Drag Race: All Stars 8, Meet The Queens: Gift Bagged Elephant

Their hair is big and full of secrets.

Content warning: Kandy’s Alien Runway.

I’ve decided that I’m going to keeping recapping the All Stars and Vs The World series (sorry Canada vs the World 1, I only realised You had started 2 weeks into the series and that’s your fault.) I just personally find it much more fun to write about the returning queens and the seasons are that much shorter and come with less obscene twists – I am forever scarred from seasons 13 and 14 throwing shenanigan spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck.
I also think they’ve finally nailed the All Stars casting formula with a really good mix of older season icons, redemption arcs, previous finalists, obligatory Drag Race: Live in Vegas promotees and left field wild cards. Plus 12 drag queens is a competition, 16 drag queens is yassified TV static.
As for when the recaps for the episodes will be published, probably on Mondays (she says publishing this on Tuesday, SHUT UP.) – I just want to have my weekends, it’s burnout central if I don’t.

So now the housekeeping is done, let’s get into it.

Heidi N. Closet (Season 12)

Heidi has been at the top of my list for an All Stars return since her season, I am relieved that she didn’t rush back into it, I don’t think that ever really serves a queen well – nor does the Miss Congeniality edit, which is my biggest concern for Heidi, they made a big thing about her being a former MC in the promo, which they didn’t really do for Lala and this usually results in the queen being in their heads about the fact All Stars kind of requires a certain amount of cut throat malice – Pandora, BenDeLaCreme and even Katya let it get to her to an extent. So gameplay wise, I have concerns and she could get shafted but she’s usually quite good at challenges and I’m excited for her looks because her couture noir detective outfit is easily one of my favourites from the promo

as for which look needs redeeming from her season 12 run? It’s either her cape look or the one that forced Nicki Minaj to commit a hate crime

the rhinestoned wig line takes me out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Mrs. Kasha Davis (Season 7)

Guess what? We won. After years of clamouring for Mrs. Kasha Davis to return, she’s finally here and she’s looking great, do I think there’s a real chance she might pull a Bianca and just wear the same vintage inspired coat dress for all 4 episodes that they’ll let her last for? Yes. We just have to hope they front load the season with the acting and comedy challenges but they usually have the Ball and a group singing challenge pretty early on and I don’t think that’s where Kasha’s strengths lie but give her an acting challenge and by all means, drag her to Snatch Game, and she’ll demolish it. I do hope she does her Green Runway for the Ru-demption Runway (that I’ve just decided they’ll be having – it’s appeared on All Stars 3 and 6 so far, let’s just keep it going)

it’s not bad, but I think she could push it further now.

I don’t entirely know what their angle with Kasha will be because she didn’t have any major missteps in season 7 – she tried to pronounce “welcome” without any of the vowels and they decided that was the worst thing she could have done and set her home for it. I remember she mentioned on The Pit Stop once that she’s been doing Drag Story Hours and given the battlezone that that has become, it might be a potentially interesting storyline to explore? But I don’t think Kasha is in for the long haul and the best hope is for her to pull a Pandora and production to get to episode 8 and forget they forgot to throw her under the bus earlier.

Naysha Lopez (Season 82)

It’s so funny to me that Naysha Lopez and Sasha Colby won Miss Continental back to back and Naysha is an infamous First Boot and Sasha basically ran a series of Drag Race like it was a meet and greet – the duality. The whole first boot redemption arc will obviously serve Naysha well, as will the fact she’s the host of the Roscoe’s viewing party which is at this point directly partnered with Drag Race so I imagine she’s a bit of a production favourite and knows how to produce some good TV but will she do well in the challenges? There’s not much to really go off of – she was in three episodes and she was eliminated in two them so we know she cannot sing, she apparently cannot lipsync and she cannot sew

and her entrance look has me concerned for her fashion journey

just… why? I don’t understand why you’d go for such a themed look when it doesn’t speak to anything you’ve done and just comes across as though you’re referencing a Netflix show that ended 4 years ago and lost all relevance 2 years before that!

