It’s that time of year, queers and queens: the new cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race has been announced—and they were worth the wait.
The season nine news broke yesterday, an announcement we should have seen coming as season eight’s cast dropped on basically the same day last year. There are a few differences in the cast—thirteen queens are participating, most notably—in addition to some very familiar tropes that the show now cannot do without, a la the concept queen and the school of fish. A few immediate thoughts and then we’ll dive into the cast breakdown and ranking.
• Thirteen queens likely means a twist is coming, a la an early double elimination or even an extra queen coming back. Given how bonkers the last All Stars was, this season is a sandbox and thirteen contestants suggests something is afoot.
• Is Vegas the new New York? A few very strong looking queens—Farrah Moan and Kimora Blac—are both from the area. Perhaps we need to keep an eye on that city.
• No Puerto Rico! There are vestiges of this Latinx heat but no direct import.
• There is a trans queen! There have been queens who have gone on to transition but no queen who already identifies as female going into the competition. This is huge given the initial controversy of trans stigmatization on behalf of the show (a la, “Shemail.”) but this likely opens the door to introducing new drag types like drag kings and female impersonators who are biologically female.
• There are some great names. From “Nina Bo’Nina Brown” to “Sasha Velour,” there are some deliciously kooky, textured names in this gang. However, there is no Karen From Finance or Alotta McGriddles or Biblegirl666.
• There are approximately three “concept queens,” as in queens like Max and Milk who were more art than queen. Interesting.
• Charles Hides claims to be the eldest queen to have participated. La-di-da.
• The cast is overwhelmingly…good? Not great or amazing but only two standout as distinctly bad. The majority of them feel fun and fresh with a unique brand and style. This show has been on long enough, studied by fans and future competitors alike that one cannot walk onto this show without a solid pre-polish. That is apparent here—and confuses an early frontrunner.
• There is no overwhelmingly “hot” out-of-drag queens. People will say Kimora Blac but I will say, “That’s just Detox.” There will only be one Pearl and Chi Chi, I guess.
Now, onward to the cast!
Cast Math: Off-the-clock Naomi Smalls plus the current style of Tatiana.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: The boy Aja is equally as doey but in a very sad, puppy-eyed way that makes you concerned you’re going to break him during sex, the type who sobs when he bottoms out of pain or pleasure. Too much information? Maybe that’s too much information.
Impressions: She seems young, as in she’s trying too hard to prove herself instead of being herself. She’s pretty but her initial personality is trying so hard to be edgy, the “I’m so PUNK!!!” equivalent of the Mickey Mouse Unknown Pleasures shirt. I’m not buying it. She also has a wonderfully ambiguous ethnicity.
Queen: Alexis Michelle
Cast Math: Delta Work subtracted by the entire physical body of Ivy Winters.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: This is absolutely not who I had in mind for her—but I like. He seems like a charming New York boy next door!
Impressions: Alexis is clearly a very old soul and seems quite poised in an undoubtedly young crowd. I’m unsure if she is going to live up to the “high fashion” expectation she’s setting for herself but she is pretty and nice. I like that.
Queen: Charles Hides
Cast Math: Courtney Act divided by Chad Michaels.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: Literally, imagine an old gay white man and you have Charles.
Impressions: This is a sink or swim contestant. Her look is quite devastating but given her interview and social she is a solidly middle cast member. She is going to exceed expectations or be deleted fairly quickly. Where are the “old” queens that can rival that of Chad Micheals’ prowess? Do they need to put Lady Bunny on this fucking show?
Cast Math: Mimi Imfurst funneled through Jaidynn Diore Fierce
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: Cute little chub boy, a very direct out-of-drag boy version.
Impressions: She better live up to the big name and personality that she gives herself because we need a wild big queen and she says she is that. While detail oriented with a pretty good look, I’m not sure that Eureka is going to be our “first big queen” winner. We had that chance with Latrice and she didn’t win—and this queen ain’t no Latrice. However, Eureka’s describing herself as the “Kool-Aid Man meets Eureka’s Castle meets Hobby Lobby meets The Dutchess meets Mary Queen Of Scotts meets fabulousness” is great.
Queen: Farrah Moan
Cast Math: Courtney Act squared by Violet Chacki plus an atom from Ben De La Creme.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: She is too pretty as a boy. No, thank you! Take that back to Forever 21!
Impressions: Farrah is just gorgeous. She is extreme fish and seems like a lot of fun given an enjoyable look but a slightly eh personality. She’s also from Vegas and I’m fascinated as to what that means. She is going to be solidly middle unless she is beyond style and beauty. Regardless, she might be the most passable female impersonator to have participated on the show.
Queen: Jaymes Mansfield
Cast Math: Laila McQueen straddled and made over by Mimi Imfurst as Gigi Gorgeous watches.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: I want to kiss this lil bb chalupa!
Impressions: First off, that voice. Second, are we sure this isn’t just a dolled up Damiana Garcia? Third, she’s not as clever as her drag name. Fourth, they’re going to try to market her as a YouTube sensation but homegirl has less than 2K subscribers. I want her to be great but I’m pretty sure she isn’t!
Queen: Kimora Blac
Cast Math: Detox multiplied by Gia Gunn
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: Cute but also fuck you, Kylie Jenner.
Impressions: She is a cute and cool queen who is promising big looks and personality. She has the potential to be a breakout star but she’s already dragging herself by saying she is all about the details but her lips not completely executed. She’s a bit like Amanda Lepore meets Kim Kardashian as it relates to looks (Which is as amazing and awful as it sounds.) while her style is so painfully Detox. Thus, she is very 2016. She even fucking mentions that Marco Marco is a brand she is inspired by!!!! No!!!!!!
