But after seven seasons of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, Logo’s smash hit isn’t just an entertaining spectacle of sequins and glitter. It is a groundbreaking LGBT staple that has brought drag culture out of the clubs and into the mainstream.
Mimi Imfurst burst onto season 3 with a bombastic determination that few other queens have possessed. But her thirst for the crown got the best of her when she found herself in the bottom two, and had to lip-synch for her life against India Ferra. Imfurst proved she was true to her name when she committed a RPDR first and lifted India Ferrah over her head, in a move that looked more like it belonged to WWE than Logo TV. But her style of full-contact drag proved to be too much for Ru to handle, and he made her sashay away with nothing to show for it.
Every season of Drag Race has taken on a life of its own, and season 6 was hands down the season of talent. With the raw charisma of Adore Delano, the polished perfection of Courtney Act, and the force of nature that is Bianca Del Rio, each episode was like a master class in what it takes to go from drag queen to drag star. But in the episode “Shade: The Rusical,” RPDR went from being a drag competition to a battle of the Broadway babes. With their singing skills, Courtney and Adore ruled the show, but all of the queens proved that these queens were capable breaking out of the drag lane.
The first season of Drag Race was a low-budget, blurry dream of perfection. In addition to gifting us with the gag of eleganza, RPDR proved to be a source of undeniable inspiration when Ongina revealed her HIV-positive status during the MAC Viva Glam challenge, which asked contestants to be spokespeople for HIV awareness.
"I'm a MAC Viva Glam woman because like you and many others, I care. Educate, donate, and celebrate, because life is a celebration!" — Ongina
Season 7 of Drag Race was filled to the brim with acting and singing challenges. But the episode that proved the art of the lip-synch is still the heart of drag is “Glamazonian Airways.” It was equal parts simple and sensational, and it left us gagging for days. If only the queens were allowed to show off their lip-synching chops more! (Wink, wink, RuPaul.)
It’s impossible to choose one fashion moment after seasons of sewing challenges and realness. But no matter how many high notes the queens hit on the main stage, no one outshines the runway diva herself, Mama Ru (Hat tip: Raja Gemini).
When bad girl Roxxxy Andrews of season 5 went stiletto to stiletto with the hilarious pageant queen Alyssa Edwards, it was the stuff that little drag princesses’ dreams are made of. With Edwards firing off every secret dance move in her arsenal and Andrews taking off her wig to reveal another wig, it was a battle that was too close to call. Ru thought so too, and both queens stayed to slay another day.
Unfortunately, not every queen has what it takes to impress Mama Ru. But when Vivienne Pinay and Honey Mahogany battled to stay in the competition during season 5, both of them failed to impress and were asked to pack their wigs and go! I mean, if you can’t lip-synch to Britney Spears, how the hell you gonna lip-synch to anybody else?
What would a show about drag queens be without some drama and controversy? It’s hard to believe Phi Phi O'Hara would have had a chance at the top three if Willam Belli had been allowed to stay in the competition. Alas, the queen with an ego big enough for two seasons was disqualified for allegedly receiving a conjugal visit during filming. Why, Willam … why?!
Shangela is the queen who just won’t go away, and we never want her to! The funny Drag Racer, who was eliminated during the first episode of season 2, came back in full force during season 3. Although Shangela proved to be a formidable contender, she fell short of the crown once again.
In season 7, one of the most controversial contestants came in the form of a sleepy but dreamy drag queen known as Pearl. Although this queen was smoking hot both in and out of drag, she left her fellow contestants and viewers alike divided over whether the icy blond deserved a spot in the competition. Even Ru herself wasn’t sure about Pearl’s ability, which led to one of the most awkward stare-downs in Drag Race herstory. Doesn’t Pearl know you are never supposed to look Ru in the eyes? Still, Pearl had that undeniable “something,” and she sleepwalked all the way to the final three.