RuPaul drills down on the drama for the Drag Race All Stars Reunion


The girls of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2 reunite to go over the best season of Drag Race to date. It’s a mellow hour, but not for lack of trying.

This season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars may have been more packed with drama than any other in the show’s history, and that’s saying something. First, RuPaul told us that the queens would be eliminating each other. Then Adore quit. Than all the eliminated queens came back. Phi Phi and Alaska both had meltdowns. Fans abandoned Alaska’s ship for the S.S. Katya. By the time it was all over, it was all we could do to keep from hyperventilating.

RuPaul, acting as the host, went over all of this in last night’s reunion episode, yet the tone was very laid back. Maybe it was the fact that the show proper was filmed a year ago, and some of the feelings the queens associated with it have faded. Maybe it was that the reunion format, which involves all of the queens gathering in a room and chatting about what happened, doesn’t lend itself to fireworks. (Logo filmed reunions after the first three seasons before abandoning them in favor of elaborate finale episodes.) Or maybe it’s just that the drama we see on TV isn’t always true to life. As Katya is fond of repeating, “What you see…isn’t always the truth.”

So it was a mellow sort of reunion, but not without intrigue. RuPaul addressed the elephant in the room right at the top of the hour, pointing out that Phi Phi O’Hara had chosen not to join them. (Although RuPaul didn’t call Phi Phi by name.) Phi Phi has been waging a pretty public war with the show since being eliminated after what she claims was unfair editing. RuPaul addressed that, too. “For example, if one of you were to say, ‘I blame the edit,’ I would say, ‘Bullshit.'”

It’s a shame Phi Phi didn’t attend, because she could have used the opportunity to address concerns about her behavior and repair any damage the show did to her reputation. That’s what Adore did. When asked about her decision to “tap out” out the competition early, Adore was contrite, and gave an honest appraisal of why she was underprepared to return to a competitive mindset. She capped it off with a bizarre, campy laugh delivered right into the camera, and then rejoined the conversation as just another one of the competitors. It was a great way to diffuse and release.

Alaska followed suit. Perhaps the biggest story from this year was how, towards the end of the season, fans swore off Alaska, the clear frontrunner, to support Katya for the crown. Interestingly, RuPaul doesn’t ask about the fan reaction directly, maybe because Alaska heads her off at the pass so effectively. Quoth Alaska “If you wanna say that I’m fake, if you wanna say that I’m a snake, I have this to say: The only thing fake about me is this!” And then she pulled out a fake wooden leg from under her dress and tossed it on the floor, a tribute to this moment from The Real Housewives of New York City:

And then everybody laughed, and they moved on. RuPaul is right when she calls Alaska a “marketing genius.” She knows how to control a conversation, and how to make antipathy work in her favor. She’s a worthy successor to RuPaul for that reason alone.

She’s also worthy because, as the queens mention at several points, she was the strongest competitor this year. Her Mae West was far and away the best performance from the Snatch Game. Her Betty Davis impression in the acting challenge was spot-on. Her homemade commercial was uproarious, her looks were fun, and her lip syncs were tight. She earned her win.

The odd thing about the reunion is that the queens spend relatively little time talking about any of that. With some exceptions, the episode is a wall-to-wall discussion of the year’s drama, which may tell us something about where the show’s priorities lie. Do we watch RuPaul’s Drag Race more for the displays of talent, or to see these larger-than-life personalities bounce off each other? Maybe it doesn’t matter. RuPaul, marketing genius that she is, seems to have found a way to keep us watching regardless.

Next: Rutrospective: The Best of All Stars Season 2

Random Ruflections

  • Alyssa Edwards, as always, was full of fun quotations. Here she is on the alleged pact the girls made toward the beginning of the year: “Baby, nothin’ was notarized. No contracts are signed. My attorney was not present. That was hog wash.” And on her fashion philosophy: “Coco Chanel says take off two. Alyssa Edwards says add 22.” And on…I dunno. Here’s something else she said: “Girl, reach in your kaboodle. That’s your shit!”
  • Kayta was also a lot of fun, as when she called Alaska out for wearing a “funeral shroud cloud of black trash bags” for Part 1 of her two-in-one look. And on Roxxxy Andrews’ finale look: “Snatching wigs, colostomy bags, and toenails out of every living room in America.”
  • Ginger Minj, Coco Montrese, and Roxxxy Andrews were all pretty low-key during the reunion, which is to be expected. It’s hard to get too many words in edgewise with big personalities like Alaska, Katya, and Alyssa in the room. Tatinna, Detox, and Adore all got in their share of digs, though.