Because Saturday Night UK reality is so dead I’d rather write about a show that none of you watch that isn’t even starting for a month.
All of the following ranking is based on the cast’s performance in the pre-series “Meet The Queens” interviews and (a little) the show’s glamorous and exciting superteaser, which knocks last year’s Greek Yoghurt commercial effort into a cocked hat.
14. Magnolia Crawford – 27 (Seattle)
Magnolia kind of seems like a dirty protest against the very idea of being interesting. Which I guess could potentially come back round to being fascinating if I really wanted to stretch myself, but I’m still slightly sore from trying to make Jade Jolie happen last series, so I’d rather not launch right into that sort of thing without a warm-up. At any rate Magnolia trying her damndest to give the stalest, most beige answers to every question she was asked (who in the f looks forward to the PERFUME challenge? NOBODY!) and she looks, if you compare her to Sharon Needles – her closest basic visual analogue, like the drag equivalent of those professional lookalikes of famous singers who don’t actually warble themselves. Pointless.
13. Gia Gunn – 22 (Chicago)
Gia is the first queen of Japanese heritage ever on the show, with a background in kabuki and shouting really loudly in lieu of being funny. I didn’t even get to the end of her video because I was so anxious to get on to other people, but I will say that I appreciate her dedication to the high-pony. Other than that I would encourage her not to carry herself like she wants to be the season’s Head Bitch whilst mewling about wanting to represent RuPaul in the best light possible WHEREVER she finishes (second-boot). Incongruous.
12. April Carrion – 23 (Guaynabo)
From here onwards I’m actually legitimately somewhat excited about every member of the cast, so good job RuPaul Casting Department. April didn’t offer an awful lot of herself in her pre-show interview but her teased-out Russell Brand meets Ronald MacDonald wig in her video gives me hope that she’s going to be fashion-forward, and I always root for the Puerto Rico queens just a little (apart from that little shit Kenya Michaels).
11. Adore Delano – 23 (Azusa)
On the one hand I am excited just because IT’S DANNY NORIEGA! The American Idol also-ran who was sassy at Simon Cowell on a week-by-week basis. Who wouldn’t pay to see him recreate this iconic moment with Santino, in full drag? Someone that sassy has to be ready to hit the competition hard, especially after seeing what Penny Crayon did last series with the “Fans Choice” contestant slot (ie tanked it) that Adore campaigned so so hard for. On the other hand, her pre-series video was a complete bust, wrapped up in the sort of try-hard prepared lines an nonsensical myth-arc (I’M A MERMAID!) that made me so wary of Alaska in the run-up to last series. On my third hand though…Alaska turned out to be Alaska, and whilst I don’t think Adore really has the potential to place on the podium, I’m reserving my judgement a little.
10. Milk – 25 (New York)
Shock boot? Milk seems to be a pre-show favourite of sorts but pretty much nothing about her resonates with me. I guess surrealist humour is hard to pull off for the very reason that if you’re alienated at any point it’s hard to climb back on but…I just don’t get it? She just seems kind of dull and if you’re struggling for milk puns twenty seconds into your intro tape then we’ve got problems (especially if Courtney is reeling off better ones despite not ostensibly being a Comedy Queen). On the other hand, we have to acknowledge why she’s so popular pre-series and that it is because out of drag? Hott. I figure the excitement of that will carry me through the first month or so.
9. Trinity K. Bonet – 22 (Atlanta)
“I’m Trinity K. Bonet – Trinity from that trick from The Matrix, you know she’s a real bad-ass, the K. is for “Kardashian” but we don’t use that for legal reasons, and Bonet is French because I think I’m a French woman, oui oui.” That was enough for me, to be honest, although I also enjoyed her anecdote about her mum having collapsed lungs and, bereft of voice, scrawling a note to her that she couldn’t die yet because Trinity hadn’t done Drag Race yet. I mostly enjoyed it because apparently the note ended with “LOL”. Heartwarming.
8. Joslyn Fox – 26 (Worcester)
I can’t in good conscience put Joslyn any higher, because she’s got “The Second Coming Of Nicole Paige Brookes” written all over her, but I love everything about her and fully anticipate her being her my Random Favourite of the series if she even manages to crawl so far as the Snatch Game. I love her twitchy “coked-up LA soccer mom” vibe, her stated aim being to win “Miss Cogneniality” (BECAUSE SHE KNOWS) her fabulous tits, and how she came in as a world-class name-dropper, but of b-tier stars like Carmen Carrera and Jessica Wild, who I’m guessing couldn’t pick her out of a line-up. Something about her reads really really small-time and lacking the capability to be anything more, which of course means I ADORE HER.
