It’s a big day for Drag Race fans: the double episode premiere of All Stars season 8! I hope you kept the children home from school, roasted a turkey, opened your merch gifts and celebrated seasons past! Those seasons are well represented in this fabulous cast of 12 seasoned (and marinated) queens.

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First into the werkroom, purse (and pursed lips) first, is Heidi N. Closet. She’s what’s gappening! She’s still living down Nicki Minaj’s extreme diss of hating her hair and makeup (as in, “I hated your hair and makeup”). Mrs. Kasha Davis mistakes the room for an AA meeting and declares herself proudly sober for seven years. Quite a change from her former tagline, “There’s always time for a cocktail!

Naysha Lopez is the only queen who was eliminated twice in one season. Kahanna Montrese has had her ass, lips, teeth, eyebrows and nose done and looks stunting. Kandy Muse is still big, brown and loud; Darienne Lake has lost “200 lbs” since season 5 and looks more like a pond, suggests Heidi, as long as a pond is smaller than a lake. She is followed by Monica Beverly Hillz, Jaymes Mansfield, Alexis Michelle and Jessica Wild.

Finally, fan favorite and drag clown Jimbo is back for the third time, having conquered Canada and the UK. She enters in a bikini. LaLa Ri is bringing the full LaLa Ri experience. She won the Golden Boot for her infamously bad bag look in her season, but as she says, her downfall was her rise. Yes!

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Classic All Stars rules are in effect. The top winner will compete against a lip sync assassin to determine which bottom queen gets the chop. If the top queen wins, she chooses. If the assassin wins, all the other queens cast a vote for who goes home. Maybe we should run elections this way!  The eventual All Stars winner will receive $200,000. That’s some serious coin!

In the mini challenge, the queens show two looks on the runway:  Famous Then and Famous Now. The “then” looks include foxtails and boas, tweed, Nefertiti and Marilyn Monroe. The “now” looks include nods to pop culture denizens like Lil Nas X, Bad Bunny and Billie Ellish. The looks were fully gag-worthy and expensive, and this was a MINI challenge!  As one queen notes, Drag Race used to be “who had the best Forever 21 dress.”  Well, that was definitely then and it sure ain’t now. 

In the maxi challenge, the queens break into two groups to perform “Money, Success, Fame and Glamor” in glam rock and disco styles. As usual, there’s a bad choreo rehearsal followed by a good performance. The runway theme is Famous Forever featuring timeless signature drag. Kahanna Montrese was a standout.  As Ru says, she put in the hard yards and is declared the winner. Darienne Lake and Monica Beverly Hillz are in the bottom.  Lip sync assassin Aja LaBeija defeats Kahanna and announces the queens’ vote:  Monica Beverly Hillz goes home. She finished 12th in her season and 12th again. It hurt. Love you Monica!!

But all’s not lost:  the eliminated queens can still win $50,000 in the online Fame Games by showcasing their unused runway looks for fan favorite voting. Given what the queens spend on these looks, this is a welcome development.

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In episode 2, the queens perform in a live sketch comedy show, “It’s RDR Live,” modeled on Saturday Night Live. In the werkroom, queens are already forming alliances and discussing voting strategies for the bottom queens. Do you vote based on emotions or how you think the queens performed? Alliances are another route.

In the cold open of RDR Live, four queens from the CDC (Center for Drag Control) sound the alarm over the viral outbreak of international Drag Race franchises. Kandy Muse provides the opening monologue. Jimbo and Jessica run McCall Girls Gardening Service and put the whore in horticulture. Heidi and LaLa anchor QNN (Queer Network News) and discuss such topics as Lady Bunny’s prolapsed anus and Trinity the Tuck’s deep sinkhole. Darienne and Alexis play two gals from Joisey who worship Michelle Visage, an echo to The Linda Richman Show with Mike Myers on SNL about all things Barbra Streisand. It was like buttah.

On the runway, the theme is Net Gala, so we see hair nets, butterfly nets, basketball nets and, most spectacularly, Jimbo as the inter-net. Next-level perfection. Jimbo is the week’s winner, with Naysha Lopez in the bottom (fair) along with episode 1 winner Kahanna Montrese (I just can’t!). In the biggest gag of all, Jimbo is pitted against lip sync assassin Pangina Heals, who infamously chose to eliminate her in Drag Race UK vs the World. (The photo is of Jimbo’s face cracking when Pangina is revealed!). They perform to She Bop by Cyndi Lauper, Pangina nabs the win, and the queens vote to send Naysha Lopez home.

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Ok, take a breath! That was a lot of drag in one day! But my overall impression is that these queens are really going to put on a great show this season and there’s no obvious front runner. Expect fireworks, stunts, betrayals, tears and fashion fashion fashion! And I’ll be here to report it to you.

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