As the season 10 gaggery commences (and by all estimations, this seems like a top-notch new cast), many Drag Race fans are still hung up about how All Stars 3 ended.
And that’s OK.
The twists and turns, from frontrunner BenDeLaCreme’s self-elimination to bringing back Morgan McMichaels when Aja slayed the challenge to Shangela getting one vote as the queens selected the top two (one?!), made for great television, but detracted from the season’s overall spirit of competition.
Related: RuPaul & Trixie Mattel react to ‘All Stars’ backlash
That being said, it’s a reality TV show — a great one, at that. So everybody calm down.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Dela let every last one of her feelings on the matter be known, so strap in and grab the Charmin Ultra Soft if you don’t want this tea to spill everywhere:
Via Dela’s FB:
Dear Drag Race “fans” (not the real fans),
I’m not Jasmine Masters, but I’ve still got some stuff to say.
Related: Shangela consoling kids who are devastated she lost ‘All Stars’ is a MUST-see
Tonight is an exciting night for a whole new crop of queens, and I want to celebrate them. But you may have noticed I have not yet congratulated the winner of All Stars 3. Or weighed in on the final episode at all. In fact, I’ve steered clear of social media for the last week. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I have discovered that anything I say will lead to an attack from a small but vocal minority of “fans” who have been using social media to harass and bully the queens.
If you have tweeted, commented, posted or DMed anything negative to any of the queens, this message is for you. Try and stick with it — it’s more than 140 characters.
I think a lot of you will find yourselves happier if you assume we are all humans trying our best to varying degrees of success at various times. The black and white thinking that people can be minimized to “good” or “bad” is both reductive and destructive.
Now that the season is over, let me clarify some things.
Firstly, let’s dismantle this “you knew what you were getting into” narrative. I can’t speak for the other girls, but I know I am not alone in this: Drag is my one true love. It is not just my job or my big plan to get rich and famous. I started drag when you had to love it so much that you were willing to withstand hate from the straight AND gay communities and devote your life to a demanding art form that almost guaranteed you would be permanently impoverished and disdained. Drag is who I am. It is deep in my blood and necessary to my happiness. I come from a long proud tradition of people with that same deep need for this art form, and we all now live in a moment where Drag Race is inextricably tied to any drag queen’s career, whether they engage with it or not. It provides amazing opportunities for both cast members and viewers. The culture surrounding it also takes some things away.
When I was first asked to be on All Stars 3 I said no. Then they asked some more. While I was flattered they wanted me back, I wished they would stop. I knew that no matter what I chose, there would be some unhappiness. There would be some regrets. It was the first of what I knew would be many decisions with no right answer. But thus is life – those of you who think you will ever have an objectively “right” or “wrong” viewpoint have a rocky road ahead. At the end of the day I decided that despite my issues with the format, I’d be able to change more from the inside than I could from the sidelines.
Also, the kid I once was needed to see the adult I am today.
Also, my career is everything to me.
Also, financial security is rare for an artist.
Related: People have a lot to say about how ‘Drag Race All Stars’ ended
There is no one reason for anything. Nothing is entirely selfless, but that doesn’t mean none of it is.
I had no plan to do what I did, but it was not some incomprehensible decision that was “right for me” and I reject that narrative.
I did not leave the competition as any sort of favor to the other girls. I did not leave the competition because I couldn’t hack it. I did not leave the competition for “my mental health” or because a producer put me up to it. And I have never claimed any of those things. I left the competition because, in a situation where I had felt trapped choosing between “success” and what felt right, I had an epiphany. I saw an opportunity to make a statement to the producers, and in turn to you, the viewer. And also to myself. Stop accepting what “authority figures” have told you you have to do. You do not have to consent to compromising your values or personal boundaries, whatever they may be. You do not have to push people down to lift yourself up. This society has indoctrinated us with certain beliefs at a great cost to our own humanity. Some of you are angry I questioned those beliefs. If those beliefs can’t withstand questioning, then they are not structurally sound.
I’m disappointed with those who can’t see through the smoke and mirrors to the heart of drag, which is a message of love and inclusivity. Our culture has embraced bloodlust, and for some, reality TV has become our coliseum. The creators set up impossible situations for us to navigate without any of the support systems of the real world. Situations that cause some of us pain and anger and sadness. They don’t do it because they are monsters, they do it because they are under the impression that’s what you, the viewer, demands. Is that what you demand? Do you feel ok with demanding that?
I’d like to think that there are more people, like me, who love the part of this show that allows us to see amazing people do amazing things.
I’d also like to address this concept of being “fake” or “calculating.” If being “fake” means not thinking or feeling the same way in one moment than you thought or felt in a different moment, then lord help us all. If being “calculating” is thinking through your words and actions and modeling the behavior you would like to see in the world, even when it is difficult, then I hope more of you will become calculating.
