RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars
We did it, Joe. We made it to the end of the longest All Stars season to date, and by the grace of Ru, crowned a very deserving winner in the process. “Wow,” I said to myself as I finished the finale last night at 3 a.m., as climate change unraveled my psyche and floodwaters ravaged my apartment complex. “What a great day.” I often take issue with Ru’s unilateral decisions, especially those in conflict with the season’s narrative and/or the show’s best interests, but it’s times like this that make me feel grateful to live under a RuPauligarchy. Our newly appointed Hall of Famer had only one win going into tonight’s finale, making her a statistically unlikely bid for the crown, but her effect on the season and the fanbase as a whole has been immeasurable. In a way, this season has been all about self-actualization and the rocky paths that lead us there, and there’s no better avatar for that journey than our current reigning All Star, Kylie Sonique Love.
When Ru announces this week’s challenge, I’m instantly skeptical. In this year of all years, you’re going to structure an episode around a country song celebrating your love for America? Bestie, I don’t know about this … but I’m thrilled to report that my skepticism is unfounded (a recurring theme this season)! And by the time the performance rolls around, I’m fully onboard. The fun little cherry on top of this episode is that the song in question (“This Is Our Country”) will feature the vocal stylings of Grammy Award-winning country singer Tanya Tucker. As a person of “grew up in Boston” experience, I must admit I’m not familiar with Miss Tucker, but from what I gather from one Google search, she seems to be the Texas equivalent of, say, an LGBT-friendly Donnie Wahlberg. So I’m happy for this ecstatic bunch of southern-born and -bred pageant queens. Sounds wicked cool! Let’s get into how each queen did:
Eureka’s idea for her country verse is to center it on a commentary on the European monarchy: “No, Marie Antoinette, I ate that cake, no Mary Queen of Scots, no Catherine the Great. No room for social hierarchy: House the homeless, feed the hungry.” I understand the concept: America started as a rejection of British colonial rule, after all. She even extends the metaphor visually by literally shedding a Marie Antoinette–style petticoat. If I’m being picky (which I always am), I would say it feels a teensy bit disingenuous to contrast America with Europe in this regard, since, well … we do have a pretty darn immutable social hierarchy here! I also can’t help but wonder if Eureka had this costume and worked backward to make the lyrics fit. But, hey! There are worse ways to find creative inspiration. The verse is overall Pretty Good™️ (if a little bit opaque), but a good representation of the high bar we’ve set for Eureka this season. On the runway, though, Eureka is a SHOOT. I can’t put it any better than Carson Kressley: “The Pope Goes to Carnival,” and I mean it in the best way possible. Eureka saved the best for last, and it shows.
To top it off, she gives a moving runway speech on the effect fatphobia has had on her life and how her journey to self-love was hard fought but well worth it. It’s an excellent finale for Eureka, but ultimately, it’s hard to come back from literally being eliminated from the competition. But what a journey it was! Say what you will about the Elephant Queen, she’s only getting better each time. So here ends Eureka’s third bid for a Drag Race crown. Who knows? Maybe fourth time’s the charm. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Tied with Eureka in the three-timers club, Ginger came closer than ever to her dreams of the Hall of Fame this season. She packed everything she learned from five years of Drag Race experimentation into this run but couldn’t quite reach the top. Honestly, this episode feels tailor-made for Ginger: singing, country music, eight-counts of choreography that don’t go beyond a step-touch, it was all there! And to her credit, she does deliver on her verse, in particular: The lyric “Oh, my country, ’tis the tea” made me squeal.
On the runway, however, I really don’t get it. It’s an origami-inspired gown that somehow feels both too structured and shapeless. It’s such an off-brand aesthetic for Ginger that it almost looks as if it was made for someone else. However, far be it from the judges to voice any actual criticism during the finale episode, so it’s top marks for Ginger across the board. But despite being a judging-panel darling, Ginger has not once in three tries connected with the fan base to the same degree as other winners, making these recurring Drag Race appearances feel more than a little Sisyphean. One need only glance at Instagram to see that #TeamGinger has not been getting nearly the social-media traction of the rest of the top four. So this season, yet again, though she toiled and toiled, Ginger’s boulder rolls right back down that hill. Keep pushing, queen.
Although she didn’t win, Ra’Jah should go down in history as having one of the most remarkable All Stars narratives in the history of the show. Ra’Jah could so easily have been early episode cannon fodder, but she transformed the opportunity into a complete overhaul of her image and catapulted herself from villain to fan favorite. Far from villainous, Ra’Jah showed us a thoughtful, funny, likable, and (above all) talented-as-hell queen. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. For her country verse, Ra’Jah explores Black people largely being left out of the American Dream: “I’m proud to be an American … but I can’t really state that it’s my America.” And do that she does. Rapping at approximately 500 WPM, Ra’Jah says: “Can’t breathe, ‘don’t shoot’ running through my brain. Nothing good on the news, and it’s all the same.” Chills! It’s cool, it’s subversive, and to hear that line about the news this week of all weeks? Well, let’s just say it hits.
On the runway, she looks impeccable in another Ra’Jah original and gives a speech about how you can dedicate yourself to self-improvement while having compassion for who you used to be. It’s lovely. I adore this queen! She doesn’t walk away with the crown tonight, but Ra’Jah certainly gets her flowers.
How blessed are we? Drag Race continues its streak of excellent, interesting winners tonight with our newly crowned queen, Kylie Sonique Love. Kylie came in ninth place on her season of Drag Race. Now, over a decade later, finds herself enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Even though she only claimed one win this season, this whole episode feels like a victory lap. The interview with Ru and Michelle is not officially a part of this week’s challenge, but had it been, Kylie would’ve won hands down. When talking about what it means to be a star and to be culturally revered, she posits, “To have that power means nothing if you’re not able to help people.” Of course, Kylie connected with the fan base this season because of her top-tier drag, but I think another hugely significant aspect of her appeal is her reflective nature and the kindness and love that radiates from her whenever she’s onscreen. It’s a star power that many would kill for, and a type of presence that simply can’t be taught. In her verse, Kylie is country as hell, and it suits her. Also, while we’re here, “If I can’t go to heaven, then I’m gonna raise hell” is an instantly iconic line and should be grounds for immediate induction into the Songwriter Hall of Fame.
I would categorize her final runway as Perfectly Fine™️, but she more than makes up for it with her custom BCALLA garment in the final lip-sync. And speaking of that final lip-sync, this was the moment where Kylie became our season’s winner. I was completely enraptured from start to finish, and I found myself begging to see more of her when they would cut away to the other queens. To top it all off, her stumble turned somersault cemented her status as lip-sync assassin and performer for the ages. Pure charisma and stage presence down boots! A master class. It feels so right when Ru calls her name and we see her prancing down the runway holding that scepter. Congratulations, Kylie, you richly deserve it.
That’s all, folks! Thank you for once again coming along this journey with me. Drag Race is a consistent source of true joy in my life, and I feel blessed and highly favored to be able to share it with all of you. Until next time!