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“RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race” Recap: Start Your Engines

All-star shows are a special situation: There’s no time spent learning new names and back stories so, after some chatter about who lost weight and who has nicer outfits, the competition gets going pretty quickly.

On All Stars Drag Race, things got hot fast: Those heartfelt conversations about how you learned drag? Forget it. Instead we get a dozen queens who want nothing more than the crown they think they were robbed of the first time.

In the debut episode, the first to show up to the workroom is Pandora Boxx. Her welcoming line, “Did somebody order a hooker?” is delivered to no one, which makes it even funnier.

Latrice “Mother Fuckin’” Royale is the second queen to walk through those doors. By now, Mother Fuckin’ should be part of her legal drag name. Anything less would be underselling.

Yara Sofia sashays in with a lot of hair and silver netting—and not much else.

Shannel swears her outfit is from a production of Beauty and The Beast, but we’re seeing more of a Raymour & Flanigan realness.

Raven is dressed for a classy cocktail party. Okay, so maybe she didn’t put the most effort into it, but this is just the entrance. She’ll pull it out to impress the judges later.

Alexis Mateo is here! And she came prepared with a mask to cover her face.

Chad Michaels’ entrance wins for my favorite line: “Happy Hunger Games, bitches.” Chad proceeds to get a fake call from Sharon Needles that’s just dripping with delicious bitterness. Manila Luzon, working Cruella De Vil fabulousnesses, had me replaying the song from 101 Dalmatians and wishing I had her cigarette-smoking hat in every color.

And then comes a record-skip moment: Mimi Imfurst.

Most of the contestants had placed the top in their season, often being chosen as a fan favorite, but Mimi was ranked 11th and famously hoisted India Ferrah in the air during her lip-synch. Mimi’s exit was not cute. And neither was her entrance line here—“Life is like a paycheck, a generous figure is always nice.”

Ugh. I appreciate wordplay, but you don’t pull a muscle reaching for it.

But before Manila could finish murmuring “someone’s gotta go home first,” Nina Flowers struts in. The only thing louder than her voice was her slime-green wig. Jujubee frets about not dressing to excess, but had enough fiery hair to carry the look.

Last, but certainly not least, bucket-of-crazy Tammie Brown twirls in. I’m so happy to see her weird lips and eyebrows.

For the first few minutes pleasantries were exchanged pleasantly enough, and thankfully the main premise of the show was kept intact: You’ve got She-Male? Not messed with. The $100,000 prize? Also not messed with.

But Ru (or the producers) tampered with one of the best acronyms in history: No longer will the queens have to rely just on their Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent. They’ll have to incorporate Synergy, as they’ll be competing in teams of two. They’ll be judged as pairs—if one fails, they both go home.

Hear that? It’s the sound of a joy combusting into a pile of ash.

F-bombs drops. Jaws drops. Spirits drop. But before anyone can ask for a Ru-count, the sexy pit crew rolls in a box full of paddles to help the queens pick their partners in a process that combines the worst elements of speed dating and picking teams for dodgeball: All the contestants hold up a paddle with the queen they want to buddy up with. If there’s a match, they’re a team. If not, they try and try again.

The teams:

Team Rujubee: Raven & Jujubee (1st round pairing)

Team Shad:Chad Michaels & Shannel (1st round pairing)

Team Brown Flowers: Tammie Brown & Nina Flowers:  (1st round pairing)

Team Latrila: Manila Luzon & Latrice Royale (2nd round pairing)

Team Yarlexis: Alexis Mateo & Yara Sofia (2nd round pairing)

Team Mandora: Mimi Imfurst & Pandora Boxx (stuck together)

Most contestants got their first choices, and the others seemed fairly happy with their second selections. And then there’s Pandora, visibly miserable about being shackled to Mimi. Cluelessly, Mimi asks, “Are you unhappy that I’m your partner, or you feeling guilty that you didn’t pick me?”

Then I wonder that maybe this team thing is just a one-episode schtick. Maybe it’ll all just go away? But, no,  Logo’s already made team t-shirts. And nothing says “official” like show merch.

The Original Supermodel of the World returns to explain the challenge: It’s two photo shoots—in one, the team will pose mid-transformation (sans wig). The other is a “wet and wild” high-fashion shoot that must incorporate the theme of “opposites attract.”  Oh, and they have to do each other’s makeup.

C’mon, guys, even in drag sometimes less is more.

During the preparation, we learn that Chad and Shannel have been working together for more than a decade. Maybe that’s why they think it’s a great idea to apply scar tissue on their neck, which is supposed to represent their heads on the chopping block. “It’s subliminal,” explains Chad. “It’s editorial. Look at it. Think about it. And take from it what you want.”

I’m seeing double strangulation.

Pandora/Mimi’s half-baked shoot is expectedly awkward, but Latrice and Manila seem to be enjoying themselves well enough. They even take a gag prom photo, just for funsies.

When it comes to the high-fashion shoot,  the girls vamp and pose on giant black-and-white blocks. And that’s when the rain kicks in. Black rain. This is All Stars—regular rain won’t do.

