Welcome to my review of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 Grande Finale! Plus, a retrospective on each queen and their performances this season.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 has a thrilling winner and many standout performances, but when it comes to the full season it felt a bit dull.
Some people might suggest that’s down to Sasha Colby’s dominance of the season, but I’d say it due to the entire Top 4. At no point after the first episode was anyone edited as serious competition for the crown outside of those four queens – even Loosey Laduca and her many mini-challenge wins never felt like a realistic contender.
Was that down to the editing being squeezed by the 60-minute on-air runtime, or was this season actually stacked with mostly weak queens too early in their development as sacrifices to the alter of Goddess Colby?
Similarly, the finale never felt like a real competition between the three non-Sasha queens as to who would attempt to take her down in the final lip sync. The lip sync performances and clip packages were all for naught, since it’s clear Anetra was pre-ordained for the spot.
I’m happy that the new Lalaparuza mid-season showcase has removed the somewhat arbitrary lip sync for the crown tournaments from the finale. However, I still think the show can do better than writing a 90-second song for each of its contestants. Especially on a season like this one full of dancers, songwriters, and martial artists, it feels like the finale ought to be a redux of the Talent Show – where the queens can show off anything they want.
Of course, the secret of this finale format is that you can show off anything you want during the lip sync, but only Sasha Colby with her 20 years of drag experience seemed to fully understand that assignment.
There is a lot to be said about the significance of having a trans woman win Drag Race at the peak of its popularity and pop cultural exposure at this moment in time. Right now, conservatives and trans-exclusionary feminists all around the world want to hate people like Sasha right out of existence.
I don’t think winning Drag Race means a queen must become a political activist. Being seen in drag is inherently political. Yet, it also feels like Sasha Colby is the right queen at the right time who is ready to be political in her words and her actions in addition to her drag. There are people in the world right now who know they want to love someone they aren’t supposed to love or be someone who they aren’t supposed to be. The world can feel like a small and dangerous place for them, and that’s literal in some places like Texas and Florida.
Sasha has the opportunity be a voice for those queer people who are under attack across America right now, but also to remind everyone that trans people are our siblings, our colleagues, our friends, and our loved ones. They are us and they deserve all the same rights and love that everyone does.
This is the end of Season 15 but not the end of my Drag Race coverage! There are still two more episodes of Drag Race Sverige to cover before their first winner is crowned, next week starts my Drag Race España Season 3 power rankings (did you read my pre-season post?), and we’ll have an announcement of our All Stars Season 8 contestants before the week is up!
Before we can enjoy all of that drag, it’s time to talk about our entire cast of Season 15 queens one last time, to compare their final placements and performance to my original pre-season rankings. Which prediction was my biggest miss? Which queens left exactly when I said they would? And, why do I think I should have been the winner of “Fantasy Drag Race” across everyone writing about the show on the entire internet?!
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best drag queen win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. Every drag artist in the world deserves endless essays dedicated to their talents and life stories. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it fits the established expectations of this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag and the people who create it.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 Grande Finale Retrospective
16th Place: Irene Dubois, 1 lip sync (was Pre-Season #14)
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In my pre-season ranking of Irene Dubois I said, “Irene Dubois is quirky as fuck and Ru is not going to give a single fuck about that.”
As it turns out, we didn’t even have enough time with Irene to put that prediction to the test!
Irene is a non-stop comedy machine made for the spotlight. She was great as the main narrator of the first episode. She was great as the second-in-command of commentary at the reunion. Yet, she also had the indisputable second-worst Talent Show performance behind Amethyst, who devoured her in the Ariana Grande lip sync.
Sometimes that’s just the way the Drag Race cookie crumbles, Yet, it leaves us all yet it leaves us all wondering what could have been if Irene made it past the first episode. Based on all of the looks that she shared on social media, she had an extremely strong runway package prepared… and you just know that her acerbic wit would have served her well in the variety of early comedy challenges.
I do have to wonder about her taste level based on her runway in that first episode and the nearly identical white version of the same runway at the reunion. Could she have survived the first design challenge? I guess we’ll never know. Part of me hopes that Irene is invited back to participate in Season 16, but I don’t think she made a Vanjie-level impact on this season to merit the invite.
