Halftime Leisure

Ranking every winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race

October 17, 2021

With the end of All Stars 6, where do the 23 winners of the RuPaul Cinematic Universe (RuPaul’s Drag Race, All Stars, UK, and Down Under) fall in comparison?

  1. Tyra Sanchez

There was, unfortunately, no other queen I could have placed dead last among the list than Season 2’s Tyra Sanchez. On her season, she was a powerful, albeit often combative, queen who outshined the likes of Drag Race legends such as Raven and Jujubee. However, since appearing on the show, Tyra has all but cemented her legacy as one of Drag Race’s most problematic queens, with controversies including calling suicide victims “selfish cowards,” falsely claiming that co-star Morgan McMichaels had died as retribution for a blocked booking, and being accused of terrorist threats at RuPaul’s DragCon in 2018, which she was subsequently barred from attending. As of 2020, Sanchez has quit drag, a move no doubt influenced by her controversial post-Drag Race career, essentially killing her drag persona once and for all.

  1. Sharon Needles

I really wish I could’ve put Season 4’s Sharon Needles higher. Her introduction of “spooky drag” changed the dynamic of the kind of looks that might be anticipated on a show known for its elegant runways. Her rivalry with fellow contestant Phi Phi O’Hara was reality TV gold and provided Sharon with a kind of shadowy outcast narrative that made her win cathartic for fans. However, following allegations from a fan of physical abuse, emotional manipulation, a continued use of racial slurs during performances, and an overall tainted relationship with the drag community, Sharon has fallen into disdain among Drag Race fans and fellow drag queens alike, despite her undeniable impact on the show itself.

  1. BeBe Zahara Benet

CAMEROOOOOON! Season 1 winner and eventual All Stars 3 contestant BeBe Zahara Benet suffered from the unfortunate fate of winning a show that was not yet widely popularized, earning a measly sum of $20,000 (compared to the $100,000 earnings of current winners) and being just too early to experience the opportunities that come from simply starring on the show, let alone winning it outright. Her runways were breathtaking, and her strong resurfacing on All Stars 3  showed she could keep up with the ever-changing drag scene, but it is still a difficult task for an icon like BeBe to shine past the legacy she began.

  1. The Vivienne

The Vivienne of Drag Race UK’s first season was the inaugural winner for what aims to be an equally iconic version of the American reality competition for the whole of Great Britain. Destined to be the winner from the start, perhaps, as she had already been named by RuPaul herself to be the first UK Drag Race ambassador back in 2015, The Vivienne stood out among the cast as far more polished and experienced with the franchise. However, on a season lacking in personality, and one that was still trying to flush out how to balance the established Drag Race tone with British television culture, The Vivienne did not provide much more than beautiful runways and an uncanny impression of then-U.S. President Donald Trump during the Snatch Game to establish herself as a winning queen. 

  1. Jaida Essence Hall

Look over there! Crowned virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, Season 12’s Jaida Essence Hall had the unfortunate situation of appearing in a season that was perhaps too full of talent, competing alongside iconic queens such as Gigi Goode, Crystal Methyd, Heidi N Closet, and Jan. Consequently, Jaida’s talents felt more like support towards an already incredible season, an added flare rather than achievements of her own. Despite this, she carried the runways with her pageant glamor and gave a hilarious performance in the mock presidential debate. We only wish she could have had more opportunities to represent Drag Race during her reigning year.

  1. Yvie Oddly

Crafty and outlandish, Season 11’s bendy artist Yvie Oddly represented a different kind of queen that had not yet been given much Drag Race attention. Her approach to drag from the conceptual level gave us stunning and unconventional runway looks, and her lip-sync prowess came directly from her inhuman flexibility, moving in ways that had the judges and audiences in awe. She was indeed quite cynical, with blunt honesty that often rubbed her competitors the wrong way, but she impressed Ru with her uniqueness to such a degree that she remains the only queen to win a season with only a single, non-solo win.

  1. Kita Mean

G’day, queens! Drag Race Down Under’s first winner, New Zealander Kita Mean, triumphed in an otherwise messy season full of unused potential and contestant controversy. The clear frontrunner based on challenge wins, Scarlet Adams, had been marred with criticism due to her use of blackface to mock Aboriginal Australians during past performances, so Kita Mean took the crown despite having only one challenge win. However, her bubbly charisma and infectious smile led her crowning to be anything but disappointing for fans, and her creative and quirky runway looks solidified her campy style as nothing less than thrilling week after week.

