Are you ready to watch the United Kingdom take on the world? On Friday 9 February, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World Season 2 debuts on the BBC and worldwide on WOW+.
UK vs. The World is the de facto UK “All-Stars,” pitting some of the top queens from the RuPaul-hosted UK series against queens from other Ru-hosted shows in the US and Canada plus English-speaking queens from some of the many international Drag Race franchises!
Of course, a new RuPaul-hosted series means a new series of weekly Power Rankings posts! And, although I am no longer doing my pre-season predictions posts for new queens, this is a season full of 11 queens we’ve met already from 7 different Drag Race franchises.
How are these incredible artists positioned to take the crown? I’ve ranked there potential to snatch the crown based on what we’ve seen from them on their original season(s) plus their Meet The Queens pre-season interviews.
Remember: I write these pre-season power rankings purely for fun, which is the same reason I recap all of the many Drag Race franchises week after week. If I make any critiques of these incredibly accomplished drag artists, those critiques are purely within the framework of what the show expects of them.
In the case of Pre-Season power rankings, my rankings double as a placement prediction. I have a I have a shockingly good track record at these predictions, but I haven’t tried my hand at an All Stars season for several years. Will my prognostication hold up for this special Olympian battle of global drag juggernauts? Of course, Season 1 of this show is famous for throwing all possible predictions out the window thanks to two massive shock eliminations that meant it was virtually impossible for anyone to predict the ending. Will Season 2 by just as unpredictable?
(Want to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World outside of the UK? For most of the world, it’s available with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Check back later this week for my recap and power rankings of the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World Season 2, in addition to my ongoing coverage of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16 and Drag Race Belgique Season 2.
Readers, start your engines. And, may the best international drag superstar 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 am obsessed with drag and the people who create it.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World, Season 2 Pre-Season Power Rankings
Before we get started, can we just appreciate this very punk, very leggy promo look from Ru? Mother Ru loves wearing ultra-short skirts in the UK! Great hair, great make-up, great garment, great waist, great legs. Maybe the shoes are a little too fussy, but this is just so much cooler than any official photo we’ve had of Ru for a long while.
#1 – Hannah Conda, Runner-Up on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2
Hannah Conda would’ve handily won RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2 if it wasn’t for the phenomenon from my very own Palmy North, Spanky Jackson (Fuck Yeah!). I had Hannah at the top of my Power Ranking for the majority of the season.
Hannah’s got the talent to hold her own on any season of any franchise of this show. There was nothing she couldn’t handle on her season, from design challenges to writing verses to Snatch Game. She turned in one of the best feats of self-direction we’ve ever seen in a branding challenge, on par with visionary work from Alaska and Katya. And, she had some of the most consistent and well-constructed fashion we’ve seen across three whole seasons of Down Under.
All of that means that Hannah Conda walks into this season with a ready made “finalist-to-winner” edit in a similar way to Alaska, Trinity The Tuck, or Shea Coulee. Not only that, but there’s no question in my mind that she Hannah enters this season with the special qualification of being Ru’s favorite (perhaps challenged by Tia Kofi as a dark horse for that same title).
What could stop Hannah’s march to the crown on this season? Apart from design, I can’t imagine a single challenge that she’d have trouble with – and she could be the best actor/comedian in the cast. She could falter early in the Talent Show, since her talents aren’t incredibly specific to singing or dancing. And, if she doesn’t score a lucky win in a design challenge against some of these fashion powerhouses, she could find herself in the bottom in the middle of the season without many allies.
Despite those potential pitfalls, I still see Hannah as a lock for the finals of this season. She’s just too damn good at Drag Race not to be.
#2 – La Grande Dame, Runner-Up on Drag Race France Season 1
La Grande Dame came a hair’s breadth away from winning Drag Race France Season 1. Looking back, it almost feels like she won the season based on her reception, her confidence, and her runways, even if I was firmly Team Paloma from the moment I laid eyes on her.
There’s a big question mark over if a La Grande Dame’s smirky French humor will translate to English… and to Ru. Based on her Meet the Queens, I think it’ll make the jump. It’s not just that she is completely fluent in English. She comes across to me in English exactly the same as she did in French.
There’s also the X-Factor of Camera Awareness. La Grande Dame has it in spades. She was always charming in performance challenges on her season, but past her talents she’s also an experienced model and media personality. She knows when to play to the lens.