Perhaps we will see her as a wildcard choice for a future All-Stars, where I suspect she will be able to make a much deeper run than she did here.
15th Place: Princess Poppy, 1 lip sync (11 avg; was #11, Pre-Season #15)
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My pre-season prediction for Princess Poppy was “first out realness” and a 15th place showing. I nailed both!
At the time of Princess Poppy’s elimination I said that I wouldn’t be writing any further words about her after she revealed (or, perhaps, joked) that she had tried to cheat on her COVID test to ensure that she could participate in the season.
Now, having seen her at the reunion and the finale, I do have one final note to add. Or, should I say, an epitaph for her drag – since she claims she is quitting.
We assume that everyone who arrives at Drag Race does so with stars in their eyes and plans to make drag a lifelong career choice. Yet, not every aspiring contestant is built for the cruel realities of the international money making machine that is Drag Race. It is the pinnacle of drag as a career, and I’m sure for many queens when they get a glimpse of that peak it causes them to question if they really have what it takes to stay at the very top of that mountain indefinitely.
The grass always looks greener when we’re seeing it on reality TV, but the reality behind reality TV can be something entirely different.
In Poppy’s case, her drag was never at the right level for competition on the show. I’m sure that made the entire experience ten times as daunting for her, on top of the fact that she already wasn’t sure she wanted to continue doing drag.
I think Poppy’s narrative arc is going to become more familiar as seasons continue to cast relatively young, relatively new drag queens. Not everyone is Aquaria, with a plan for longevity when they turn 21. That’s fine. It’s okay to let things run their course, and as a fandom we shouldn’t be so eager to punch down on queens because of it.
I think this is truly the last we’ll see of Poppy on the show. I hope she is happy with whatever comes next for her.
14th: Sugar, 1 lip sync (11 avg; was #10, 12, Pre-Season #16)
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I was sure that Sugar would be a first out based on the cruel edit she garnered in her Meet The Queens segment. I was only off by a couple of weeks, and one of those two weeks was purely due to Sugar getting to pre-plan a Talent Show performance rather than thinking on the spot.
Now having seen Sugar turn out a part of incredible looks for the reunion and the finale, some viewers might be asking: did we keep the wrong twin? I don’t think so. For all of Sugar’s stunning beauty, Spice has a sharper personality and a more distinctive paint. We know that beauty isn’t enough to sustain a Drag Race run. Even at the Reunion with a year to think of some good lines, Sugar was still bland.
For better or worse (and it turned out to be worse), Sugar’s run was defined entirely by her relationship to her sister. I wonder if Sugar and Spice will ever start branching out from one another rather rather than presenting themselves as an identical twin act. Sugar certainly has a different skill set an a different personality than Spice.
Maybe if we had gotten a chance to see a little bit more of that this season, Sugar would have lasted longer.
13th Place: Amethyst, 3 lip syncs (12.67 avg; was #10, 13, 15, Pre-Season #13)
Amethyst was another queen whose placement and performance I got totally right in my pre-season prediction – where I placed her 13th.
I called Amethyst “a young queen who is likely a funny performer, but doesn’t yet have the force of personality to hold the attention of the camera. Nor does she appear to have one thing that she has completely mastered (except for her own nose).”
That story played out exactly as I predicted this season. Amethyst is clearly funny but she’s also clearly a budding pop princess. Yet it didn’t feel like her humor, her fashion, her general approach the challenges took advantage of those skills or synthesized them together. Only in Snatch Game did we get a sense of her raucous sense of humor from her performance as Tan Mom.
I’d love to see Amethyst re-do this season with a pop song in the talent show and less of a focus on blue humor in the Heavenly commercial. I know that sounds like I want her to be an entirely different person, but that’s my point – I think I’m asking for who she actually is.
But, more than that, I’d love to see Amethyst again a few years from now – when she knows more about her drag and more about herself.