No one is born kind. It takes work. That work requires thought, intention, and sometimes it means not indulging in everything you feel. Anyone who does that work will sometimes fail because failure always goes hand in hand with trying. My anger stems from the throngs of people unwilling to do the work.
Being kind when you feel inclined to be kind is not a measure of your kindness. Being kind when you are actually sad or angry or frustrated or resentful—or just DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO—that is being kind. Some of you embrace your id as if spouting every thought that goes through your mind is equivilent to being genuine. It is not dishonest to strive to be better than you are.
I love and respect Trixie. I love and respect Shangela. And all of the queens. I don’t think those who have not been through the reality TV machine will ever understand what the experience is like and how that might affect choices and actions in any given moment. I think some of you going to jump to wild assumptions about what I mean by that last sentence. You don’t know. You. Don’t. Know. Sometimes in life you will not know. Sometimes in life you will not understand. Or agree. And if you pick a fight every time that happens you’re going to tucker yourself out real quick.
Recognize that this show is a platform for all of these queens to share their work post-show. It is a stepping stone not an endgame. The crown itself has no bearing on the queens happiness, success or finances. This is evidenced by the fact that you regularly tear the winner to shreds. It is also evidenced by the reality that any queen who gets close to winning $100,000 will make at least $100,000. Anyone who thinks a queen’s bookings will suffer just because she didn’t win is deluded.
How about you all just focus on being wildly appreciative that these people have chosen to share themselves and their artistry with you, to bare themselves and be vulnerable despite the knowledge that many of you will be extremely cruel in return?
Congratulations to Trixie on winning the crown.
Congratulations to Shangela for her incredible performance on the show.
Congratulations to Kennedy and Bebe on being fierce queens who have earned fans and respect all over the world.
Congratulations to the rest of the queens for being brave and fierce enough to share themselves despite the “fans” who attempt to chip away at their self worth.
Congratulations to the cast of Season Ten; you are all brave and amazing. I truly hope the “fans” get their act together and see that.
Finally, congratulations to the real fans – the ones who actually show love and support. You will always be a part of this family. You will always be loved and appreciated. And by giving, receiving and sharing that love, you will always know what it means to “win.”
OMG… I’m glad All Stars is over… I’m tired of the old crew and being lectured. Honestly. The show loves to talk about READING and SHADE… except when it comes to them.
Season 10, please don’t stand on soap boxes. Just entertain us and accept social media for what it is. We all use it. Famous or not.
Well said. I’m really sick of the bitchiest show on tv not being able to take it when the fans comment and criticise in kind. I like BenDeLa and understand his decision to leave, but this open letter had me rolling my eyes more than once but especially so when I got to the end. There is NO justification for the way he and the other jury members (excluding Thorgy) stuck the knife into Shangela.
When I saw the headline, I was unhappily expecting the usual rant, and expecting to feel sad. Fortunately, Ms. DeLaCreme continues to be an inspiration, and a class act. All I have to say is “Yaaasss, queen!”. Thank you DeLa for your inspiration and refusal to play the game the way others may want you to.
PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID
You prance around in wigs and womens undercrackers for a living…get over yourself. it—and you—are not that serious!
Human lives are serious.
PRINCE OF SNARKNESS Obviously doing more and better than you, or you would not be such a shallow “Bitter Betty.” Get over yourself.
In all honesty, this drag race was the first drag race show that I watched from beginning to end. I can say that I was surprised when she left the show and thought that the whole premise of the winners voting off the looser was a little crazy.
I can also say that I, like most people thought that Shangellla was going to win but as with a lot of reality shows, I think things happen in the background the defies logic
All that being said I’m insulted by the last line of I should be wildly appreciative that they chose to perform… REALLY. Girl Bye
A lot of words all to avoid the simple fact of….
Ben knew the format of the show, went on the show knowing that, then decided not to follow it.
That was Ben’s decision, but don’t act shocked when people question it.
As for Ben’s other assertions, the problem is, that according to Ben, nobody should try, win, lose, or be subjected to contests because that isn’t nice, however I would like to point out that Ben has come on the show twice, and also had no trouble sending Morgan home.
So a little hypocrisy there. But also, I like the work she does and some Drag Race fans really take it too far. She did what she did, and I thought it made for pretty good TV.
Yes. Artist. A brilliant, provocative, compassionate one.
I was tempted to say, “Look it up.” or “Read a book.” But those things don’t teach what an artist is, in and of themselves.
I cracked open my skull in February 3 years ago. Among other horrors, it gave me (and continues to give me) Profound Amnesia, where I lost 30-40 percent of my memory.
