We’re only a week and a day away from the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4, and far from a roster of joyous queens ready to bask in the glow of their small-screen return, things aren’t so peachy among all the contestants. In fact, some of them are downright shady. And even more jaw-dropping is the target of that shade — the show’s own namesake, RuPaul.
A half-hour panel discussion with the queens of All Stars 4, moderated by guest judge Carson Kressley, was released onto the web earlier this week, and the shade was layered so thick, fans have been left shivering. Most notable from the sit-down were a few queens who continued to call out a holiday-themed promo video that came with a bit of controversy upon release last month.
Dropped nearly two weeks ago, the All Stars 4 promo — a parody of “Carol of the Bells” dubbed “Carol of the Queens” — features a run-down of the upcoming season’s “seasoned” cast by name, with one notable exception — the show’s host, RuPaul himself.
The lack of “Supermodel of the World” RuPaul in the All Stars 4 promo was met with unkind words by some online, who took the lack of an appearance as a middle finger to fans. Others were quick to defend the host, citing what’s surely a busy schedule and perhaps a desire to let the contestant queens themselves shine. (Some promos for past seasons have actually featured RuPaul solo, with the queen contestants nowhere to be seen.)
Meanwhile, also pointed out was something that may verge on conspiracy theory: Near the end of the promo, the cast ‘carols together’ the lines “Yule love us all / All hail RuPaul.” But as some have pointed out, three of the queens stay mum during that “All hail RuPaul” line — Gia Gunn, Naomi Smalls and Valentina. (It’s worth mentioning that while Gia lip syncs the first part, “Yule love us all,” she stays silent for the second line, while Naomi and Valentina don’t bother mouthing any of it. And Jasmine Masters appears to be just standing with her mouth agape.)
Haven’t seen the All Stars 4 holiday-themed promo? Watch it for yourself here:
Now, just as chatter over that controversial-but-not-really promo spot has come to a close, this week’s panel discussion has rumors churning once again of mutiny in the ranks of All Stars 4.
Around 24 minutes into the panel, Kressley asks the queens a question posed by someone via social media, and that’s when the claws appear to come out, despite the tone being rather upbeat and un-shady thus far (short of Latrice referring to All Stars Season 1 as an “absolute shitshow” and “monstrosity of a mess,” which is rather difficult to deny).
Carson Kressley: How sickening were RuPaul’s looks this season, without giving away too much.
Naomi Smalls: Did you see her [RuPaul] in the promo? [the panel laughs]
Carson: Oh, the promo. We’re going there?
Naomi: Yeah! She looked great in the promo!
Farrah Moan: I mean, they’re kinda always the same [referring to RuPaul’s looks], aren’t they? [more laughs, and shrieks from Monique]
Carson: What? Oh my god … We better go to a commercial.
Monique Heart, singing: “Reading Rainbowwwwwwww”
Gia Gunn: What she meant to say was, we’ve seen better, and so have you.
Carson, a few minutes later: Tell me about this promo shoot. It’s very wintery, icy …
Gia: Oh, is she in that one? [more shrieks from Monique]
This was clearly the moment when the panel discussion went off the rails. Contestant queens vocally coming for Mother Ru? Gasp!
Watch the entire All Stars 4 panel here:
Reactions to the mutiny caught on camera were mixed, with some left clutching their pearls (and many utterances of clichés about “biting the hand that feeds you”) and others cheering on the library doors’ eruption (as RuPaul himself says, “Reading is what? Fundamental!”).
Still others can’t help but wonder whether those dishing out the shadiness towards RuPaul may have shorter stints on the upcoming season than some of the other queens.
One thing seems certain, though: Through its 14-plus seasons of must-watch television, RuPaul’s Drag Race has given a platform to some big personalities. They’re talented, they’re quick-witted, they’re well-versed in reading and they’re the embodiment of a community that has been trodden upon for too long and will use their platform to say ‘no more.’
The era of Drag Race contestants bowing down (or mouthing “all heil”) to their coven’s long-established supreme may just be at an end. What that means for future seasons of this remarkable series — which undeniably acts as a platform by and for queer people, broadcast to an immense TV audience — is yet to be seen.