Kahanna Montrese’s Body (Season 11) and Kahanna Montrese’s New Face

Kahanna Montrese has taken the All Stars Glow Up™ to stratospheric new heights – I genuinely think she could have shown up on Season 16 under a new name and nobody would clock her, it does help that it’s been 4 years and when we last saw her she was wearing a Dennis The Menace wig

I’m sure she’ll do that look for her Ru-Demption Runway given she explicitly mentioned it in the promo but I truly think her bigger crime was her entrance look when her boobs were on her shoulders

it’s very me insisting I’m still an A cup 9 years into my HRT and FINALLY boasting a C cup, you’ll all be glad to know that the tits are finally titting.

I imagine that Kahanna has largely been cast to promote the the Drag Race Live: IN VEGAS! show and I suspect she’ll probably win the talent show and the girl group challenges, which are usually towards the front of the season so I reckon she could make a pretty good run, make a great name for herself within the fandom and then get absolutely curb stomped in Snatch Game by Mrs. Kasha Davis and Jaymes Mansfield – it’s written in the stars.

Kandy Muse (Season 13)

My favourite thing about the Meet The Queens announcement was everyone proclaiming that Kandy was about to go on a Ra’Jah O’Hara style redemption arc and Kandy telling everyone to not get their hopes up because she’s worse now. The thing is, I don’t know how much Kandy has to redeem? I honestly didn’t find Kandy to be that abrasive during Season 13 – she argued A LOT, but I’m not sure she was ever entirely in the wrong. I think the thing that did her the biggest disservice was the pretty obvious production pushing – I’m as mad as anyone else that they let her get away with taping 5 backpacks to her hips and calling it a skirt

I would say that ought to be her Ru-demption runway look but while many of Kandy’s runways were amazing, she sometimes swung very left field

like, EXTREMELY left field

I want it on record that I accidentally printed this picture when I took my screenshot.

Then there was the double shantay against Symone but again, she went on to do REALLY well in the latter stages of the competition so I can’t say it wasn’t a deserved call. I do think Kandy’s casting is good because I feel like if anyone can make the All Stars elimination mechanics work the way the producers want with queens making strong alliances and strategizing, it’s probably Kandy. And then maybe we can move on to something else because I think I am kind of bored of it – I just don’t like the bottom 2 queens having to grovel on a sofa instead of channeling their frustration and determination into a really good lipsync.
I don’t know, let the winner of the episode decide who the bottom 2 are, then make them place a bet on who they think will win the lipsync and if they guessed right give ’em $10k and if they guessed wrong it rolls over. Drag Race LIVE!: IN VEGAS! amiright?

Darienne Lake (Season 6)

First of all, she looked so pretty in her entrance and promo looks and I’m glad she’s getting a reintroduction to the franchise because she was kind of frustrating during season 6 because she was very caught up in her weird feud with BenDeLaCreme, of which it was very hard to root for either of them. Her skillset was quite niche back then – she excelled in acting challenges and then bombed any challenge that required any sort of movement or sewing skills

like, bombed HARD

the droopy crotch dancing girl Leia monstrocity would be a great choice for a Ru-demption Runway, but I would like her to do the elephant look from the Animal Kingdom runway despite it being her best look because I think there are a lot of fun ways she could elevate it

a lot of Darienne’s Season 6 looks were very off-the rack mall-wear, it was season 6 so they kind of got away with it, so I’m interested to see where her aesthetic is now and how she copes with some of the more high concept, niche runway prompts we’ve drifted into. Although I hate to say it, I’m not sure how long she’s going to last because I fear she might try to do a character focused comedy bit for her talent show and that has never gone well for a single soul and nobody seems to ever learn from it.

Monica Beverley Hillz (Season 5)

What a deep cut! And she has quite the honour of being the first openly transgender contestant to compete on the show, it was only for one episode, but it still counts! Kylie was the first contestant to announce her transition but it was after the season finished, Monica came out on the runway right before lip-syncing to Only Girl In The World by Rihanna – a moment from which that has always stuck in my head is during the last line: “Only girl in the world” when Serena ChaCha bows and presents Monica to the judges

it’s a small moment from a very forgettable lipsync that never fails to give me goosebumps – you did good Serena.