That positions La Grande Dame not only as the undisputed fashion queen of the season, but also a potentially strong actor and comedian. LGD isn’t the strongest dancer, but dancing doesn’t tend to be a make-or-break on All Stars seasons. However, I’m curious to see what she will bring for her talent show.
I think Ru might be utterly hypnotized by her beauty and her Frenchness. Plus, it would certainly be newsworthy for Ru to crown an All-Star queen from a non-English-language season – something we haven’t seen yet.
#3 – Marina Summers, Runner-Up on Drag Race Philippines Season 1
Marina Summer was a drag machine on Drag Race Philippines Season 1. There was nothing she couldn’t do, and she was often the smartest queen in the bunch when it came to lyrics and branding. Also, she’s an outstanding dancer.
RuPaul doesn’t always love an A-Student, but Marina never came off to me like a theatre kid ticking boxes on a drag checklist. She’s just a perfectionist. Ru can appreciate that, and perfectionists are as valued on an All Stars season as they are punished on a regular one.
I am certain Marina will be walking through the doors of this season with budget, mawma. Though her fashions were strong on Philippines, she could occasionally be shown up by some of the truly conceptual artists in the cast. I don’t think this perfectionist will allow that to happen to her again on this season.
(And, I wrote that paragraph before I saw her promo look! Marina unquestionably looks the best out of the entire cast. This dress is pure pageant drama that screams “RICH!”)
I expect to see some truly over-the-top fashion from Marina, plus domination in a Girl Groups challenge and whip-smart comedy. But, will she fall prey to what can seem like a personal vendetta from Ru against most Asian queens in Snatch Game?
I hope not. Even if Hannah Conda seems like the most-obvious winner of this season to me, I could be rooting for Marina Summers the hardest. The idea of a crown on her head just seems correct.
#4 – Tia Kofi, 7th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2
Tia Kofi’s only problem on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2 was that her fashion was rotted. If not for that, Ru was amused enough by her that she could’ve made a much deeper run – even against one of the most stacked casts in the history of the show.
Since then, Tia has been on a non-stop media whirlwind, with plenty of on-camera experienced. She’s had a major make-up glow-up. She’s delivered pop-star quality music. And, now she has the money and the connections for stronger runways.
What’s going to stop her on UK vs. The World, exactly? I think we’re looking at the queen who is going to be in the Top Two for every comedy challenge of the season – and, I doubt there will be a late-breaking ball challenge to take her out.
I just don’t think anyone in this cast charms Ru quite as much as Tia, and she has the most-obvious “unpolished-but-mega-talented mid-out becomes a finalist” narrative in this cast – another standard story that All Stars seasons love to tell (e.g. Katya, Shangela, Trixie, Monique Heart, Miss Cracker, Ra’jah O’Hara).
Of course, one thing you’ll notice on that list of queens: only half of them were winners. Also, a glow-up and an All Stars budget doesn’t fundamentally alter taste level. While Tia’s promo look is certainly elevated, it’s not beyond reproach. I’m not sure who would choose to have a ruffled donut of silk sit quite in that spot on their hips, and the unlined skirt pooling awkwardly on the floor isn’t exactly giving opulence.
But… All Stars is never only about fashion. It’s always tilted heavily towards comedy and performance, and that’s where Tia excels. In fact, she may stealthily be the best singer in this cast. I’m intensely curious to see if just a little more polish is enough to carry her to finals, even if her questionable taste is still intact.
#5 – Scarlet Envy, 10th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11
+ 9th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 6
Scarlet Envy walked into RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 as a slightly-salty ingenue but over her run on All-Stars Season 6 she evolved to present a blithe French Vanilla fantasy version of herself that was much sweeter to watch.
I think Ru and the cameras both love this slightly-more delusional, slightly-more villainous Scarlet, and it’s going to play well on an international season. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Scarlet is a solid actress and has a pretty keen eye for fashion, which could save her from an early cut.
I’ve always had the sense that Scarlet is slightly better at Drag Race than her placements would suggest. Her problem is her strength: she’s consistent. She will always deliver at a solid level of quality, but she lacks the ability to create a break-out TV moment that most finalists possess. She certainly has a consistent eye for fashion, which has evolved over time. And, she is consistently hilarious when she pops up in other places online, including Binge Queens.