12th Place: Robin Fierce, 1 lip sync (9.25 avg; was #7, 11, 9, 10, Pre-Season #7)
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Robin Fierce’s elimination was my first real heartbreak of the season. She was also an example of picking up on a spoiler vibe in Meet The Queens based on it being shot sometime after the season.
In my predictions, I said “I can’t help but read into Robin’s few less-confident comments. … If I could I strip away my meta-analysis, I’d have Robin an obvious finalist based on her looks and her interview! She feels like someone who can compete on the level of all three of Sasha, Luxx, and Anetra.”
That was a bold prediction that didn’t quite come to pass. Robin packed nothing but beautiful fashions and she is a formidable dancer, but she simply doesn’t have a personality for reality TV. There’s nothing wrong with that! A lot of people made for reality TV are total monsters! Yet, Robin’s soft-spoken, play-it-safe attitude isn’t what gets rewarded on Drag Race.
I doubt that the Drag Race experience fundamentally changed Robin, and I think that’s fine. There’s room in the world for utterly beautiful Amazons who serve face and fashion, sing and dance beautifully, and just don’t have a lot to say beyond that.
11th Place: Aura Mayari – 1 Win, 1 lip sync (11.0 avg; was #6, 9, 13, 14, 13, Pre-Season #9)
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I was so hard on Aura in my pre-season rankings, y’all. But, I wasn’t wrong when I said I was “getting mid-out energy from her.”
Aura departed in 11th place and I had her in 9th place. The delta represents the fact that I thought Aura might survive on the strength of being a lip sync assassin. I assumed she’d hit the bottom for the first time around this point, but would survive 2-3 lip syncs before being eliminated. Sadly, she didn’t bring it on the level of Jax or Anetra and was promptly dismissed after one performance.
If you walk into Drag Race as a confident queen, you need to be prepared to utterly crush every aspect of the show you are confident about. Otherwise, your confidence risks being recast as delusion and the edit quickly turns against you.
That was the case for Aura, who walked in with a high level of certainty about everything from her make up to her dance moves. She only got once chance to show that level of excellence on the show – in her shocking dominance of the Golden Girl Groups challenge. Her win there meant that she departed as the only queen outside of the Top Five with a win.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Confidence and self-believe are good things! Aura is clearly a highly entertaining queen on her local scene with a lot of the right kind of talents for the show – the exact sorts of talents I would advise anyone to work on before applying! But, things change when the cameras are on.
Unless you are at the level of Bob the Drag Queen, or Drag Couenne, or Sasha Colby, you might find out the thing that you were the most confident about only puts you in the middle of the pack.
10th place: Jax – 3 lip syncs (8.67 avg; was #11, 10, 7, 11, 3, Pre-Season #4)
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Jax was by far my biggest miss when it comes to the predictions the season. I called her a “MAJOR” personality, said she was a classic queen, and surmised that Ru would love her.
How did I go so wrong?! I’m still not quite sure, but I did catch a few indications in my pre-season prediction. I questioned “How do you bring authentic street swagger” to the show and wondered about Jax’s “eye for style.” Those were two of the elements that sealed her fate (although I think she was unfairly criticized at least once).
The third element of her early elimination was that she did not have the major personality I thought I picked up on from Meet The Queens. Jax turned out to be much more of a stoner who just vibes – a lot like the Daytona Wind character that landed her in a lip sync.
I still feel as though the Jax we saw in the show doesn’t quite match up with the Jax of the Meet The Queens interviews. This might be a real example of a queen who was fundamentally altered by her experience on the show. However, she’s also an example of a queen whose aesthetic just never clicked with RuPaul. That’s fine.
Ru might be the queen of drag, but there are many ways to do great drag that simply don’t fit into what Ru values. I think Jax lives in that grey area, and there’s nothing she should change about herself to get out of it.
9th place: Spice – 2 lip syncs (9.0 avg; was #9, 12, 12, 6, 8, Pre-Season #11)
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My pre-season prediction for Spice was “I have a strong suspicion she’s the stronger half” of their twin act, and that “there’s something unique to her gothy doll act that separates her from the crowd of blonde young queens in this line-up (including her own sister).”
