Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race has been announced and this super sized season has shaped up to be like no other. We have a number of family members from legendary drag families, several queens that have been rumored to be cast in previous seasons and are finally hitting the Main Stage, and a returning queen that is sure to please more than a few fans. Here’s a break down of the brand new cast to see how they measure up against each other for Season 11.
A’keria Chanel Davenport is part of the Davenport drag legacy, and like her family members before her, is known as the quintessential pageant girl. This Texas stunner comes from a long line of girls from the Lone Star State who have shown us what they can do, including her drag aunt, Season 7/All Stars 3 stunner Kennedy Davenport. Starting in Dallas and now residing in Houston, Texas, this Lone Star lady has a great deal to live up to based on her family members’ previous performances, but something tells me if there is anyone that can do it, it’s A’keria Chanel Davenport.
Like her drag mother Season Five’s Coco Montrese, I think it is safe to assume that we can expect Kahanna Montreseto absolutely slay when it comes to lip syncing against her fellow Season 11 sisters. Coming out of the ever burgeoning Las Vegas drag scene, Montrese got into the drag scene on a bet with a bartender in her hometown. Citing both Season 1 showstopper Nina Flowers and Coco Montrese as her biggest influences, she currently is part of the cast at Drag Brunch at Señor Frogs Las Vegas, Something tells me Las Vegas will have to share Kahanna Montrese with the rest of the world after everyone gets a taste of what she can do on Season 11.
Columbus, Ohio has one of the best drag scenes in the Midwest and a large part of that is due to the dynamite Nina West. This bawdy broad is known as one of the leading queens in the Midwest, with her own nightly shows at numerous hotspots, as well as her own one woman productions, making this queen so much more than a typical “nightclub" queen and elevating her name throughout the drag community. Her talents should serve her well in acting challenges, and like Latrice Royale before her, West is the consummate professional and will most likely hold others to that very same standard. As a queen who has been rumored to be cast on the show for several seasons, it is interesting to finally be able to see what she is made of on the Drag Race main stage.
Honey Davenport is the current Miss Paradise and is a former Miss’d America, an annual pageant held at the Borgata in Atlantic City. She has a weekly show at Paradise in Asbury Park on Friday nights, “A Taste Of Honey” and has been wowing the crowds with her electric performances, eye popping fashions, and even had Drag Race sisters from previous seasons join her. Dida Ritz (Season 4) Vivacious (Season 6) and Mystique Summers (Season 2) all have taken the stage at A Taste Of Honey this past year. With a pedigree that includes being the drag mother of Season 10 Miss Congeniality Monet X Change and the drag niece of both the dearly departed Sahara Davenport (Season 2) and Kennedy Davenport (Season 7/All Stars 3), we will have to wait and see if Honey is the sweetest Davenport of all to hit the Drag Race workroom.
Ariel Versace has long been rumored to appear on the show, and with polish only matched by her professionalism, Versace is poised to make a splash this season. Her New Jersey roots run deep. She has been a frequent guest at Paradise in Asbury Park, placing as first runner up in the Miss Paradise pageant several years ago. She also is part of the Vixens of Vera Drag Brunch in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which has been selling out consistently since its inception. Along with partner Chastity St. Cartier, Versace is behind Drag by Chariel, which specializes in, among other things, truly outstandingly crafted hairpieces for fellow queens. This girl is a pro on and off the stage, and can lip sync a pop anthem with the best of them; it will be interesting to see how this East Coast stunner meshes with her sisters from all over the nation this season.
Like Season Ten’s Kameron Michaels, Brooke Lynn Hytes is poised to be the “thirst trap” of Season 11. Statuesque in drag and smoldering when out, this Nashville stunner started drag to have a career where she was in control of both her life and her art. Citing Annie Lennox and Cher as among her influences, she merges eye popping looks with beyond unique fashions (her Instagram @bhytes is truly a sight to behold). Fellow southern sister Kameron was a quiet contender, showing what she was made of when it truly mattered, propelling her to the final four. While Hytes may try a similar tactic, she could also let her fellow competitors know what they are dealing with from the beginning; either way, viewers will be watching Brooke Lynn Hytes closely.
With Muslim and African influences throughout her performances, Mercedes Iman Diamond is truly a queen like no other we have seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race before. This Minneapolis queen is a long time pageant winner, with wins such as Miss Gay 90’s. She also was a second alternate to Miss Minnesota Continental. Notoriously, pageant queens have done fairly well in this competition, with previous season queens like Trinity Taylor and Eureka O’Hara going all the way to the finals. It remains to be seen if Diamond’s pageant chops can take her through the Drag Race competition as well.
