Tops and Bottoms: ‘Drag Race All Stars’ Delivers A Legendary LaLaPaRUza [RECAP and RANKINGS]

Wow. Just wow. I mean, yeah. Wow. I am officially gagged. Gooped. SHOOK. After just bemoaning how predictable and rote the return of the eliminated queens has become, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars comes roaring back with one of my favorite mainstage challenges of. all. time.

We picked up exactly where we left off last week: The returning gals, all dripping in recent widow eleganza, were in the workroom. Some smattering of drama presented itself right out the gate, when Monet and Manila both revealed they chose Valentina to go home. Valentina, in her signature, extraterrestrial oddness, rejects this notion, claiming that she did great last week.

Of course, she wasn’t going by the judges’ critiques; she was going by her feelings. I hesitate to ascribe “Trumpian” to anyone unless they really deserve it, but the parallel here isn’t not apt.

It didn’t take long for delusionitis to spread. Latrice quickly called foul on Monique’s decision to send her packing. She claimed Monique’s friendship with Monet took precedent. Monique stood confident in her decision: Latrice’s report card wasn’t up to snuff. Sorry, Latrice! That’s the way the NYX Cosmetics powder foundation crumbles, henny!

Latrice trying to force the notion that she was gravely robbed honestly isn’t all that cute, but the stage was set for a showdown between Ms. Royale and the ooh-ah-ah sensation herself.

Ru arrived to lay down this week’s challenge: Each eliminated queen, in the reverse order of their elimination, gets to pick a girl still in the competition to lip sync against. Winner gets to stay; loser packs her wigs and goes. Manila and Monet are safe. And it’s all set to Ru’s greatest hits in a LaLaPaRUza lip sync battle royale.

TO THE ARENA!

Well, almost. There was a lot of time in the workroom this week. (Too much time, in this blogger’s opinion.) Drama blossomed between Valentina and frenemy Farrah when Ms. Moan asked if Valentina truly believed she the worst the week she sent Farrah home. Without hesitation, Valentina gave an enthusiastic, yah, absolutely, duh.

“I have been told for a lot of my career that I don’t have any talent,” Farrah said in the confessional. Now, look, I’m all about twirling on them haters, but also, maybe, I don’t know, take the note?

Elsewhere, Gia prodded Trinity about her nerves, and Trinity asserted repeatedly that no, definitely not, she is totally not nervous. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Why should she be? Nope. Not nervous at all, STOP ASKING!

On the runway, category is LaLaPaRUza Eleganza, which is such an insane thing to type out, you have no idea. Honestly, the lewks were a bit lacking, but considering the pressure to turn out a lip sync performance, I understand prioritizing function over fashion. (More on the ensembles in the rankings below.)

One by one, the eliminated queens picked their opponent, and the competitor they chose picked a random lipstick with the name of the RuPaul track. It’s family only judging, with Ru, Ross, Michelle and Carson on the panel. Ru particularly is a VISION in a pink, sequined mini dress so short, it would even make Naomi Smalls blush.

First up, Jasmine Masters, who goes straight for Trinity the Tuck. Go big, or go home … again … I guess. The track was “Peanut Butter,” an ode to ass-shaking (“Must be jelly, ‘cuz jam don’t shake!”) that plays directly to Trin’s strengths. Jasmine was just okay (her actual lip sync was noticeably off), but the choice was clear. Trinity shantayed, and Jasmine sashayed away yet again.

Next, Farrah followed the reality edit and chose to perform against Valentina to “Kitty Girl.” It was … fine. Valentina put a quirky spin on the performance, but Farrah just seemed lost. She seemed like less of a drag performer and more of the best dancer at a wedding. Not the most thrilling face-off, but it gave a satisfying little end to their narrative.

Gia smartly picked the gurl that seemed on paper to be the least lip sync skilled: Naomi Smalls. Little did she know, Naomi is bonafide superstar. They battled to “Adrenaline,” and it was epic. Gia was great, tearing away her Battle Royale schoolgirl ensemble and vogueing the house down. But, Naomi. Not only did she deliver on a scintillating runway slide-crawl, but she performed a backbend that would shutdown any game of limbo between creatures with any sort of bones. It defied gravity. I was screaming. Give her a million crowns. I’m in love.

Naomi stayed, duh, but Gia acquitted herself nicely and should leave with her head held high.

