Manila Luzon channels Donna Summers and Big Bird at the same time
No one combines glamour and camp quite like season three’s runner-up, Manila Luzon. When faced with the challenge of selling the judges on a Donna Summer classic while dressed in a Sesame Street-inspired gown, many queens would have been left in the dust, rooting through their purses for receipts. Manila, however, was not to be deterred by bright yellow feathers, and played up every syllable of the song in a way that had viewers completely sold on the idea of a Sesame Street/Drag Race crossover. Oh wait — I think they kind of tried that on season five. Never mind.
This is not RuPaul’s Best Friend Race
Every reality show has a character who insists they “aren’t here to make friends." But, when season four’s LaShauwn “Post-Apopkalakic” Beyond got fed up with an extremely whiny Jiggly Caliente during Untucked, she gave us more than just a TV Trope — she gave us a tagline. As RuPaul herself once said, “Consider that stolen, honey.”
Cleaning crew, shantay, please stay. Willam Belli, sashay away
It goes without saying that one of the most shocking moments in Drag Race history was the disqualification of season four bad girl, Willam Belli. From the moment she showed up, threw up, and walked off the stage, Willam went from Drag Race hopeful to urban legend as the exact circumstances surrounding her mysterious dismissal have remained just that — mysterious. And, while Willam still seems to be on good terms with Ru and the gang, she’s dropped several hints to the effect that her public explanation (conjugal visits, because of course, conjugal visits) wasn’t exactly the whole T and nothing but the T. While we wait for Willam’s NDA to expire, all we can do is speculate, sop up all the juicy bits of gossip she drops on her Tumblr and in her videos with a biscuit, and rewatch this amazingly shady reenactment of her swan song, courtesy of Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara.
“AMENDED: Never remove your wig while performing, unless you’re wearing another wig underneath.” — RuPaul
Ordinarily, the removal of one’s wig during a lip-sync performance is a no. It’s often regarded as a desperate attempt to come off as shocking, subversive, overcome with emotion...whatever. It typically doesn’t work, which is why every season, yet another queen is chastised for getting caught up in a fit of passion and showing us all what lies beneath. This was not the case for season six runner-up Roxxxy Andrews, who, with the help of Willow Smith, strategic mood lighting, and a cavalry of bobby pins, proved that some rules are meant to be ripped off and thrown across the room.
Akashia falls on the runway, makes it amazing
Category is: Sex and the City. Season four, episode two. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I want five pages on Carrie Bradshaw, Dolce & Gabbana, and the shadiness of Heidi Klum on my desk by the end of the day. Single spaced.
“Go back to Party City where you belong!”
I like to think of Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara as the drag versions of Janis Ian and Regina George. The only things missing from this heated season four exchange are a retracted pool party invitation and a Burn Book. How is there not a Halloween-themed Sharon Needles for Party City collaboration yet? Am I the only one who sees the potential marketing gold mine here? I really wish I’d bought one of Sharon’s Party City-themed shirts before she got that cease and desist letter.
Basically any time Alyssa Edwards opens her mouth
The self-proclaimed “Vanessa Williams of Drag” was the breakout star of season five, and has a spin-off series in the works to prove it. While her “feud” with former friend-turned-rival Coco Montrese was 100% tedious, Alyssa left to her own devices was as quotable and infectious as the B. Ames remix based on her most popular catchphrases. Plug in your headphones if you’re at work, and get into this gig, girl.
Jujubee reads the house down
Take off your pageant crown and put on your reading glasses — the library is open, darlings. You don’t have to look hard to catch the reverent nods to the 1992 documentary Paris Is Burning that are lovingly sprinkled throughout Drag Race. One of the best examples of this is also one of the show’s most popular mini-challenges: Reading is Fundamental. While many have tried, all have failed to match the razor sharp wit of season 2 runner-up, Jujubee. The patron saint of fried chicken threw down the gauntlet and elevated the challenge to a level of fierceness that, frankly, gave us all something new to strive for in life. Was your barbecue cancelled?
Halleloo is in the building — again
When a queen is asked to sashay away, it’s usually for good. Unless she’s asked to return around mid-season, when co-judges Michelle Visage and Santino Rice collaborate on a pick to bring back to the competition, the lipstick on the mirror doesn’t lie — we’ve typically seen the last of that queen until it’s time for the reunion. But, when Shangela LaQuifa Wadley was the first to be sent home during season two, we all got the feeling that RuPaul wasn’t quite done with her yet. And, a year later, Shangela was back for season three — this time, with enough death drops, plucky determination, and Southern hospitality to take her that much closer to the finish line.
Latrice Royale takes the queens to church
When season four’s Latrice Royale graced the Drag Race stage, she was large, in charge, and taught us many important lessons. From Latrice, we learned about elegance, professionalism, a heartwarming redemption tale about her time behind bars — and the fact that Jesus is a biscuit. Yes, a biscuit. Go ahead, children. Let him sop you up.