Tammie and Nina work a naughty/nice concept—they’re both setting fire to the rain until Tammie loses her wig. It looks like she’s trying to hold up a skunk skin to cover her scalp. Raven and Jujubee execute their, ahem, ballsy concept, which has Raven posing totally nude (except for a wig and some accessories).

Latrice and Manila went trashy/classy—and got my favorite sideline shout from RuPaul, “It’s couture meets cooter!”

Everyone dries off, and before we hit the main stage, Chad and Shannel spend plenty of time talking abut how awesome they did. How they’re the ones to beat. And the team they believe will share the top slot with them.

The Pandora/Mimi situation? Well, Pandora looks like she’s already wondering if there’s going to be an  All Stars II with a Shangela-sized box she can jump out of.

Our guest judges for the evening are Ross Matthews and Rachel Hunter, with Michelle Visage and Santino Rice holding down their usual paneling duties.

Team Yarlexis (Alexis & Yara) serves cute and crafty with cutout faces tapes to their chest.

Team Latrila (Latrice & Manila) work the first-ever Teletubbie runway; it’s complete with Manila sporting an iPad on her tummy.

Team Mandora (Pandora & Mimi) are painfully matchy-matchy in blue sparkle gowns with fur trim. Green Muppet fur trim.

Raven and Jujubee (left) give us burlesque body hotness.

I’m not really sure what Nina Flowers and Tammie Brown were attempting, but it involved black dressed and red wigs.

Team Shad (Chad & Shannel) comes off a little too strong with their overworked “Welcome To the Jungle” look.

In the end, Team Latrila win the challenge (and some custom-made gowns), Team Rujubee take second and Team Brown Flowers and Yarlexis are declared safe. That leaves the ladies of Teams Mandora and Shad to lip synch for their lives.

Mimi and Chad stepped up to represent, leaving Pandora and Shannel to sit back and watch their fates unfold. But before the girls get started, we learn of a new rule: if, during the first minute of the lip synch, there’s a “she-mergency” the queen on the sidelines can tag in and finish the song.

But it can only be used once—during the entire competition. Gasp!

As much as she’s already started to annoy me this season, Chad rightfully refers to herself as a drag assassin. Mimi had a lackluster costume change midway during her performance, but even if it had been fierce it wouldn’t have mattered. Chad commanded focus and slayed her foe.

And with that, RuPaul dismissed Mimi Imfurst and one of our favorite queens, Pandora Boxx. It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s what you get when you play All Stars.


My favorite moment on Untucked: Pandora giving Mimi a half-assed pep talk in the studio parking lot was priceless, but I have to give it to Golden Age whack-job Tammie Brown and her nonsensical non sequiturs: “My father fucked Marlene Dietrich!”

Jason Sweeten is a contributing writer for Queerty. No, he would not like to work in pairs.

    • Josh in OR

      *Le sigh* So once again, Pandora gets screwed, and not in a good way. Mimi Imfurst!? REALLY?? I think we ALL know she was tossed in to be first out. If Shangela had been on this season, she and Pandora (Team Shandora!) would have actually presented some hilarious competition for the glamour bitches!

      Oct 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Caine

      I never was a fan of Mimi but I thought she slayed Chad Michaels in the lipsynch for your life.
      Michaels was boring.

      Chad better lay off the vodka she’s slurring like crazy.
      As for the group gang attack on Mimi – that was just mean spirited.
      She got a gig after someone else got fired – how is that her fault?
      Pandora is the one who loses here.

      Oct 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Aedan Roberts

      Sorry- but whoever’s idea it was to do this “Partners” thing need to be fired. Immediately. I came here to watch a battle with each Queen fighting for the title on their own merit. Continuing on or failing due to their own ability. Not only does this group thing foster a lot of negative feelings from the fans of the queens knocked out due to the failings of their team-mates- it also truncates this season into at MOST 7 or so episodes.

      Pandora did NOT deserve to go home first. She did NOT deserve to be brought down by Mimi. And to those who say it was her fault for letting it get to her? I can’t fault her for immediately seeing the signs of defeat the second she got stuck with Mimi. EVERYONE there had already predicted that Mimi was there to leave first. Hell- I personally am baffled how she got in there at all. And to see that writing on the wall so soon after her arrival? To know that all your talent and how much you’ve grown since your last attempt would not have a chance because you got stuck with a contestant who obviously didn’t stand a chance and whose very NAME was the antithesis of “teamwork”? I’d have been as mopey and depressed myself.

      RU: If you had wanted to created a truncated season that only ran for half a normal one you should have invited HALF THE BLOODY QUEENS TO PARTICIPARE. You want 6 or 7 episodes? You bring back 6 or 7 Queens. The top of the top. Here, I’ll help: Manilla, Pandora, Raven, Nina, Chad, Latrice, Yara. It’s not hard to see who are the top of the top of this heap- so get rid of the filler instead of forcing them into groups of two. Because that is the dumbest “twist” I have ever seen.

      Oct 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BlogZilla

      What are these guys aiming for — prize money?

