Previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Ru gave the people what they wanted, bringing back eight legendary legends to compete for the chance to be the one queen to rule them all. Or ring to rule them all. Or was it for all of them to rule the ring? You know what, it doesn’t matter. Week after week, the winner’s slay and surprised, racking up points to land in two pools with Raja and Yvie battling out for the lesser crown, with Mother taking out the title of Queen of She Done Already Done Had Herses. When it came to the main title, Shea and Trinity had to settle for third/fourth again like Season 9, while Jinkx defeated Monet and became the first – hopefully of many – Queen of All Queens.
But things are back to normal – well, after Ru gave us her best spoken word about fame, or something – as soft and supple Heidi N Closet made her triumphant return to the Werk Room and ugh, I love her so much and damn does she look good. Whether Nicki Minaj likes her make-up or not. She was joined by Mrs Kasha Davis fresh from AA – legitimately – and ugh, I have missed her so much because she is a gorgeous old dame and ugh, just perfection. Speaking of perfection, Naysha Lopez came back beat and blessed, ready for her third elimination, though this time, not until she has proven herself. Another doll with something to prove is Kahanna Montrese – Coco’s girl – and ugh, she has glowed up and is ready to do mama proud. Because she has done the work and is primed to slay. Oh and then Kandy Muse returned and ugh, she is so much fun and I live.
Or die, bitch.
Darienne Lake finally arrived at All Stars and even if I didn’t live for her in Season 6, she is a legend and the fact it has taken until the eighth All Stars to see her back is horrible. Speaking of long overdue returns Monica Beverly Hillz arrived ready to redeem herself from her lack of confidence in Season 5 and yes, Monica, slay that troop outfit. Jaymes Mansfield was up next looking stunning and ugh, please no cheerleading challenges because she is the Jennifer Coolidge of Drag Race and needs to last to the end. THE producer Alexis Michelle was up next, and she is ready to show off all her skills. Because you know she has a lot of them, ok? Like Darienne, Jessica Wild has finally come to All Stars and hot damn, she looked stunning and I am so excited to see what she can do after 13 years.
Then Jimbo cruised on in looking like $20 bucks and ugh, crown her. She is stupid, camp and it looks like she is ready for her win. Speaking of back for a win, Lala Ri is back looking perfect though to be fair, anything is better than her bag look. Literally anything. But I love her, trust and believe. Once they were all sure it was just them, Naysha pointed out that each season has a little twist and as such wanted to figure it out ASAP, with Jessica suggesting it was just her finally getting cast.
Ru arrived to welcome back her daughters – or in the words of Teresa Giudice, dor-tors – before shutting down Naysha’s theory, announcing rules are defaulting back to the usual All Stars ones. Aka the winner takes on an assassin with the winner sending a sister home if she wins, otherwise the group votes to boot a bottom. Even though, duh, we’re all bottoms. Oh and the $200k prize is here to stay. But there is also a second way to win this year, Raja style, though Ru won’t give them the deets until later. Scaring Jimbo, since she can’t even win one way!
They kicked things off with a little dual-runway Mini Challenge, the first being Famous Then where Alexis slayed as slutty Mame in shimmering white. Kahanna was a stunning showgirl in black velvet, Heidi was opulent and camp, ready for the hat parade, while Mrs. Kasha Davis was stunning as Zigfield Follies Extra #2. Nayasha served Coco Chanel realness, Kandy took it more modern with a Supermodel RuPaul look before Darienne went all the way back to medieval in a purple gown. Monica slayed as glam Cleopatra, Jaymes was stunning in a slutty Mexican showgirl number, Jessica Wild was perfection as Nefertiti while Jimbo gave the most perfectly demented Marilyn. Oh and Lala was a glittering hour glass and looked stun. Ning.
On the Famous Now runway Alexis gave full Kim K realness, Kahanna looked like hot Barbie Lil Nas X, Heidi gave kabuki bow, MKD was a perfect Kris Jenner disco ball, Naysha was full Versace glam – Ver, Sayce – Kandy was stunning in pink fur while Darienne Lake was a hilariously old Billie Eilish, Monica gave Kim Petras perfection, Jaymes gave Jojo Siwa does Judy Jetson, Jessica was stunning in a red latex Bad Bunny inspired look, Jimbo served a perfect ode to the horror of social media before Lala Ri gave nude illusion for her Ru-ly Fans.
