As the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars comes to an end and speculation about the fourth begins, we'd be hard-pressed not to look back and explore the many secrets involving this extremely successful RuPaul’s Drag Race spin-off.
The concept of All-Stars was clear: giving drag queens who were eliminated too soon in previous seasons of Drag Race another chance to shine. The competition’s prize was upped to $100,000 and the show’s episode count was kept at six. The first season of the show featured all sorts of fan-favorite contestants from the first four seasons of Drag Race, ranging from Mimi Imfurst – who was 11th place on season 3 – to Chad Michaels, who was a runner-up on season 4 but went on to win All-Stars 1.
As the show evolved and changed its rules, one thing has remained consistent: RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars can make or break the careers of queens who didn’t get enough airtime during their first appearance in the franchise. Despite winning season 1 of Drag Race, for instance, BeBe Zahara Benet felt the need to compete on All-Stars 3 to have her skills introduced to a new audience of fans who knew very little about her.
These are 15 Secrets Behind RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars.
15 SOME QUEENS MAY BE SET UP TO FAIL
The Drag Race franchise as a whole is no stranger to dodging allegations from fans and queens that certain contestants are literally set up to fail in the competition. The most recent instance of this allegation took place as Thorgy Thor was eliminated from All-Stars 3 after being given a part in a musical challenge that she felt was meant to make her stumble.
In an interview with Chron, Thorgy Thor said, “I was given this horrible track, sandwiched in between Shangela, given basically just comedic genius; and then Ben, given comedic genius. And then me. It really seems like I’m being set up to fail.”
Phi Phi O’Hara, from All-Stars 2, has also stated that producers from the show forced her to talk about things that ultimately made her look bad to viewers.
14 SOME QUEENS MAY BE SET UP TO WIN
It is no secret to Drag Race fans that there was some sort of invisible pull for Chad Michaels to win All-Stars 1 and for Alaska to win All-Stars 2, no matter what happened in the competition.
Many outlets have speculated about this conspiracy, acknowledging that the casting of the seasons and the challenges given to the queens were always meant to be favorable to one queen in particular whom producers would like to see win.
This conspiracy became even stronger after the All-Stars 3 results, as both of the season’s clear frontrunners ended up not winning. BenDeLaCreme became the season’s leading contestant as she won five out of six challenges, but she then suddenly eliminated herself. Shangela, who won three challenges, became the season’s frontrunner after BenDeLaCreme’s departure, but she was not even able to make it to the Top 2.
13 THE QUITTING QUEENS
Speaking of queens eliminating themselves, during the entire Drag Race franchise, there have only been two instances in which contestants decided to quit the show: Adore Delano in All-Stars 2 and BenDeLaCreme in All-Stars 3.
From the very first episode of All-Stars 2, Adore Delano signaled that she wasn’t ready to compete. She lasted for an additional episode after talking to judge Michelle Visage, but her will to participate in a competition reality show just wasn’t there. Then, in All-Stars 3, BenDeLaCreme won five out of six challenges she participated in, which meant that she had to make a choice about which queen to eliminate week after week. According to Ben, making that decision week after week took a toll on her, so she decided to eliminate herself.
The closest a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race has come to eliminating herself was season 7 contestant Pearl, who clearly considered sending herself home during a particular episode.
12 THE ALL-STARS CHANGE OF RULES
The big plot twist that came with the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars was that the queens would have to compete in pairs throughout the competition, which essentially meant that they moved forward as a pair and were eliminated as a pair. Unsurprisingly, this made many extremely talented queens go home because of a weak link in the duo, and it has been widely considered a mistake.
So, for All-Stars 2, it was announced the queens would vote one other off the competition. The season was a success and the eliminations were, for the most part, deemed fair by the public. To no surprise, that structure was kept for All-Stars 3, but there was a catch: the season’s eliminated queens would come back to choose who would be in the Top 2. Like All-Stars 1, this twist was not very liked by fans.
