In anticipation of the sixth season of Rupaul’s Drag Race, we have decided to rank all sixty queens from the first five seasons over six posts leading up to the premiere next Monday… This edition takes on #39–>31.
While many bloggers have listed their favourite queens and lip-syncs many times before, the challenge I have presently made for myself has been to rank every queen—that is, the glamazons and the amateurs. This list saw many revisions, and once it is posted I will not be able to, in a change of heart, go back and rank Serena Cha Cha even lower. While I did not devise a framework or a code of critical principles for my rankings, I have since found that certain preferences can be decoded from this list. Here are some idioms to keep in mind while following this countdown to the greatest drag superstar of Rupaul’s Drag Race: 1. Fishy is fine, but not alone does it make a legendary queen; 2. A true queen has an extensive breadth of reference; 3. Reading is, in fact, fundamental; 4. A taste for camp goes a long way; and 5. High concept ensembles are rarely boring.
39. Monica Beverly Hillz (Season 5, 12th place)
A special props goes to our sister here, who courageously came out on live TV as her true gender identity, and THEN smoked out Serena Cha Cha in a fierce lip-sync to Rihanna’s “Only Girl in the World”. It is true that Monica was not a strong competitor—that’s why she is not ranked higher—but in a few moments she left a lasting impression.
Monica: “You guys really are a talented ass group—”
Roxxxy Andrews: “But you’re here with us, so—so are you.”
Detox: “We’re all in the same caliber.”
Roxxx Andrews: “Except for Serena.”
38. Sahara Davenport (Season 2, 7th place)
Rest in peace, dearest Sahara. How we would have loved to see you throw down in a dance-off with Alyssa in a future All Stars.
Best moment: jumping off the stage into a split in front of Martha Wash best sums up Sahara’s legacy on Drag Race.
37. Mimi Imfirst (Season 3, 11th place)
First of all, I don’t necessarily agree that drag should not be a contact sport. If any two queens wish to play tackle football in a future season I will sit front row centre. So, Mimi’s stage stunt of picking up India Ferrah during their showdown on the main stage is not the reason why I have not ranked her higher. My main issue with Mimi is that her zany drama camp shtick did not pay off as much as she built up herself up. Her sci-fi villain was overdone, and her workout video was overdone. Still, she redeemed herself in her only episode of All Stars, where she proved to have more than two dimensions.
Best moment: her Virgin Mary costume was like a something left on the editing room floor of an Almodovar feature.
36. Delta Work (Season 3, 7th place)
TANGENT WARNING: Behold, the first of the Heathers and Boogers to appear on this list! And if you’re wondering why I rank Delta last of all the cast members of season three’s West Side Story, I will tell you exactly why. To begin, not that it is a foolproof gauge of a queen’s charisma-uniqueness-nerve-talent, but Delta had won no challenges in season three (as a matter of fact, neither did Carmen Carrera; and in case you weren’t keeping score the Boogers finished season three with 7 wins, while the Heathers finished with 6). In addition, Delta was treacherous in the Snatch Game—like, maybe as bad as Alyssa Edwards’s Katy Perry, if not more offensive because it was Cher (on record, that challenge was won by a Booger). Finally, her Jane Jetsen gave my soul a wedgie. Aside: who admits that they deserve to be eliminated?!
But enough of about the bad—here are the things we liked about Delta: her Quanza realness (problematic, sure—but then let’s also remember that in this season we saw Virgin Mary realness, Japanese reporter realness, Native American realness, pan-tribal African realness, and Precious realness); her homage to Darryl Hannah in Splash; and her close friendship with Raja that was the emotional centre of the otherwise un-affecting Heathers. On a final note, I give credit to Delta for being the queen who served tea to viewers at home about how cannibalistic the drag scene tends to be towards plus-size queens. Best moment: while fans tend to give Manila all the credit for the awesome lip-sync of “MacArthur Park”, Delta’s performance was also hilarious and curiously heartfelt (and in that tee shirt and chunky bracelet, no less)
35. Tatianna (Season 2, 4th place)
We could call her the Rebecca Glasscock of season two, but then we have to remember that Tatianna actually had charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. So, in case we have only remembered Tatianna for her fug runway choices, let us recollect exactly how she managed to surpass Pandora Boxx and make it to the top four. First of all, Tatianna’s impersonation of Britney Spears in the Snatch Game was eerily on point. In fact, one should say that it was the moment in the season two when viewers at home learned that she was a force to be reckoned with (was Jinkx Monsoon taking notes?). Secondly, her lip-sync of Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” was shockingly hot. Did you see those limbs move?! And finally, if there was one queen who could get on Raven’s last nerve, it was this bitch. Any queen who can accomplish that on Drag Race deserves at least marginal recognition.
Best line: “No, I am not Rebecca Glasscock of the second season.” Agreed.
34. Mariah Balenciaga (Season 3, 9th place)
Mariah may have been an underwhelming comedienne and thespian, but I cannot think of a queen from any season who was so consistently eleganza extravaganza. What really impressed me about Mariah’s runway ensembles was not just that they were pristinely executed, but that there was a cohesive quality between all her style choices that less seasoned queens rarely have achieved. If I could wave a magic wand and place any queen in any main challenge from her season, I would like to have seen Mariah compete in the Jocks in Frocks challenge from season three. I can imagine her slaying the other girls in that competition. I would also have liked to see her throw jibes in the reading mini-challenge.
Best line: “When it comes to going out in drag in the day time, I’m good. ‘Cause baby, if it’s right, it’s right.”
33. The Princess (Season 4, 11th place)
The Princess is a case of a solid queen who may have just been having an off day. For almost all intents and purposes, this was a singularly polished and fun girl who could throw out a completed runway look and make a whole new one in the course of a day—and still rank amongst the best looks of the week. It’s too bad we all remember her now for getting slain by Dida Ritz in the lip-sync to Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”, or as we might otherwise know it, “THE BEST LIP-SYNC IN DRAG RACE HISTORY.”
Best moment: when the Princess came onto Sharon Needles by hinting that she was into guys who look like they are on meth. Whatever floats your boat, Princess.
32. Jiggly Caliente (Season 4, 7th place)
If one relies too much on memories of Jiggly crying in the Interior Illusions lounge, one will begin to spin a narrative of her as the wettest blanket of the entire series. Jiggly is still, however, one of the most intense, high-energy queens to lip-sync on Drag Race.
Best moment: Jiggly hopping around in a bathing suit (?!) to “Born This Way”, pretending not to notice Milan stripping out of all of her clothes.
31. Stacey Layne Matthews (Season 3, 8th place)
The second queen from the Boogers/Heathers rivalry to feature on this list is a sentimental favourite of mine. From Back Swamp, North Carolina, Stacey was early in the season established as the underdog of Drag Race, and in more senses than one: she did not belong to a major urban drag scene, she didn’t have an editorial look, and she wasn’t skinny. It came by surprise to everyone who was ready to write Stacey off when she suddenly won the Snatch Game as Mo’nique in Precious, an impersonation that was a hasty last-second switch from her original choice of Anna Nicole Smith (we would also have loved to see that).
Best line: “PRECIOUS!”