Speaking of Serena, it’s hard not to feel like Monica is set up to suffer the exact same fate, which is a shame because I feel like Monica has the most to gain from her reappearance – it’s been rumoured for a long time that she quit drag because her Instagram was so inactive and if she did stop drag, not being a part of that scene means she might lack connections with other queens and designers so I’m not sure how she’ll be able to keep up with everyone else, but it also means we don’t know what she can do, she could barrel onto that stage like India Ferrah and surprise us all. And her girl scout entrance look was cute

and certainly an improvement on when she walked in on Season 5 dressed as a bag of carpet samples

but I worry that she’s going to get thoroughly Adore Delano’d by Michelle given the expectations of an All Stars season but maybe that’s unfair because her promo look is stupidly fun

but her lack of screentime during it… well, the trapdoors Serena ChaCha opened.

Jaymes Mansfield (Season 9)

Jaymes Mansfield is, to me, Drag Race’s biggest missed opportunity and one of the greatest injustices is the fact she came in proclaiming her sewing and puppeteering skills and being eliminated right before a challenge that explicitly called for sewing and puppeteering-esque skills. Also my hottest take is that she absolutely won that Love Shack lipsync against Kimora Blac the moment Kimora Blac pretended to fire a gun during the “Bang bang bang on the door” lyric

she’s… not smart. And yet they saved her, AND FOR WHAT? Princess Banana Lady?

I think Jaymes could have had a really interesting storyline on Season 9 for another… 2 episodes? Because she clearly had a lot to learn, especially given that she walked so that Marcia3 could run

her puppet is wearing more makeup than she is. But I’m not sure anyone eliminated as early as Jaymes has had the same kind of off Drag Race success? Her YouTube channel is great, I could honestly watch her styling wigs all day and her series about famous blondes is endlessly fascinating and well researched, which will probably be her greatest asset given that if you can name at least 7 mid-budget b-list actresses from between 1950 and 1975, RuPaul is putty in your hands. It could also bite her in the ass though because Jaymes almost works exclusively in that vintage Hollywood aesthetic and it’s quite recognisable (and pink) so I hope she mixes it up a little on the runway, but I look forward to her YouTube videos about her looks – she did one for her promo look and it was very interesting to hear about the design process in such a detailed way.

Alexis “The Producer” Michelle (Season 9)

Alexis is an odd one to me because her run on season 9 was all over the place – safe for the first 3 episodes, dominating the middle with a win and two highs and then spending her last four episodes in the bottom 3 because she got upset with everyone making fat jokes about her during the Reading Challenge and RuPaul decided she hated her for it, making sure to punish her at the Reunion by forcing her to sit there while everyone once again made fat jokes about her while wearing a truly baffling outfit that nobody talks about enough

to say Alexis had an unfocused aesthetic on season 9 is an understatement – there were a Monet amount of spandex bodysuits littered with the occasional absolutely drop dead gorgeous gown

and of course, punctuated by my personal favourite the “You should have told me my dress was basic” fur coat

which would be my pick for a Rudemption Runway, but I have a feeling she’s going to do the Elphaba look from her roast purely for the meme

I just hope to God she has the sense not to try and redeem the *checks notes* Native American Village People look that got her eliminated – truly the shortest straw and tightest rope to walk.

I’m excited for her though and I hope she has a similar “redemption” to Eureka on All Stars 6 where she lets down a bit of the overly drag-y facade to show us that she is actually a person underneath the theatre kid facade, it’s that or be thoroughly Jan’d.

Jessica Wild (Season 2)

Absolutely obsessed with her being just about entirely off everyone’s radar, appearing on All Stars 6 with a chicken mask(?????) and sparking a year long fan-led campaign to have her cast on All Stars

see what we can achieve when we work together? It does mean she has quite a bit of pressure put on her to live up to the hype but given that she performed pretty solidly on Season 2 and I still maintain that she should have won the autobiography challenge purely because she made Absolut Vodka: Acai memorable by getting absolutely sloshed and uttering the immortal words

and by modern Drag Race standards, I genuinely think she would have won that episode instead of being eliminated for it.