11 THE SAHARA DAVENPORT DEDICATION
Sahara Davenport was a drag queen featured as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2, which aired in 2010. Sahara went on to be eliminated on the sixth episode, but she left a major impression on the entire franchise, being beloved by fans and producers of the show. Two years later, Sahara – whose non-performer name is Antoine Ashley – passed from a heart attack at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
The first season of All-Stars premiered a few days after the passing of Sahara Davenport, and the first episode was dedicated to her. “She was a young kid with a heart condition. It was so tragic,” RuPaul has said on the matter.
Kennedy Davenport, Sahara’s drag sister, went on to compete on All-Stars 3 in 2018.
10 THE PHI PHI O’HARA BACKLASH
Phi Phi O’Hara became a legendary figure in Drag Race history after she was deemed as the villain of season 4. The drama between her and Sharon Needles, the queen who won that season, did not serve Phi Phi’s career well, so it made sense for her to come back to All-Star 2 for a redemption.
However, as the story goes, Phi Phi O’Hara said that she was promised to be redeemed on All-Stars 2 by Drag Race producers, which did not happen.
Actually, All-Stars 2 Phi Phi O’Hara seemed to be exactly the same person fans saw on Drag Race season 4, which ultimately made the queen go on a media rampage to express her backlash against the entire franchise and team behind it. “I’ve completely lost all my respect for RuPaul,” Phi Phi said in an interview.
9 THE ALASKA TANTRUM
One of the most memorable moments in Drag Race All-Stars 2 was the infamous Alaska tantrum after missing the mark during the season’s makeover challenge.
Alaska had won four out of six challenges that season and was the clear frontrunner to win, but as she realized that she had stumbled and could go home, she completely freaked out and even offered $10,000 to another contestant in order to be saved.
To make matters worse, Katya, who was in the running to make a choice regarding who should be sent home, had no reaction whatsoever to Alaska’s tantrum. Many fans have speculated that the lack of reaction from the queens was due to the fact that this behavior from Alaska is not all that random, meaning that they had seen it before a couple of times.
8 ALL-STARS 2 WAS A SEASON 5 REUNION
Out of the ten contestants on All-Stars 2, five were from the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Competition for a place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame were: Coco Montrese, Alyssa Edwards, Roxxxy Andrews, Detox, and Alaska.
The latter three had previously formed group called Rolaskatox (a combination of their drag names), and the decision to cast all three of them in an All-Stars season was beyond controversial.
Though some fans argue that this was simply a consequence of how good the season 5 lineup of queens were, it quickly became evident that the contestants from that season had a lot of affinity for one another, giving them an obvious advantage in the competition.
Besides Coco Montrese, who was the first eliminated queen on All-Stars 2, all four of the other season 5 contestants made their way up to the Top 5 of the competition.
7 THE ROXXXY ANDREWS CONTROVERSY
Roxxxy Andrews, a season 5 queen who was part of the All-Stars 2 clique Rolaskatox along with Alaska Thunderf*ck and Detox, was not performing as well as her counterparts in the competition.
However, partially due to her friendships, she seemed to keep getting saved episode after episode, a strategy that became obvious during one elimination in which Alaska said, “Roxxxy lent me the shirt that I’m wearing. How could I send her home?”
Though it was not Roxxxy Andrews’ fault that her friends refused to eliminate her, many fans questioned her place in the Top 4 of All-Stars 2.
In All-Stars 3, a very similar dynamic was starting to happen to Chi Chi Devayne as she landed in the Bottom 3 for three consecutive weeks but kept getting saved. However, Chi Chi made it clear she did not want to be “the Roxxxy Andrews of All-Stars 3.”
6 THE DRAG RACE HALL OF FAME DOES NOT EXIST
The grand prize of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars is to win $100,000 and receive a coveted spot on the Drag Race Hall of Fame. However, if you’ve ever seen a picture of the hall of fame, you must have figured out by now the harsh truth: it doesn’t really exist.
