They're back back back at it again! Ten of your favorite Queens return to the RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars arena to do battle and (hopefully) slay the competition!
Like Jasmine Masters, we here at DragQueenMakeup.com have something to say and here is where we say it - all tea, no shade, it's DQM Pink Lemonade! Join us here every week for an opinionated Ru-cap of the lewks, challenges, drama, gags, and twists over to the Ms. Charles Cutthroat Charm School and Best Friend Race.
Monique Heart, the self-proclaimed Heart of Season 10, enters the Werk Room first, wearing her heart on her sleeve... her chest, her crown-topped headdress, and her ass out boot chaps! Seriously, there were red roses and gold crosses in stunning abundance all over her maximalist all over embroidered ensemble. In a display of excess not dissimilar to her styling choices, Monique manages to drop all of her signature catch phrases, between her solo Werk Room twirling and her confessional, in a matter of minutes. As a VT (video tape) montage of her best and worst moments from her time on Season 10 plays, she lays out her agenda for the season - to show that her previous shortcomings were not of talent, but rather of budget.
Monique is joined in short order by a shambling biohazard stamped body bag, which unzips to reveal - Season 9 top four finisher Trinity Taylor, arrayed in a gown of neon green zip ties and a safety orange wig. In confessional Trinity immediately sheds 'boring' Taylor and rebrands herself Trinity The Tuck with Teeth. She details her artistic journey from pageant fish to comedy Queen, and asserts her confidence that now she's prepared to bring both the glamour and the wacky. Monique, giving due credit, notes that Trinity finished as a front runner in her season and many believed she would take the crown.
A slim, shapely, freakishly long leg appears in the doorway, signalling the arrival of Season 8 runner up Naomi Smalls. Smalls' signature sticks (and a good portion of high toned tush) are on full display in her stone spangled lavender tulle two piece hot pants confection - cinched to a tiny wast, but with fullness at the jabot and sleeves. Naomi's makeup is pure showgirl glamour with dewy to the max skin, bright rhinestones accentuating the eyes, and a generous slick of gloss on her tastefully augmented lips. She expresses confidence in her chances and ability to compete, while shady VT editors roll clips of her Season mates (whom she eventually outlasted) slagging her off as an untalented model. Trinity and Monique are impressed with Naomi's look, but unsure of what to expect from the leggy upstart.
'Guess who's Black in the house, bitch?' It's Season 10 Miss Congeniality Monet X Change, wearing a black sheer illusion stone studded tuxedo leotard (which Season 10 sister Monique is quick to point out is a bit simple and 'not stunning' for an All Star entrance) and masses of honey blond waves. Her dark smokey eye and nudish glossy lip are likewise a bit simple, but Monet has said of her similarly understated Season 10 entrance look, that she had hoped to start understated and build anticipation for what she will show next. That said, Miss Mo acknowledges the role her 'rickety, crickety' runway looks played in her failure to bag any challenge wins and her disappointing fifth place finish in her Season's competition.
Next up is Season 6 self-styled fresh tilapia (which is a cheap farmed fish, just saying) Gia Gunn, entering disrespectfully referring to her competitors as 'boys' and crowning herself the 'real' queen with a golden crown of thorns. The crown, along with a hooded jacket heavily embellished with beaded religious motifs and thigh high pearl embellished denim boots are on trend, calling back to recent runway presentations by Dolce & Gabbanna and Gucci. Gia has paired a strong brow, glitter lid, a modest lash, and a red lip with her 'couture' moment. After a few VT clips showing Gia shading and disrespecting her Season 6 cast mates, she explains the journey of discovery that led to her concluding that she is not a man that dresses up as a woman, but rather a transgender woman who participates the art of Drag. Always ready with a quip, Monique notes that Gia's crown of thorns indicates that she's marked for crucifixion - not wrong about the symbolism! Honestly, this reporter never cared for Gia in the past and her entrance banter here, shading Monique's look as 'hot glue,' and calling Trinity a 'monster' does not elevate any opinions.