  1. Lawrence Chaney

Scottish bird and Drag Race UK’s reigning queen Lawrence Chaney played against other Season 2 powerhouses such as Bimini Bon-Boulash, Tayce, and A’Whora, forming what is perhaps one of the most iconic casts and seasons of the entire franchise. Sarcastic, loud, and hilarious, Lawrence rode her brutish wit to the crown this past spring, launching the UK franchise back into popularity after a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically halting filming. As a new winner, Lawrence is poised to have a long career in the British drag scene and hopefully represents just the beginning of a promising franchise.

  1. Chad Michaels

Drag Race’s resident Cher impersonator, Chad Michaels, perfected her rock-star chic aesthetic from an already impressive performance in Season 4 to become the first queen inducted into the Drag Race Hall of Fame by winning the very first season of All Stars. As an evident professional, she could’ve easily taken the crown in her original season, which made it all the more exciting to see her up her own game in All Stars. While her winning season is notorious for being quite messy due to the infamous team-based competition structure, the crown could not have found its way onto the curly mane of any other queen than Michaels.

  1. Monét X Change

As one half of All Stars 4’s winning duo, Monét X Change truly upgraded her game to secure her place as the season’s first double winner along with Trinity the Tuck. Following a relatively disappointing showing during her original Season 10 due to some questionable runway looks (although who can forget her iconic stunt fake-out during her “Pound the Alarm” lip sync), Monét X Change came back in full force with both her outfits and challenge performances that made us glad she was awarded a second chance by Mama Ru.

  1. Trinity the Tuck

The other half of All Stars 4’s set of double winners, Trinity the Tuck, catapulted into an easy first place after the shocking elimination of then-obvious frontrunner Manila Luzon. Known on Season 9 as “Trinity Taylor,” she made an early good impression on judges with her surprising comedy skills and lip sync prowess. On All Stars, she continued to showcase her talents with killer runways and a memorable Snatch Game performance, no doubt deserving her a place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame despite the major upset surrounding her win.

  1. Aquaria

Aquaria of Season 10 had the difficult task of living up to her already colossal reputation in the New York City drag scene, so it was no surprise that the other queens were left gagging right from when she strutted into the workroom. Fortunately, her status was well earned, as she was able to display some of the show’s most incredible fashion moments as well as an uncanny performance of Melania Trump in the Snatch Game, which solidified that she was more than just a look queen on social media. While her win was expected, it was still thrilling to see what she would bring to every episode (the marker of a good queen), and fans were no less excited to see her crowning to round off the first decade of the show’s run.

  1. Symone

It becomes more difficult to place Drag Race winners in this list the more recent their seasons have aired, as these later queens have had less time to cement themselves as legends. However, I have no problems placing Season 13’s Symone high on this list due to her sheer talent and force throughout her entire showing. Symone dominated the competition with runways that fully and beautifully embraced Black culture, including a garment train sprouting from a durag or her poignant white dress with red bullet wounds painted onto its back to memorialize those lost to police brutality. With a charming wit and warm charisma, Symone has already proven herself to be on par with Drag Race royalty despite her relatively young career.

  1. Violet Chachki

Oh, Season 7. While some of the most iconic queens in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory had their humble beginnings on Season 7, many fans have panned the season as a waste of incredible talent due to its dull challenges and overproduction. This may be true, but no real fan can deny the worthiness of Season 7’s champion Violet Chachki. Perhaps the most polished of the fashion queens, Violet ensured every look she presented was high-end and elegant enough to be seen on an actual runway, constantly proving her style to be far more elevated than her competitors. Since Drag Race, Violet has continued to make a name for herself in the professional world of burlesque and fashion modelling, her impact stretching far beyond the main stage.

  1. Raja Gemini

Be it Aquaria, Violet Chachki, or any other stylish Drag Race icon, winner or not, all fashion queens owe their aesthetics to the influence of Season 3’s Raja Gemini, the first and most prolific of the fashion queens. With designer-esque looks, many of which of her own creation, Raja set the stage for runway looks on the show to be shocking, chic, and memorable, with iconic outfits queens still gag over today. Her cyclops entrance look? Stunning. Her Rococo Marie Antoinette? Magnifique. Her final Cabaret suit? Das süper. Raja continues to wow fans with her post-crown looks, while also co-hosting a popular YouTube fashion review channel alongside Season 2 and All Stars 1 runner-up Raven. Without a doubt, Raja can be safely declared the show’s resident supermodel winner, a title she predicted for herself all the way back during her entrance confessional.

