In 2012, after four seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Logo TV brought us an All Stars version. All Stars? A cast full of our favorites, without any filler queens? Sign me up! What could go wrong? Well… a lot, actually. For some reason, producers decided to mess with their winning formula. Over the course of six episodes, twelve contestants competed in teams of two. Teams of two? Really? The girls showed up excited for a second chance to snatch the crown only to find out that their spot on the show depended on someone else’s performance. I’m sorry but drag isn’t a team sport. Granted, some pairings were better than others (who can forget synergy of Latrice Royale and Manila Luzon competing as team Latrila?) but overall the concept was stilted and a bit of a letdown. While there were certainly moments of brilliance, overall fans were bored. I frequently rewatch past seasons of Drag Race but All Stars isn’t in my rotation. It just isn’t. And by the time Chad Michaels was crowned the winner I was fairly convinced that the whole thing was staged just to make up for her season four loss to Sharon Needles.
Even so, fans of Drag Race have been begging for a second season of All Stars. RuPaul has always played coy but from time to time rumors would leak. The internet would go wild. Everyone had an opinion about the ideal cast. Articles were written. Arguments arose. The queens’ social media pages were examined to see if anyone had gone silent (a sure sign they’re shooting). But year after year, no All Stars. So when a promo ran during the season eight finale, fans breathed a sigh of relief. This time the rumors were true. We’re finally getting another season of Allstars. And after everything that the LGBTQIA community has been through recently, it’s time to bring some beauty (and sequins) back into our life. As RuPaul explains, “The world needs these queens now more than ever… Because fierce is fierce is fierce is fierce is fierce is fierce.”
Premiering August 25 (with a super-sized episode) RuPaul will join judges Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley and Todrick Hall to put a new cast of veterans through their paces. The lineup for All Stars 2 is Adore Delano (season six), Alaska Thunderfuck (season five), Alyssa Edwards (season five), Coco Montrese (season five), Detox (season five), Ginger Minj (season seven), Katya (season seven), Phi Phi O’Hara (season four), Roxxxy Andrews (season five) and Tatianna (season two). After the break we’ll look back at some of the returning contestants and discuss what they’ve been up to since their time on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Adore Delano (Season Six)
RuPaul’s Drag Race wasn’t Adore Delano’s first reality experience. As Danny Noriega, she competed on American Idol’s seventh season. She’s always been careful not to disparage the show but there were rumblings that they tried to”butch” her up. Apparently Fox didn’t think middle America was ready for a gay boy on network TV. While Adore made it to the top sixteen, her dreams of becoming a rock star never came to fruition. Luckily for us she turned to drag, becoming a fixture on the Weho scene as well as on Youtube (check out her Angel Baby videos for some early Adore chola realness ).
From her very first moments on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Adore’s ditzy charm won fans over. One of my favorite memories was when she fell out of her chair in the first episode. While it was clear she had the It factor, Adore seemed to be on the show just to have fun. She was sloppy and a little lazy (Michelle Visage had to tell her to cinch her waist several times before she took it seriously). But then things changed. Adore started doing good! She even began to win. And more importantly, she started believing in herself. Adore was in the game. Her talent and passion brought her all the way to the final three. She lost out to Bianca Del Rio (no one stood a chance against her) but she proved herself as a serious drag queen. Well, a serious drag queen who could still laugh at herself (like how she embraced the mash-up Adore Delano as Lumpy Space Princess, the best thing on Youtube EVER).
Since Drag Race, Adore has made her dreams of becoming a rock star a reality. She has released two albums that have made it onto the Billboard charts. She is undeniably the most successful musical artist to come from RuPaul’s Drag Race. She has been busy touring with her band as well as appearing on the Drag Race Battle of the Seasons tour. Despite her success, Adore is still a loving goofball who often performs barefoot (something no other drag queen could ever get away with).
Alaska Thunderfuck (Season Five)
Fans first heard about Alaska Thunderfuck in season four when then-boyfriend Sharon Needles admitted that being on the show was causing problems in their relationship. You see, Alaska tried out for Drag Race every single season but never made it on. Then Sharon tried out and was immediately cast. It took some time for Alaska to get over her jealousy but by the time Sharon was crowned winner of season five, Alaska was in the audience cheering her on. The following season it was Alaska’s turn. She finally achieved her goal but was saddled with the extra pressure of living up to Sharon’s win. As a Sharon Needles fan I was really excited to see Alaska compete but in the very first challenge (an underwater photoshoot) Alaska got frustrated and walked out, whining, “I can’t do it. I quit.” What a disappointment! She fought so hard to be cast and then gave up so easily. Her castmates wrote her off and scoffed at the plastic bag dress she created for the runway. Well, they didn’t realize how well Alaska could turn trash into treasure. Despite her poor showing in the photoshoot, she ended up in the top three, shocking everyone (even herself). She initially formed an alliance with Roxxxy Andrews and Detox (RoLaskaTox) but as soon as Michelle Visage told her, “No!” Alaska got serious about the competition and struck out on her own. She finished the season as the runner-up to Jinkx Monsoon and she was the only season five girl to never lip-sync for her life.
