Almost three months ago, VH1 kicked off the ninth season of the highly popular show RuPaul’s Drag Race, where fourteen drag queens compete for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar through challenges, runways and lip-syncs. We have had incredibly gagworthy moments, like Valentina’s unforgettable mask and Eureka’s tragic injury, but in two weeks the season will end, and only one contestant will come out on top. In last Friday’s episode, it was revealed that for the first time in drag race herstory, four queens would move on to the finale instead of just three: Peppermint, Sasha Velour, Shea Couleé and Trinity Taylor, and the competition has never been so tight. Undoubtedly, they all possess the characteristics of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent. So who will be our new reigning queen?
Whether this legendary drag queen wins or not, she made history by being the first openly trans woman on the show. She is very popular in her home state of New York, having appeared on America’s Next Top Model and CSI: NY and also releasing an album back in 2009. However none of that made her “too big for the show,” and she still went for it and thankfully made it to the end. She definitely left a legacy as a joyous queen who absolutely killed it when it came to lip-synching for her life and who left everyone emotional when talking about her experiences as a trans woman.
“The very beginning of my transition was met with some pushback. There were a lot of micro aggressions with people coming up and whispering in my ear ‘you’re not transitioning or anything are you?’ That kind of approach or that kind of talk scared me for many years,” she shared in an interview with NewNowNext. “Thinking: ‘wow, if I come out as trans I’m going to lose my spot in the drag community and in the LGBT community.’ I work as a drag queen, I volunteer with AIDS and HIV patients. I marched for marriage equality.”
Nevertheless, Peppermint has taken her place in the Bottom Two twice during the whole competition and only won one challenge, which leaves her one step behind her fellow contestants. She excelled in Michelle Visage’s roast, where she really started to prove she could make it. And in the “Your Pilot’s on Fire” episode, she shined in her role as a mother and served an extravagant candy look on the runway. I do not think she will be crowned this year, but she will remain an icon regardless. Not only has she gained a lot from her time on the show, but she has also given a voice to those who do not have it, in her own particular way.
There have been countless times where certain queens have been labeled as “pageant queens” to the point it became an insult. And while Trinity Taylor is proud of her participation in pageants, she has shown herself to be way more than that. She is, without a doubt, the comic relief of this season, making the audience laugh not only in acting challenges (like the one where she played Sister Mary Koont), but also in confessionals every single episode with her hilarious catchphrases. Her popularity among fans even reached “Saturday Night Live” where she was mentioned several times by Bobby Moynihan and Chris Pine in a sketch about Drag Race.
Trinity is the only queen to have three wins in individual challenges this season (Shea Couleé has four wins but two of them are shared with Sasha Velour) and she only landed in the Bottom Two once in Episode 4, where she gave one of my personal favorite lip-syncs and sent Charlie Hides home.
It would seem like the exposure she has gotten would add to her popularity and coupled with her undeniable talent, she would almost automatically win, but the situation is more complex than that. While she is most definitely a star (and it would not surprise me if she actually did take the crown), I do not believe that she will win this year because her style belongs more to previous seasons. Although her style is fantastic, I think Ru will be looking for another type of profile for this win: someone who could carry her legacy in a completely different way than what is expected.
When Shea Couleé entered the workroom in the first episode, her first words were “I didn’t come to play, I came to slay,” and she was absolutely right. From the very beginning, she has shown consistency: she can do anything from dancing to rapping to acting, and most importantly, to serving amazing looks, making her the apparent frontrunner. One of the most memorable things about her is her alliance with Sasha Velour that began in Episode Four with their pair challenge win. It added positively to her resume, showing how well she is able to work with someone who has a different style from hers.
Shea is one of the three contestants in the history of the show to win four main challenges in one season (along with Sharon Needles from Season 4 and Alaska from All-Stars 2, who have both won the competition). She only had to lip-sync for her life once after a bad performance in the Makeover Challenge, in which she sent Nina Bo’Nina Brown home.
Most people seem to think that Shea is going to win this season because she is probably the most well-rounded in the Top Four. I did agree for many weeks and it was almost obvious that she would take the crown, but after analyzing the situation more I realized her dear friend Sasha Velour might be more convincing in Ru’s eyes.
Rebellious. Revolutionary. Rare. These are probably one of the first words that come to mind when describing the unique personality of Sasha Velour. Her artistic style of drag has been seen before: last season with Acid Betty, for example; but it had never been so well executed. Everything this New York queen has done seems to have a purpose and a metaphorycal explanation, and although her brains are probably her forte, she did not bore anyone. In the acting challenges she came out on top, and in the runway she left everyone in awe every single time. However, she has shown her weaknesses in dancing and singing — two areas the rest of the Top Four has mastered.
Sasha seemed to hide in Shea’s shadow for some weeks (because Shea ended up winning more challenges). And although she was never in the Bottom Two, her only wins were shared with her friend. Still, it has been argued by many fans that she should have won the Ball Challenge in Episode 11, equaling Taylor, Couleé, and Velour with three wins each. Therefore, it is up to Ru to decide which factors to take into account.
I believe that Sasha Velour will be crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar not necessarily because she is better than her fellow contestants, but because it seems that she has got that extra touch that has made fans fall in love with her and pick her as their favorite (taking her drag to the next level). She is not the first to have an artistic, complex style (and she will definitely not be the last), but RuPaul’s Drag Race has been so impactful in making drag queens more mainstream, her style might make the show even more well-known and successful.
We will find out the winner of Season 9 soon, and while I would be satisfied with any of these four amazing, powerful and unique queens winning, I have placed my bets on Sasha. All that is left now is to wish them the best of luck, and may the best queen win!