Congratulations To The Winner of Lip Sync Battle : Drag Queens Special. You will now face off against Terry Crews for the overall title.
14. Jaymes Mansfield – 14th place
Jaymes Mansfield was probably the most overmatched queen in the history of the competition. Even other total wipeouts like Alyssa Summers and Serena Cha Cha turned up with a bit of self-confidence and attitude even if their outfits did look like a summer school craft project. Jaymes wandered in, puppet in tow, and then stood vibrating in the corner like someone about to be shanked at the end of the Blair Witch Project, failing at basic tasks like getting the words “I’m Jaymes and I’m a floozy” out in the correct order and making sure wigs were actually on her head. She was mercifully cut, and then a whole bunch of people spent the next three months saying “I WISH JAYMES WAS HERE SHE WOULD HAVE SLAYED SNATCH GAME” simply because she’s white and middle class. But I guess that was the theme of the season in the end eh?
13. Cynthia Lee Fontaine – 10th place
Nobody, on the other hand, came out of Series 8 thinking that Cynthia Lee Fontain would slay Snatch Game and yet here we were, watching her stumblebum through Sofia Vergara like a Bobby Davro Christmas Special. In truth it had already felt a bit like Cynthia had got lucky winning Miss Congeniality, her win relying on the one two punch of the reveal of her cancer diagnosis and Thorgy randomly deciding to be an asshole out of nowhere, so asking her to come back to compete for the *proper* crown again always felt like a stretch that would tear her legacy. And it did, as Cynthia revealed herself to be the hands-downs chewing gum worst lip syncer in the history of the show and still unable to dress herself. God bless Peppermint for that mercy killing.
12. Eureka O’Hara – 11th place
More and more I’m seeing comments about how excited people are to see how Eureka’s going to do in Series 10, and whilst undoubtedly I think she has more potential to come back strong than Cynthia does, she’s still loud, she’s still obnoxious, she still was more obnoxious over the presence of Lady Gaga than any human being should be, EVEN A GAY, and she still has those goddamn hair loaves. Chiefly I resent Eureka though for dropping out before her feud with Trinity could reach the level it had the potential to. That scripted contre-temps at the reunion was NOT ENOUGH.
11. Kimora Blac – 13th place
: That JAW good lord. Kimora was the lesser of this year’s two showgirls and whilst there was the itching of the beginning of a proper villain arc in the first couple of episodes, she very quickly turned out to be just filler, destined for a handful of cute workroom moments and not a lot more, mostly because she couldn’t really be bothered to put the effort in. Being a lazy drag dilletante works for a while as a gag, but ultimately we’re here for the contestants with the desire to excel.
10. Aja – 9th place
: Let’s be clear, Aja is damn lucky she managed to pull that iconic “Linda Evangelista” speech out of the bottom of her holster of bitterness on Untucked, because otherwise she was more than happy to be the cautionary tale that the show wanted her to be and then some. Shea set her entire storyline up neatly with her talking head about Instagram girls whose only talent is filter selection and Aja knocked it out the park by doing pretty much nothing in every challenge. BUT. The selling point of having an Instagram sensation on the show is that…well that they look like Farrah Moan really. Not…well look above. Still, that rant though. I’m still waiting for someone to make a decent dance remix of it but when they do… (Points off for her reunion antics sorry it was embarassingly inorganic girl needs to work on looking more organically shocked and outraged)
9. Sasha Velour – Winner
: So in parts :
a) I would not have objected over much if Sasha had won under the usual format – I’m not part of the fraternity that thinks that everything should be decided on wins/high placement scoring methods, I think she had a solid record, never did particularly badly in any challenge, could have (and deserved to) win a couple she didn’t and to be honest I can see how she built a brand better than any of the other finalists
b) THAT SAID she is now inextricably linked to the show flipping the format at the last second in a poorly conceived twist to pop a stunt for drama and ratings, that for all Ru’s grumblings about the apathy of Millennials on her shitty podcast feels like her disavowing herself of any responsibility for her choices and as such her win FEELS undeserving. I would say at this point, before the passage of time maybe changes things and mellows me out, that she’s my least favourite winner other than the Hunger Games billboard that won All Stars 1
c) Yes I KNOW the entirity of All Stars 2 was a poorly conceived unfair format change designed to pop stunts for drama and ratings that for all Ru’s grumblings about the apathy of Millennials on her shitty podcast felt like her disavowing herself of responsibility for her choices and that was one of the best seasons of the show ever BUT Alaska, Phi Phi, Tatianna, Alyssa and Roxxxy made that shit work. This was just an anti-climax
d) She’s SO effing condescending all the time and her win is a terrible look for the show. Like, the final four was a black transwoman, a working class black queen devoted to black excellence, a working class white queen from a disordered homophobic upbringing and a suburban kid who’d spent the entire season telling them about their lives and their heritage (based on a University scholarship which, and no condescension intended but it’s in comic book art) and then WON and decided she was going to spearhead a “revolution”. Sometimes she had fun with her high-fallutin’ academic upper middle-classnes and was pretty self aware but personally the moment I snapped was the whole Peppermint gets treated poorly at a Russian airport and Sasha tells her why story, but we all have our own point of no return I guess.