Finally, that meant Latrice was going to try to prove herself against the queen that sent her home, Monique Heart. They were set to square off to the classic Ru track, “Sissy That Walk,” and it was a bloodbath. Latrice was the first to shake off her wig for a big, glam ponytail, only for Monique to do her own wig reveal, shedding big, beautiful, voluminous hair for a sassy traffic-cone orange wig. There were numerous sack-slamming splits, and it was just unrelenting. The two queens gave EV.ERY.THING., and both could’ve claimed the win.

First, Ru told Latrice that she would be rejoining the competition. A chill washed over the mainstage before Ru told Monique … she is and always will be an All Star.

Gooped.

Oh, and also, shantay she stayed.

With this news, Monique (and I) both collapsed on the floor in one of the most genuinely surprising and satisfying end to a Drag Race episode I could recall.

What a ride!

Now, gather round, chickens, because I’ve got a little news. I know we’re tuck-deep in this season of All Stars, but season 11 is just around the corner. Forgo the reddit prognosticating, and instead check out the Ruveal of the queens coming for the crown Thursday, Jan. 24 at noon Eastern on a VH1 YouTube Live special, featuring Olympian Adam Rippon.

Now, onto our rankings.

  1. To be clear, Manila didn’t have to bring it this week. As a safe queen, she could have walked down the runway wearing a sack. Instead, she slayed in a wonderfully Manila spaghetti and meatballs-themed dress and hat. Given her unique point of view, comedy chops and veteran skillset, she remains the frontrunner.
  2. Not far behind, Trinity took a big swing, and it paid off. It was a risk to walk the runway wearing essentially a tarp for the sake of the reveal. However, she really sold that cape, making it clear she was — as usual — totally in on the joke. She probably had the easiest lip sync this week when you consider her talent level, but that shouldn’t take away from how good she was. It’s a performance that will be overshadowed by the all-time greats we got to see, but she is still a strong contender.
  3. I was skeptical about Monique when she was announced for this season. She was a lovable queen, and one of the best talking heads we’ve ever seen, but an All Star? I wasn’t convinced. Now, I want to hang her in the Hall of Fame myself. To accomplish what she did against a legend like Latrice was, in a word, STUNNING. I loved her makeup, and, unlike Trinity, her outfit was gorgeous before, during and after her performance.
  4. When will we learn, America? Never underestimate Naomi Smalls. Win, lose or draw: She’s etched her name in the annals (I said ANNALS, get your head out of the gutter) of Drag Race herstory. That outfit was crazy, that sliding crawl (what is that called properly? anyone?), THOSE BACKBENDS, it was all gag-worthy. More importantly, it felt uniquely “her.” I don’t know if the competition will get the best of her (I’m already worried about her pairing with Valentina next week), but even without the win, she made her mark.
  5. Monet, I’m hard on you, because I love you. We’ve seen what you’re capable of, and we want your best! That runway look was not even close. It was lazy and lumpy and a snooze. Maybe she was burning through a weak outfit, because she knew she was safe. That’s no excuse. Manila still brought it, and so should have you. I’m hoping we see more of Monet’s best next week.
  6. Welcome back, Latrice. The large and in charge queen was justly eliminated two weeks ago, justly eliminated in All Stars 1 (sorry, babe, it’s canon!) and justly eliminated in her season. That doesn’t mean she’s not fierce as hell, but it does mean I’m looking sideways at any sort of claim of a rigged system. Royale certainly earned her spot back in the competition with that high-octane performance, but, gurl, that outfit. I thought the saying was “Once you go cinched, you never go back,” but apparently that’s not the case. Big IS beautiful, but the silhouette was just all wrong.
  7. The writing is on the wall, er, lipsticks for Valentina. If she finds herself in the bottom again, she’s going home. I’ll reiterate what I said last week: I think we’ve seen all she’s got. I liked the Jessica Rabbit-esque catsuit she wore. I thought she was fine in the lipsync, but she could’ve given a fraction of the effort and still beat her competition.
  8. Boy, did Gia choose wrong. I guess really none of the remaining queens were pushovers, but I think Ms. Gunn had a rude awakening when Naomi started turning it out. Gia looked incredible, and her tearaway was a MOMENT … it was just immediately dwarfed by Naomi’s stunts and the Monique/Latrice smackdown.
  9. There was almost zero chance Jasmine was going to return to the competition. She could’ve twirled from the rafters like P!nk at every award show circa 2010, and it would not have mattered. However, she did a decent job, and, this may be an unpopular opinion, I liked that sparkly rose jumpsuit. Sue me!
  10. Ugh, Farrah. If anyone left this week worse than they arrived, it’s Farrah Moan. I was shocked that colorful, fringey outfit didn’t contain some sort of reveal. Then, she failed to really stiffen her wig with some heavy duty hairspray/freeze spray. It seems like Drag Queen 101, but the lack of hold on her hair had the wig in her mouth too much to track the actual lip sync. Seems like a rookie mistake. Gia said she was giving us Christina Aguilera, but all I was getting was Rebecca Black. There was no character or personality. There was no STORY. It was like watching someone impersonate a pop star. Not my jam.