After the show, Alaska went through a rocky time. She was a drunken mess for a while. At some point she and Sharon broke up. I even heard some nightmare stories about performances where she was too wasted to do more than lie on the stage. And then Michelle Visage intervened. She told Alaska she had too much talent to throw it away like that. And Alaska heard her. She cleaned up her act and threw herself into performing. In 2014 I took a drag cruise. There were more than 20 shows and I tried to attend every one. Alaska’s Red for Filth was the best. The. Best. She was already my favorite drag queen but even I wasn’t prepared for the experience. Alaska has since released an album (Anus) that’s mostly for die-hard fans. She is a spokeswoman for American Apparel (appearing alongside Drag Alums Willam Belli and Courtney Act). And she has a web series with her brother Corey called Bro’Laska. Alaska has become one of the most popular of the Ru girls and has the highest odds of winning All Stars. She certainly deserves it.
Alyssa Edwards (Season Five)
Alyssa Edwards is a pageant queen from Texas. Before Drag Race she was most well known for being dethroned from her title of Miss Gay America in 2010. The official explanation is that she couldn’t “fulfill her duties.” Yeah, that doesn’t sound shady at all. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Alyssa was replaced by her best friend, Coco Montrese. It didn’t go well. Coco felt villainized for merely doing her job as runner-up while Alyssa was certain that Coco’s rumors and suggestions were the reasons she got dethroned in the first place. Their friendship didn’t survive the ordeal. When Alyssa swanned into the workroom on season five she never imagined that her past with Coco was going to become a major storyline. As if Mama Ru wasn’t going to exploit that drama! Please. Surprisingly, she had bigger obstacles to face than sharing the stage with Coco (again): the challenges. See, Alyssa was at the top of her game in her genre. She had the look, she had the moves. As far as she was concerned, that’s all she needed. But RuPaul wanted more and Alyssa wasn’t up to the challenge. She found herself in the bottom three five times in a row before losing in a lip-sync against Coco Montrese.
Alyssa didn’t spend much time crying over her loss. She threw herself into her work and building on her Drag Race fame. She grew her dance studio, Beyond Belief, into a highly successful venture. She parlayed her quirky humor into a popular web series, Alyssa’s Secret. And she created an impressive drag family, the Haus of Edwards. Drag daughters include Drag Race alums Shangela (seasons 2 and 3), Laganja Estranja (season 6), Gia Gunn (season 6) and Vivienne Pinay (season 5). Most recently, she (and her drag daughters) were front and center in Miley Cyrus’ 2015 MTV Video Music Awards finale performance.
Coco Montrese (Season Five)
Coco Montrese was more than just Alyssa Edwards’ replacement as Miss Gay America in 2010. She was also a highly successful Vegas artist, performing six nights a week in the world famous Frank Marino’s Divas. Like Alyssa, Coco assumed she would be the season five front runner. While she was a seasoned celebrity impersonator, she stumbled in most challenges. Coco’s biggest Drag Race accolade was being in the bottom two the most times in series history but beating frenemy Alyssa Edwards in a lip-sync for your life probably helped take the sting out. Coco returned to the Vegas stage after being eliminated and has been working steadily since.
Detox (Season Five)
Detox walked into RuPaul’s Drag Race with an established fanbase. Not only was she a familiar face in the Southern California drag scene but she was also a member of drag supergroup DWV with Vicky Vox and Willam Belli (season four). Upon entering the workroom, Detox quickly buddied up to Alaska Thunderfuck and Roxxxy Andrews, forming the fierce clique RoLaskaTox. At times it seemed like she was more interested in having fun than focusing on the challenges but she also took her drag seriously (a seeming oxymoron). Her unique (albeit plastic) look and quirky charm took her all the way to fourth place, finally losing in a lip-sync to eventual winner Jinkx Monsoon. After Drag Race, Detox returned to L.A. and continued to work steadily. In 2014 DWV broke up but Detox continued to perform in music videos and on her own songs.
As you can see. there’s a lot of talent in these returning performers. Who will prevail in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2? Only time (and RuPaul) can tell. Stay tuned for a look at the remaining cast and share your thoughts about the upcoming season…