Farrah Moan makes her entrance next, dripping glamour in a pavé rhinestoned burlesque lingerie ensemble with a pink fur stole, feigning drawn out moaning and crying, followed by equally fake laughter. Her pink fluffy coif (possibly by German wig wizard Katy Baehm) and makeup look much better here than at any point during her Season 9 run - like many Queens who return to The Race, she has taken the HD camera notes and adopted a lighter handed approach, especially with regard to her previous overuse of ashy toned cheek highlighter. Farrah was only twenty two when cast for her season and admits that she may have been a bit too green for the competition - VT shows cast mates and Judge Michelle Visage voicing similar opinions alongside numerous clips of Farrah frustrated and weeping. But now she asserts that as a 'ferocious, fierce 25 year-old' she's ready to take on the All Stars game. Shady cameraman and Monique team up to disparage Farrah's exposed derriere, which truthfully could have used a bit of cosmetic help, as looking more Mr. Rogers than J. Lo. The shade of it all!
Monet no sooner expresses relief that no (boring) Season 7 Queens have turned up, than... Season 7's Jasmine Masters enters with something to say! She's 'back for All Stars 4, you junkie whores!' No offense to junkie whores intended, I'm sure. Jasmine has stepped up her Jush, looking upscale and polished in a floral print pantsuit and neatly curled long dark hair. Her makeup is softer and more flattering than what we have seen from her previously and she seems to have changed her padding to slimmer, more natural looking proportions. We're reminded via VT that Jasmine's bubbly enthusiasm initially endeared her to cast mates and the judges, but her 'car crash' performance in the Shakespeare acting challenge raised Ru's ire and sent Miss Masters packing. Both Jasmine and Naomi acknowledge that since Jasmine's time on the show, her visibility has been buoyed by memes and videos that have captured the attention of celebrities and the internet at large.
Last, but absolutely not least, Season 9 Fan Favorite Valentina makes her entrance, wearing a YSL inspired shiny black vinyl bubble dress by designer to the Drag stars Cazias, topped with a sleek bun, and accessorized with tassel earrings, and chic black plumes in the hair. The ensemble is a smart choice, delivering an impactful silhouette and showing plenty of shapely leg, while allowing Valentina to go uncinched and even untucked for the long shooting day. Valentina is known for one of the best mugs in tha biz and she does not disappoint here with a cut crease and ballet-style disconnected lower liner look that emphasizes her eyes, paired with a glossy orange lip. The other Queens, understandably, are gooped at the sight of her. After touting her fashion upgrades and high profile magazine credits in confessional, Valentina asserts that she's here to stamp a new reputation that does not include being unprepared to lip sync. Shady VT editors give us clips of tense moments between Valentina and Farrah Moan from the Season 9 Reunion show, but Farrah insists that there will be no more of that telenovela drama. Confessional Valentina then gets ahead of both fans and critics by admitting that she knows some see her as Miss Congeniality while others see her as a snake - and both are true!
The crowd at the VH1 viewing party I attended at Boxer's Chelsea, hosted by the delightful Tina Burner, responded enthusiastically to each Queen's entrance, but Valentina got, by far, the strongest reaction.
As the assembled talent begin to grow suspicious that there are only 8 Queens present, and everybody knows that All Stars Seasons typically have 10 competitors, the 'Ooh Gurl' siren goes off...
The girls gather around to watch Mother RuPaul appear on screen, lit, coiffed, and beat as ever (though her eyebrows are alarmingly high), delivering a rousing pep talk dubbing them Super Queens. Ru then joins the Queens in person, in Daddy mode, looking slim and statuesque in a green tropical print suit, to reinforce the Super Queen set up and to explain the All Stars rules. Each week, the top two Queens will lip sync for their Legacy, a $10,000 tip, and the power to give a bottom performing competitor the chop. The ultimate prizes? A place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame and a cash prize of $100,000!
Latrice looks regal in a mauve and purple sequined gown and bronze Pageant hair, while Manila looks like bedraggled, bedazzled Big Bird roadkill, complete with distressed makeup, skint knees, tattered yellow feathers, and a wide tire print across her frock.
The other Queens fret briefly about the unappealing possibility of competing in teams before the two break the handcuffs that link them as Ru announces that Latrice and Manila will be competing on AS4 individually. The other Queens are clearly not best pleased at the inclusion of two more strong competitors, but are visibly relieved that here will be no teams.
The Mini Challenge
The Library is open! In the grand tradition of Paris is Burning Ru reminds the Queens that reading is what...? FUNDAMENTAL! The Queens take turns delivering roasty toasts to each other in a mostly good-natured exchange. Stand outs: Gia's reads are unfunny, and borderline disturbing in their mean-spiritedness, Farrahs' reads are lame and have no teeth, and Latrice let's them have it with both wit and impeccable comic delivery. Honorable mention to Valentina's shady alter ego Villaintina, making her first appearance of the season. We know that the Queens prepare these remarks, but some, particularly digs at Ru seem off the cuff in the moment, which is refreshing - when the jokes land. When the library closes OFFICIALLY, Latrice is declared the winner, and Ru calls for some aloe to put on all of those burns.
