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Ranking the House Down:
 The Queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race, from Worst to Best (Part Six: The Top 10!)

Television
by Gregory Rosebrugh
February 24, 2014 11:56 AM
21 Comments
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Jinkx Monsoon

6. Jinkx Monsoon (Season 5, WINNER)

I’m tired of singing praises about Jinkxy. Don’t get me wrong, she deserves all the credit she receives—I’ve just grown exhausted of this subject and I’m ready for season six to start. I’m exhausted because there isn’t a Drag Race fan on this Earth who doesn’t adore Jinkx, and won’t stop talking about it. The Jinkx love is that widespread. And what still stands out about Jinkx, that we have seldom seen a queen pull off (especially a young queen), is that she has so consistently brought her ‘A’ game in the main challenges, almost week after week. To list, there was: the impersonation of Mimi Imfurst (mixed with Barney Gumble from the Simpsons?); her touchstone rendition of Little Edie in Snatch Game (Bruce LaBruce called it “good contemporary gay camp”); her riffing in “Can I Get an Amen?”; her roast of Rupaul (“Michelle Visage is so full of semen—period”); her orgasm in the telenovella competition (not to mention her Day of the Dead runway number); and her performance in the video of “The Beginning” that seemed to recall the history of women in comedy. Then, of course, there was her delightful lip-sync to Yma Sumac’s “Malambo no. 1” (we knew Detox was going home as soon as Alaska called it).

There are so many favourite Jinkx moments that we could discuss for another year how much we love her. But to praise Jinkx at this point would be like raving about a Radiohead album, or the Wire, or fucking Citizen Kane. What else is there to say about this legend that hasn’t been said already? She changed the game, she made history, it was a huge deal, and we talked about it forever. Now let’s rest on it. Best line: “These girls are cock hungry dick pigs.” I’ll take that tee shirt in black, white and red. Please and thank you. 

Chad Michaels

5. Chad Michaels (Season 4, 2nd runner up; All Stars, WINNER)

We all get so caught up in discussing season four in terms of the rivalry between Sharon and Phi Phi; the wild theatrics of Willam; and the holy scripture that is every word spoken by Latrice Royale; that we tend to forget about Chad Michaels (for various reasons, we do the same to Alaska Thunderfuck in discussions of season five). Even though Chad killed the runway in season four, over and over—even her “safe” weeks were way above-par—and was a wild comedienne in the main challenges (the wrestling challenge with Madame LaQueer, the Soul Train presidential platform, CHER), our worship of Sharon, Latrice and Willam has often upstaged her. This is why All Stars was so important. 

For the first few episodes of All Stars, all the entertaining cattiness and diva worship accounted for, there was a general feeling that it was a throwaway season, and much of it is to do with the “synergy” bullshit (don’t cut me, Ru). I mean, by the end of the first episode when we saw Pandora Boxx get sent home, there was a sense that we weren’t seeing queens fairly graded for their charisma-uniqueness-nerve-talent. Why should Pandora be punished because no other queens but Mimi wanted to be her teammate? Why did Manila get sent home because Latrice didn’t bring her ‘A’ game, and how was that Manila’s fault? And how on Earth did Shannel get to the top four?! With all these problems in the brief All Stars season, there were still reasons for us to stay tuned: 1) It’s still Drag Race, so of course we’d watch it; 2) Rujubee; and 3) Chad Michaels.

There was a sense throughout All Stars that Chad was dragging Shannel along with her in the competition (that’s not synergy, Hunty, that’s just babysitting), and that made Chad’s induction into the Hall of Fame even more impressive. Chad in All Stars built upon the star narrative of Chad in season four, and for many of us she outdid herself in the later season. For instance, we all knew from the moment she walked into the workroom in season four that she could do Cher, so when she won Snatch Game we were impressed but not exactly elated. There was a general feeling that she was playing it safe, and that challenge win in a way represents how she played all of season four: very calculated and safe, not in general but for her capacity. We never got the feeling that Chad was taking serious risks, and neither did the judges for that matter. (Sharon, on the other hand, looked nerve-wrecked when preparing her Michelle Visage impersonation—and what a worthwhile risk that was!) Chad makes up for this in season four. Her Bettie Davis was a serious risk, in the sense that it was Bettie Fucking Davis (see also: Mariah Balenciaga in season three Snatch Game), but look at how she pulled that off! The raised eyebrow, the so-over-it dancing, the mug! We had waited so long, really since Pandora did Carol Channing, for a queen to blow dust off the drag herstory books and whip out some classic camp. Up to this point, we had endured so many impersonations of contemporary pop starlets it eerily recalled that scene in Paris is Burning when Dorian Corey talks about how all the new queens are trying to look like Christie Brinkley and Maud Adams, with that air of “this too shall pass”. 

In addition to how Chad stepped up her game in All Stars, she also came out of her shell in the corresponding Untucked episodes. In season four, we often watched Chad play mediator between Sharon and Phi Phi, or otherwise console all the younger queens during their crying fits. She was kind of like a camp counsellor. In Untucked we got more of a sense of how ready she was to bring her everything and make it to number one, as well as how willing she was to knock all the other queens out of her way. And that’s always entertaining. Best moment: While beating their face in the workroom, Chad and Sharon sing an impromptu ditty that goes: “Don’t share your needles... Don’t share your needles with Sharon Needles...”