The thing that is holding her back could be RuPaul herself. I’m somewhat surprised Scarlet didn’t hold out for a trip to Canada vs. The World, where her twin-seasons-sister Ra’Jah O’Hara took home a crown.
Yet… there are only two US queens on this season – and, of the two, Scarlet is much, much better at Drag Race. There’s no way an international All Stars throws away all of its US queens by the halfway point. That will give Scarlet more chances to try to create that break-out moment than she has had in the past.
For this season, it all comes down to if Ru suddenly is charmed by Scarlet Envy. Personally, I just don’t think Scarlet is ever going to be a Queen of the Mothertucking World in the eyes of RuPaul. She might get a little closer to the finalists podium this time around purely via inertia and playing a solid game, but I can’t envision her in a final lip sync for the crown.
#6 – Choriza May, 6th/7th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3
Choriza May was a cruel double elimination from the scattershot RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3, where it felt like she was an obvious potential finalist except for the fact that RuPaul found her completely boring. I’m surprised to see her competing here and not on Drag Race España All Stars given Ru’s borderline hostility towards her.
That said: Choriza is VERY funny. And, she’s funny in a way that does not require a lot of outside validation. She has such a keenly developed sense of the absurd all on her own. Have you heard her song “My Pussy Is Like a Peach“?!
Ru has tried to get Choriza to second guess herself before on UK Season 3. I can’t see that happening again this season – or, at least, Ru might try it but Choriza won’t succumb. She is here to be exactly the weirdo she wants to be.
Not only that, but she’ll be hitting the stage with the same intense level of All Stars glow-up as the rest of this cast. Choriza has even judged another franchise, which very few queens can say. This sausage queen has seen how th sausage is made!
Can glow-up plus that insider experience get Ru on Choriza’s side, or will Ru still find Choriza’s daffy humor to be an affront? Let’s not forget that RuPaul ruthlessly cut Choriza in a relatively late-season double-elimination, which at the time felt like a signal RuPaul simply isn’t entertained by her.
I think Choriza will play better on an international cast than in an exclusively UK one because her humor won’t be juxtaposed only against UK queens. And, perhaps this time around Ru might give her more benefit of the doubt than she did before.
#7 – Keta Minaj, 4th place on Drag Race Holland Season 2
Keta Minaj is often framed as shocking ouster from Drag Race Holland Season 2, but I was never as fully on-board with that narrative. She was a strong competitor, but sometimes her fashions were confusing and her mug could be unrefined.
I think Keta might be one of the most-confident queens in this cast, but unless she steers hard into the villain role early on I don’t think Ru will find her very addictive. And, if she does steer into that villain role, she has no allies on this cast. I think that leaves her in a tricky spot where’s she’s damned if she plays it nice and damned if she goes hard.
Keta Minaj’s only saving grace might be to kill on the runway. This promo look certainly hints that she’s capable of it, but that’s a tough prospect up against Hannah, LGD, and Marina – all known for outstanding runways.
Her promo look has a certain fussiness to it that’s exactly what I expect based on her season. Yes, the feathered skirt is stunning and full, but what does the silver frame of the bodice have anything to do with it? And what is happening with the nude illusion beneath?
Plus, why does she always choose such dark lips? I feel like they dominate her face in an unpleasant way that distracts from her contouring.
This could be the only BOOT in this full cast of promo looks, which doesn’t body well for Keta on the runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World Season 2.
#8 – Mayhem Miller, 10th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10
+ 7th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 5
Mayhem Miller is one of the most likable contestants in Drag Race history, but with that has always come the sense that she’s great at drag and not at Drag Race.
Mayhem blazed brightly and quickly sputtered out on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10. When she was (UNFAIRLY) eliminated on All-Stars Season 5 she voted for herself to go home, which suggests she might not have the mental toughness for another deep run.
I think Mayhem is incredibly talented and always good for a laugh, but when it comes to this show’s format I think she’s addicted to failure. Mayhem is about consistency in the long form – turning it out at regular bookings, being hilarious on full seasons of Binge Queens or guest spots on Try Guys. But, when it comes to the pressure cooker of Drag Race, she has no time to deliver a running average of consistency.