      Oct 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jonny Quander

      I was looking forward to All Stars since it was announced months ago. I voted for my favorite Squirrel Friends and looked forward to a great show. What I got from the first episode and the Untucked episode was, bitterness. I was very disappointed in the behavior in this episode.

      It was all smiles and warm shade when the queens arrived one by one….until Mimi Imfurst arrived. She was treated like a bastard at a family reunion by the other Queens. I am also not very happy about the duos for the season. No man is an island, but that’s no excuse to pair them up and have their placement in the competition in jeopardy because of their partner.

      The Queens chose partners they felt best complimented them…Unfortunately for Mimi and Pandora, this was not the case. They were paired because no one pick them. Pandora took this to heart, and remembering Mimi’s behavior in season 3 was extremely apprehensive to work with her. But it was from that point on that Pandora gave a lukewarm effort with everything.

      I don’t know what Pandora was more upset by having Mimi as a teammate…or that no one else chose her? Pandora was not in it to win it in any way shape or form. And it showed when Ru spoke to them and in their two photo shoots. And when the Queens retired to the Lounge, it seem almost EVERYONE had a bone to pick with Mimi. They snickered and belittled her presence in the competition; thinking that other Queens turned down being on All Stars to maybe vote tampering.

      Alexis Mateo blamed Mimi for losing her job. But she should not have blamed Mimi and had not right to. She should have blamed the club, because they were the ones who fired her! If they pump was on the foot I’m sure Alex would have taken a job in a club, and NOT cared that Mimi was fired because of it. Everyone was throwing stones at Mimi’s glass house, where was Pandora? Sitting and being complacent; she never ONCE stuck up for her teammate. If you can have her back when she had your’s, why are you even there?

      Mimi was visibly upset and left. When Pandora realized her walking off could jeopardized her own place in the competition, ran after her. She gave Mimi and tepid and sophomoric “Pep Talk” to try to motivate her in case of the lip sync. And when they were eliminated, Pandora squawked about how she would’ve been safe if she performed. Then SHE SHOULD HAVE! Don’t scapegoat the situation. Pandora, you are your own problem and your own solution. I know you did not want Mimi as a teammate, but pouting and sulking about it won’t make Ru give you another one.

      I’m sorry to see Mimi go so soon, she really seemed like she made a legitimate change in her life…..As Pandora, I wish I could put her back in her box and back in the attic.

      I hope the season improves in the upcoming episodes.

      Oct 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • erics

      @Aedan Roberts: I agree, but this teams schtick can’t last the whole season. There’s no way they’ll have two champions.

      Oct 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ScaryRussianHeather


      Yes $100,000.

      Oct 23, 2012 at 10:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ScaryRussianHeather

      @Jonny Quander:

      I totally agree with everything you said. Mimi didn’t deserve the dog pile, just like she didn’t deserve it on her season by her own teammates after they WON. I also appreciate that she tried to speak to them with reason about bullying each other considering the crap they take on a daily basis in real life and it did nothing. She works her ass off in real life and is heavily booked. In fact, she just FB posted that she gave WORK to some of those b1tches on her latest video and at a huge appearance that she produced. And I hope everybody noticed that Manila is no saint, equally [quietly] nasty just like she was to her and the other Boogers in her season. It was an unpleasant episode.

      Oct 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hamoboy

      @ScaryRussianHeather: I get the vibe that Manila’s “one-liners” work for the audience because of editing, but being in the room while she’s trying them probably blows. But I don’t get a mean vibe from her, just an awkward vibe. She made a good choice pairing up with Latrice, with her glam and Latrice’s wham, they’re both covered a weakness of theirs by choosing such a different queen as a partner.

      Oct 24, 2012 at 1:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      I’m bummed that the team set up means the show will be shorter. And Pandora used to be one of my favorites. But honestly I thought she basically sent herself home. She not only gave up, she was unpleasant about it. Then she has MiMi do the lip sync so no matter what happened she could blame Mimi for going home.

      I used to like her, but really don’t much anymore after that episode. Shannel and Chad cracked me up because I think that they think they are very different from each other….and they aren’t. Their photo shoot where one was supposedly glamorous and one was toned down cracked me up…toned down is sequins, pink leggings etc…?? :) I can’t wait to see a few more challanges.

      And Tammy Brown? Crazy but in a fun way. I think this is going to be a good show.

      Oct 24, 2012 at 3:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kingkuy

      @Cam: i completely agree with you regarding Pandora. the moment she was paired with Mimi she gave up

      she should have reflected on the fact that Mimi was the only one that chose her so clearly none of the other queens hold her in high regard… and i really can’t get over the fact that she made Mimi lip synch. she wanted to put everything on her so when she went home she could shift all the blame

      Pandora deserved to go

      if you look at the untucked you’ll see it was only a few queens who ganged up on Mimi so don’t throw everyone under the bus. hell, Yara even told Mimi after she changed her outfit that she thought she was stronger than that

      i was hoping someone (like Chad or Latrice) would have put a stop to the Mimi bashing. it was very schoolyard and unladylike

      all stars did not strike a good chord with me this first episode

      Oct 24, 2012 at 11:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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