TRUST THE DUCESS: Meet the Queens Preview

with Matthew Holowienka and Garvey Potter

The end. Or is it? We thought it was over; we really did. Just a few short months ago, we were lounging in our boudoirs, biting our press-on nails in abject terror at the prospect of All Stars coming to a close—which it unfortunately did last Thursday on VH1. And after a spectacular eight episode run of perfect landings (“Is she gonna jump from there?”), of low blows (“F*** my drag, right?”), and of life-changing noises since added to our everyday lexicon (“Rrrrra-ka-ta-ti-ti-ta-ta”), we can look back and say that it was, apart from one or two slow sections—largely involving giant soup cans and a not so funny movie parody that ended in a fart joke—a highly successful season that kept us more than sated.

That said, even if it hadn’t been, we’re sure we can all agree that BenDeLaCreme’s dramatic sacrifice (which we sincerely hope had some kind of positive capitalistic effect on Wite-Out stock even though we were sad humanities majors and have no idea how stock works) would have given us enough sustaining life water to survive even the longest “off season” drought.

After all, once All Stars ended, we would have nothing to look forward to but the occasional vague promo and a surplus of increasingly surreal internet “me-me’s,” as the effervescent Kennedy Davenport so aptly put it just a few short days ago. Those would have to tide us over until our next Drag Race fix.

But then, a few weeks ago, before we could even grasp what was happening, RuPaul was spinning around, eyes aglow like the end of the “Thriller” music video, to let us know that the highly anticipated tenth season of her smash hit series was coming right on All Stars’ nine-inch heels. It was like the end of a slasher movie. There we were, already scalped bald, and before we could even catch our breath, we were being dragged back into the multicolor videoscape from which we had just escaped—and we were so excited it was scary.

With the highly anticipated tenth season RuPaul’s Drag Race premiering this Thursday, March 22 and 8 PM EST on VH1, we barely have the time to ruminate on the finale just gone by. Trixie Mattel, whom we have had the pleasure of seeing live (all while being completely oblivious and not realizing Thorgy Thor was sitting just a few rows from us until, like, three weeks later) has taken home the crown.

As amazing as Trixie looked in her final runway, emerging like the sickening mistress whomaybe destroyed the marriage of that sheep from Zootopia or who at least got it to open up a little, popular opinion would have perhaps placed Shangela in that place. But speaking of Thorgy, she was apparently the only returning queen to vote for everyone’s favorite walking Game of Thrones reference to move forward in another strange elimination tactic brought to you by World of Wonder. Either way, as Shangela herself told us last week “Gotta keep going,” and here at “Trust the Duchess,” we’re going to try to do just that.

Each week, this recap column, named for someone much more quotable and much funnier than we, will bring you a breakdown of the last episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10. Sure, we’re not duchesses; we’re barely ladies in waiting and usually waiting at the Dairy Queen. That said, even if you can’t trust us just yet, we hope you’ll come along and laugh a little along the way. And if any of our opinions are 100-percent incorrect, we hope to stimulate the fervent discussion that makes this fandom so unforgettable.

And so, without further ado, let’s meet the queens for whom we’ll be rooting starting this Thursday and maybe pick a winner or two to be completely wrong about later. They were ru-vealed to us via Facebook LIVE on Feb. 22.

 

Aquaria

Location: New York, NY

Age: 21

 

Aquaria is the youngest queen of the season. But with four years of drag experience already under her belt and a ‘mentor’ like Season 4’s Sharon Needles, we’re certainly not counting her out. After all, she has quite literally grown up a fan of the show and is familiar with all the nuances it takes to compete well. And that’s not to mention her impressive fanbase, already nearly 300,000 followers strong on Instagram. Judging by those photos alone, she has already proven her versatility, sporting everything from sickening fashion, to perfectly fishy mugs, to expertly done effects makeup. After all, as she says, her style is “ever-changing.” She said that; that was said by her. She sat down for her interview with Sasha Velour sporting a perfectly coiffed blonde wig by Bobbie Pinz and a New York-inspired look by The Blonds. She looked every one of our Joan Rivers fantasies.

 

Asia O’Hara

Location: Dallas, TX

Age: 35

 

Let’s get one thing out of the way here. We’re really suckers for a good headpiece, and at least one of us, who knows who he is, has Ornacia as his cellphone background. (If you won the first season of Drag Race and then stopped watching, Ornacia is the mannequin head). And the other one of us, who knows who he is, audibly gasped when Asia hit the runway during her Facebook LIVE promo. Either way, this fierce thirty-something pageant queen and Miss Gay America winner, succeeding our namesake Alyssa Edwards, has already distinguished a style all her own, and as drag mother to everybody's favorite villain edit, Phi Phi O’Hara, we can’t wait to see what she brings to the runway. After all, as she says, she makes “99.9-percent” of everything she wears. We’re confident that dreaded first sewing challenge will be a memorable one and that Ms. O’Hara will leave us all gagging.