The dolls returned to the Werk Room where they started to untuck before Alexis admitted to having a crush on Lala. Kandy meanwhile was kikiing with the dolls about who they were shocked to see, with Kahanna and Naysha admitting Jimbo crossing to the US was the biggest gag to them. Speaking of Jimbo, she was busy charming her new sisters though, with everyone delighted by the fact that she loves to compete. While Jessica joked about how much things have changed since Season 2, given they aren’t rocking Forever 21 (hey, as long as it isn’t any more fucking H&M). Lala Ri meanwhile joked about not needing to be nice given you can’t win Miss Congeniality. Oh and then we learnt that for some reason, Heidi was wearing a denim codpiece while Darienne and Jaymes just speculated about the twist in the corner.
Ru came back to kiki with the dolls announcing that for their opening Maxi Challenge the dolls would form rival girl groups and perform rumixes of Fenton and Randy’s Money Success Fame & Glamour. Naysha, Darienne, Kahanna, Kandy, Alexis and Heidi got the glam rock version while MKD, Jaymes, Lala, Jimbo, Monica and Jessica were given the disco remix. Oh and in addition to writing their own verses, they’d also have to choreograph their routine before performing live on the mainstage. After quickly working through their songs, the dolls all went to the mainstage to work on the choreography with Heidi taking the lead for Team Glam Rock. And like Jaymes and Jimbo, I don’t know how Fosse makes sense but I love Heidi, so I’ll let it slide. Plus, Kandy was willing to call out her lack of star quality in choreography, so I don’t need to read her. And well, let’s just say, she was pressed, not blessed. Team Disco meanwhile were living their best lives as Lala and Jessica took the lead giving on brand choreography. The problem being Jessica was slaying while the rest of the dolls were lost. Like, not even on the map.
Elimination Day arrived with the dolls immediately splitting up to beat their mugs with Darienne ready to motorboat Jimbo, as Lala and Jaymes were kikied about the latter planning to bring down by winging it, should she forget the choreography. Naysha meanwhile was busy lifting up Monica who was super nervous and just couldn’t get out of her head. Oh and then Kandy and Jimbo – and Heidi – formed a little alliance to navigate the rumoceracy and ugh, I live for them finally playing it like Survivor superfan, Monet. Talk turned back to the twist before Alexis assured the dolls she would be playing fair, whatever it is. Jimbo agreed, cautioning everyone to not play too hard, given it came back to bite her on UK VS the World while Kandy reminded them things are always going to be messy so suggested they just relax and do what needs to be done.
Ru, Michelle and the hilarious Ross Mathews were joined by the indelible Adele Dazeem. Fame Tarts were up first with the Glam Rock version and well, they were good, hitting every beat, cohesive and so damn fun. None more so than Kahanna who showed she is fully baked and ready to star. The Glitter Chicks meanwhile served full disco and I live. Jaymes was demented, Jessica was sexy, Jimbo was hilarious, Lala gave Bey, MKD was camp perfection and well, poor Monica was lost but looked soooooo good, which is all that matters.
On the Famous Forever – aka signature Drag – runway, Alexis was stunning serving Jessica Rabbit realness. Darienne was a shimmering leopard print glamazon, Heidi was full Chris Tucker zebra pimp, Kahanna was STUNNING as a literal phoenix, Kandy gave metallic red glam, Naysha served icy glam bodysuit, Jaymes gave old Hollywood perfection, Jessica looked like a rocker ringmaster in all the right ways, Jimbo was a neon brain delight, Lala Ri gave showgirl gone to a wedding, Monica looked beautiful in a purple fringed bodysuit while MKD gave glam purple housewife.
Ultimately Heidi, Kandy, Naysha, Jessica, Jimbo and MKD were sent to safety before Alexis received universal praise for all of her looks and for taking big risks. Oh and they loved that in the performance, she served star. Darienne meanwhile was read for being too pedestrian on the first two runways, though they loved her energy in the performance. Choreography be damned! Kahanna meanwhile received wall to wall praise for each and every thing she served this week. As did Jaymes, particularly for her serving demented layers and giving such different concepts. Oh and they didn’t care that she couldn’t dance. Lala meanwhile was praised for her star power in the performance and for giving 2 out of 3 perfect looks. While Monica’s first runway was beloved, though she was read for being completely overcome by her nerves. She then started to sob as Ross encouraged her to own her power which was both sweet – thanks Ross – and heartbreaking. Ultimately Kahanna took out the first win of the season before Alexis, Jaymes and Lala were deemed safe, leaving Darienne and Monica up for elimination. And well, I hate it here.