I think it’s easy to remember Spice’s journey this season in terms of four lackluster lip syncs and a regrettable Snatch Game. However, that obscures the fact that she delivered some solid and occasionally-memorable moments. Her “dingaling” talent show song was pure absurdity and I bet you can still hum a few bars. She had perhaps the best and most-consistent mug of the entire season – if anyone was “the walking filter” this season, it was Spice! And, she was eliminated for a Ball challenge that I’d argue was her best week on the show!
I already touched on this when Spice was eliminated, saying “she just doesn’t have the nerve and imagination to break out of the doll box that she’s trapped.” Her one true weakness wasn’t inexperience. It was never owning the narrative that was right there for the taking. She was set up as a charming young queen with a slight punk edge, and she was given several opportunities to capitalize on that – in particular, with the songs she drew in the Lalaparuza.
Spice couldn’t bring a punk snarl to her performances not because she’s too mild, but because she didn’t know how to take up space. I meant that LITERALLY. Whenever she’d do her “trot” on the runway Michelle saw a canned bit, but I saw a queen who was making herself physically smaller. I don’t think we saw Spice spread her arms or strike a powerful pose a single time all season long.
Maybe that’s just down to needing to fit so much of her life into the portrait-size frame of TikTok when now she is living in a landscape television world. Or, maybe Spice’s version of being a doll doesn’t come with fully-articulated limbs. I’m sure she’ll be making bank on social media brand deals in the wake of the season, but I really believe Spice is a queen with all the right ingredients to rule the world if she’d just mix them up a bit.
8th Place: Malaysia Babydoll Foxx – 1 lip sync (8.38 avg; was #8, 8, 6, 10, 5, 9, 12, 9, Pre-Season #5)
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If Jax was my biggest prediction miss this season, Malaysia was my biggest disappointment. Even if she got close to my predicted quarter-finals finish, it felt like everything potentially memorable about her was overshadowed by Sasha Colby and Mistress Isabelle Brooks.
To my credit, I accurately envisioned this possibility, saying “What might have made Malaysia stand out sans Sasha might be the same thing that leaves her stuck in Sasha’s shadow.” What I didn’t anticipate was that Mistress Isabelle would also be casting a shadow on Malaysia as another big, Southern queen with old-school sensibilities. In a world where Mistress Isabelle Brooks had the best runway package of the season and could do splits, it was hard to get excited about Malaysia’s repeated gown silhouettes and her (medium) high kicks.
Malaysia scored some major high points for her first design challenge and her Daytona Wind acting. She clearly has the the goods to deliver Drag Race entertainment. I think of this entire cast, she is one of the most-obvious picks for a return on All-Stars. That was cemented by her taking home the congeniality trophy in this episode, which is often a speed pass to make a return.
7th Place: Marcia Marcia Marcia – 1 lip sync (6.56 avg; was #7, 5, 6, 7, 9, 8, 6, 7, 4, Pre-Season #10)
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Oh, Marcia Marcia Marcia.
My pre-season prediction for Martha was “RuPaul is never, NEVER going to crown a Broadway-dropout turned drag newbie.”
(I also did some shouting about coming onto the show “WITH THIS AESTHETIC AT THIS STAGE IN YOUR CAREER.”)
However, Marcia^3’s “Broadway Baby” narrative turned out to be her greatest strength. Even when Marcia wasn’t memorable in performance challenges, she was completely unflappable. She was never the best, she was certainly never the worst either.
Where Marcia stumbled was on the runway. I assumed that her addiction to a mod 60s aesthetic would be her downfall, but really the problem was that everything was too plain. Marcia made all of her looks for the season herself, and almost all of them needing to be hit with a shot from “the drag gun” to glitz them up and take them over the top. Even when she had the chance to design for herself in ball challenges, she thought too small.
We couldn’t escape Michelle haranguing Marcia about her makeup, but those critiques wouldn’t have hit as hard if Marcia was dominating the runway.
