They say the second time is the charm – but for the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, it’s a chance to reclaim the chances at glory lost the first time around. Fans around the world glue themselves to season after season of RuPaul’s Drag Race as drag queens strut their stuff to become America's Next Drag Superstar. Competing in multiple categories to gain the approval of Ru and her celebrity judges means taking on competitive dance challenges, costume design contests, and recording music. Contenders also face off in the categories of choreography, sketch comedy, runway challenges, and, of course, “Snatch Game.” It’s a grueling series of challenges, and most are eliminated by the end, leaving many audiences shocked when the queens they were rooting for are asked to “sashay away.”
Those who lost have another chance to prove themselves, though. All Stars gives runners-up and total crash-and-burners alike the opportunity to come back stronger and take a new prize. Some returning drag queens love coming back for more, but others simply hated their All Stars experience and weren’t exactly quiet about it! The "Lip Sync for your legacy" twists-- where the top two queens of the week compete in a lip sync battle, with the winner choosing which of the bottom two queens to eliminate-- certainly caused its share of controversy. The chance to have their picture hanging in the proverbial Drag Race Hall of Fame simply wasn't enough for some of these queens.
Here are 7 Queens Who Regretted Returning For RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars (And 13 Who Loved It).
Can there really be any question on this one? Of all the queens to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Phi Phi O’Hara has easily been the most openly disdainful of the process. First appearing in season three of Drag Race, she ended up as the runner-up to Sharon Needles – whom she read by saying “Go back to Party City!”
When she came back for All Stars, she fell back into seventh place. So who does she blame? Manipulative TV editing, the other queens and even the one and only RuPaul. Her Phi Phi said “It’s really upsetting because I put so much faith in this show… and they’ve just made me look like another backstabbing manipulative monster.”
“Hiyyyyyiiiii!!!!!” What can we say about this supremely wacky, zany and sarcastic performer? Alaska 5000 can be said to be many things, but a quitter isn’t one of them. Auditioning for the first four seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race but falling short, she finally got in at season five. Unfortunately, she ended up as a runner up, much to the chagrin of her many followers.
When she was asked back for the second season of All Stars, Alaska jumped at the chance. Her teaming up with Alyssa Edwards in full Bette Davis regalia was a particular highlight. After having caught flack for some of her elimination choices, she was crowned the winner of the season. Did she love it or what? In an understated interview, she declared “I’m just really glad I got to be a part of it.”
While some of the queens appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race have been on the national scene for years, others have only been able to reach local levels of recognition. Morgan McMichaels was the big “fishy” in the small pond of the Palm Springs scene, noted mostly for her impeccable impression of the pop singer Pink. While she lost out in the second season of the regular series, her national profile was repeatedly raised. She won fans with her Bowiesque glam rock style and appearance as the Evil Queen from Snow White.
Unfortunately, when she came back for season three of All Stars, she didn’t have much better luck, coming in 10th. Did she hate it, though? No regrets for this queen: “I'm happy with everything that I did and said and when I said it.”
There’s a lot of ways to get on RuPaul’s bad side, and one of them is breaking the rules. The queen known mononymously as Willam didn’t start out in drag. An active professional actor, Willam Bell has appeared in everything from CSI and Nip/Tuck to A Star Is Born. This fishiest of fishy queens was less than professional when he contacted his boyfriend while competing on the show in the fourth season of Drag Race. This infraction got him kicked off the show.
While Willam never appeared on All Stars, the queen reported being booked to appear on the show, but getting dropped at the last minute. This led Willam to bad-mouth Ru and the show in a very public way.
Sometimes, those starting from humble beginnings can rise to levels of greatness they could not even dream of. Jasmine Masters is one such example of grace, even in the face of defeat. Employing her personal mantra, “Jush” – which loosely means self-love while minding one’s own business – this queen gave it her all in seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, only to face elimination by future All Stars 3 runner-up Kennedy Davenport.
She shook that loss off and went on to perform in the VMA’s backing up none other than Miley Cyrus. And despite losing again in the fourth season of All Stars, she has maintained her dignity, stating, “I went very far…I’m happy they called me!” way to keep that chin up, girl!