The Drag Race Hall of Fame is a figurative place that does not actually exist. During All-Stars 1, RuPaul’s picture was the only thing on it, and Chad Michaels joined RuPaul as he won that season. Then, on All-Stars 2, Alaska was added alongside RuPaul and Chad.
With the addition of All-Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel to the Hall of Fame, it seems like RuPaul’s picture was removed from the figurative hall, which is now strictly reserved for All-Stars winners.
5 DRAG U
All-Stars is arguably the most successful spin-off of the Drag Race franchise, but that’s not to say that it is the only one. As a matter of fact, there was once RuPaul’s Drag U, which premiered in 2010 and went on to air for three seasons on Logo.
The concept of Drag U was simple: in each episode, three women were given a drag makeover by “professors” who were former Drag Race contestants. This included queens such as Raven, Jujubee, Pandora Boxx, Shannel, Ongina, and Morgan McMichaels. D
espite sounding like a great idea and being a natural extension of the franchise, it turned out that Drag U was not well received by fans. Lady Bunny, a legendary drag queen who in the show played the role of Dean of Drag, has even stated that she “never watched Drag U.”
4 CONTESTANTS KNOW THE CHALLENGES IN ADVANCE
RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars new fans usually ask a pretty valid question in an attempt to understand the show: with such specific challenges, how can these queens possibly know what to bring to the show?
Well, previous to coming to the show, the contestants receive a long and vague list of “possible challenges” that might happen during the season. Which means that they sort of know in advance that they should bring a Madonna outfit, a wedding dress, or a gala-themed outfit, for instance.
Though this tidbit of information pokes a hole into the magic of the franchise, there would be no other possible way for the queens to perform well on the show without having a general idea of what clothes to bring.
3 THE ALL-STARS 2 DELAY
All-Stars season 1 contestant Mimi Imfurst has stated, “I don’t think anyone liked All-Stars – I don’t think the producers, the audience, the girls… Like, no one liked All-Stars.”
This sentiment definitely rings true for any Drag Race fan that witnessed the All-Stars 1 criticism that went on for years on social media. Vulture published a piece detailing the many mistakes of the series’ first season, including the decision to force queens to compete in teams and the absence of fan-favorite challenges such as Snatch Game.
It came as no surprise that it took four years for All-Stars 2 to happen. Many fans had started to believe that a second season would never even actually be released. Thankfully, despite also being imperfect, season 2 of All-Stars was undoubtedly superior.
2 THE ALL-STARS 3 ANNOUNCEMENT
With the overwhelming success of All-Stars 2, it was no secret that RuPaul and the Drag Race franchise was going to greenlight All-Stars 3. As a matter of fact, the third season of All-Stars was announced only a year after the end of season 2, which is not even close to the time gap between seasons 1 and 2.
The confidence in the All-Stars spin-off came not only with the season 3 renewal, but also with the decision to move the show from Logo to VH1, which is a much larger cable network with many more viewers.
In the end, the bet paid off, as the sixth episode of All-Stars 3 went on to become the most-watched episode of the franchise in the show’s entire history.
1 THE RUPAUL ACHIEVEMENTS
RuPaul is not very fond of receiving industry awards to validate his career. As a matter of fact, he has said many times that he would “rather have an enema than an Emmy.” But in 2016 and 2017, the Drag Race All-Stars host won a Primetime Emmy award for Best Host of a Reality or Reality-Competition for his work in the Drag Race series. Then, in 2018, RuPaul became the first drag queen to be honored with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The coincidence, however, is that RuPaul’s first Emmy was awarded during the airing of Drag Race All-Stars season 2, and his Walk of Fame star was awarded a day after the finale of All-Stars season 3 – which makes the impact of this spin-off franchise on RuPaul’s career something that is undeniable.
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