RuPaul's Drag Race is easily the best reality competition program on television right now. What RuPaul has been able to do in terms of not only marketing but revolutionize the term "drag" is truly phenomenal, as you can see when thousands of fans showed up for DragCon a couple of weeks back (see more here).
The show has been on for nine regular seasons and two "all stars", with a 10th season and All Stars 3 coming in early 2018. RuPaul himself has won the Emmy two years in row for Outstanding Reality Competition Host, and the show picked up its first nod this year for Outstanding Reality Competition Program. Not bad for a show that merely a decade ago looked like it was filmed for public access television (no shade).
I did a Top 10 list similar to this for another site where I ranked who I thought were the best of the best when it comes to charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent but also who can prolong their career and obtain the longevity that some have definitely accomplished since then entered the werk room on their respective seasons. Due to new seasons coming into play, and the careers of some that have truly catapulted since then, that original list is thrown out the window.
Now, I give you my personal list of the Top 10 best contestants to ever come out of RuPaul's Drag Race. Did your favorite make the cut? Who is your all-time RPDR girl?
10. Trixie Mattel (Season 7). Trixie is an interesting character for me, primarily because she was a fish out of water in her original season and turned that concept into something much larger than she actually anticipated. She was the first contestant to truly spark a ton of digital outrage when she was cut way early on in the competition, only to be brought back a couple of episodes later and make it all the way into the top six.
Now, she's become one of the most popular drag queens to ever come out of that show, as evidenced when I hit up DragCon and her line was longer than anyone else's. She struck gold in finding a partner in Katya and now their YouTube show "UNHhhh" is going to be on Viceland in November. It's really a simple format for anything in life: be likeable and fun, and good things happen to you. Tada!
9. Raja (Season 3). Raja won Season 3 of RPDR in a time where the show was still figuring out its audience and slowly becoming the pop culture phenomenon that it is now. Besides Violet Chachki, Raja was truly the last glamour queen to win the show, and was sort of unstoppable in a way that Bianca and Bob were in their respectable seasons.
Love her or hate her with the whole "Heathers" thing, she proved several points with her maturity and understanding of her drag that made it for an easy win for her in the end. I can't get enough of watching Fashion Photo Ruview as her looks and makeup are still on point after all this time. And speaking of that particular show…
8. Raven (Season 2 and All Stars 1). Raven is somewhat known to be the "bridesmaid but never a bride" of the show, in that she was runner up twice. Does that really matter though? No. Even if she did win, the praise would still be there in that she was a brutally honest and upfront character that made both seasons incredible.
She is still one of the most beloved queens to ever come out of that show, and is one of the few that remain very relevant from a season that was almost a decade ago. I would love to see her compete one more time, as I truly think she would take the crown for AS3, but that remains to be seen if she would want to do this all over again.
7. Bob The Drag Queen (Season 8). Being from New York (and maybe I'm a bit biased), I knew that Bob would either go the distance or win the whole thing. And I was right (as was he, as stated many times on the show). You can't knock Bob for his confidence, he did the damn thing and excelled in pretty much every challenge on the show that made for an easy win in the end.
He had a great storyline to go along with his competitiveness, talking about how he got started in drag after the first season of RPDR aired and opening up about his mother's health. Combining that with a rapid fire sense of humor, great style and an honest approach at everything makes him a winner in many people's books.
6. Jinkx Monsoon (Season 5). I think Jinkx represented a lot of us growing up in the LGBT community: people who are bullied and ridiculed for being themselves yet persevering throughout it all. Even though Jinkx's talents were superb in many ways, it was that "little engine that could" mentality that helped her win Season 5 against a bunch of other queens who consistently questioned her and tore her down for her style of drag. It was hard to watch some of the episodes, given how much crap the other girls gave her, but it never slowed her down and helped her get the W in the end in a really close race against Alaska and Roxxxy Andrews. And yes, it's still "monsoon" season.
5. Sasha Velour (Season 9). The moment I met Sasha at the Season 9 premiere in New York City, I knew there was something I liked about her. Her energy throughout the show was something that I don't think has really been captured on it before, and it was truly a breath of fresh air for all to see.
She was a "bald" queen for most of the season, which helped allow us to focus on the incredible garments that she displayed each and every time on the runway, and her attitude was always one that was upbeat and helpful. Heck, she even came to Charlie Hides defense at the reunion when he was making up 100 excuses for not lip synching. Also, I don't think any of us have ever been gagged in such a way then when she did the wig reveal at the finale which helped her secure the win over front runners Shea Coulee and Peppermint. Can't wait to see what she does next.
4.Latrice Royale (Season 4 and All Stars 1). If you don't even like Latrice, you need to make an appointment with your doctor and get your head checked immediately. What is not to love about her, seriously? Outside of the Sharon/Phi Phi debacle, she was the best damn thing to come out of season 4 and became the first "big girl" to really contend for the title. If she didn't fumble towards the end, I think we would've had our first "large and in charge, chunky yet funky" winner that the show still has not rewarded. One of the funniest and most humble queens to ever come out of the show and is an absolute delight to see perform outside of it.
3. Katya (Season 7 and All Stars 2). The top three in my list are queens that are true brands at this point (Trixie is included in this as well). Katya is not just a name anymore, she's an empire of cookiness and crazy in the best way possible. Season 7 was lackluster for many reasons, but she was kind of our last hope to win in the end, and when she didn't it sucked but she came right back for All Stars 2 which helped all of the girls with their branding and solidifying a career that years ago was not something tangible for them.
Katya is truly unique in her humor, looks, and so many other things that make her one of the most beloved queens to ever appear on the show. #justice4katya might just be the best hashtag to ever come out of the whole damn series. Unhhhh.
2. Alaska (Season 5 and All Stars 2). Alaska had a lot to overcome in her original season, given that she tried out five times and her boyfriend (at the time) Sharon Needles just won S4. It wasn't easy, but her story arc on S5 was truly amazing in that she continually built on herself especially towards the end where it was neck and neck to see who would win the crown between her and Jinkx.
Then she comes back on All Stars 2, and literally slays the hell out of everyone. I know many fans were not thrilled with the outcome of AS2 or what went on during, but it was the best damn season of the entire series and Alaska was a force to be reckoned with throughout it all and came out with a win. Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.
1. Bianca Del Rio: Season 6. I mean, no one really comes close (IMHO) to what Bianca has done for this show. She's the Kelly Clarkson of the series, if Kelly had a potty mouth like Joan Rivers yet with equal the talent just in different facets. It was sort of like Bianca wasn't even a contestant on her season, yet more of a mentor and did an amazing job at honing in on her comedic abilities yet showing her softer side when helping the other girls out as the show progressed.
Now, she's doing international tours, made a movie and is one of the most profitable (if not most profitable) queens to ever come from the show. All of this from knowing your craft and showcasing it to an audience of millions in the best way possible. It's really that simple.
Note: The opinions in this article reflect the writer and not Instinct Magazine as a whole.
Editor's note: I would have put ChiChi DeVayne and Jujubee on the list for reals.