Even with the lackluster runways and makeup critiques, it took the show straight-up fabricating a bottom placement for Marcia in the standup challenge to eliminate her one week shy of a Rusical she was sure to win. If Marcia had been allowed to be an emcee and coached accordingly, she could’ve easily escaped the bottom two. And, even as it was, Sasha Colby deserved the spot just as much as she did. And, as we will always remember, she delivered a scalding hot lip sync performance against Anetra to Doja Cat’s “Boss Bitch.”
I predicted that “we have seen again and again that this is explicitly not what Ru considers to be a drag superstar,” but I think I was wrong. Of this entire cast, it feels like Marcia was the only queen outside of the Top Four who ever had a chance of making it to the finale had things gone a little differently. And, by “things,” I mean her suitcase.
I don’t think we’ll see Marcia back on Drag Race anytime soon. With Jinx kicking down the doors of performing in drag on Broadway in a role that’s written as cis, I suspect that Marcia’s post-show journey will go the Nina West route of a national tour rather than becoming a part of the international Drag Race industrial complex. But… I wouldn’t be surprised to see her return as a lip sync assassin.
6th Place: Salina EsTitties – 4 lip syncs (7.40 avg; was #6, 7, 5, 8, 11, 8, 8, 7, Pre-Season #12)
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Salina EsTitties was the queen who outperformed her pre-season placement the most.
Like Marcia, Salina struggled with a package of uneven, sometimes garish runways and wound up eliminated for a challenge where she wasn’t necessarily the worst. However, unlike Marcia, Salina struggled with self-doubt all season long due to her low placements and lip syncs. She lost as much as for her suitcase as for her inner saboteur.
I thought Salina would face the opposite struggle this season – the struggle to show vulnerability! I was focused on how LOUD and BRASH Salina came off, and in trying to dig more deeply than that I said this:
At one point in her MTQ, Salina says, “drag is like a vessel for me to be my utmost creative authentic self that I can’t be out of drag as Jason. Salina EsTitties gives me POWER.” If she allows us to meet the less-powerful Jason and lets him show through in some of her drag, she could be a stealth assassin – a brash, confident multi-hyphenate without a hint of delusion.
Ultimately, I think my pre-season critique and Salina’s weaknesses on the show were two sides of the same coin. They’re both about finding an effective way to marry the volume of Salina’s drag with the nuance of her personality. It’s a testament to Salina’s tenacity that she lasted as long as she did, through as many lip syncs as she did, even without a single win.
Would Salina EsTitties have dominated the season with a better suitcase? Or, is she one of those infamous (and often California-based) queens who can turn the party at a live show but simply isn’t built for Drag Race? Either way, I think Salina and her drag absolutely deserved the platform of the show. I hope she came away from the experience with more positives than negatives.
5th Place: Loosey LaDuca – 2 Wins, 2 lip syncs (5.18 avg; was #5, 3, 5, 6, 7, 4, 4, 2, 2, 5, 14, Pre-Season #8)
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Loosey LaDuca was our lovely “just missed the finals” queen of the season, and she might’ve made the biggest impact we’ve seen from a queen in that position since Miss Cracker on Season 10! Yet, I don’t know if I was off-the-mark when I said, “I have a foreboding feeling that Loosey is a queen with many talents who will have trouble igniting a spark with Ru on the main stage.”
Loosey arrived at this show with everything a drag queen needs to succeed. She can sing, dance, act, and sew. She won Snatch Game, and I get the feeling that even if she couldn’t play Joan Rivers she still would’ve slayed it. And, she was never truly bad on the show aside from them sandbagging her in the talent show with a terrible audio mix while she tried to “Let Loose.”
Let’s face it: Loosey’s pair of bottom two placements were for two weeks where she could’ve easily won – for the lead role in Wigloose and for the obvious best makeover in the cast.
Instead, Anetra was awarded both of those wins, which was such a wild development! The show literally said, “Loosey’s storyline isn’t giving, let’s shift the focus” and plugged an entirely different queen in to be Sasha’s biggest competition at the finale.
Loosey brought some of that on herself. She cultivated a season-long narrative that was about butting heads with Luxx and Mistress Isabelle rather than staying neck-and-neck with Sasha. When the backstage drama of both the Rusical and the makeover challenge became all about conflict with Luxx, it became obvious that Loosey had sealed her fate.