e) I did like her Marlene Dietrich though.
8. Farrah Moan – 8th place
It’s been too long since we had…that queen. The one that all your (totally) straight male friends tell you that they’d totally…you know, even though they’re a man in a dress. And this season Farrah Moan was that queen. Don’t get me wrong, she had her downsides. By which I mean all of her fans (and yes there was a large degree of crossover with the previous group mentioned) who thought she was cute, innocent and a nice person because she…whined a lot? I don’t know. And she didn’t really offer a lot in terms of talent other than being a runway star, but sometimes this show does need a little bit of sex appeal amidst the crying about AIDS and Farrah brought it. Also her roast was the sole highlight of that entire terrible episode, and (unlike Aja) she got absolutely the right tone for the reunion. Attacking Villaintina over something as petty as not returning a text was absolutely camp drama, as was her pouty complaining that Miss Congeniality should be renamed “Miss Fan Favourite” because she didn’t like the winner and she wasn’t Congenial.
7. Charlie Hides – 12th place
If the rise of Villaintina was the A story of the reunion, then there can be no doubt that the B story was the absolute demolition derby crushing of Charlie Hides over her non lip-sync to Britney Spears. I’m not sure there has been a more iconic failure in this show’s history and the absolute torrent of excuses are what make it art. On and on they came. A cracked rib, her advanced age, a lack of sleep, the fact that 99% of the drag queens in London sing live, the fact that she had made a choice to do a lip sync themed around masturbation as the song “All The Way” by Britney Spears is about masturbation and IT JUST DIDN’T PAY OFF (which…no it isn’t, and also women don’t masturbate by caressing their inner thigh CHARLIE learn some damned biology). I just wanted to sit there and watch Charlie Hides make excuses for his own ineptitude all night. Also, talking of dance remixes as I was “CHARLIE LET’S GO!” needs to be the new “DARKCHILD!”.
6. Peppermint – Runner-Up
Let’s be honest, if we presume that Kim Chi was runner up last year rather than Naomi, then Peppermint has easily the least auspicious run of challenge performances of any second placer in drag race herstory. Her one win was pretty undeserved, as were arguably her appearances as a “top” (except maybe her bold run at early years Britney Spears). She never managed to get through a verbal challenge without mincing and shredding and repeatedly tumbling over her words, a lot of her runway presentations were downright terrible and I’m not sure she came up with one really creative thought the whole time she was there. There were two places Peppermint did shine though – talking heads, where her personality really shone, and lip syncs. Her full bodied take down of Cynthia was inspirational, the genderfuck implications of her Macho Man performance still make my head spin, and apparetly her live lip syncs at the finale were so compelling in person that the entire audience were chanting her name for forever afterwards. How far can you coast in Drag Race on just one skill and a reputation? Second apparently.
5. Shea Coulee – 3rd place
First queen ever with four challenge wins not to be America’s Next Drag Superstar! First queen ever with three challenge wins not to finish in the top 2! (Except Alexis Potato but honestly that season went on forever it doesn’t count!) What an iconic endgame flop, has anyone ever tripped so spectacularly five metres from the finish line? To be honest, after an initial vague positive impression I was never oversold on Shea Coulee. She’s talented and intelligent and all that, but I could never really find a way into her personality…until she turned up at the reunion full of righteous fury and turned her cannons on pretty much every other cast member (even her bestie Sasha!) for sloppiness, unprofessionalism and subpar drag. Narrative wise this would have made more sense if it had aired (as it was filmed) after she knew that she lost, as it would have been obvious that this was her going out in a blaze of glory (/bitterness) but it finally made Shea Coulee make sense as a character, and I hope that whenever All Stars 3 comes around she brings the same fire and righteousness to that fight as she brought to telling Alexis she’s full of shit.