¡Vivir mi fantasia completa! 📷 @britterst 👗 @helenofseven

A post shared by Asia O'Hara (@asiaoharaland) on

 

Blair St. Clair

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Age: 22

Serving a theatrical retro Hollywood flair, harkening back just a bit to former winner Jinkx Monsoon, this queen has already been the subject of some debate concerning revelations recently made by TMZ about her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race. While it waits to be seen how and if that storyline will play out this season, Miss St. Clair managed to serve both sincerity and humility in her sit-down with Sasha Velour. And her “Meet the Queens” story about her mom choosing her surname really was quite sweet. Perhaps her Facebook LIVE look, a well-tailored yellow classic yellow dress, giving us some Stepford realness, was not as outwardly extravagant as some of the others we saw, but St. Clair is reportedly a triple threat as a performer. We look forward to seeing how she fares with those talents this season.

 

Dusty Ray Bottoms

Location: New York, NY

Age: 29

A self-proclaimed Broadway queen, Dusty Ray Bottoms uniquely combines grunge, rock and roll, and metropolitan glamor. And believe it or not, it’s not her first time in the Werk Room. You can clock sister Alexis Michelle wearing her merch in Season 9. That said, Ms. Bottoms has drawn parallels to other queens among some parts of the fandom. Some have likened her aesthetic to Acid Betty (who may just be trying to sneak back into the race with a new wig), but we even see some parallels to Trixie Mattel in this upcoming contender. Like Trixie, Dusty sports a unique signature stylized mug, featuring dots along her eyebrow line, and reclaimed a slur leveled against her when deciding on a drag name. Her Facebook LIVE look gave us a bit of Sandy at the end of Grease, post dropping everything for the guy, but the best part of her interview was that she managed to drop both ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ on-camera. Make those censors work for their paycheck, Dusty.


Eureka O’Hara

Location: Johnson City, TN

Age: 27

We’re excited to see the promised return of Eureka to Season 10. On the LIVE runway, Sasha clocked her Mugler recreation, and out of all the looks that came down that runway, this one was, without a doubt, a favorite of ours. Clearly, this bug has emerged from her cocoon and is back with a vengeance, despite some folks calling out similarities to BenDeLaCreme’s own insect look. At least one of us spent the entire interview trying to decide if Eureka’s compound eyes were made of yarmulkes. That same member of our team also had violent black and white flashbacks to that Gilbert Gottfried song from Thumbelina, as if anybody else even remembers that movie on a daily basis. Or maybe they do; Charro and Carol Channing in one place would make most of us happy campers.

 

Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Age: 27

Ms. Kalorie describes her drag persona as the wicked step sister of the Kardashians. The New Mexico native is sweet as pie, but should never be underestimated. She’s here to serve body on the runway while proving to her doubters that she’s the one to beat.

 

Kameron Michaels

Location: Nashville, TN

Age: 31

Hey kids, Zaddy’s never coming home again unfortunately. But meet your new Stepzaddy complete with bulging muscles, a scruffy beard, and some *cough* cosmetic alterations.

 

Mayhem Miller

Location: Riverside, CA

Age: 35

 

Miz Cracker

Location: New York, NY

Age: 33

 

Monét X Change

Location: Bronx, NY

Age: 27

 

Monique Heart

Location: Kansas City, MO

Age: 31

 

Vanessa Vanjie Mateo

Location: Tampa, FL

Age: 25

 

The Vixen

Location: Chicago, IL

Age: 26

 

Yuhua Hamasaki

Location: New York, NY

Age: 27

The season has not even started yet, and Yuhua Hamasaki has already reached levels of ‘extra’ we can only aspire to, having claimed to be in a coma to hide her involvement in Drag Race Season 10. And that’s not even mentioning that she posted about it on Instagram using #coma and tagged her location as simply “China.” Combining that sort of wry camp, having swum to her interview with Sasha Velour in 30 seconds and having waxed erratic about being “really drunk” underage at her first performance, with a fashion-forward edge, rocking a blue and white look that was far from vanilla, she put in a grand appearance in her Facebook LIVE ru-veal. And in a strange way, her well-placed erraticism reminds us just a bit of one of our all time favorites, Tammie Brown. We’ll see what happens, but on first impressions alone, we already stan.


 

Matt’s Top 3

1) Monét X Change - I can’t help it. Having come from a performance background myself, I love a queen who can bring it onstage and who can make me crack up while doing it. Plus, I don’t have cable or pay for movies either. Her opera degree and the promise of combining that classical voice, comedy, and a little New York edge is too much to ignore.

2) Asia O’Hara - As I’ve said before, I love a good headpiece, and if her interview look was just a small taste of what we have in store this season, I truly expect this queen to bring it to the runway. If she can continue to serve pageant polish with an extravagant flair, I fully expect great things.

3) Eureka O’Hara - The returning queen deserves her ru-demption, and I was living for her LIVE Mugler-inspired look. It was like an R-rated version of that evil bug lady from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and having already seen her stand there onstage and given a performance as North West on crutches, I know Eureka is here to fight for that crown.

 

Garvey’s Top 3

1) Monét X Change

2) Miz Cracker

3) Vanessa Vanjie Mateo