Yet, we also have to remember that fate is what the show wanted us to see from Loosey. Yeah, I’m gonna blame it on the edit. We’ve heard since the show that Sasha was the closest with Loosey out of the entire cast, so obviously there was a Sasha/Loosey storyline happening in the workroom that we never saw. Also, there was hardly a mention of Loosey’s “construction worker by day, drag queen by night” identity all season long and you know it came up in some of the walkthroughs.
I think there was a more-complex version of Loosey we could have seen in the final edit of the show. However, between the shorter episodes in the first half of the season and the need to justify her elimination, that version was never onscreen for us to see.
Loosey LaDuca’s walks away from this season with the world as her oyster. She had a viral meme song, a slight “robbed queen” narrative, and showed off nothing but drag excellence along the way. I hope she can forge the successful entertainment career she she richly deserves now that she has broken out of the small pond of Connecticut drag.
3rd/4th Place: Mistress Isabelle Brooks – 1 Win, 1 Lip Sync
(3.23 avg; was #4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 4, 4, 2, Pre-Season #6)
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In my pre-season analysis of Mistress Isabelle Brooks, I said, “She’s a queen who knows exactly who she is and what she can offer.”
MIB said “she wouldn’t have signed up if she didn’t think she had what it takes to win” and there were no lies detected. She is one of those rare and wonderful queens who arrived at the show “ready to do so” when it came to EVERY challenge and runway. She approached everything with the same near-delusional level of confidence. Even if she only came away with one win, it feels like she was high the entire damn season. That’s reflected in my season-long power rankings, where she never once dropped below the #4 spot.
That is WILD. A lot of queens attempt to bluff their way through on confidence, but it comes off feeling fake or empty. Mistress Isabelle made it work not only because she had the skills to back it up, but because she is an immensely entertaining character made for reality TV. She was a queen of self-production, managing to center herself in nearly every conflict of the season (even in the middle of the Loosey-vs-Luxx wars).
That greatest strength also became MIB’s weakness, in my eyes. She loves “cutting up” and she became the defacto narrator, as well as being production’s designated attack dog in the reunion. Yet, that meant there was no authentic vulnerability for us to respond to in Mistress Isabelle’s story. Even Bianca del Rio managed to show us a tiny sliver of vulnerability in how she actually cared about other queens beneath her gruff exterior. We saw a hint of that with MIB’s mothering of Sugar & Spice, but they left too early (and the edit was too tight) for the narrative to stick.
I’m struggling to think of another queen who arrived on the show with a runway package as immaculate as MIB who also destroyed a pair of design challenges as hard as she did. She might have had the best suitcase of any regular-season queen, ever. Mistress Isabelle Brooks was flirting with Trinity The Tuck levels of runway power this season, and Trinity only got on that level for All-Stars! It wasn’t just that MIB packed a lot of expensive looks – she also knew how to wear them.
MIB carried that flawless fashion narrative through to the finale. Her opening look had me literally SCREAMING at the screen when I first saw it. It’s a total shoot for me – no notes!
In my pre-season write-up, I said, “Mistress Isabelle could sneak into the finals. If she does, she might be one of the few queens on this cast who can go toe-to-toe with Sasha in every category.” I think I was entirely right, yet I wasn’t surprised to see Mistress Isabelle Brooks passed over for the final lip sync for the crown. You could argue that it’s down to the lackluster first half of her lip sync number before she was lifted into a split (AMAZING), but I think the decision was made way back on the makeover episode. That was a chance to gift MIBC with a second win to even things up on the cast, and Ru passed it up.
In that moment, it became clear Mistress Isabelle Brooks wasn’t ever really in contention with Sasha for the crown in the eyes of production, even if in many ways her narrative as a “traditional” queen made the most sense to pit against Sasha.
Mistress Isabelle Brooks exits this season as a total star. She’s aesthetically flawless, endlessly quotable, and she joins the elite circle of queens who never fell into the bottom two on her season. Now, the real race begins. If MIB can cultivate post-show success without the aid of being able to self-produce, she will make her return to All-Stars as the #1 queen to beat.
