Oh, lord…here we go again! Normally we have a year in-between seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” but in an effort for Logo and RuPaul to make even MORE money, they’ve gone the route of every other reality tv show and created “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars” featuring 12 fabulous “losers” from the first four seasons of the shows…yes, Losers!! None of the four winners are participating, (which we feel is fair, though we miss the bitchy drama that always surrounds Season 2’s awful winner, Tyra Sanchez…) Since this is the first episode, (of only six) it’s gonna be a long recap, so let’s get this shitstorm started…and, obviously we need to warn you that there are SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet, you might want to stop right HERE…Here we GO!!!
One by one the contestants arrive with the three reigning Miss Congenialities the first to arrive. Season 2’s Pandora Boxx looking very sharp in “My Fair Lady” inspired black and white; the regal but earthy Latrice Royale from Season 4, (in a butt ugly dress); and the cray-cray over the top Yara Sofia from Season 3 in a chain covered tribute to Isaac “Shaft” Hayes. The “nice” contestants coo and purr over each other’s “niceness”.
They are quickly joined by Season 1’s Vegas diva Shannel, who’s over dressed (and over confident) as usual, and Season 2 runner up Raven who apparently ran to the studio after attending a cocktail party in WeHo. Yara’s sister from Season 3 and the island of Puerto Rico, the adorable Alexis Mateo is the 6th contestant to arrive…she’s oddly channeling rock n roll Cher, while the next contestant, famous Cher impersonator Chad Michaels shows up wearing the ugliest body stocking in the history of ugly body stockings…not a cute look at ALL!
Season 3’s popular Manila Luzon is the next to arrive, in her Cruella DeVille finest but she’s quickly overshadowed by the arrival of fellow New Yorker, Mimi Imfurst and you almost believe the gasps are real when she enters the room; her fellow queens are apparently shocked to find the controversially over dramatic and frequently crazy Season 3 queen is considered an All-Star and the remarks are pretty bitchy right from the beginning. But, giving credit where it’s due, Miss Imfurst is appropriately subdued and looking good after a major weight loss; she’s on her best behavior.
Season 1 runner up and one of the most beloved queens in the country, Nina Flowers is the next to arrive in a neon lemon get up; the queens gush over her because apparently the super nice Flowers is popular with her drag sisters, (but, frankly, I’ve always found her “niceness” to be a bit…dull). One of my personal favorites, the always sharp and sassy Jujubee is the next queen through the door, and she looks lovely but oddly subdued in a simple black dress that looks like an uniform for someone working the Lancôme counter at a Macy’s.
The last queen to emerge is a head scratcher…Season One’s nutty Tammie Brown (with an “ie”) and while I adore her, she is an odd choice for All-Stars…she left early in Season One and famously got RuPaul riled up during that season’s Reunion episode. And, unlike Mimi Imfurst, no one questions her presence on All-Stars…apparently, Miss Brown is popular with her fellow queens, and Miss Imfurst…is not.
All the queens are present and accounted for and naturally that is the cue for RuPaul to appear via She-Mail to welcome the girls and hint at a twist…this is quickly followed by the appearance of MR. RuPaul and the announcement that the queens will be competing as TEAMS! (Which is a no brainer as “All-Stars” is only doing a 6 episode run and there are 12 contestants…) Immediately, the Pit Crew wheels out a big box which naturally leads to fears that Shangela is gonna pop out with Latrice vowing, “If Shangela is in that box, I’m jumping on top of it, and we ain’t gonna have to worry about it, no mo’….”
LOVE, Latrice Royale!!!
But, the box contains 12 smaller boxes containing 12 paddles, each one with the face of a contestant…each queen gets a box of paddles and will choose their preferred partner. If there is a match, (two queens picking each other) a team is formed. The queens begin the first round and we quickly have matches: Raven & Jujubee; Chad Michaels & Shannel; and Tammie Brown & Nina Flowers. Round 2 matches up Manila & Latrice and the two Puerto Rican gals, Yara & Alexis. This leaves only two gals unmatched, Pandora and Mimi, and both are unhappy…one, they weren’t “picked” right off the bat and two, Pandora is majorly annoyed she is stuck with Mimi. RuPaul leaves and the girls unpack and untuck and start dishing over what just happened. Pandora is obviously pouting and the other girls sense it. Mimi is behaving pretty classy and obviously trying to not be the crazy diva she was in Season 3 and she reaches out to Pandora but Miss Boxx isn’t really having it. It’s awkward.
RuPaul returns to announce this week’s challenges…they’re doing two photo shoots, one will be “Half Baked” with headshots of the couples partly made up, and the other will be an “Opposites Attract” shoot. The gals begin preparing and RuPaul does the usual rounds talking to each couple. The tension between Mimi and Pandora is quite obvious and Pandora really seems to have given up; she’s barely trying to cooperate and her pouting quickly becomes annoying. Maybe it’s due to the magic of editing, but Mimi is coming off as far more sympatico than the beloved Miss Boxx.
We proceed to the “Opposites Attract” challenge (we don’t see the headshot shoot) and it’s the usual “Drag Race” mishegoss of bad photography and wacky obstacles…in this week’s case, the queens are trying to convey the “meh” theme of “Opposites” with the rather stupid obstacle of having it rain while they pose…quickly we have shots of wet, bedraggled queens trying desperately to look fabulous as the mascara runs down their face…It’s a bit dumb. Raven livens things up by stripping down in her shoot, and Yara and Alexis dress as each other but it’s not really that interesting.