4. Alexis Michelle – 5th place
Speaking of which…what a trainwreck. Alexis Michelle was this year’s “Queen Who Auditioned Every Season And Finally Got On” and brought with her the usual air of slight desperation that normally accompanies the post. Pushy, bossy, huffy, hypersensitive to criticism, bombastic, hypocritical, hystrionic…Alexis was very Baby Broadway stereotype brought to life and boy did the fanbase react negatively to it. The fanbase for this show is now so sprawling and contrary it’s hard to imagine someone making it all the way to 5th place out of 14 without there being anybody sincerely rooting for them. And yet Alexis managed it. Personally I’ll always have a soft spot for her, just for how raw and real and PRESENT she was. Given that the rest of the drama of the series was confined to botched lip-syncs, or left bubbling away under the surface, postdated for reveal at the reunion, it was nice to have someone there guaranteed to do one dumb, petty, but ultimately inoffensive thing per episode to get everyone’s backs up (also her Kris Jenner should have won the musical challenge yes it should) (also my tummy is still dropping from when she snapped at Tamar Braxton to ask her if she’d even ever watched the show she was judging on before what a warrior what a hero)
3. Trinity Taylor – 4th place
Trinity Taylor’s journey from pinch faced bitchy anonymous pageant bitch with a bad purple rinse to my preferred winner by the time the finale rolled around was probably the greatest in Drag Race history. But in a series of performative wokeness, shilly-shallying vague “support” for struggling queens, and of course “don’t joke about that” (just a reminder that Sasha was objecting to Eureka joking about Valentina there, when she’s spent the entirity of her post crowing period wishing her dead) (y’know, as a joke), having someone who was prepared to be honest, harsh, bitchy, and generally not act like every move was calculated to accrue the minimum number of death threats from rabid twitter teens was incredibly refreshing. Trinity was a pleasant throwback to earlier seasons, where people came to honestly compete in a competition, not to brand build and make allies for future World Of Wonder Youtube series. Trinity might have had her flaws (leaning too heavily on being generically country when asked to be funny for one) but she wanted that crown and her hunger sustained me.
2. Nina Bo’Nina Brown – 6th place
Every so often a queen comes along and does something you’ve never seen on Drag Race before. Admittedly in the case of Nina it was just sticking paper to her face, but nine seasons in, that’s enough let’s face it. Her cartoon mouse, her Georgia peach, her alien princess, even that janky ass rabbit she came up with as her last hoorah, every look that Nina came up with that pushed the boundaries of the show was simultaneously beautiful and eerie. Really she should have coasted all the way to the final on novelty value alone but then came the other half of Nina, and the half that really makes me love her. Because Nina DEFINED surly. She didn’t want your help, she didn’t want your pity, she wanted to sit in the corner muttering darkly about how you hate her and are trying to sabotage her, and then turn around five seconds later and ask why you aren’t her friend and why you aren’t giving her all the best parts and then CRYING JET BLACK TEARS ON THE RUNWAY. Never have I found a queen’s self-sabotage more relatable to be honest.
1. Valentina – 7th place
When the story of Series 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race comes to be written, it will be the story of the rise of Villaintina. Before the reunion happened, she was about third mentally in my list – often hilarious, always glamorous, not the best performer in the competition but always amongst the most memorable, and mostly notable for being part of a stunt elimination and the target of an unhinged rant. But THEN. Always before on Drag Race Miss Congeniality has been an afterthough title. Something minor to dole out in five seconds at the reunion as a consolation prize. But the crowning of Valentina, serenely passive aggressive as everyone else lobbed brickbats at her from the sidelines, felt more like an actual coronation than Sasha being given a stick in the last 5 seconds of the finale. It felt a little like the crowning of a monster rather than that of a winner but it sets up nicely whatever will happen when she inevitably returns for All Stars 3 with even better looks paid for by her sugar daddy and an army of fans ready to take on all comers. The few seconds before she lip syncs for the first time against…idk, Thorgy, will be the most tense and most anticipated on this show for a good long while.