3rd/4th Place: Luxx Noir London – 2 Wins, 1 Lip Sync
(3.28 avg; was #3, 3, 3, 1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 3, 3, 5, 2, 6, Pre-Season #3)
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Luxx Noir London ran a near-flawless Drag Race. On a season starring anyone other than Sasha Colby, she would have lip synced for the crown – and possibly won it. Luxx simply has “it” – that magical x-factor that makes someone endlessly watchable.
Luxx makes it look effortless, even though it’s clear she is putting in a maximum amount of effort to make things look so easy.
I very quickly caught onto Luxx’s power in a Meet the Queens interview I called “silly and brashly confident.” After watching, I opined, “If she’s dreamt up some outlandish form of success, I believe she is going to find a way to make it real.”
That was the story of Luxx Noir London’s Drag Race run: making things happen for herself. She manifested standout performances from small roles in the heavenly commercial and the Rusical. She created stunning fashion out of scraps in both design challenges. She paired with her nemesis Loosey for a comedy challenge win. Her ability to make things happen even came through from her suitcase, where she managed to pull out memorable runways even without a high budget or an endless supply of stones and crystals.
Luxx was perfect in the finale. Great performance, great package, great interview. The fucking giant paper-mache version of her own head in her clip package? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Luxx has a level of creative vision we rarely see from a queen on her first time through the show. Honestly, she was the finalist who excited me the most out of all four of them!
If you remove Sasha Colby from the mix of this season, Luxx is the obvious winner. She would walk into the final against Loosey, MIB, and Anetra as the all-around powerhouse who still has the charm of an underdog, and handily defeat any of them in the final lip sync.
Yet, it never felt like the show was eager to position Luxx as the young upstart who could threaten Sasha Colby’s dominance. It was no surprise the finale avoided pitting them against each other – even though for me I was way more thirsty for that matchup than for a Sasha/Anetra redux.
As with MIB, the show telegraphed Luxx’s fate by not handing her an obvious win for the final Rumix challenge. As with Mistress Isabelle the week prior, production had the chance to even things up and elevate Luxx to the same level as both Sasha and Anetra for the finale. Instead, they decided to pad Sasha’s lead with another win. In that moment, it became clear that Ru simply didn’t see Luxx with a crown despite her outstanding run on the show.
I am always craving a Drag Race queen who is a fully-formed musical artist who isn’t just screeching out club music several steps above her ideal vocal range. I got the acoustic version of that with Trixie Mattel, but it feels like Luxx is finally the straight-up pop star I’ve been wishing for all of these years. Even though Sasha Colby was the obvious winner of this season, I think Luxx might have turned out to be my favorite queen – and the one I am the most excited to see and hear more from.
Runner-Up: Anetra – 3 Wins, 3 Lip Syncs
(2.92 avg; was #2, 1, 1, 5, 3, 3, 2, 3, 5, 6, 3, 3, 1, Pre-Season #2)
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I’ve bragged about my accurate predictions a few times already in this write-up, but I can’t help but TOOT myself one final time here:
I HAD ANETRA RANKED AT #2 WITHOUT SEEING SINGLE SPOILER, Y’ALL. If the entire internet were playing a big game of “Fantasy Drag Race” together based on our predictions I would have won.
Anetra won over a massive wave of fans over the past fifteen weeks with her quiet confidence, consistent performances, and aerobic lip syncs. Her three wins weren’t even necessarily her most memorable moments for me – among which I’d include her spectacular ball look and her acting in both the heavenly commercials and Daytona Wind. Anetra is a lot more than a duck-walking queen who can do splits. She is a magnetic personality and a born competitor.
Anetra has also scored her fair share of haters. Trust me, I’ve met them. Some of their critiques are valid. Anetra really did stall out on fashion, with a package full of the same catsuit in different colors with different accessories. And, her lack of connection with the ballroom scene made her branding with duck-walking and vogue elements seem slightly out of place (and, per many folks experienced in ballroom, she didn’t execute those elements especially well).