The next segment jumps to the next day as the girls prepare for the Runway and it feels a bit…forced. Obviously, the manufactured drama for this episode is the tension between Mimi and Pandora and for the first time, “Drag Race” seems canned. It’s sort of obvious this go around that there are producers lurking around the edges of the set making “suggestions” to the cast: “Pssst! Chad! Go talk to Mimi and get her to go confront Pandora!”. Now, we know this is ALWAYS a part of “reality tv” but it feels very obvious this go round and it ain’t cute…hopefully, it’s not a sign of things to come. (This kind of over produced shit has helped kill “Project Runway”…it probably also doesn’t help that these girls all KNOW each other. There’s no elements of surprise, like with the “regular” seasons as the unknown queens get to know each other…EVERYONE knows EVERYTHING this go round…)
We head to the Runway and the intro of the judges. Michelle (yay!) and Santino (meh…tired of him) are back and the guest judges are the ubiquitously annoying Ross Matthews and former supermodel Rachel Hunter…why Ms Hunter is here, we don’t know. She’s not particularly interesting and her fashion fame is long gone…her impact on this episode is non-existent.
The teams take the runway and they all have cute, conjoined team names:
Yarlexis: Yara and Alexis are true to themselves and their Latin drag personas but frankly they look tacky and tired. They ain’t bringin’ it. And, the judges hate their photo shoot, where they exchanged personalities/looks, claiming that the pair, “Didn’t get it!” Which is odd, because to me it seems like they did…Yara is punk/goth and Alexis is a pageant queen which is pretty opposite and they changed personalities which seems like a very literal and correct interpretation of the challenge, but the judges as usual, seem to have issues with Latin queens…
Latrila: Latrice and Manila come out as Teletubbies which the judges seem to adore. It’s cute but not very current, is it? Still, it’s hard not to love this pairing…they have great chemistry together.
Mandora: Oh, dear…Pandora and Mimi come out in butt ugly aqua dresses with neon green boa trim and it ain’t pretty. The judges quickly call out Mimi for failing to accentuate her weight loss and the unfortunate placement of that trim around her waist. Neither queen was known for pulling off their looks on their first go rounds on Drag Race and they’re living down to expectations. Pandora continues to look like she ate a leper’s dick…
Rujubee: Raven and Jujubee look cute in opposing black and white showgirl looks that recall Roxie and Velma from “Chicago” and the judges rave over them…deservedly. They look adorable and sexy and like a TEAM! They also have the best photos from the two photo challenges. Mr. Strangeways might just be on Team Rujubee for this season…
Brown Flowers: Oh, that is one UG-LEE team name and Miss Tammie and Miss Nina are rather an odd match, other than the fact they were co-stars on Season One but they also rock the runway with matching black gowns and auburn hair and have nice chemistry together.
Shad: Oh, my! I think Shannel and Chad bring out the worst in each other’s drag tendencies…they’re both showgirls, which is fine, but their looks are over the top Vegas excess and don’t work individually and certainly don’t work as a team. Probably the ugliest looks on this week’s runway.
The judges make some decisions and Rujubee and Latrila are the top 2 teams with Latrila declared this week’s winner…for unknown reasons, because their photo shoots weren’t as good as Rujubee’s who nailed both photos AND the runway. Annoying.
That leaves the other 4 teams to be raked over the coals with the harshest judgments coming for Yarlexis failing to “get” the challenge, (which is ridiculous); Mandora for their outfits; and Shad for the meh photos and ugly runway looks. RuPaul announces that the bottom two teams will each pick one to do the lip sync for their lives, and the losing lip sync will result with both team members going home.
The judges do some more deliberating and all the teams return from the “All-Star Lounge”. Mandora and Shad are in the bottom and Chad and Mimi have to lip sync. BUT, there is an added twist. If it looks like the lip sync performers are flailing, the other partner can tag team them and take over! (But, this can only happen ONCE during the season!)
It’s obvious that Mimi is doomed at this point…Chad is more experienced and poised and nails the lip sync to the awful Paula Abdul song, “Opposites Attract”. Mimi tries, even doing a costume change but it’s to no avail…she’s coming off desperate. (At least she refrains from picking up Chad…) And, Pandora does NOT try to save her by stepping in…gurlfriend is NOT gonna get the blame for lousing THIS up!!!
RuPaul announces that Shad are “shantayed” and Team Mandora must sashay away…Mimi is quiet and tearful while Pandora is defiant and proclaims she would have won if she had been competing alone…whatever, gurl…you’re not all that. (Are you getting the hint that I’ve ceased being a Fandora? Frankly, she’s ALWAYS been overrated…NEXT!)
I’d recap “UnTucked” but this is already at 1700 words so all I’ll say is, it feels even MORE manufactured and fake than the actual episode. It does feature a cameo from Willam and a helluva lot of shade, and Mimi has a breakdown, but frankly she was egged on by some nastiness and manufactured faux drama.
I’m hoping the rest of “All-Stars” starts to feel a bit more “real” and less over produced, but I’m having my doubts. Will continue to watch, but frankly, I’m just holding on until Season Five starts in January.
THAT will be VERY interesting…
C U Next Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!