The biggest obstacle facing Jessica is the fact she’s an ESL queen and it’s a pretty damning trend that the show doesn’t quite know how to cater to them during improv and acting challenges – Alyssa Hunter, Lineysha Sparx, Madame LaQueer, Kenya Michaels, Nicky Doll and Cynthia Lee Fontaine all went home on acting challenges or Snatch Game – exceptions exist, and she is of course one of them but the odds are against her, and the problem only seems to have really developed in the modern seasons – suspiciously when Michelle started regularly sitting in as a director… But if Jessica lasts long enough to attempt RuPaul again at Snatch Game, I might just give her the crown then and there

she’s basically drag queen russian roulette – you never know what you’re going to get.

Jimbo (Canada 1 & UK Vs The World 1)

Jimbo is a contentious choice with a lot of her drag style being surrounded with allegations of misogyny and I think it’s important to listen to those opinions and I fully understand the discomfort and anger surrounding The Inflatable Vagina Incident™ and the disappointment in Jimbo refusing to acknowledge that it was a bit tasteless and came across as mocking in its crudeness. HOWEVER, I think extending those allegations to the fact she’s on a one queen mission to have the biggest breastplate in Drag Race herstory isn’t on

we always celebrate queens for drawing their inspiration from Strong Independent Women™ and Jimbo is pretty open that she draws her inspiration from the likes of Lolo Ferrari, the Cock Destroyers, Amanda Lepore and The Bimbofication of The Early 2000s – all of whom were VERY self-aware and knew how they were perceived and turned it into lucrative careers – I guess, I see Jimbo as celebrating them and mocking the way they were perceived rather than the other way around, which I understand might be charitable. It’s a tough line to walk and I don’t think Jimbo always does it successfully, but I think we need to be careful of using arguments and dialogue against her that are mirroring EXACTLY what the far right are using to justify their anti-drag and anti-trans bills. And plus, where do you stop? When does a breastplate become too big? When does padding cross a line? (It’s Marcia Marcia Marcia’s Drag Race now!) Personally I felt more uncomfortable with Naysha donning an outfit inspired by a prison jumpsuit than Jimbo walking in wearing a sneeze of a bikini and a pair of boobs the size of the average labrador.

As for how Jimbo may fare in the competition – she’ll be just fine, Ru adores her and I highly doubt she’s going to let the same thing happen to Jimbo that happened in UK vs The World. She might not win any money because the idea of Jimbo winning a lipsync is quite frankly ludicrous and I think she’s too controversial to win the series but I reckon she’ll make it to at least the quarterfinal – or at least I hope she gets eliminated before the final because nobody does an exit line like Jimbo.

Lala Ri (Season 13)

I can’t explain it but for me, Lala Ri is The One™ – something about her just captivates me, she lacked a bit of polish and confidence during Season 13 but she was such a joyously positive queen in her confessionals and the Werk Room that I couldn’t help but adore her – so I hope that with being able to look back and see what made her so well-liked and her time spent touring she’ll be able to better apply it to tasks outside of the dance and performance heavy numbers that she succeeded in.
Of course there is also the pink, gift bagged elephant in the room and the reason I am convinced there *HAS* to be a Ru-demption runway, the inceptor of the Golden Boot Award

I still cannot even. But my favourite thing about it was Nicole Byers’s reaction because she knew that due to her NDA she wasn’t going to be able to openly talk about the fact she’d seen a drag queen staple a countable amount of gift bags to a corset and slap a pencil case on her wig-free head and call it design

not even her therapist! SHE WAITED 9 MONTHS – carrying the weight of this look like Lala Ri had dumped it on her like a brood parasite. And I can’t wait to see how she reinvents it because her fashion sense has really come into its own

I saw a lot of people dunking on this look – to me, it’s MAJOR.

And there we have it! Our 12 queens – my personal favourites are Lala and Heidi – neither of which I have huge hopes of making it all the way – I think dead certs for the final are Jimbo and Kandy – they went particularly hard for their promo looks which were filmed after the season wrapped. I think both Alexis and Jaymes have a good shot at making the final based on what I know about their skill sets, but if All Stars is one thing it’s unpredictable.

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One thought on “Drag Race: All Stars 8, Meet The Queens: Gift Bagged Elephant

  1. an excited recap reader

    i absolutely love your drag race recaps, and i’m so so happy that you’re doing them again!! looking foward to this season, it looks like it’s gonna be a blast!!

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