How would you rank the queens?

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Tops and Bottoms: ‘All Stars’ Roasting On An Open Fire [RECAP and RANKINGS]

They say comedy equals tragedy plus time, so the good news is eventually some of last night’s tragically poor performances will get more funny.

As it were, though, the majority of our remaining queens struggled to wring laughs from the dearly departed Lady Bunny as they delivered a Ru … ology? Ru … loogey .. Ru-who-logy! to Ru’s best friend. It’s a dark spin on the typical roast challenge, and (the still very much alive) Lady Bunny would be laying in state in a casket on stage.

The queens all needed a laugh after last week’s shocking elimination. Manila really uses the space for her grief, wandering around the workroom sobbing like she’s Catherine on the moors in Wuthering Heights.

Manila’s desire to save her friend alienated her from the rest of the group. Monet vowed to send Manila home if given the chance.

Once all the queens got to work, Manila and Monet seemed to really take off, while everyone else struggles. Ru’s visit only made the weak links more apparent. Valentina and Trinity both whiffed their roast during their season, and that failure hangs heavy over both their heads. Trinity appeared to channel that anxiety into overthinking her material, while Valentina came off utterly lost.

The queens weren’t alone. Each queen gets some time with SNL comedy KWEEN Cecily Strong. Ironically, the stronger queens got much more value out of their time with Strong. Maybe it was because they had actual material to workshop, but Valentina, Trinity and Naomi all seemed to leave the session the same or worse than they arrived.

When the time comes for the roast itself, the only surprises were the under-performers failing to meet already low expectations. Monet slays the opening, as expected (Sample joke: “We are here to celebrate the life, legacy and illiteracy of Lady Bunny”). Trinity gurgled out a string of statements that are maybe 60 percent of the way to being an actual joke. Monique delivered a Southern-style preacher character, but her one-note jokes all blended together into one sort-of-funny din. Naomi attempted a millennial spin on her weak, old-age jokes, but it felt like nothing hit. I don’t even know how to describe what Valentina did, but I will say it straddled the line between utter, abject failure and almost Kaufman-esque comedic brilliance. People were laughing, yes, just not how she likely intended. Lastly, Manila closed the show stupendously, from her memorable entrance (she brought a big, black umbrella/veil prop from which she peeked and then recoiled at the sight of Bunny) to her opening line (“Dearly beloved … AND MICHELLE VISAGE!”), Manila delivered a thoroughly professional performance.

The runway called for the queens to show up in their Angelic Whites, and everyone delivered. (More detailed takes in our rankings, below.) Monet in particular was this week’s standout, storming the runway in a beaded ensemble with dramatic train, papal headpiece and bright red, glowing eyes. It was a showstopper.

Manila and Monet were rightfully chosen as the top two, which left everyone else vulnerable to elimination. Backstage, it became quickly apparent that the queens’ report cards aren’t an easy, objective barometer to pick the weakest competitor. It’s not like each queen is awarded actual, quantifiable points. Does winning a challenge outweigh never being in the bottom? What about lip sync wins? The four bottoms’ records all sort of even out.

Monet and Manila performed one of Drag Race‘s most joyous lip syncs to Aretha Franklin’s underrated bop, “Jump To It.” It was a collaborative, campy, comedic number, and it’s a joy to watch.

Ru (again, rightfully) names both queens winner, splitting the cash tip $5,000 a piece. There’s a momentary panic that two queens would be sent home, but Ru eased everyone’s mind by instead no one was sent home. Instead, she ominously warns that All Stars rules are suspended.

Back in the workroom, a cryptic message from Ru heralded the return of the Lip Sync For Your Life, and a surprise appearance from Lady Bunny reintroduced the — *gasps in faux shock* — return of the eliminated queens.

What happens next? I guess we’ll find out next week!

We should probably stop pretending the return of the eliminated queens is even a shocker anymore. We all know it’s coming. I wonder if future seasons of All Stars would be better served by some kind of “Redemption Island” or “Last Chance Kitchen” style mechanic transparently built into the game from the jump.

My guess is next week will see an eliminated queen return and TWO other queens sent home. Of the eliminated queens, Latrice is the only viable option for a return.