Backstage the safe girls were exhausted but thrilled to have made it through the first week, sharing that they love Untucked more than anything. With Heidi admitting it was just because she wanted to see a fight, which made everyone immediately look at Kandy. For obvious reasons. Heidi meanwhile turned conversation back to the twist speculating the eliminated girls could vote someone back in, that fans will vote for a winner or my fave, that they are the tops and all the other girls are up for elimination. Speaking of the actual tops and bottoms, they returned with everyone praising a jubilant Kahanna on her win. Though she was nervous about her vote having to dictate the tone of the season.
Both Darienne and Monica opened up about being heartbroken to have landed in the bottom, Monica in particular as she sobbed in her friend Naysha’s arms. Kahanna pulled her aside to kiki, assuring her she thinks she is a star and that she was so excited to see her in the competition. While poor Monica was just so down on herself and it was hard to watch. Darienne meanwhile was telling the dolls her fashion choices cost her, reminding them how badly she wants to be here. The bottoms switched places with Monica telling her sisters she deserves to be here and has worked her arse off to shine. As Jessica and Alexis tried to lift her up, before Alexis sobbed about feeling bad for the girls. And because she wasn’t sure how she’d be received. Like, sobbing. And god her sisters were confused. Like, you thought Milk crying over being safe was bad? This is sobbing for being in the top.
Darienne meanwhile held it WAY more together, assuring Kahanna she is a star and is fired up to be here. Naysha and Kandy meanwhile were busy whispering, with Naysha not wanting to vote out her childhood friend Monica, nor her teammate Darienne. Before Alexis could start sobbing again, Idina Menzel dropped backstage to kiki with the dolls with Alexis thanking her for being such a star. Idina then told the dolls to channel someone they admire on their off days, before regalling them with tales and ugh, she is so cute and sweet and I love her.
With that the dolls voted before Kahanna took her place on the mainstage before Ru pulled up the curtains to reveal our first lip sync assassin of the season, the iconic Aja LaBeija. Kandy’s mama, ok? And as soon as Beyonce’s Freakum Dress kicked off, Aja owned the show. She was flicking wigs, camp and hitting every lyric. She was flipping and splitting and well, I THOUGHT SHE WAS GOING TO JUMP FROM THERE as she vogued the house down. Kahanna was also a star and showed she is not to be counted out, but Aja is Aja and seeing her perform on the mainstage was perfection and I need her back ASAP. After Aja took out the win – that $10k rolling over to next week – Kahanna took her place at the back of the stage before Ru finally announced that other way to win, with us fans getting the chance to vote on the unused runways of the eliminated queens for a cash prize of $50K.
Oh and that first eliminated queen, tragically, was Monica who wasn’t exactly shocked, but watching her put on a brave face felt tragic. I pulled her in for a hug as soon as she returned to the Werk Room, telling her to get whatever negative thoughts she may have out of her mind and remember that she is not only beloved by the fandom, but super talented and has been thriving as her true self for such a long time. And we were lucky enough to see that in her return. I then reiterated that first boots are always beloved and that she has nothing more to prove, so to simply be proud of her success and smash a big, juicy BBQ Monicken Burgerly Hillz.
While this is quite a kick, simple and, gulp, healthy burger, there is something infinite satisfying. No oil to contend with while being all at once fresh and tangy, it is the ultimate choice when you need a quick little burger pick-me-up.
BBQ Monicken Burgerly Hillz
1 chicken breast, halved horizontally
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp cumin
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 Briocher Bünsberg
3 tbsp Chicktina Big McDonald Sauce
2 slices American cheese
1 tomato, sliced
1 cup Slawren Rimmer
chips, fries, wedges or whatever your side of choice may be, to serve
Pop the chicken in a bowl with two teaspoons of oil, the paprika, chilli powder, cumin and a good whack of salt and pepper, and toss until well combined. Heat a lug of oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the chicken and cook for a few minutes before flipping and cooking for another 3-5 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat and leave to rest.
To assemble, toast the inside of the rolls and smear with some of the sauce. Pop a slice of cheese on the base, followed by some tomato, the chicken and the slaw before closing. And then devouring, regally, with a shit tonne of your favourite sides.
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