Who will be the next drag superstar?

Patrick Yim, Special to the Chanticleer

Drag Race is coming through, bigger and bolder than ever! For those who have not seen the show, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a show that takes drag performers and pits them against each other, competing to become America’s next drag superstar.

The show, which began in 2009, has now cycled through ten full regular seasons, as well as four seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. During the show, competitors, known as queens, compete in two different challenges each episode. The first is known as a Mini-Challenge where queens play small games in the workroom. These challenges typically give an advantage to the winner for the main challenge, known as Maxi-Challenges.

In a Maxi-Challenge, queens will compete in different skills, such as acting, singing, sewing, design, marketing, etc. The reason for these challenges is to see who, if crowned, would be a better representative, not only for the Rupaul legacy, but also for themselves. This competition is a process to help them better themselves for sustainability in the real world as a performer.

For many, the most exciting part of the show comes at the end of an episode. While the show is helping all queens perform better, it is still a competition, and one or more queen is sent home each week. The elimination process in the regular seasons is called the Lip-Sync for Your Life. When two queens are placed at the bottom, they perform a lip-sync to a song selected by the judges. The queen who outshines and outperforms the song is told “Shantay you stay,” by RuPaul, while the weaker performer is told to “Sashay away.”

The queens are given the list of songs for every episode at the beginning of the season, but they don’t know which song will be performed until elimination day, so it is important that they learn their words. There have been times where a queen was either a better performer or a better competitor, but not knowing their words proved detrimental. This caused them to inevitably be forced to sashay away.

Previous winners who have Shantayed all the way to the crown in order of crowning are: Bebe Zahara Benet (season 1), Tyra Sanchez (season 2), Raja Gemini (season 3), Sharon Needles (season 4), Chad Michaels (All Stars 1), Jinkx Monsoon (season 5), Bianca Del Rio (season 6), Violet Chachki (season 7), Bob the Drag Queen (season 8), Alaska Thunderf*** (All Stars 2) Sasha Velour (season 9), Trixie Mattel (All Stars 3), Aquaria (season 10), and most recently Monet X Change and Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor from the most reason of All Stars.

After hitting the decade mark this past summer, the show is jumping into season eleven with a star many know well, Miley Cyrus. Cyrus will help launch season eleven as the special opening musical guest judge. This has become something the show has teased in recent years at the beginning of seasons to encourage viewers to watch their favorite stars.

Past seasons have included guests such as Christina Aguilera (season 10)  and Lady Gaga (season 9) for their openings. Other special guest judges include names such as Bob Mackie, Vanessa Williams, Kathy Najimy, Debbie Reynolds, Lily Tomlin, Loretta Divine, Tamar Braxton, Kesha, Shay Mitchell, Ellen Pompeo, and many more.

This new season boasts that it will be bigger and better than past seasons as it not only starts the second decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but this is the largest group of contestants the show has ever brought into the workroom. With 15 queens, the show is also heading to a new showtime, Thursdays at 9pm/8pm central, starting on February 28, 2019 on VH1. Other plays and reruns will appear on Logo.

Some of the major names that many super fans have already been talking about are the three Davenports: A’Keria Chanel Devenport, Honey Davenport, and Ra’jah D. O’Hara. The Davenport drag family has become a major name on drag race, ever since Sahara Davenport competed back in season 2.

Outside of the Davenports, there are some pretty big names. However, none  possibly as infamous as Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. Mateo originally appeared on season 10 in 2018, but their time was cut short, as they were eliminated in the first episode. They are  remembered for their backwards walk as they exited the runway repeating their middle name in a slow and exaggerated manner. Even RuPaul couldn’t hold back from chuckling throughout the season as queens and judges alike held on to that phrase as it became a meme throughout the drag community.

The fifteen competitors include: A’keria Chanel Daveport, Ariel Versace, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Honey Davenport, Kahana Montrese, Mercedes Iman Diamond, Nina West, Plastique Tiara, Ra’jah O’Hara, Scarlet Envy, Shuga Cain, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, Soju, Yvie Oddly, and the big return of Vanessa Vanjie Mateo.

To find out who will “Shantay” and who will “sashay”, make sure to follow RuPaul’s Drag Race on social media and tune in to the show on Thursdays.

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