There are a lot of super-shitty things about losing your past, whether it’s forgetting what just happened 30 seconds before, or all of 2013, or that you lost 5 dear friends in 2012, or that loved ones had to tell you 4 different times that Whitney H. had passed (cried gracelessly and embarrassed, each freakin’ time), or your mom’s name, or where the bathroom of your office is, or your address. that’s a nightmare.
There are a few things about Profound Amnesia that kick ass too. I got to find out over and over again that my first two books were about to be published. And I got to read them, not remembering that I’d ever researched or written them. I also get to experience some moments of extreme beauty and humanity over and over again, for the first time, and not. I haven’t figured out how to explain that to other people very well yet, but it’s so so fantastic, it was almost worth a broken head.
Over and over, I got–and get–to experience for the first time: Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and Hole’s “Live Through This” and Toni Morrison’s Sula (my fav novel) and Hitchcock’s The Birds and Marnie, and The Last of Sheila, and Jennifer Hudson and Tales of the City and “Groove is In the Heart” and FM Ford’s The Good Soldier. And CAMP. And Cho’s I’M THE ONE THAT I WANT. And Christie’s Death on the Nile. And good kissers. And homemade margaritas and Massachusetts sunsets and Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls and beignets. And Ben de la Creme.
I first saw Ben de la Creme on R’s show in August or September of ’14. My accident happened in early ’15. With delight and new hope and old desire and mouth open wide, I kept watching Ben through my convalescence. He and She are an Artist because every performance–every repetition–was provocative and delightful and reinvigorating and challenging in ways that only really artists can deliver. And you don’t have to have amnesia to feel repeatedly struck by lightning by an artist, or to be given a fresh and unique perspective on a scary, uncomfortable world where it’s easier to talk shit about someone who makes you uncomfortable than to look for a connection between you, among you.
Watching Ben as I recovered 3 years ago gave me enough strength to get through the manuscript proofs of my first 2 books right before they went to Press–those books I didn’t remember writing. Ben was also a huge inspiration in cementing the promise I made to myself that my second book would be the first of a long series; in fact, it’s a series about a drag queen detective in 1935 named Pancetta Brulee.
Ben and RuPaul and most of the Queens on that series see and use performance as acts of transformative Love. When it’s done at its most brilliantly, it is not just entertainment, not just a spectacle, but an offering to re-evaluate your ideas about truth, the state of our world, what power is, what futures can look like, what beauty means to us, what pain tells us about ourselves, and what can be done to reshape and battle Fear over and over, for the first time.
I teach college film and lit, and as an English professor, I try to get closer to what art means and what it offers, alongside my students. I can’t give a great definition, but I know an Artist forces us to re-negotiate our relationship with the world, through delight, disgust, critique, attraction, disorientation, seduction, and Love. If Ben de la Creme doesn’t fulfill that in her life and work, I’ll crack open the other side of my brain and start over.
One thing I haven’t figured out about Artists is whether they have to be compassionate. The only answer I’ve come up with so far (that I remember) is that I think, to be an Artists, you don’t have to be kind, but you have to be aware of what compassion is, and struggle with where and how it belongs in our lives. I go back and forth. I believe, like Ben said above, that we’re not born nice, but we owe it to ourselves to cultivate it within us.
The world’s terrifying right now, and awfully sad. If I had to choose between kindness/decency/compassion and Artistry. I’d put kindness first, Artistry second, and probably a few Provincetown donuts third. Thankfully, with Ben, no one has to choose between compassion and artistry. And I think that’s the best kind of artist. Jury’s out on best donuts, but I’ll keep trying and I’ll definitely keep loving Ben de la as long as my memory lasts and hopefully longer.
Pretentious Fogey who must not be nearly Deviant enough. (Although have you noticed it’s the ones that call themselves “deviant” that also think lols and petty, thoughtless insults are REALLY cute?)
Yeah, artist, dumb.
Deviant and SailorVenus14 you both show your ignorance. Drag is the art of illusion. I doubt either of you have the ability to look like anything but a tired mess in drag. Think, both of you, before you open up with with your opinions when you know not what you speak of.
Love you Ben Deal!! Be true to yourself! Please come to visit us in Philly soon!!
Ben, you are a class act. Keep being true to yourself the only self you have. I wasn’t a “fan” but you have me now.