Until then, let’s assess the remaining queens’ current standings. This season continues to be an incredibly tight race, and I could see a valid argument for almost any order of success. We’re splitting hairs, but we’ve put together our rankings for which queens seem the most likely to earn that spot in the hall of fame below. Disagree? Leave yours in the comments.

1. Ross said it best: Now is a good time to build momentum, and Manila Luzon is doing just that. This was another incredibly strong performance from her in the challenge. While Monet may have had more jokes, Manila’s gags felt more varied and overall more successful. She had physical humor, reads, wordplay and her delivery was spot on. I wasn’t as crazy for her runway as the judges were (the cherubs felt cheap), but her hair and makeup were gorgeous.

2. Under normal circumstances, Monique would have likely been safe this week. Out of the bottom four, she was easily the best of the bunch, and I was gaga for that headpiece. Monique does very dramatic, severe makeup which in this instance made sure her face was just as impactful as the elaborate headpiece on the runway. More than almost any other competitor (Monet may be the exception), Monique has demonstrated impressive growth in the short time between her season and now. That makes her a winner, regardless.

3. As some readers have noted, I’ve been a bit hard on Monet the last few weeks. I’ve been waiting for Monet to give us a MOMENT, and tonight was just that. Yes, she deftly handled the opening slot of the roast with her signature stand-up delivery, but it was that jaw-dropping runway lewk that really sealed the deal. That’s how you do an All Stars runway, honey. I was gagged, gooped, slimed, dead. I stan. I’ve gone from Monet skeptic to Monet cheerleader, and I hope this week’s performance gives her the confidence boost to fight for a spot at the end.

4. Did Trinity always have that shrieking opossum laugh? I don’t recall hearing it in her season, but now I’m hearing it in my sleep. Again, not to just copy-paste Ross’ comments, but I also am on the edge of my seat ahead of her runway appearances. With her Snatch Game win under her belt and the roast challenge behind us, hopefully Trin’s biggest challenges are behind her. She may have roasted slightly less credibly than Naomi, but they were both rough. While Naomi had solid jokes conceptually that just weren’t funny, Trinity struggled to craft material that even followed its own logic. Her stunning runway likely would have spared her from a bottom two position under normal circumstances, but she had reason to be nervous.

5. Ouch, Naomi, that looked rough. It’s one thing to bomb when you know you’re unprepared or out of your element, but there’s something particularly difficult about bombing when you think your material is great and you can’t in the moment figure out what’s going wrong. Beneath the nervous giggles and smiles, you could sense the panic surging through Naomi once it became clear this was not going well. The sight of her angelic, white, Prince-inspired runway nearly sent me to heaven to meet the Purple One myself. I died. I lived. It was a series best. Naomi is the only competitor we haven’t seen lip sync this season, so there is a chance she could come into the finale Sasha Velour style and blow us all away.

6. I guess this is just the part of any season with Valentina where we realize that this is just all we’re going to get. She’s beautiful, she’s fashion, she’s strange, she’s unintentionally hilarious, but we’ve seen all she has. She’s a unique little gem of a queen, but there’s only so much there. It’s not quite that she didn’t understand this week’s assignment, but, honestly, I’m not sure she understands funerals, roasts, public speaking or interacting with human beings. It was so far off the mark that it almost circled fully back to being extremely entertaining. On the runway, she always delivers, but sometimes I worry she confuses “expensive” with “exciting.”

How would you rank the queens?

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Lohan’s Back, ‘Drag Race’ Fall Out and More TV This Week

Check out our weekly guide to TV this week, and make sure you’re catching the big premieres, crucial episodes and the stuff you won’t admit you watch when no one’s looking.

If you’re tired of hearing all the gays talk about Drag Race, just wait until Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on MTV. The new docuseries is basically Vanderpump Rules except in Greece and featuring the star of Herbie: Fully Loaded.

This season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars is really heating up after last week’s shocking elimination. How will the queens handle Monique’s stunning decision? Find out Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1.

Catch up with Friends From College when the Netflix series returns Friday. Gay characters played by Billy Eichner and Fred Savage are getting married, bringing the gang back together again — whether they like it or not.

Sexualities of all shapes and sizes get explored when a high school boy goes into the sex therapy business at his school. Good thing he’s got access to information from his mom (portrayed by Gillian Anderson) working as a sex therapist at home. What could wrong? See it go down on Sex Education Friday on Netflix.

It’s not over until the crazy woman sings. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend warms up for its swan song with a midseason premiere Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern on the CW. The beloved series will end its run later this year.

What are you watching this week on TV?

The post Lohan’s Back, ‘Drag Race’ Fall Out and More TV This Week appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.