When life handed her lemons, Trixie Mattel made bittersweet lemonade. Coming from an abusive background, Mattel had been called “Trixie” growing up whenever he acted too “feminine.” Rather than being crushed, Ms. Mattel took those insults and then incorporated them into her stage name. T
he accomplished country/folk musician was thought by many to have been unfairly eliminated in season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, Trixie came back strong with greatly improved skills for to win it all in the third season of All Stars. Even if she lost, she would have loved it. In her own words: “I was sitting in that room looking at the eliminated queens like, I would have been proud to lose to any of you.” Can we get an “UNHhhh!” here girl?
Adore Delano came onto Drag Race with some familiarity of TV competition shows. As a contestant on American Idol, she made it to the semi-finals. Similarly, she made it to the Final Three in season six of Drag Race – but didn’t take home the crown.
When she came for All Stars season two, she was so over what she saw as shabby treatment by the judges that she walked off the show of her own accord. While she admitted that “I was going through a really dark depression,” she also complained about a guest judge stating, “I’ve worked too hard to be talked to like a weird amateur by Raven-Symoné.”
When thinking of the most fertile ground for up and coming queens, New York and Hollywood come to mind, but how often does a Minnesotan of Philippine ancestry pop into one’s head? Ardent followers of RuPaul’s Drag Race know the answer to that one. Not only is Manila Luzon a stunning queen who can slay any look, she is even starting to be looked up to by many of the younger queens (“Mama Lu,” anyone?), helping to foster a new generation of drag performers.
After coming being a runner up in the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Manila upped her comedy and acting game, delivering an inspired comeback on the first season of All Stars. Despite losing there too, she remained undiminished: “I’m happy with my performance on the show,” she gracefully declared in an interview, and showed her love by returning for All Stars 4.
Easily one of the most likable queens ever to appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Latrice Royale is warm, deep, and spiritual. So beloved is her disposition that she won the “Ms. Congeniality” award on the show.
Despite losing in both season four of Drag Race and the first season of All Stars, she has kept her comedic charms front and center. Now competing on the fourth All Stars season, she could become the first plus-size drag queen to win on the show. Regardless, she already feels like a winner, stating of her past losses, “I was thrilled with my team… [it] totally made the entire experience worthwhile.”
Pandora Boxx has long been a popular queen in New York and LA. She has earned a level of respect most other contestants can only dream of. Regardless of her street cred, she was unfortunately eliminated in season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race. When invited back for All Stars, she was arbitrarily paired up with Mimi Imfurst – something she became very bitter about, especially after being eliminated in the first round.
Of the pairing angle, Pandora stated, “I don’t think anyone was happy with it. I think everyone was like WHAT?” While not coming out and saying the show was rigged against her, she did say “I kind of felt that we were destined for failure.”
Fashioning her name and vibe on supermodel Naomi Campbell and rapper Biggie Smalls, there are three things Naomi Smalls is known for: legs, legs and legs! This six-foot, five-inch queen is proudly superficial, propelling herself to national fame with her “body-con” philosophy, leaning on looks and high fashion more than acting or comedy abilities. Still super young, she went far in the eight season of Drag Race, making the final three, but fell short of the title.
Coming back for another try in the fourth season of All Stars, she may well be happy even if she doesn’t win: “I’ve been really living my dream. I’m very thankful for RuPaul’s Drag Race.” That’s as straightforward as you can get.
Alyssa Edwards' supportive mother, who owned a dance studio and taught her the art form, passed away from cancer. Dedicating her dance work as a tribute to her mom, this fan favorite was controversially eliminated in season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race after losing a lip sync battle to Coco Montrese.
Alyssa seems cool with it all, stating “This show has changed my life and so many others’ in such a positive way.” Coming back for season two of All Stars, Alyssa came in fifth place, much to the shock of her considerable fan base. Don’t be surprised if we see her back in the future, though.