Yet, what I think a lot of the haters miss is that Anetra brought the right amount of thrill to the drag race stage, and she did it with unshakeable confidence. Rather than think of something new to write, I’ll quote my own pre-season prediction, which would not have been any more on point:
She is a natural public speaker without being a “look at me look at me look at me” loudmouth.
A lot of moments in this interview makes it feel like Anetra is going to be a total hardass, and then she pivots with answers like “I do drag to inspire my own queerness.” There’s a real authenticity to that – to being able to say you are competitive and then show vulnerability in the next breath.
That’s going to play well on the main stage, as is her ability to be reserved but speak with calm confidence.
The story of Anetra’s season was right there to be seen from the start, which is why I so confidently placed her in my #2 spot. The show had its pick of several narratives to create a David against Sasha Colby’s Goliath. Ultimately, Anetra’s unshakeable calm won out over MIB’s classic drag and Luxx’s self-belief.
That’s why I was so surprised at how Anetra stalled in the finale. To be fair, she was shaken early on in the night when a complex move with one of her dancers left him sidelined by an injury. That meant everyone had to re-choreograph their numbers on the spot, including Anetra having to perform hers a second time. Even the unshakeable former aspiring Olympian Anetra had to be somewhat rattled by that, and I feel like that was obvious at a few points in the show.
(She also came off as somewhat tired, as when she missed landing a 360 leaping dip in the final lip sync and came down on her knee. Who knows if that weariness set in before or after the accident in her own number.)
Past Anetra’s fluctuating energy level, there was also her fashion sense. It didn’t feel like Anetra leveled up her looks at all in nearly a year since she first prepped her Drag Race package. She designed arguably one of the best ball challenge looks of all time, but she arrived at the finale doing Mortal Combat glam and with more jumpsuits rather than delivering jaw-dropping eleganza.
I don’t think low-energy or mid-couture could stop Anetra from reaching the final lip sync with Sasha based on the narrative the show built for her over the final few episodes. That’s a problem for RuPaul’s Drag Race. For finales to feel worth watching, they need to count for something, but in this episode it feels like we got a preordained outcome that wasn’t necessarily in line with the performances on the night.
Despite me feeling slightly weary about how the finale unspooled for Anetra, it does nothing too cool my appreciation of her and her drag. Anetra is a mega-talent potential star who deserves the kind of international exposure that comes from Drag Race.
Winner: Sasha Colby – 4 Wins
(1.62 avg; was #1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, Pre-Season #1)
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Sasha Colby is our Season 15 winner and America’s next drag superstar!
One of the great joys of this season was that Sasha never felt like she was patiently ticking off boxes on the way to winning the season, despite her decades of experience and status as the indisputable frontrunner. She seemed genuinely enthusiastic walking into every challenge, and she delivered many shocking performances where she was obviously having a blast.
Yes, she won for her neck-cracking heavenly commercial and her unexpectedly great Charo interview. But, those two wins could have easily been for her shocking metal girl group verse or her gender-bending Rusical performance. It really felt like Sasha wanted to push her own boundaries every week, which is what kept her so fresh and so easy to root for even as she mercilessly stomped through the competition.
As I said in my pre-season write-up, “She’s not a queen who was inspired by Drag Race, but the kind of queen who inspired WOW to think they could produce a show like this!”
Sasha also brought a stunning runway package. While I felt like a few of her looks were a little to sparse, that’s my own bias against body-ody-ody looks over eleganza and genderfxck runways. Yet, looks like Sasha’s bumblebee bustle puffer and her baseball glove patchwork were absolute shoots. I never got the sense that Sasha’s runway dominance came from solely from paying designers to do the most for her; she has own own eye for aesthetics that created a through-line across her entire package.
In the pre-season I said, “I love that in talking about herself she says she is a “goddest sl*t” who is addicted to splits while remaining a huge nerd.” That absolutely came through in Sasha’s finale, where she made it literal by performing a song called “Goddess” while dressed as a snake and then being crowned while being nearly nude.
Sasha told us who she was up front and then walked that talk all season long.
All hail Sasha Colby, our queen of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15! Long may she reign.
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