Check out this extended scene of more reads we didn't get to hear during the broadcast.
The Maxi Challenge
Moving right along, Ru announces that the Maxi Challenge will be another installment of the RuPaul's Drag Race All Star Spangled Variety Show. Since this talent showcase for the returning Queens was first introduced in AS2, this segment has become an anticipated fan fave, as we get to see the competitors demonstrate their chosen talent in a way that they may not have had the opportunity to show during their first run. As a special treat, the audience will be made up of active duty and retired LGBTQ Armed Forces personnel.
The Queens are full of both enthusiasm and apprehension while prepping for their Main Stage presentations, but they still manage to have a kiki or two.
As there is no runway walk this week, Ru emerges from her dark cocoon of cackles and flashing stage lights in a fairly typical gown by longtime collaborator Zaldy - one shoulder, loads of ruffles, in a blinding hot pink color with a matching hair ornament. Her pale golden hair is waved and swooped to one side and her makeup, by Raven, is remarkably fresh and pretty with flawless contouring, as usual, plus bright blue on the eyes and a satiny neutral lip. Mother introduces family judges Michelle Visage, looking stunning in a beat by one of our favorite artists, Lipstick Nick, Carson Kressley, and Ross Matthews. The true star of the panel, however, is guest judge Jenifer Lewis, standout supporting actress on ABC's Blackish and countless other film and TV credits. Lewis pulls on-camera reactions pretty much throughout the performances and she's miked while the Queens perform, so the producers know they're going to get good entertainment value from the Mother of Black Hollywood.
Monique Heart performs first, bucking and twirling to an original track entitled - what else? - Brown Cow Stunning. She has got the memo about appropriate cow print since her famous confusion of giraffe print on her season and sports the Moo Ah Ah pattern on her collared leotard, knee boots, and gauntlets. Her hair and makeup are a bit rough for HD (clockable wig lace that appears dirty, plus lack of depth and blending in the eye beat), but not disqualifying. The song is catchy and the performance is energetic, repairing her reputation from the dismal lip sync performance she turned in when she was eliminated on Season 10.
Naomi Smalls also debuts an original track, I believe entitled Her Name is Fashion. While lip syncing to the track, Naomi performs a strutting strip tease that accentuates her long bare legs, naturally. She's dressed in layers of blue and white that don't exactly look expensive, though the corseted romper at the bottom of it all is clearly a custom piece. The fluffly coat and frizzy platinum bob might be referenced from Pris of Blade Runner, but Smalls turns the glamorous number upside down in the final moment when she snatches her own wig to reveal a half bald Bozo the Clown wig underneath.
Gia Gunn brings some class to the establishment with a performance of traditional Japanese dance, including parasol tricks, twirling fans, and exploding paper streamers. Wrapped in a brightly colored kimono with traditionally styled hair and makeup, the Boom Boom Gunn proves her talent and dedication to craft, but exposes the pettiness of her constant criticism of fellow competitors - she has no real reason to signal such insecurity.
Trinity The Tuck hammers home her brand with an original comedic country ditty dedicated to teaching the art of tucking. Trinity's hair and makeup are clean and pretty, but unremarkable, while her simple costume of fitted white blouse and pastel poodle skirt serve the number and provide the contrast of innocence when Trinity inevitably whips off the skirt to reveal her perfect tight tuck. The judges seem well entertained.
Farrah Moan's performance showed promise initially. All Stars Roxxxy Andrews and BenDelaCreme have done well with burlesque numbers in previous All Stars Variety shows. Farrah looks stunning and moves well in her pastel ombre, rhinestone encrusted strip tease ensemble - the look is detailed from head to toe and worthy of Dita Von Teese or Violet Chachki. Disaster strikes, however, when Farrah slips on a discarded garment and falls ungracefully near the end of her number. She gets up, but never quite recovers and finishes looking clearly shaken.