I can’t see Mayhem being cut-throat enough to creep into the top group in this cast. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her make an early stumble that leads the international queens to merrily cut an established Ru-girl.
That said… I would personally be so pleased and proud if Mayhem bucked that narrative and wound up with the finalist position she has always richly deserved.
#9 – Jonbers Blonde, 3rd/4th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 4
Jonbers Blonde was a charming finalist who punched way above her weight class on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 4, making it to the finale against the titanic pairing of Danny Beard and Cheddar Gorgeous, and alongside the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent of Black Peppa.
I find Jonber’s to be effortlessly charming, but I think RuPaul found her charming almost completely by accident whenever other strong players fell through.
I just don’t think Jonbers will be able to replicate that “lightning in a bottle” kind of success the second time around, nor do I think she is particularly outstanding at any one type of challenge compared to the other queens in this cast. She was a reliable “top placement” queen and never a winner, and she’s in a cast stacked with reliable winners.
This is by far my boldest prediction, but I think Jonbers is going to quickly find herself in over her head against this cast and be kicked to the curb without a strong ally from her own season.
It doesn’t help that she had the quickest turnaround of all of the queens in this cast, heading into the shoot for the season just a few months after her own season aired. I feel like that shows through in her promo outfit and makeup. There’s just not much evolution there.
I think with more time to evolve Jonbers could’ve specialized more in fashion or comedy and come back as a much stronger competitor. Instead, I think she’ll be essentially the same queen we saw the first time around – and that may not be enough to crack the top half of the cast on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World Season 2.
#10 – Gothy Kendoll, 10th place on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 1
Gothy Kendoll was the Porkchop of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 1, but she was no Victoria “Porkchop” Parker when it comes to experience. Gothy was a mere baby queen in her initial appearance, with little stage presence or camera awareness.
Since then, she has done a lot of fashion, a lot of DJing, and a lot of OnlyFans – the latter of which has significantly raised her profile with Drag Race fans more than anything she did on the show.
I know Drag Race has a history of stunt-casting an early out only for them to be early-out again (a-hem, Serena Cha-Cha), but I think Gothy’s going to gag us in a different way on her return. She’s got experience and budget now, and I think with that on her side Ru is going to find her deadpan humor a little bit funnier.
I suspect Gothy comes out of the gates strong on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World Season 2 to get a win in the Talent Show a la Tatianna or India Ferrah but then quickly flames out in a comedy challenge.
(Also, I cannot help but wonder if this spot may have originally been reserved for Sminty Drop, who comes off similarly to Gothy but who the show seems to understand is particularly fashion-forward and meme-ble, but she turned it down due to the tight turnaround from the airing of her own season.)
#11 – Arantxa Castilla La Mancha, 7th place on Drag Race España Season 1
Arantxa had a strong “beloved but not prepared” edit on Drag Race España Season 1 with a Safe – Lip Sync – Safe – Elim track record. She had a goofy youthfulness that a resonated with a lot of fans, but she didn’t stand a chance against some of the powerhouses in the top group of the season.
The tricky thing about ranking Arantxa against this cast is the judging on España is wildly specific to Spain’s fashion and culture in a way that makes it unique from almost all the other international franchises. I find it nearly impossible to accurately power rank, and honestly a bit frustrating to watch.
To me, that’s fascinating – it means I’m going to learn something from the show rather than simply seeing a regurgitation of drag culture from other countries. Yet, it also makes for an interesting challenge for Arantxa, who will be one of only two queens in this cast who hasn’t been regularly judged by Ru herself or a Ru-girl. (Nicki Doll judges France and Jiggly Caliente is a judge on Philippines!)
I think Arantxa will be gunning for an ingenue role on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World Season 2 as the youthful, fashionable queen who can charm RuPaul. Yet, I wonder if we’ll lose her identity if she glams up her slightly-crunchy streetwear-influenced fashion too much. I think her promo shot of a patchwork denim dress full of stoning and backed by a lush cape of feathers is solid work that could put her on the same level of Scarlet Envy if she has more like it in her suitcase.
However, in this cast Arantxa really feels like a potential sacrificial Lemon to me – someone easy for both Ru and the other queens to cut who will cause limited backlash from other contestants or fans. Her saving grace may be a Spanish-language allyship with Choriza, but I don’t see her connecting with the other non-Ru-judged Keta Minaj – who is much more severe.