‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ season 9 episode 1 recap: ‘Drag Queens Save the World’

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“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” kicked off its 9th season on Friday, May 17 with the first two episodes featuring returning queens from seasons past. Making their way back into the Werk Room for the second time are Angeria Paris VanMichaels (season 14), Gottmik (season 13), Jorgeous (season 14), Nina West (season 11), and Plastique Tiara (season 11). Three queens are returning for the third time: Roxxxy Andrews (season 5 and All Stars 2), Shannel (season 1 and All Stars 1), and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (seasons 10 and 11).

In addition to their chance at the coveted crown, this season the queens are competing to have a $200,000 contribution, provided by The Palette Fund, to a charity of their choice. Series judges RuPaul Charles and Michelle Visage will be joined on the dais by friends and series regulars Carson Kressley, Ts Madison, and Ross Mathews as well as a rotating cast of guest judges to help determine episodic winners and their choice for “next drag superstar.”

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Check out our recap of episode 1, titled “Drag Queens Save the World,” featuring guest judge Keke Palmer below:

In the parade of re-entrances into the Werk Room, Gottmik was the first to arrive. In highlights from her past season, the judges highlighted her creativity and she discussed all the work she’s done since, like her podcast with Violet Chachki. She is competing to help benefit Trans Lifeline. She was followed by Roxxxy, someone the judges have always adored for her sex appeal and who made it clear that this time around she’s still looking to be declared “the winner.” She is competing to benefit Miracle of Love.

Next was Vanjie, the icon herself, promising to use her popularity and imprint as an advantage. She is competing to benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Angeria entered next, calling herself the “2.0” version that is much more than a pageant queen. She is competing to benefit the National Black Justice Coalition. They were joined by Nina next, a queen who sees herself as a “legitimate threat” in “acting and comedy” challenges. She is competing to benefit The Trevor Project.

The competition was rounded out by Plastique who says that her struggle on season 11 was showing her personality so she will conquer that this time around. She is competing to benefit The Asian American Foundation. Next was Jorgeous, the “ultimate lip sync assassin” and someone Ru said was “born for drag.” She is competing to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Last to re-introduce herself was season 1’s Shannel, the original Vegas showgirl and officially the first queen to ever walk into the Werk Room 15 years ago. She is competing to benefit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Ru’s own entrance into the Werk Room marked the start of the competition, officially, and he revealed that because they’ll be competing to raise as much money as possible there will be no eliminations this season. Instead, the judges will announce two top all stars for the week and present them with a Beautiful Benefactress Badge. The two of them will compete in a Lip Sync for Your Legacy with one of them winning and claiming $10,000 for their charity and the right to select another queen as one who can’t receive a Beautiful Benefactress Badge in the following week. The badges are important because in the “Grand Finale,” only the three queens with the most of them will battle to win the $200,000 cash prize for their charity.

For their first challenge, Ru opened the library and asked them all to read each other to filth in the “Reading Is Fundamental” mini challenge. Among the funniest reads were Angeria telling Gottmik she “aint got much” talent, a couple aimed at Roxxxy’s weight and Shannels’ age, Shannel coming for Gottmik’s reputation cancelling gigs, Jorgeous going after Plastique’s tucking, Roxxxy swiping over Vanjie’s bobby-pin look, and Gottmik sneaking in a dig at Ru. The winner of the first cash prize for charity, a cool $2500, was Roxxxy.

And for the first maxi challenge, the eight queens had to write and perform the theme song for the season, “Drag Queens Save the World.” They’d work on their own to write solo verses to the song and then work together to create and perform group choreography.

As the queens settled in, Jorgeous and Angeria concluded that their toughest competition is likely going to be Roxxxy and Nina because of how strong they’ve been and their previous experiences. Plastique and Roxxxy connected over their friendship and insinuated that there might be a bit of an alliance between them based on that. Shannel and Nina recognized themselves as older than the rest of the girls and wondered what sort of divide that could create.

Later on the Main Stage, the group offered Jorgeous the role of choreographer to which she gladly accepted, owning her position as “the best dancer here.” Even when Jorgeous could come up with the moves, Vanjie pointed out that she’d have to put it into 8-counts for them in order to teach the others the timing of the movements.  That was a struggle for her do to, but they managed to get through it somehow.

The next day as they prepared for the runway and performance, Jorgeous brought up the topic of strategy with Angeria and they agreed that it would be best to “cut off” from earning badges anyone that is stiff competition. In a confessional of her own, Roxxxy said that she’ll trust Plastique, but can’t trust anyone else.

On the Main Stage this week was Michelle, Ross and Keke to watch the performance of “Drag Queens Save the World” and the queens walk in the category “Signature Look, Signature Fragrance.” For the runway, the queens created a unique fragrance product that they narrated and connected to their specific look and personal brand. Gottmik made “Crash” for party girls, Nina created “Criminal” for anyone wanting to go serve time, Plastique made “Fantasique by Plastique” to embrace anyone living in a fantasy world, Angie made “Le Southern Belle” for “saints that want to feel like a sinner,” Vanjie presented “Toxica” as a “crunk fragrance” for the club girlies, Jorgeous brought “Lil Chiquita” for the tiny and spicy baddies, Shannel created “Shannel No. 1” to appeal to any “diva that wants to feel like a temptress,” and Roxxxy made “Never Scent Home” to reference the way she was saved from elimination so many times in the past.

During judges’ critiques, Michelle applauded Gottmik for making a statement and Ross appreciated the presentation of her look on the runway and connection to her perfume brand. Michelle thought Nina stood out for singing her verse of the song and Keke said she “loved the storytelling.” Ross commented on how “so gorgeous” Plastique is and Keke mentioned that she “gagged and gooped” with the comedy in her fragrance narration. Michelle thought that Angie had the most “power” with her verse in the performance and Keke said that she had both “heart and soul” with her runway presentation. Keke was a huge fan of Vanjie’s wild presentation and both Michelle and Ross think that Vanjie was become a “total pro” at this point. Michelle commented that it was “beautiful” watching Jorgeous dance because you can see her passion. Michelle also loved the “old school drag” aesthetic that Shannel brought to the stage. The judges thought that Roxxxy’s excitement to be back on the show was apparent and Keke said that she “lights up a room.”

Based on the performance and their runway presentations, Ru announced the the first top two all stars of the season to receive a Beautiful Benefactress Badge were Angeria and Jorgeous. To determine the overall winner, they lip synced to a “Million Dollar Bill” remix by Whitney Houston. Angie brought out a sweat rag as a quick gag to reference Whitney’s stage persona and Jorgeous relied on high energy, quick dance moves to each and every beat of the song. In the end, Angie’s comedic take on the song and ability to keep pace with Jorgeous helped Ru make the decision that she was the winner.

As the winner, Angie got to cut off one of the other queens from the chance to earn their own Beautiful Benefactress Badge next week. To do this, she used the Ruby Snippers (an oversized pair of red, glittery scissors) to cut Roxxxy off. Her decision came down to which queen wouldn’t hold it against her and who is someone that is “good at everything.” Ru clarified that while Roxxxy can compete and win next week, she would not earn a Beautiful Benefactress Badge.

NEXT TIME: Angie has to answer for her move against Roxxxy and the girls compete in a runway extravaganza, “The Paint Ball.”

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