Monet X Change gives us a mixed bag of crackly live vocals and a quite entertaining bucking number to her track Soak It Up. After singing the live intro rather badly in a blue short cape with shoulder fin details and a high loaf shaped brown pompadour, Monet reveals a yellow sponge adorned leotard underneath - it's on brand, but like Monique Heart's themed performance, perhaps a bit too on the nose. She kicks, bucks, and jump splits as well as anyone in the competition, so the performance is ultimately entertaining.
Manila Luzon gives us a head scratcher. Dressed in an artist's smock and a beret topped afro, she paints a mysterious image in bright colors on a canvas while the thrilling symphonic climax of Grieg's In The Hall of The Mountain King plays. It's not at all clear what's going on until, as the last bars of music reach a peak, Manila flips the painting to reveal an impressionistic rendering of flowers in a jug, and she steps behind the canvas to quick change into a coordinating floral dress, finishing with a flourish.
Jasmine Masters has something to say, but unfortunately during this Variety Show standup comedy routine, what she had to say was not funny. Wearing a black velvet and rhinestone striped pantsuit and short bus driver/pussycat wig that would look completely at home on a BET comedy special, Jasmine revisits some topics that have previously hit for her in viral videos - bad breath and body odor - there is no structure to the routine, and no real punchlines. Everyone except Jasmine seems to be aware that she has bombed terribly..
Latrice Royale grabs this opportunity to show talent and makes them eat it! As a former Color Guard competitor and coach, Latrice knows her way around a twirling flag. She twirls, spins, throws, and generally works the hell out of not one, but two billowing flags. In a modest bun wig, blue tunic and practical leggings and boots, Latrice delivers a performance that was not very much about a Drag look, but was nonetheless impressive.
Valentina's performance, by contrast, was all about the look, but was no less impressive. She reveals herself holding a black lacy mask over her lower face, a clear callback to her scandalous elimination lip sync. But as the track begins, her voice states 'I'd like to take it off please.' Freed of the mask, she launches into an uptempo dance number with perfectly synced lyrics in Spanish. The editors give her a boost with plenty of close ups, which also allows us to appreciate her flawless beat. She's wearing a glittery low cut silver dance dress that covers the essentials barely and her long bronzed arms and legs not at all. Yes, sir Valentina can boogie, and she's commandeered a Beyoncé-style fan to reinforce the star powered spectacle she provides while spinning and whipping her tousled mane of highlighted light brown hair. The only drawback - black chunky heeled shoes; great for stability while dancing, but you want something with a bit more bazazz for a performance at this level.
Ru and the judges determine that Gia, Valentina, Latrice, and Manila are safe, leaving Monique, Trinity, Naomi, Monet, Jasmine, and Farrah to face top and bottom critiques. Monique, Trinity, and Naomi get praise, while Monet, Jasmine, and Farrah get called out for shortcomings.
Monique and Trinity are named top two and will lip sync for their Legacy. Naomi and Monet deemed are safe, which means that Jasmine and Farrah are in the bottom. Farrah is upset by the news and cries freely, loosening her lashes. Jasmine seems unfazed and meets the misfortune with good humour. However, they've arrived at the bottom from two different places. Jasmine did not prepare an outline for her comedy routine, even though the other queens urged her to do so. Farrah, though well prepared, failed to handle a mishap in her routine with grace and professionalism.
While speaking with the top two Farrah is urged by both to buck up, find her grit, and stop crying. Jasmine tries to make the case that the failure of her performance was not her fault, but that she will harbor no hard feelings if the lip sync winner sends her home.
The Lip Sync
Trinity has changed into a pink embellished stretch velvet gown and breast plate that emphasize her curves. Monique chooses to perform in her Brown Cow Stunning ensemble. The song is Mariah Carey's classic Emotions.
Both Queens start strong, but stylistically Trinity seems more in tune with this mid-tempo number than Monique's energetic bucking. At the climax of the song, Monique unfortunately rips off her wig and throws it high into the rigging where it remains for the rest of the performance. While everyone on set enjoys a laugh, anyone familiar with The 10 Lip Sync Commandments of RuPaul's Drag Race knows that this is a fatal misjudgment, especially given that Monique was told off in her previous lip sync for removing her hair.
Ru declares Trinity the winner of the lip sync and so the person she has chosen to eliminate will leave the competition. It's Jasmine.
Whew! That was a lot - 10 Queens, Entrances, Reading Challenge, and Variety Show. As the season goes on and the competition gets tighter, we expect that these blogs will tighten up as well!
Can't wait to see what the Season holds for our All Stars!