2. Raven (Season 2, 2nd runner-up; All Stars, 2nd runner-up)

Raven outshines almost all the queens on this list in singularity, gaudiness, sexual excess, crudeness, and bitchiness. This queen has had an altercation of some sort with almost every queen she has crossed paths with, and somehow kept us rooting for her (?!). Watching Raven in season two and All Stars feels like we’re watching Mean Girls, only if we were rooting for Regina George. Wait, maybe we were rooting for Regina George... I digress. The point I am making here is that Raven took us to our darkest sides. She brought out our viciousness and our schoolyard cattiness. If this list was ranked in accordance to queer values and utopianism, Raven might be ranked in the middle, and Jinkx and Ivy Winters would be numbers one and two. But the ugly truth is we watch Drag Race, and reality TV shows in general, to satisfy our vice for gossip—and Raven never held back in those respects.
I mentioned earlier that I thought season three might be the most complex narrative trajectory of all seasons. I may stick to that assessment, but I am now reminded of how complex season two became after its sweetest queens (Sahara, Jessica, Pandora) were eliminated. That was a mean top four, folks. I mean, depending on your angle in season two you could have especially hated any of Tyra, Tatianna, or Raven—there was no clear antagonist! Even Jujubee, the most darling of the top four in that season, was not lacking in nerve (see: “Here Comes the Bride”). Somehow, and somewhat to my perplexity, as the show has aged we have continued to prefer Raven over Tyra and Tatianna. How has Raven pulled this off? How have we labeled Phi Phi O’Hara as the arch villain of drag, and to a lesser extent marked Roxxxy Andrews and certain Heathers as the respective villains of their seasons, but not included Raven in their category? Is it as simple as that we thought Raven was right all the time, or is it that when Raven was mean we didn’t care because no one was particularly innocent? Regardless, we love Raven, even as we’re afraid of her. 

Raven often preached that this is Drag Race and not “Rupaul’s School for Girls”, and there was a feeling that Raven was always criticizing fellow contestants from a higher level of experience. That’s remarkable given that Raven is still a fairly young queen, but then again she always backed up her T and shade with pristine runway presentations. She knew how to work her padding to some of the most absurdly biomorphic effects. She appeared to literally beat her face with makeup—I mean it always looked swollen (and you know by this point in the top ten how much I love queens who have undergone cosmetic facial reconstruction). In fact, the versatility with which she has painted her face may only be matched by the #1 queen on this list. Most impressive of all, she never repeated a mug in any of her ensembles (take notes, Jinkx and Alaska), but still kept her timeless Raven signature: smokey eyes + puffed out lips = dive bar blowjob queen. 

Best line: her dishes on Tatianna were the most barbed: “Everyone thinks you’re pretty? I do think you’re pretty. I think you have a wonderful face... for radio.”