Queen: Nina Bo’nina Brown
Cast Math: Dax Exclamationpoint gave Nina Flowers a makeover.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: “Pierre” is one cool ass art dude.
Impressions: I love Nina Bo’Nina. Like, that name alone and this look is just serving me Dot Matrix, Foxy Brown couture. She’s going to have a very tough time straddling concept queen with drag queen but she seems so funny and genuine that she’s hard to hate. Nina also seems to be the first legitimate nerd cosplay queen who actually is good at what she does. Don’t disappoint me, Nina BoB!
Cast Math: Chi Chi DeVayne and Cynthia Lee Fontaine fused together.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: Out of drag Peppermint is quite a pretty woman. Yes, a bit “Your friend’s mom on a night out.” but that mom is always fierce, though.
Impressions: This is huge news! Peppermint is the first competing trans woman on the show. That’s so exciting! She seems pretty decent, landing somewhere in the New York queen world where Bob and Vivacious lurk with a bit of the spunk and heart of Cynthia Lee Fontaine. An easy competitor for Ms. Congeniality. She will bring us heart and soul and a great storyline that producers will milk.
Queen: Sasha Velour
Cast Math: Max in drag, Sharon Needles or The Princess out of drag.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: She is fairly hot but also might have cancer.
Impressions: I love Sasha! Then again: I always love the concept queens. That said, I know they are limited in personality and frequently don’t rise above their own aesthetic trappings. Still, Sasha seems very high end and actually able to string together more words than “I’m hot out of drag.” I also love her the competitive streak in her (her words). Most concept queens roll over and take what they get but, if Sasha can step up to challenges, she will go far. She could be the Kim Chi sequel we’ve been looking for.
Queen: Shea Couleé
Cast Math: Latrice Royale gave Serena Cha Cha a makeover!!
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: Boy is realllll cute. Perhaps a bit femme for me but he is a cutie.
Impressions: Shea is great! She and Sasha seem very much created from the same swatch, Sasha’s from velour and Shea from kente. This might be the season of the concept queen.
Queen: Trinity Taylor
Cast Math: Tempest DuJour budded out a baby then dragged her through a creek.
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: Every gay guy’s first or second white ex-boyfriend.
Impressions: Good god, Trinity. She seems nice enough but will be gone soon. Let me tell you why she is here though: she is from Orlando and you can bet that she will be in enough episodes to fucking milk the fuck out of that storyline and it is going to kill us, for better or worse. You know producers went through queens and queens and queens in Orlando to find the one gem and this is what we have, all for gay news making. We couldn’t have expected the season to go any other way but mark my words: Trinity is simply here as a conduit to reflect on the Pulse shooting, as necessary and unnecessary as that is.
Cast Math: Naysha Lopez defibrillated by Joslyn Fox,
Out-Of-Drag Hotness: This lil bb is adorable.
Impressions: I love Valentina. She is positively effervescent and seems to have a good head on her tiny shoulders: she is more than just “being cute.” That’s the thing: we often have the cute queen like her but they frequently lack the bite and brawn to go far, as we’ve seen with people like Ivy Winters and Jade Jolie and Joslyn Fox and Ben De La Creme. You can be nice and sweet but you have to bring that heat, fam. Anyway, I want to eat Valentina up and I’m pretty sure somewhere down the Puerto Rican family tree we’re related. While potentially ridiculous, I think she’s my favorite? I can see her going far, if she lives up to everything she says in her video.
So. Where does that leave us going into episode one? Here’s my predictions which were surprisingly difficult because I really, really did like so many of them.
13. Jaymes Mansfield (Bye.)
12. Trinity Taylor (Double bye—but you get an extra episode since you have the Orlando storyline.)
11. Charlie Hide (Seeya, old.)
10. Aja (Bye.)
9. Eureka (I want her to prove me wrong and make top three! But I don’t think she will!!)
8. Kimora Blac (She’s going to be the season’s bitch and that alone will save her a few episodes.)
7. Peppermint (Love her but not sure she has a big enough pop to get beyond the hump.)
6. Alexis Michelle (This is where things get challenging: all these queens seem solid, from here on. Alexis is the final “vanilla” queen, who could rise up from being so seasoned. However, she doesn’t have a hook outside of, “I’m 33.” Thus, here she lies.)
5. Farrah Moan (Her cutesiness and extreme fish will take her far. It’s up to her to make herself more than body or a distant Vegas copy of Courtney Act.)
4. Shea Couleé (As you’ll see, concept queens are going to rule this season. Shea seems like the lightest, unfortunately—but she’s still a contender.)
3. Sasha Velour (This girl has such a polished look, articulate way about her, and a competitive streak. She’s going to make top three unless she has a breakdown based in doubting herself and “her art.”)
2. Nina Bo’Nina Brown (Nina BoB!!!! She has what the other concept queens has plus oodles more personality. She could take it all but, alas, concept queens always have such a challenge evolving beyond their concept. Thus, not sure she or Sasha or Shea could take it. But if any of them can? It’s Nina.) (Watch her get eliminated first, following too closely in the footsteps of Dax Exclamationpoint.)
1. Valentina (Shock! I didn’t know who I would give my top pick to but I really, really do think Valentina has a cute way about her an an intelligence that we can see going far. Furthermore, it’s time for a Latinx queen to take the crown. Is it Valentina? We’ll see.)
Thoughts? Let’s compare notes. Obvs I have a lot.