It’s been referred to as the gay Super Bowl. RuPaul’s Drag Race has become the queer empire we so desperately needed. And tonight, season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars premieres on VH1. Trixie Mattell, Milk, Shangela, and more of our favorites return to impress Mama Ru and the judges one more time.
After weeks of anticipation for the new season, I recently caught up with the queens of All Stars 3. Overlooking Times Square on a nippy New York night, we had a grade-A kiki at the TRL studios. Drag Race themed cocktails flowed, including the Death Lemon Drop and the Lip Sync for Your Lime.
Having seen these queens’ careers grow leaps since their first seasons, it was a true treat to catch up with them as they embark on their next challenges. And for them, it was a gift to reunite in front of the judges for a second (or third) chance. Although for some, it was intimidating.
“There’s something about Drag Race,” season seven contestant, Trixie Mattell explained. “You walk into that room, and I think we all felt it. You know, we’re all losers of Drag Race. That room, that smell, the lights, full PTSD. We were all just like, this is where our dreams were crushed. So, I think it was a very even playing field, because we were all walking in, wondering how we manage having a different outcome than last time.”
“I’m ready to have a good time,” said season two alum, Morgan McMichaels. “Walking into the workroom and seeing the other girls, I was gagged. Even getting the call, I was gagged. Because I knew I was gonna work with a whole bunch of girls I’d never been on a season with.”
Morgan and Shangela are the two earliest Drag Race queens to join this season of All Stars. But Morgan didn’t see that as an advantage.
“We’re the old bitches,” she said. “I’ve been a RuPaul girl with Shangela since 2010. But even with Drag U, which was a completely different animal, every season, every challenge, everything that Ru does and throws at these girls is different every year. It gets harder every year. So, I may be at more of a disadvantage than the girls who went through the shit last season. It’s about perspective. I think I’m ready to go and kick ass.”
Fellow season two alum, Shangela echoed that confidence.
“When I went on Drag Race, and I didn’t win, I didn’t give up,” she said. “And that’s what I hope to inspire people with this journey now, where we are with All Stars. It doesn’t matter how many times you’re told to sashay away. Honey, you can come back and be a winner. And that’s what I am.”
For season nine contestant, Aja, being the new girl doesn’t intimidate her. In fact, she thinks the others might have underestimated her.
“This literally hadn’t been a year since I walked through this door,” she said. “I think the other queens definitely will think ‘She just came fresh off the boat, she doesn’t know what she’s doing.’ But I’ve also been doing drag for eight years at this point, and a lot of people don’t know that. A lot of people think that because I’m young, I’ve been doing drag for a year or two. But I’ve doing drag for just as long as like Shangela. So, for me, it’s all about experiences.”
As season six alum, Milk put it, there’s a lot less pressure for the queens the second time around.
“The fans already know us, so we don’t have to prove ourselves anymore to the fans,” she said. “It’s like, let’s do what we do and win $100,000 because we’re that fucking amazing.”
Since her first season on Drag Race, the queer club kid aesthetic has come to be embraced with the show’s fans and contestants.
“I think as each season goes on, there’s that much more acceptance and visibility of different types of drag,” she said. “Since my season, there’s been a bearded challenge, and every single Snatch Game has had at least one male character on it. Just the gender fuckery of it all has been on level high. We just live in a glitter world.”
One contestant who had a struggle with their character and their own identity on their original season was fellow season six alum, BenDeLaCreme. Her perky housewife persona was considered less than genuine by judge, Michelle Visage.
“I still maintain cultivating that character in the shows I do,” Ben said. “But I think on this season, I go in much more with the intention of what I as an artist am capable of. You know the character, so we’ve got that out of the way. Now I can just show you what the guy behind the character is good at.”
For Trixie, the best advice she was given came from friend and cohost of The Trixie & Katya Show, Katya.
“Katya told me before I left, ‘Don’t be an asshole.’ And she said, ‘Don’t worry about winning. Just do what you’re proud of. If you do things you’re proud of, you don’t have to worry about winning, because you’ll be proud of what you did.’ And the whole time I was there, I thought of Katya telling me that.”
That’s probably the sweetest thing we’ve heard from the Drag Race besties. But if that’s too emotional for your taste, Morgan promises this season will have plenty of the good old fashion drama we’ve come to know and love from the show.
“Get a diaper, cause you’re gonna shit yourself,” she said. “It’s fucking everything.”
Season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars premieres tonight at 8/7c on VH1.
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