Let’s face it- RuPaul’s Drag Race has been one of the best reality shows ever, if not the best when it comes to highlighting the LGBT community in a positive light for the most part (season 7 taken out of this), and also put Drag Queens in a mainstream light that no one really saw coming before. The show has brought so many memorable phrases that straight culture has stolen because they can’t figure out their own shit, from “Hunty”, “All Tea All Shade”, and so much more that has practically become part of our everyday dialogue with each other. With 7 seasons (plus All Stars) under its belt and being a couple episodes of what is shaping up to being a fantastic season 8, memorable queens have come and gone that we have come to worship for more reasons than one. So question being, who has been the best of the best since the show premiered many years ago? How do we define best, really? For us, it is who did we come to love for many reasons on the show and their cultural impact post-race. We have come up with our top ten of the Best Drag Race contestants of all time. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off.
Let’s face it- season 7 sucked major tucked balls. The minute the season premiered, we knew it wasn’t going to be good as there were too many unlikable or queens that lacked a ton of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. Although there were some standouts for the better (Trixie Mattel, Mrs. Kasha Davis, Miss Fame), the majority just couldn’t pull it together to really reign supreme amongst others. The one that did, and we fell in love with, was 5th place Katya, the Boston queen who a lot of us pegged as the front runner. Funny, charming, and a consistent performer throughout, she had a fantastic personality who had an amazing story behind her with her struggle with sobriety on the show and her hilarious comedy that excelled in the challenges. She was eliminated against Kennedy Davenport, who many thought cheated during the lip-sync, but to be so liked to the point where they do a fake out on the actual finale to make people think that you won just shows how much people really wanted her to win.
9- Sharon Needles
Sharon Needles is sort of proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Upon arrival in Season 4, many of the queens pegged her as too out there with her look being deemed as “Party City” by the villain of S4… Phi Phi O’Hara. Nevertheless, Sharon, whose quirky personality, badass drag ensembles and ability to read others to filth (that Jiggly read about smoking hams is still one of the best in the shows history) catapulted her to the final three, and quite frankly to an easy win as the audience overwhelmingly voted her on social media to win when our votes were in consideration for the first time in the show’s history. Happy Halloween, bitches.
8- Nina Flowers
The first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race was very bare bones compared to where it is now. You had an incredibly small set, different judges, and the blurry camera lens on RuPaul that was reminiscent of a gay drag Barbara Walters. Although there were only nine contestants, Denver’s very own Nina Flowers excelled at every challenge she was given to the point where she was never in the bottom two. Even her final lip sync to “Covergirl” was ecstatically amazing and many think she was robbed of the win over Bebe Zahara Benet. Her time on All Stars was cut short, however Nina was one of the standouts of a show that became a cultural phenomenon.
7- Adore Delano
Season six finalist Adore Delano could’ve easily been eliminated hella early in the competition as for some reason she couldn’t really get her shit together both in the challenges and the runway. However, as time went by, her character as well as herself became stronger and stronger, most notably in the rapping, Snatch Game and Broadway challenges when she really proved what a force she was in the music and acting department. She also brought up a very good fact that you don’t have to be in the most expensive outfit in order to win something. She has developed an amazing career post-drag race and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
6- Manila Luzon
Manila Luzon took Season 3 of RPDR by storm, with her fun personality, fantastic outfit and makeup choices, and being one of the two leaders in the “Heathers” alliance that propelled her and winner Raja to the end. Criticized for her portrayal of Asian characters in challenges actually worked for her in the long run as she won them and proved that you can play a stereotype and make it funny and not hurtful. Also, let’s keep it real here, her lip sync of Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” is legendary in so many ways.
Willam was everything and then some in Season 4. The minute she walked into the werk room she owned it, and didn’t let anything stop her from getting the crown. Still not sure about what really happened behind the scenes, but she was a formidable threat to win the whole thing over favorites like Latrice Royale and Sharon Needles. With a personality that boomed in so many ways, the self described “egomaniac” has stayed very relevant post show, notably due to her performances with Vicky Vox and Detox (DWV) and her YouTube channel.
4- Jinkx Monsoon
Similarly to Sharon the season beforehand, Jinkx was the underdog who battled her way to the end in the face of adversity of the strong personalities that sometimes showed their comments as forms of bullying (Roxxy ahem). Nevertheless, Jinkx never ever showed up in the bottom three or two of the show until the final four, where she easily advanced over frontrunner Detox and then worked her way to victory. Excelling in acting challenges like the Telenovela and Snatch (where she saved the whole thing as Little Edie), she proved that you don’t have to have this huge personality to win this show.
3- Latrice Royale
I had my money that Latrice was going to win from the minute she walked into the werk room. She exemplified traits that no other “big girl” or any other girl on the show had. She wowed the audience and judges with her back story, her consistent amazing fashion choices on the runway, and her overall spirit that resonated with the thousands of people that watched her. And “Get those nuts away from my face!” could seriously be a tag line for her own sitcom on television. Probably the best Miss Congeniality the show ever had, she was robbed of being in the final three at the end of the show which would’ve given Chad Michaels and Sharon Needles a serious run for their money. Eat it.
A tie. The Laverne and Shirley of Drag, they were robbed not once, but twice on Season 2 and All Stars of titles that quite frankly they should’ve won together over the ones who did. Jujubee boasts an incredible and likable personality, hilarious in so many different ways, and a sick drag look that got her to the end of both seasons. Raven started out rocky on Season 2, but after fumbling a bit dominated the rest of the season and kept it real with everyone around her. If you ever had doubts about how amazing and close they are, look when they lip synched for their lives to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”. Proof that second and third place doesn’t really mean you lose.
1- Bianca Del Rio
This was kind of a no brainer for me. Bianca destroyed Season 6 with her incredible wit and comedy, her ability to read each and every other cast member to filth yet showed her nurturing side which made her one of the most intelligent queens to ever play the game. Quotable, hilarious and fashion forward (regardless if it was the same type of dress over and over again) Bianca was such a force in her season that it felt like she was more of the Tim Gunn of the show and not one of the contestants, IE- a mentor. Shocked by this result? Not today, Satan.