For many drag queens, making it to “RuPaul's Drag Race” is a major accomplishment.
As competitive and polished as the regular seasons of “Drag Race” have become, “All Stars” represents the crème de la crème of the RuPaul Universe (Ru-niverse?). It is a chance to see returning queens shine, performing without the baggage of insecurities and uncertainty of first-time Drag Race competitors.
This season promises some hint of an actual competition. Last “All Stars,” Alaska’s march to the crown cast little doubt as to who would snag the throne. She doused the competition in gasoline and absolutely torched them. Sure, it was fun, but was my wig snatched? No.
There is no clear favored winner for “All Stars 3,” but that is not to say I do not have my predictions. Put me on record right now as predicting the top three – Trixie Mattel, Milk and Aja are going to dominate.
It is the classic Drag Race final three round-up: we have got the comedy queen with Trixie, Milk playing the avant-garde Looks™ queen and Aja as the lovably rough-around-the-edges underdog queen.
I am thrilled to see Milk return after being snubbed for her avant-garde drag on season six. Milk, if you are reading this: we are sorry. We were not ready for you at the time.
But four seasons have passed, and with Sasha Velour’s New York drag dominating season nine, Drag Race has established that weird will be rewarded.
Shangela and Chi Chi DeVayne in the same room will be an interesting dynamic. Two southern queens (Shangela's Texas to Chi Chi's Louisiana) with big personalities will either be best squirrel friends or circling each other around the Werk Room tables.
I am less enthusiastic about Thorgy Thor and the return of her "I’ve-performed-in-Carnegie-Hall" arrogance (cue the eternal Drag Race fan protest: “She received a bad edit!”). BenDeLaCreme does not inspire the same enthusiasm I had for her in season six either.
After the ferocity of Shea Coulée, wittiness of Sasha Velour and cutting vintage villainy of Violet Chachki, Bendela’s 1950's housewife sunshine and smiles feel one-note and dated for 2017. That being said, I hope she makes it just long enough to compete in this season’s Snatch Game.
Morgan McMichaels rounds out this cast of queens from later seasons as the obligatory lone queen from the first two seasons. Other than Shangela, all the queens come from the fourth season and later, suggesting that RuPaul would rather not look through the Vaseline-smeared lens of the first two seasons again.
“All Stars” usually delivers a twist format. “All Stars 1” had returning queens competing in pairs, and in “All Stars 2,” the queens used the Lip Sync for Your Legacy format to protect their closest friends (two words: Roxxxy Andrews).
After the shenanigans of season nine - Eureka’s early dismissal on medical grounds, Charlie Hides claiming cracked ribs, “It’s a lip sync, what part of that do you not understand?” – RuPaul has set a high bar for himself to clear if he is going to make the queens’ over-lined lips drop open in shock.
We have been promised a mystery 10th queen — word on the drag circuit is that Bebe Zahara Benet will return — but that is just the appetizer to whatever entrée RuPaul is cooking up.
What will “All Stars 3” bring? Will Santino Rice reappear with a fresh wardrobe of hats? Will Shangela’s clone be rolled into the Werk Room in the third episode to compete against Shangela Alpha? And this 10th queen, maybe it is Lil Poundcake?
Only one way to find out: tune into VH1 in January 2018.