If one were to try and describe this famous Brooklyn drag queen, it might be said that Thorgy Thor is a weird mix of Lucille ball meets Cyndi Lauper. This fun-loving performer is a classically trained violinist who many fans saw as a sure-fire winner. Alas, it was not to be. In the eighth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she came in sixth in a field of twelve. Then on the third season of All Stars, her bitter response to being eliminated became a viral video clip.
Thorgy blamed the show for her loss: “To be honest, it kind of hurt my feelings. From the top down, I really felt kind of duped. Like it was a joke.” She also stated she felt “thrown under the bus” and “set up to fail” by the producers.
After auditioning four times for Drag Race, Katya finally made i onto season seven, only to controversially come in fifth. She did better as an All Star in the second season, but she still was only a runner up.
As a consolation prize, she teamed up with fellow Drag Race alum Trixie Mattel for the Trixie and Katya show – which she had to take a break from due to her mental struggles. She’s not bitter, though: “I’m the People’s Princess… and I’m very grateful for that,” she has said. We look forward to her getting back on the high-heeled horse and strutting her stuff once more!
Shannel began her drag career at the tender age of fifteen in Orange County, CA. Her amazing talent as a makeup artist has turned many heads on RuPaul’s Drag Race and even though she was eliminated in the very first season of the show, she was alluring enough to return for All Stars in its inaugural season. Even though her Cher impersonation could give Chad Michaels a run for the All Star crown, she was eventually eliminated there too.
In an interview, she said, “I'm so happy. I wouldn't want to change anything,” about her experience on the show.
Another Seattle queen whose put in her time on the local scene is the vintage-leaning BenDeLaCreme. Her biting wit and stunning glam has won her many fans. Unfortunately, in the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she was eliminated fairly early, coming in fifth place overall.
When she returned for third season of All Stars, her exit was quite a bit more dramatic and quite unexpected. After winning many of the competitions, she was designated to eliminate a fellow contestant. Instead, she eliminated herself! Why? She explains: “I left the competition because, in a situation where I had felt trapped choosing between 'success' and what felt right, I had an epiphany…You do not have to push people down to lift yourself up.” In short, she didn’t want to advance at the cost of another’s ambitions.
One of the more experienced queens who've appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race is Kennedy Davenport. Looked up to by many of her younger counterparts, this gal is classy, brassy, flamboyant and regal, proudly representing the black queen community with elegance and grace. And if you like to laugh, her Little Richard impression is to die for!
Regardless, she was eliminated in season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race and placed as runner up in her season of All Stars. This former pageant winner was cool about it, though, telling an interviewer, “My fan base has grown and everything I set out to do on this show has all worked out.”
When Shangela first appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she was only a few months into her drag career. Fans were already not having it after seeing more experienced queens left behind, but Shangela made it all worse with her arrogance and overconfidence. She was eliminated not once, but twice in Drag Race, during seasons two and three.
Still, Ru saw something in this young upstart and had her back for the third season of All Stars. This gal has already grown up, though and has also carved out quite the Hollywood career. “This is just another huge moment in my drag race legacy,” she stated, adding, “what I really hope to do is to go in this room and show the growth…”
When Chi Chi DeVayne showed up in season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race literally dressed up in an outfit made of garbage bags, everybody knew it was on! Though she made it into the top four, she was eliminated. Coming back for season three of All Stars, she did even worse – coming in eighth – and she was pretty unhappy about it.
In an interview she claimed, “I knew those b***es wanted me gone,” going so far as claiming to be “excited” about losing. The process was so stressful, she said, it was liberating to be out of there.
Mimi Imfurst has done some very controversial things on this show. With her loud and proud sense of humor, there was at least a few times she went too far, once even physically picking up her rival India Ferrah on her shoulders during a lip sync in season three. Nobody got hurt – but as Ru put it, "drag is not a contact sport!" Mimi's recklessness got her eliminated.
Coming back for All Stars, she was paired up with Pandora Box – who held a grudge against her – and a lackluster performance got them both eliminated. How does Mimi feel about all this? “I feel so honored, blessed and extremely lucky to be afforded to be a part of it.”
Who's your favorite RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars contestant? Let us know in the comments!