Plastique Tiaradoesn’t just have one of the best names to ever grace RuPaul’s Drag Race, she comes from pretty good stock herself. As part of the House of Edwards, Tiara shows that she has learned plenty from house mother Alyssa Edwards and sister Shangela. Tiara is the youngest queen this season (at twenty one years old) and has already gained a massive following on social media, where she consistently pulls killer looks together and demonstrates a polish like few other girls well past her age have. Her live performances are epic as well, with splits and dips being part of her vast repertoire, It will be interesting to see how Plastique Tiara stacks up against queens that have been in the game decades more than she, but something tells me that Tiara is up for the challenge.
A returning queen always gets a good amount of buzz, but when the queen is one that has become as much of a part of the lexicon as Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, you know she is returning with a splash. Like Shangela and Eureka before her, “Miss Vanjie” is strutting back into the competition after becoming a viral sensation and a constant topic of conversation during Season Ten (where she was eliminated first). The drag daughter of Season 3 finalist Alexis Mateo is known for turning amazing looks and absolutely killing her performances (she is a trained dancer and a makeup artist respectively) and has even released her own song (“I’m Vanjie”) since her appearance on Drag Race. The real question that remains is how the sudden rush of exposure will serve her now that she is back in the competition once again.
Brooklyn, New York’s Scarlet Envy is as she calls herself, the “cheapest lady with the highest price wig.” This East Coast enchantress gives you old Hollywood realness, but while keeping with her own unique drag style. Like Season Nine (and fellow Brookllyn sister) Sasha Velour, Scarlet believes that “gender is a construct” and plays with its confines consistently throughout her performances. Starting at the Fashion Institute of Technology and ending up as a drag performer, Envy may be able to tap into that New York energy that several other winners from the drag mecca of New York City have been able to do in season’s past.
It’s rare that you won’t see more than a handful of New York City girls in one season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Season 11 is no exception. Shuga Cain is one of Manhattan’s leading hostesses, and she is well overdue to be hitting the RuPaul’s Drag Race workroom. Her live performances merge live singing with show-stopping performances. Winning the Look Queen competition (like Season Ten Winner Aquaria and Season Ten’s Dusty Ray Bottoms before her) only elevated her profile in the drag community in New York City and beyond. A triathlete in her non-drag time, Shuga will need all of those talents and more to take on her fellow Season Eleven sisters.
Soju is defined as a clear, colorless distilled beverage of Korean origin, but this queen is anything but “clear or colorless.” Like Kim Chi, Shea Coulee and a litany of other queens before her, Soju comes straight out of the Chicago drag scene, which has been known to churn out some legendary Drag Race queens. An experienced YouTube interviewer of other girls she has also kicked off a number of K-Pop drag parties nationwide, paying tribute to her own legendary K-Pop drag performances. Using her own Korean influences, as well as her black belt tae kwon do abilities definitely helps her stand out from the crowd in Chi-town, but will it do the same on the Drag Race main stage?
RuPaul’s Drag Race has always been the place where the “big girls” could always find a place to play. From Stacy Layne Matthews to Eureka O’Hara to Latrice Royale, their drag has served as a template for many girls of subsequent seasons to follow. Silky Nutmeg Ganacheis sure to set a whole new set of standards when she hits the work room on Season 11.
She’s also a queen of innumerable talents, with a degree in music and the ability to play the piano as well. A Southern queen who now calls Chicago home, Ganache has competed in well over one hundred pageants (yes-one hundred), so she is well versed in the art of drag competition and how to play the game. It will be interesting to see how she takes her numerous talents and uses them all to her own advantage during the competition.
If there was ever a queen that comes from a beyond perfect pedigree, it’s Ra’jah O’Hara. Straight out of the Dallas drag scene, she is the drag daughter of Silke O’Hara and is connected to the iconic Kelexis Davenport (and the rest of the Davenport family) through her mother. Rajah has been doing drag for well over a decade, and is seasoned on and off the stage. She is also a seamstress and paints her own artwork, which is available for purchase. This title holder has also won numerous pageants, including Miss Texas FFL, which is a title that Kennedy Davenport, Asia O’Hara, and Alyssa Edwards all have been privileged enough to snag. Watching this queen stepping away from her family and standing on her own during her own season of the competition will be a true journey for this queen.
It’s not a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race without a a unique and diverse queen to make the competition that much more exciting, and Yvie Oddly fills that bill and more. This Denver superstar (and protégé of Season 1 finalist Nina Flowers) will be “pushing boundaries” and takes pride in her beyond outrageous looks. Oddly has been known to wok with unconventional materials, with her looks running the gamut from alien creature to standard gorgeous queen. The loud cackle that she is known for will no doubt become a soundbite on the show, but she will need more than a viral moment to knock out the rest of this dynamite group of ladies.