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21 Comments

  • Storm131 | August 29, 2014 3:35 AMReply

    And a note on Raven: superb style and wit. As much as I think Raven's make up was the best of all competitors in the 6 seasons so far, I have to make an exception for the shading on the nose. It looked like skid marks. Sorry Raven x

  • Storm131 | August 14, 2014 9:45 PMReply

    I agree with some of your choices but Willam in the top 10? I just don't see the appeal. He looks more like a guy in drag than out of it and is nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is. As for his sense of style, don't get me started. I can't stand any of the drag queens who like to wear skimpy outfits yet don't see in the mirror that bra and panties on a manly body look wrong wrong wrong.

  • Jay | June 18, 2014 3:46 PMReply

    I LOVE Detox - Thedragstore dot com sells her autographed posters!!!

  • Aaron | May 30, 2014 9:40 PMReply

    Lmao raven got 2nd place AGAIN

  • TY | May 31, 2014 1:32 AM

    LMAO! I didn't even notice.

    (I also gave her the runner-up spot)

  • Ty | May 27, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    My List:

    #1 Sharon Needles (All stars 2...please!!!)
    #2 Raven (Should have won All-Stars and Season 2)
    #3 Manilla Luzon
    #4 Alyssa Edwards
    #5 Raja
    #6 Jinxx Monsoon
    #7 Alaska
    #8 Latrice Royale
    #9 Nina Flowers
    # 10 Willam

    Adding season 6:
    - Bianca Del Rio places #2 (it's hard to choose between her and Sharon!)
    - Willam knocked out of top ten :(

    Other:
    - So...why is Detox in the top 10?
    - Roxxxy? Top 20? lmao
    - I like Jujubee and Chad, but I'd place them in the 11-20 range.

  • SB | May 24, 2014 5:45 AMReply

    Your clearly an idiot for placing roxxy andrews in the top 20.

  • Stephen | May 21, 2014 1:06 AMReply

    So, tell me... Where does Bianca Del Rio fall on your list?? How closely does she come to shaking Sharon Needles off that throne??

    (I'm curious where on this list you'd insert all of season six's queens?? Please, oh please, an addendum?!?)

  • Glenn | April 7, 2014 3:35 PMReply

    I love Raven so much she is my fav of the six season!!!

  • Johnny | March 5, 2014 12:17 PMReply

    I dig the list but you're missing Nina Flowers, Tammie Brown and Raja! Three of the greatest!

  • Abby | March 4, 2014 9:33 PMReply

    GREAT list - as a Drag Race obsessive, I can't believe how much I agree with your assessment. Yes Dida served the BEST LIP SYNC IN DRAG RACE HERSTORY. Yes Phi Phi ruined the duet with Sharon. Yes Sharon is the best queen to have graced the show. I could go on. (End note: Can we now say that Magnolia Crawford is the worst queen in six seasons?)

  • Megs | March 3, 2014 8:20 AMReply

    I get you re: Detox. I thought the judges just read attitude from her and while sometimes that was true, I think she was engaging with what they were saying - she just didn't always agree, but she had the insight to see where they were coming from. It wasn't just attitude for attitude's sake, like our newbie LaGanja.

  • gato | February 26, 2014 9:02 PMReply

    OOPS meant **could READ your writing all day

  • gato | February 26, 2014 9:01 PMReply

    I could your writing about Drag Race ALL DAY. Don't agree with everything, but LOVED these articles. GREAT WORK

  • Raven | February 25, 2014 6:38 PMReply

    RUNNER UP AGAIN?! HA HA HA! Just kidding! Thank you love, I was following this article the entire time. Not only did you rank, you also have good reason as to why you ranked and where. I truly do appreciate your kind words! XOXO

  • Mikhael | February 25, 2014 8:02 AMReply

    Great list (although I missed Pandora Boxx in the top 10). As a correction, Latrice's infamous line is "Get those nuts away from my face" complete with Abby Lee head-shaking sass.

  • Dominique | February 24, 2014 11:28 PMReply

    No Raja?! No Alyssa Edwards?? No Carmen Carrera?? No Shannel from Season One??!!! This is a sham, everyone walk away slowly...........#smokingonthatgood #theymustbe #fromourbitchpleasedesk

  • Tom | February 24, 2014 8:57 PMReply

    Awesome top 10! So excited for the new series, just not sure how I'm going to watch it out here in Australia...

  • Julio | February 24, 2014 8:43 PMReply

    So a top ten list without Nina Flowers??.....

  • Storm131 | August 14, 2014 9:48 PM

    I like Nina but the truth is she isn't versatile enough to be in the top 10.

  • Paul | February 24, 2014 6:18 PMReply

    Having just watched sesion 5 afain I have to say I am so glad that Jinx was the winner.
    Roxie and Detox are 2 bitter qyeens that were nothing but ignorant all through the show. Detox os uglu, Roxie may be pretty once in awhile.l but her persoanlity ruins it..

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