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Drag Race All Stars 9’s new format and rumored queens

Drag Race All Stars 9’s new format and rumored queens
Lil' Poundcake all alone in the empty Drag Race All Stars workroom, an apt metaphor for this empty season (Image via Drag Race)

You don’t need to look any further than RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 8 itself to see what a wreck the show has been: queens are trying to get off this ship so fast you’d think it was named OceanGate2.

I exaggerate, but not by much: While only one queen actually bailed, they keep talking about it, and Ru had to do some unscheduled work just to save an episode.

MTV and/or World of Wonder seem to have climbed aboard their private lifeboats and fled for shore, having drinks and cashing their checks. As Tom and Lorenzo noted in their recap of last week’s episode, “now would be the time for a silly mini-challenge” and “Now would be the time for the Pit Crew to show up.” Instead: “RuPaul turned the production dial to the ‘Celebrity Roast Challenge’ setting and wandered off set.”

A person in a light blue suit gesturing with hands open and palms up
RuPaul Charles gives a Ted Talk to the queens on episode 7 of Drag Race All Stars season 8

Doing all-stars every single year hasn’t helped; it’s more like RuPaul’s Drag Race: Second Chance now. All Stars proper should probably have been more special; even Survivor had the sense to hold off. But Paramount needs to get that cash wherever it can.

The uninspired/cheap producing hasn’t stopped the queens from themselves delivering some great entertainment. Jimbo’s reprise of Joan Rivers for a roast was perfect, and her weird white costumed character for a lip sync was incredible.

I mention Jimbo twice because it is so, so obvious that Jimbo is going to win, yet the show keeps up with the voting charade.

This Big Brother-style format introduced in season two, in which the bottom two queens are up for elimination, seems to be part of what’s leading to queens discontent.

Everyone already assumes/knows that production controls the exit order—and not just with public-facing elements like the Emmy-nominated “it’s chocolate” twist—but this Drag Race All Stars format makes them turn against each other in the process, and lets the judges off the hook.

One of All Stars’ past winners said as much. “Being there is very, like, emotionally taxing, and you are literally having to send your friends home, and it’s a horrible, it’s a horrible experience. It is not fun, it’s not fair, it’s not nice,” Alaska said on a recent episode of her podcast. “They need to change this format. It’s so emotionally fucking manipulative. It’s—I don’t like it. Just be a fucking judge and say, Yeah, you’re going home tonight, baby. … It’s manufactured anyway that you’re going to send home whoever you want to send home.”

Alaska’s co-host, Willam, said, “season nine of all stars, they do change it. You get your wish.”

Two people sitting in chairs, holding hands
Kandy Muse and LaLa Ri, in a photo the official RuPaul’s Drag Race Twitter account captioned “That Season 13 sisterhood” (Image via Drag Race)

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 9, which reports suggest started production this week, is changing, and going back to the one used for season 7: no eliminations all season long, according to Willam.

But will AS9 be the same as 2022’s All Stars 7? Despite the brilliant talent on All Stars last year, the production found a way to make the worst possible version of something, as usual. Instead of, say, using scores like Tournament of Champions does, season 7 used a ridiculous and inconsistent system.

Which queens will subject themselves to whatever format All Stars 9 actually adopts?

On Reddit, the AS9 Casting Speculation & Tea Thread! has, well, the tea. (There are no spoilers yet about elimination order, just casting.)

The casting speculation is gathered in a Google Doc, where the currently “highly rumored” queens so far include Angeria Paris VanMichaels, GotMik, Nina West, Roxxy Andrews, Shannel, and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. On the simply “rumored” list are six other queens: Kameron Michaels, Jorgeous, Peppermint, Carmen Carrera, Plastique Tiara, and Tayce.

Two people standing on a runway; one is in a black outfit, and the other, considerably taller, wearing an orange gown
Michelle Visage and RuPaul pose during the Carson Kressley roast episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 (Image via Drag Race)

One poster shared an updated list and added that the “misc. tea” is that there are “No elims” and “Each girl got a BIG stipend to be on. Between $25k for outfits and 50k for appearance fee.”

I hope that’s accurate, because the show/network should not be making its contestants go into debt just to afford the kind of outfits the show now demands. They should also get money just to be on the show; after all, the show itself is making money for every episode it airs, and so should its stars.

Drag Race is, at its best, a celebration of an art form and its artists. The Great British Bake-Off has proven it can celebrate bakers and be entertaining season after season without silly twists, and I hope those who make decisions about the format of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 9 can adjust course and stop sinking this ship.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!

Royal Tea

Friday 11th of August 2023

Carmen Carrera is never going to be back on Drag Race, she had made that clear and has publicly shunned Ru and WoW. She did change her mind but too little too late. She burned too many bridges.


Sunday 9th of July 2023

I like the current All-Stars format where they eliminate each other. I was not a fan of the All-Stars 7 format at all and I would hate to see them adopt that format for All-Stars here on out. They know what they sign up for and eliminating each other is part of the process. Besides, if they change the All-Stars format, they will need to change the "Vs. The World" format as well.

Just stick to the current format, I say.

Royal Tea

Friday 11th of August 2023

Problem is that production is having a hard time securing queens who want to do All Stars. The queens don't want to spend all that money and then get eliminated early. Knowing there are no eliminations means more top tier queens will say yes to a contract.

Nate Dragate

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

@Tiaan, they need to change the format for AS and VTW. Often top talent is tossed aside early on as strategy, so we miss out on seeing potential/probable winners on more episodes and their crowbingy. I initially appreciated AS7 format, but the ridiculous twist allowing the worst performing queen (statistically) land a finale spot with one episode win was bad television and robbed contenders ot a top 4 placement (Jiada going from a guaranteed top 4 slot from putting the work in to then bottom 4 was true robbery). It needs a reset to brush off some understandable DR fatigue. VTW should operate differently than AS anyhow considering the smaller cast agd fewer episodes.

Kyle B

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Yassss Nina West!!! Also seeing my reddit tea collide with reality blurred is surreal lmao


Saturday 8th of July 2023

Sometimes you just seem to hate fun. Yes, this season has not been as good as others, but it is still one of the most entertaining shows to watch. As for Ru's absence in those 2 episodes, you could clearly tell that RuPaul was not feeling well at all. And as for the format, it is a different show than the flagship. Alaska has a right to complain as her season was the first time these rules were in place and they didn't know. Any other queen complaining is just dumb as they knew the rules and the situation.