(Editor’s Note: VH1 and World of Wonder have disqualified Sherry Pie over serious catfishing allegations involving five men. A spokesperson for VH1 and World of Wonder said the season will air as planned “out of respect for the hard work of the other queens.” In keeping with this decision, we will omit Sherry Pie from this season’s rankings.)
Welcome to Drag Race Power Rankings! Every Sunday, we’ll debrief this week’s new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to determine which queens are riding high, and which need she-mergency care. The other half of Season 12’s split premiere sees half a dozen queens introduce themselves to us Fosse-style. Who was “All That Jazz,” and who needs to go back to “Class”?
5. Dahlia Sin
It’s unreal how similar Dahlia is to her drag mother Aja. She’s more immediately polished than Aja was in Season 9, and has a more feminine aesthetic in drag. But her performance style and voice make her sound more like Aja’s twin than her daughter. (Seriously, I closed my eyes at one point and just listened to her talk, and I could’ve sworn I was listening to Aja.) Across both premieres, Dahlia’s is the only performance I’d call out-and-out bad—her nerves clearly got the better of her, and she came across as unsure. Her runways alone were enough for me to give her a pass, but I’m not sure how she’ll fare in an even bigger pond next week.
4. Aiden Zhane
Imagine a fairly large gap between Dahlia and Aiden, because me putting them next to each other implies a level of closeness that isn’t fair to Aiden. She killed the performance, fully embodying the spirit of a Fosse challenge and quickly shutting my skeptical mouth up. I still think she’s a bit self-serious for a drag queen—I think she’d come across better if she lightened up even a little. There’s clearly a spirit of fun in Aiden, as could be seen in her spring and fall runway looks. I’m interested to see more from her. One thing: I wish she’d stop talking about how no one does what she does. There’s a long legacy of spooky and weird queens not just on this show, but also on Dragula and in the drag world as a whole. It’s OK to tip your cap to your inspirations—it doesn’t make your drag less uniquely you.
3. Rock M. Sakura
I didn’t really “get” Rock until I saw this episode. She’s a little off-kilter in a way that comes across as too much in small doses, like her Meet the Queens video. You can tell she’s trying to pack all of her personality into one bite in that, whereas in the episode, you can more gradually get on her wavelength. Unfortunately, the judges aren’t getting her over a long period of time—they’re only getting that small dose of her, in her performances and in her critiques. That’s why, I believe, Michelle Visage disliked her the way she did. And the bad news for Rock is that her fate is in the judges’ hands.
Rock needs to figure out how to make herself more palatable, be it dropping the fart jokes or painting less harshly—and fast. Because I really do enjoy her presence, and I want her to stick around! She’s too charming to lose so early.
Like her drag mom, Alexis Michelle, Jan Not Sport is a lot. She is a theatre queen with a lot to say and a lot to do. She’s a huge fan of Drag Race, and she’s gonna make sure everyone knows it! Honestly, I like the try-hard theatre kid energy. It shows she cares a lot about being here and is going to do her damndest to succeed. She’s already shown some great instincts, from going with a punny and edited-down take on a “tulle” runway (loved the traffic cone earrings). And her performance in the challenge was excellent—I’d personally have put her in the top two if I were Ru. A strong start for Jan.
One thing I worry about: Her tendency to explain the joke. If someone doesn’t get that you were referencing Fergie’s iconic National Anthem performance when you said “Let’s play some basketball,” that’s their loss! You don’t need to hold their hand, Jan!
1. Jaida Essence Hall
This queen is a star. Jaida gave you looks on looks on the runway (obsessed with her fall ensemble), drama in the rehearsal, a killer performance in the main challenge and a dynamic lip sync. What more could you want? Jaida’s brand of divadom works for me because it feels like part of her persona. She is a diva, she’s not just being difficult. Not only that, but I ultimately found her to be in the right in rehearsals—she called that the choreography would be too complicated, and the others didn’t want to listen to her.
My one concern with her is that the fanbase won’t be on board; there’s a tendency to reject the girls who cop too much of an attitude. But for me, Jaida was giving me the essence of a Drag Race winner. I’m fully onboard.