  1. Kylie Sonique Love

In all honesty, the love I have for Season 2’s misfit and eventual All Stars 6 winner Kylie Sonique Love knows no bounds. With an early elimination during Season 2, Kylie became the first Drag Race contestant to come out as a transgender woman, doing so to Ru and viewers during the reunion special. Following this, however, she began to make a name for herself in the performance scene, working with some serious celebrity entertainers and more than proving that she deserved a second chance at the crown. During this summer’s All Stars 6, Kylie did just that by presenting extraordinary runways, displaying impressive acting chops, and all but confirming her redemption. So, it was nothing short of cathartic to see her final lip sync showcase, complete with a jaw-dropping stunt to save herself from a fall, was to “Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga, whose Snatch Game portrayal sent her home eleven years before her triumphant victory.

  1. Bob the Drag Queen

There’s a reason a bitter Thorgy Thor constantly referred to Drag Race’s Season 8 as “The Bob Show,” but it’s a reason we’re all thankful for. Bob the Drag Queen (not to be confused with Bob the Accountant) was the focus of the season with her comedic excellence and unshakeable personality. It was clear she would dominate the competition from the outset, leading Season 8 to be slightly less entertaining from an audience perspective, but Bob’s talent and flair is undeniable, making it all the more enjoyable for fans of her post-show online content, commentary, and humor.

  1. Trixie Mattel

Trixie Mattel of Season 7 and winner of All Stars 3 is perhaps one of the most recognizable queens to ever come from the franchise, with her 60’s Western-Barbie aesthetic so very well-crafted and identifiable. While her Season 7 appearance was lackluster, she competed on All Stars 3 with renewed moxie and skill, earning the crown after clear frontrunner BenDeLaCreme’s unanticipated self-elimination and fan-favorite Shangela’s jury ousting (about which many are still bitter). Despite this, Trixie Mattel commands an empire of success, most notably alongside fellow Season 7 contestant and All Stars 2 runner-up Katya in their viral web series UNHhhh and has undeniably gained the most personal achievement outside of her remarkable run on the show.

  1. Sasha Velour

Sasha Velour of Season 9 is unequivocally Drag Race’s most intelligent winner, perhaps too smart for the show itself. With clever humor, mind-bending runway looks, and perfectly intellectual performances in the Snatch Game and acting challenges, the bald queen made a solid impression on the judges through her finely artistic approach to drag. However, she was billed as a second-place finisher all season long to her fierce competitor Shea Couleé. Thus, it was not until the two faced off queen-to-queen in the finale’s lip sync tournament that Sasha Velour gained the upper edge, knocking Shea out of the competition with her incomparably passionate performance to Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional,” climaxing in a rose-petals-under-the-wig reveal for the ages.

  1. Shea Couleé

By all means, Shea Couleé would’ve had a clear and simple path to the win in Season 9 had it not been for Sasha Velour, watching Shea’s chances of victory crumble like Sasha’s rose petals as they fell to the ground. So, it was clear from the get-go that All Stars 5 was set up to give Shea her long-deserved crown. Her jaw-dropping runways and improved confidence (complete with a new set of pearly white teeth) allowed audiences to sit back and relax as she dominated the competition once again, this time without a flowery upset to stop her. It’s undeniable that Shea Couleé is a queen like no other, and her spectacular talent remains unmatched.

  1. Jinkx Monsoon

Lovable outcast and Season 5 champion Jinkx Monsoon began her stretch on the show as a delightful and endearing queen who never quite fit in along with more established queens, exemplified through the notorious Rolaskatox alliance. Theatrically trained and unapologetically quirky, Jinxk triumphed over her opponents with quick intellect and a surprising lip sync ability. Since the show, her antique, campy drag has secured her countless bookings and media appearances, and to this day she remains one of Drag Race fans’ most beloved weirdos. 

  1. Alaska Thunderf*ck 5000

Hieeeeeeeeee! Second only to Jinkx Monsoon during Season 5, Alaska rode an extraordinary path to victory during All Stars 2, winning nearly half of the challenges and every lip sync for her legacy while competing against Drag Race titans such as Katya, Detox, and Alyssa Edwards. However, perhaps her greatest achievement was providing the fan base with the most incredible Snatch Game performance of the entire franchise, an uncanny and hilarious portrayal of Mae West, complete with ingenious responses and slick, off-the-cuff ad-libs. Why don’t you come up and rank me sometime?

  1. Bianca del Rio

And here we are. The most iconic and well known queen to ever grace the workroom of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 6’s Bianca del Rio. Poised with a hilarity unmatched by any comedy queen since, the self-proclaimed insult comic represents everything a perfect drag queen should be—funny, campy, fashionable, self-aware, and gorgeous. Her career has spanned over a dozen movie and television appearances, several web series, and theatrical productions. Her comedy tours have attracted thousands of viewers who can’t wait to see the best winning queen in her natural element: entertaining crowds and showing the world the best of what Drag Race has to offer.

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