I have loved watching RuPaul’s Drag Race every year for the past 10 years. This year on All Stars 3, I had never seen or heard such shady queens in all my life, either in life or on television until this season. Shangela should have won, no ifs ands or buts. You all knew it and we, the “fans” knew it, but you Ben de la Creme and the losers as judge and jury were terrible towards Shangela and Bebe. The twisted logic and circuitous excuses you made up for not choosing Shangela and Bebe were disgraceful for a queen of your talent and caliber. Furthermore, De la should not have been allowed to be on that jury because she took herself out on an earlier week. Thereby, her vote was not as genuine as the other shady queens’. As a side bar Ben, your grammar, your spelling, your sentence formation and the construction of your thoughts…well, you need to go back and re-read your 7th grade English text again. Girl, please, to start your rant with “Firstly,” – which is wrong essentially in the format you choose to write your nasty essay or your incomprehensible rant. Then you did not follow up with secondly, thirdly, etc so that your readers could follow your thoughts within your rant. Your writing left me and others confused. You need help, girl…a lot of help.
All you queens then chose Kennedy and Trixie to be the top two, ( I saw only one queen choose Shangela, so one point for her.) Kennedy v Trixie? Who would win that, I wonder? Of course, it would be Kennedy. She has such beauty, talent and poise. She dances so well too. However, RuPaul stayed true to her conviction that a Lip-sync is a Lip-sync. While Kennedy danced, did flips of her wig and danced cartwheels and splits; her lip-syncing was something…ah…let’s say…something to be desired. Trixie stayed true to form and her lip-sync was flawless from my point of view from the televisin screen.
I loved it so when RuPaul chose Trixie because she pissed all over your drag queen faces. While Trixie won the lip-sync over Kennedy’s, the over all win should have been Shangela’s. So kudos to RuPaul’s choice and boos to you and the other shady queens. You tried to set it up for Kennedy, but seeing Kennedy’s beat face crack upon hearing the decision that she did not win, was priceless.
At least you know you’re a “fan” =’D
I wouldn’t touch the subjects of grammar, logic, or diction here if I were you. That’s just embarrassing.
Praise be to Ben Dela Christ. Glory Glory Halleloo! Amen, Sistah!
I agree with this. Viciousness has become a favorite past time among gay men the last 35+ years. It’s become an epidemic as of 2018. RuPaul wants to see these queens jump through rings of fire like pink poodles in a circus– when he goes home filthy rich and worshiped. Encourages “reading” each other when he never did that in his own career (except with Milton Berle and he paid a price for that). These queens also share their deepest sorrows at times and disclose all sorts of things about themselves while RuPaul looks on—and reveals nothing. Well… perhaps some ludicrous Oprah style pop-psychology, but little else. Maybe after all BenDeLaCreme has said and pointed out, there can be changes made. It can still be wild and fun without the ugly. And maybe those changes can change some mindsets. Underneath all the fluff– they’re still gay boys. They’ve been through enough in life.
BenDeLaCreme and Shangela both should have won. The first time there should have been two winners. BenDeLaCreme is older and wiser than most other queens. She has been in the Drag game longer and showed more grace and compassion because of her experience and observations of life as a drag queen and a gay man. Shangela has some growing up to do, and she will and is, and when she does she will also be a queen to admire beyond just her beauty. She is already showing some of her growth as a human being.
Here in China, my BF and I just watch RPDR for the FUN and the LAUGHS it provides….you know, “enter-taint-ment”.
The Race has become oh so much more (than a mere reality show) over the past 10 years, and I imagine Ru and his production team (and several hundred queens, globally) could not be happier about that. But, all the “serious” stuff isn’t very important to us. Most of the social media platforms are blocked here anyway, thank goodness.
In our little southeastern city of 15 million, we’ve noticed that drag is becoming more visible and acceptable (almost); lady boys and girlz are everywhere, and in our favorite hang-outs, they’re unabashedly present, and equally loved.
Thank you De La for posting your true and well though out feelings; you didn’t “have” to do that, but because you’re a beautiful, classy b!tch, you did.
My BF and I are definitely RPDR FANS. Hugs and kisses to ALL the RPDR ‘girlz’, whether you are deemed ‘winners’, OR ‘losers’. In our humble views, you’re all winners.
I was going to suggest a challenge where the drag queens jump a shark but it is too late for that. This show jumped the shark 3 seasons ago. It needs a shakeup if it is going to keep going. When you can get guests like Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga, why do we need to see Michelle Visage on the judging panel every week?
No, Ben. STOP conflating the people who trash queens they don’t like with the fans who were disgusted with the way the last episode was handled.
I have supported drag artists for the last 20 years, all the way from the local performers who are learning the ropes to the seasoned queens from RPDR who come through my city. I cheer and tip ALL of them, and I applaud their creativity and hard WORK. This season of All-Stars did NOT reward creativity and hard work, but instead catered to cheap high-school-level drama.
Assuming you did not vote for Shangela, YOU were part of the problem. At any rate, I find it ironic that you made a big production in episode 1 about “following the judges’ critique”–and then THREE times YOU did not keep the queen who performed better. So save your sanctimonious rants, please.
Comments are closed.