7. Courtney Act – 32 (Sydney)
Most obvious winner ever y/n? Clearly this year has been cast to be the series of the Singing Queen, and she’s already clearly the biggest name of the cast even without that on her side. And this is a show that was won on star-power by someone whose claim to fame was “I appeared on about fifteen episodes of America’s Next Top Model as a make-up artist”. We’re also owed a Look Queen winning after the last couple of Personality Queen winners, and based on the season trailer Courtney Act has more money behind her than any queen in the show’s history. She seems sweet, but kind of in a Kylie Minogue way, which is never really my favourite flavour. Bonus points for giving Milk the sex-props he deserves though.
6. Miss Darienne Lake – 41 (Rochester)
I’m really excited for Miss Darienne Lake, because she’s got the sort of sweet breathy downhome charm that I like from Drag Queens, and also because after the horror show of last season, we need someone to represent the Fiercely Real drag-queens in a positive light (yes I am shading Penny Crayon twice in the same pre-series ranking, she was just that bad). I also really like how one of her signature moves is the saucy wink, even though she can’t actually do it without it turning into a fluttering epileptic blink. I’m all for people overcoming their handicaps inspirationally in a reality tv setting, so here’s hoping it’s a story arc for her. One minor worry though is that her humour does appear to be cut with the ham-fisted self-deprecation that has sunk many a past plus-sized queen. Here’s hoping she can rise above.
5. Kelly Mantle – 37 (Los Angeles)
I’ve never seen anybody channel Tim Curry so hard. Everything about Kelly Mantle’s attitude, mannerisms and dress sense brought to mind one Dr Frank N. Furter welcoming Brad & Janet into his transsexual dungeon of depravity and gold lame swimming trunks. Kelly was admirably open about her skill-set in the video, in that she highlighted her ability to both act and sing, if not to sew. This feels like the recipe for either a first boot or someone who’s in it for the long-haul, and obviously I hope it’s the latter, and also she gets to visibly cuss out another incompetent show crew-member for ruining her time to shine with their pots and pans rattling.
4. Bianca Del Rio – 37 (New York)
So Bianca looks like she’s going to be a pretty one-note contestant, in that her schtick is that she hates everyone and wants to do the Roast/Reading challenges STAT and also she hates everyone. But that one note is admittedly exceptionally well played and also I love how overplayed her make-up is and also how much she knows it, referring to her look as “Joan Crawford meets Clown”. I’ve always wanted a straight-up Insult Comic on the show (I think the closest we’ve ever got before is Willam) given what a broad streak it carves through drag, so I’m beyond ready for the bitchy soundbitey goodness that I know Bianca Del Rio is going to offer.
3. Ben De La Creme – 31 (Seattle)
So much like Detox and Alaska last series, it feels like Ben is doomed to spend the entire series being compared to their famous friend from the series before. (Joslyn Fox will somehow escape these onerous comparisons despite having shared the back of a cab with Drag Race legend Jiggly Caliente one time). In this case Ben is the bestie of last year’s winner Jinkx Monsoon, and seems to come from the same theatrical off-Broadway tradition, but fortunately it seems so far without the same neuroses and neediness. So far. I’m also excited, outside of her winning perkiness and ebullience, because she is the spit of Michelle Visage, except with more realistic looking boobs. Hopefully they can share tips.
2. Vivacious – 40 (New York)
Such a club kid. Vivacious (pronounced “VIY-VAYSHUS”) looks like she just emerged fresh from partying all-night with Amanda Lepore and James St James, ready to shower, shave, and then start all over again to a new 27 minute Patti LaBelle remix. Everything about her, from her hat to her Jamaican/New Yorker accent to her acronyms to her actual use of “we’re queer, we’re here, GET USED TO IT!” to her working the straight bars to her calling RuPaul “Mother Ru” screams early 90s and I can’t wait for her swishy neck-popping to teach us all about drag history. Heritage Queens ❤
1. Laganja Estranja – 24 (Van Nuys)
I know it’s too early but I already love Laganja with all my heart. I love that she comes from the same drag stable as both Shangela and Alyssa Edwards. I love her costume fake nails and skunk hair and cut-outs swimming costume attire. I love her machine-gun interview style, where every answer is giving exactly the same pithy tempo and cadence, lending an oddly surreal humour to otherwise banal statements like “without them I wouldn’t be here today” and “I’m really hoping for Wish or Ry-Ry”. I love her gross shiny arms and her propensity for hurling her leg up over her head just to show off. I love that she’s clearly going to suck at exactly the same stuff that Alyssa sucked at and excel at the same things that Alyssa excelled at. I love that she’s such a try-hard and I love that her name is the most obvious weed reference they’ve ever had. I love her weirdo boy fashion and her 80s sexploitation de Palma thriller supertease vibe (third only to Bianca Del Rio owning the library and Courtney working those glowsticks) and her Sharon Stone Basic Instinct slump and…everything, really. I sense she’s only going to disappoint.