and see delicate, feminine features. I look another way and see boxy man faces that just haven’t had the chance to spread out with age.
(Take it from a former twink who knows of what he speaks, ladies.)
As an accomplished musical theatre performer who knows her retro looks, Blair certainly comes with more of a talent and uniqueness than Farrah. Having a consistent editorial style and having rehearsed theatre chops will get you pretty far early in a Drag Race season.
Yet, even as a queen who is selling us solid Emma Stone realness (seriously, it gets annoying after a while), I don’t get star quality from her in this interview segment. If anything, she comes off as a little boring.
9. Dusty Ray Bottoms
I’m in love with Dusty Ray Bottoms, both from her Meet The Queens interview and her eclectic performances on YouTube. She gives me major Tempest du Jour crossed with Dr. Frank-N-Furter vibes, maybe because of her strong jaw and husky voice. (Here she is singing “Sweet Transvestite.”)
Dusty’s outfit is everything. It’s layers on layers of differently textured neon, and I’m obsessed with it. She has a wild signature make-up look of bubbles and crystals in place of eyebrows and randomly dotting her face. It’s really striking, but she won’t be able to get away with it all season without some traditional drag brows (which I’ve seen from her online). She contours with a harsh purple in her Meet The Queens video, which seems like something Michelle will read on the runway.
It seems like Dusty is reasonably accomplished when it comes to performance, but she also has a slightly depressed quality to her. Plus, we’ve seen these more androgynous art queens get early cuts many times before. Especially fresh off of Sasha Velour as a winner, I’m not feeling a lot of unique heat from Dusty despite my immediate affinity for her.
10. The Vixen
The Vixen is a glittery disco superhero who feels like she may have arrived a few seasons too late for Drag Race. She says her original inspiration was Tyra Sanchez, and I get the feeling she might be in that same classic mold – a strong all-around performer who could have won an early season but who started to go extinct once we met Sharon.
There’s also a disconnect between what she’s wearing and what she’s saying. I know that queens aren’t in full control of their Meet The Queens look, but Vixen is telling us “showgirl” while she’s showing us B-movie sci-fi and giving us a Studio 54 photo shoot. Her wig is cute, but it’s more costume than drag. I foresee a “We don’t know who you are!” critique from Michelle in her future.
It seems like many Chicago queens have this somewhat outlandish quality to them, and we haven’t seen a dud out of them in the past few seasons. Yet, Vixen is another queen who claims she isn’t competitive. Can the pedigree of Vixen’s home town and her strong work ethic carry her to the halfway point?
From this interview, I’m not so sure. However, The Vixen might have the most gorgeous home page of all the queens, and branding counts for something (especially knowing that the queens have had over six months since wrapping filming to prep their social media A-games).
11. Yuhua Hamasaki
Yuhua is an instantly memorable personality who shines within seconds of her interview, but I don’t know if that equates to being a winner. I believe her when she says she’s an all-around talent (and also that she can be abrasive), but she also seems a little on the breezy, self-confident side to make it through some of the more intensely stressful challenges of the season.
It’s unfortunate that her neon green and black look is so evocative of Thorgy’s pair of neon runways, because it’s hard for me to react to it outside of remembering that two-time-loser. Yuhua’s make-up look is a nice blend of elements. She has the old school glitter lips, massively winged eyes, and jewels beneath her brows.
I really loved Yuhua from her interview, but I’m not convinced she’s going to fare well against some of the more cut-throat personalities up in this gig.
12. Monique Heart
Monique Heart is the sort of genuine and genuinely good midwestern queen that might get blown out of the water in the early weeks of the competition.
In the geography of Drag Race, the strongest competitors are disproportionately coastal or from the Southern circuit, with Chicago carving out it’s own weirdo personality. We haven’t seen a queen from a smaller, landlocked market really make a huge splash in the past few seasons.
I genuinely hope that isn’t the case for Monique, as I was really charmed by her here. Her dragged up features are much more pronounced than the other black queens on this season. That might be a little bit down to her lighter skin tone, but i also think it’s her style of drag – less “every woman,” more “man dressed as woman.” She’s into that recent trend of a wispy rattail in the middle of her lower lashes. (Can you guess how much I like that?)
The key for me in this interview is Monique saying she doesn’t compete with anyone else, just herself. That’s a fine mantra for your yoga class, but Drag Race is cutthroat. If you don’t have a little bit of a killer instinct, you’re going to be left in the dust.
13. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo
Vanessa is like a cross between Alexis Mateo and Aja but with very little of the charm you’d hope for from that combination. A “video ho slash twerkaholic” sounds a little basic for this competition (and so is that black lipstick and wig).
Even Vanessa’s body language in the photo shoot is telling. She’s collapsing against the walls rather than standing out on her own. We’ve seen that early season lack of confidence in queens before, and it’s a killer.
Vanessa might have a lip sync win in her, but I don’t see her going far if this is representative of what she is bringing to the show.
14. Kalorie Karbdashian Williams
After nine regular seasons of Drag Race, I think we all know how to spot an early out and, sadly, in this season I think the prime candidate is Kalorie.
Kalorie is beautiful. Her features probably de-drag to reveal a cute boy underneath, but that doesn’t take anything away from her cute paint. She calls herself a big girl in her interview, but unlike Eureka she doesn’t dress to emphasize that. Her short, realistic hair in Meet The Queens helps to sell a very casual, “everyday woman” sort of vibe.
There’s just something about a smaller town, Kardashian-obsessed queen that seems remedial compared to the killer crew from New York, California, and the pageant circuit assembled on this season. Her answers about getting a “stamp of approval” and “being kind” make her out to be a few years too green to make it far on Drag Race.