RuPaul’s Drag Race: A winner is crowned in “All Stars Supergroup”


The second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars ends the way we expected it to, but not without a few twists along the way.

It’s the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2, and we got the winner we deserve, if not the one we wanted.

Because if we got the one we wanted, Katya would be in the top spot. This contest has seemed like Alaska’s to lose for a long while, ever since she followed her spot-on Mae West impression in the Snatch Game with an impeccable Bette Davis illusion in the acting challenge a few weeks back. She won all three lip syncs in which she participated, her outfits were well thought-out, and she’s rarely been at the back of the pack.

But the one time she was in the back counted for a lot. RuPaul’s Drag Race fans are very passionate, and they turned against Alaska at the end of “Drag Fish Tank,” when she sent Tatianna home over her buddy Roxxxy Andrews. She capitalized on that unpopularity in “Family That Drags Together” when she suffered through an attack of self-pity after landing in the bottom for the first and only time this year. Fans stuffed her social media full of snake emojis and flocked to Katya’s banner, voting for her in far greater numbers. Just look at the retweets and likes from the World of Wonder Twitter account.

Okay, that’s over a thousand retweets. Not bad.

And that’s way better.

But RuPaul’s memory is longer than that. She remembers what a standout Alaska was during Season 5, and how well she’s done this year. Katya’s been a solid competitor, but stacked end to end, Alaska’s been more consistent, whatever her concerns about likability. And looking back over the winners of this show, RuPaul cares about consistency.

At the end of the day, I think that’s good for the health of the franchise. Despite all the irony and the silly costumes and the zombie parodies of Thelma and Louise, drag is serious work, and deciding who should go in the Drag Race Hall of Fame should be given serious consideration. Better not to pass over the person with the strongest body of work because they’re currently out of favor with part of the fanbase. Tastes will change, but Alaska 5000 will remain a terrific drag queen.

And besides, if Alaska hadn’t taken that tumble last week, there would have been zero tension about the winner tonight. Her recent difficulties let us believe, if only for a moment, that Katya might take this thing.

When it comes to drama, All Stars Season 2 stands “wig, head, and shoulders” above Season 1. Tonight, the specter of Rolaskatox reared its head as Alaska wondered once again whether being part of the mean girls clique would hurt her chances in the competition. As Detox pointed out, the situation was very different than it was in Season 5. For one thing, Katya, the “lovable weirdo” de jour, was on better terms with the trio than Jinkx Monstoon ever was. Mostly, we were watching Alaska talk herself into a panic, and it was compelling. In the long run, I hope her talent will see her through all fallout. She’s certainly got enough of it.

That’s something she proved tonight. For their final challenge, the girls were asked to write and perform rap lyrics to one of RuPaul’s new songs. Like all challenges on this show, succeeding isn’t so much about working within the parameters of the challenge as it is figuring out how to make those parameters work for you. Alaska isn’t a rapper by trade, but she’s smart. Her colorful lyrics, laced with references to Drag Race herstory, help her stand out.

Detox, on the other hand, does have experience rapping (FYI: you probably shouldn’t watch the video below if you’re at work), and her verse flowed the best. But Katya and Alaska were funnier. Katya’s esoteric sense of humor (“I’m Lenin in the streets, Dostoyevsky in the sheets.”) and high-flying flexibility pulled her even with Alaska. It was also a smart move to repeat her full drag slowly not once, but twice. That seemed like a deliberate guide for people who have trouble pronouncing it.

But really, everyone was entertaining. Even Roxxxy, who’s been bringing up the back of this train since near the beginning of the season and stayed true to form tonight, whipped her hair to fun affect, even if her verse was milquetoast. It’s All Stars, and no one’s a dud. It’s all about finding what pushes you ahead of the others, if even just by a few inches.

That point is pounded home on the main stage. As per usual, RuPaul asked the queens why they should win the crown, and why the other girls shouldn’t. Detox and Roxxxy gave fairly standard pageant answers (Detox: “All I can say is how magical of an experience this has been.”), but Alaska and Katya came prepared. Alaska, who turned up in an understated (for her) gold dress, wrote a hilarious love letter to the show—while delivering it, she transitions seamlessly from catch phrase to catch phrase, capping it off with a tongue pop for the ages. Katya matches her with a speech that mixes deadpan humor (“Charisma. Uniqueness. Nerve. Talent. What do these qualities have in common? I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”) with unexpected vulnerability. Alaska may have been the more consistent competitor this year, but Katya grew the most.

But Alaska takes it in the end, after she, Katya, and Detox lip sync to Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “If I Were Your Woman.” It’s a slow, sultry song, and a cool selection for this late in the competition. RuPaul probably made her decision before the song started, but if she hadn’t, Alaska once again puts herself over the top by bringing that little extra oomph to her performance. All three queens bring passion, but Alaska ups the ante by smearing her makeup, uglying herself up a bit for this love ballad. It’s a winning look.

Her willingness to always go the extra mile is why I’m happy with Alaska’s win. Congratulations to all the contestants, congratulations to RuPaul on her Emmy win, and congratulations to Alaska for being inducted into this ridiculous pantheon of female impersonators. Everyone played a part in making All Stars Season 2 a significant step up from Season 1. There were no more pairs, a lot more drama, and another opportunity to see some of the finest queens to grace the main stage in action.

What a great show. See you in Season 9.

Next: You win or you die: Ranking the 99 deaths on Game of Thrones

Random Ruflections

  • It’s always curious when Michelle Visage enters the workroom. For one thing, it makes us wonder what RuPaul’s doing that she can’t exchange some banter with her girls. And for another, it makes us endure Michelle’s RuPaul impression, which is like watching your mom wear your aunt’s clothes.
  • Katya: “I’m like the sugar-free French vanilla ice of drag.” I don’t know what that means, but as usual, Katya convinces me it’s a good thing.
  • Detox shares her thoughts on making it to the finale: “I pinch myself every fucking day.” RuPaul: “And when you pinch yourself, can you feel it?”
  • RuPaul about life after Drag Race: “All these bitches wanna say, ‘Oh, I was edited unfavorably.’ It’s like, ‘No, bitch. You said it. You did it. That’s how it was.'” I know this was all filmed long before Phi Phi O’hara started speaking out against the show, but it’s hard not to look at what RuPaul’s saying with that in mind.
  • Alaska: “What if Roxxxy Andrews wins?” Katya: “Um, I would be confused.”
  • Roxxxy: “What was your favorite moment?” Alaska: “My favorite moment was when you were in the bottom two.” Detox: “Which time?” That right there is pretty indicative of the good vibes that ran throughout this season.
  • Ross Matthews on Katya’s outfit: “Yes, it’s not exactly the way we’ve seen it done before, but neither are you, honey, and that’s why we like you.” That about sums it up.
  • Look, Roxxxy was definitely the fourth wheel up on stage tonight, but her 1940s-esque nude sequin number on the runway was pretty killer. Also, she proved she proved she could be on the show and not be deeply unpleasant. So kudos.
  • RuPaul: “The time has come, for you to lip sync…” *pulls out megaphone* “…FOR YOUR LEGACY.” Keep bringing those gags right up until the end.