In 2009, Drag Superstar of the World, RuPaul, invited nine drag queens to compete in the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ten years, 131 episodes, 126 queens, five Emmy awards, and uncountable amounts of death drops, jump splits, and tongue pops later, RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a global phenomenon. This year, Mother Ru has summoned the next cohort of sickening queens to join her empire and fight for the crown and title of America’s Next Drag Superstar. With 15 queens (the most ever in one season) with strong backgrounds and hailing from multiple legendary drag families, this season is setting up to be a very Game of Thrones.
Meet the next contenders to join RuPaul’s pantheon of champions:
A’KEIRA CHANEL DAVENPORT
The Davenports have a sterling reputation in RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Royal House of Davenport has brought us icons like Sahara, Kennedy, and Monet X Change. This season, we are blessed with two more, including A’keira Chanel Davenport. She is a Dallas queen established in the Texas pageant circuit with titles under her belt like “Miss Black Universe” and “Miss International Vogue.” We already know A’keira will be a force to be reckoned with.
Bratz Dolls are IN this season! Ariel Versace started doing drag in 2013 and has since become New Jersey’s resident life-sized Bratz. But don’t underestimate this doll; she placed in the top 3 in Philly Drag Wars Cycle 4 before winning Philly Drag Wars All-Stars 2.
BROOKE LYNN HYTES
Did someone say Bayonetta? RuPaul’s Drag Race welcomes its first Canadian Queen! Hytes calls herself equal parts ballerina, showgirl, and 90’s mode—la drag perfection personified. She’s toured the world as a professional ballet dancer and was crowned Miss Continental Crown in 2014. Winter is definitely coming, and the “Queen of the North” is here.
What’s better than one Davenport? Two! Honey Davenport is not only the drag sister of Kennedy and Sahara, but also the mother of Season 10 and All-Stars 4 powerhouse Monet X Change. She is notorious for “crazy-colored mohawks, [and] high-energy powerhouse dance performances,” and winning the first season of “So You Think You Can Dance IN DRAG.” The Davenports are definitely coming for the crown this season, and it will be exciting to see how A’keira and Honey will interact on screen.
Speaking of drag family ties, there definitely is no shortage in Season 11. Kahanna Montrese, daughter of Season 5 lip sync assassin, Coco Montrese, is a Las Vegas showgirl icon performing alongside Drag Race alums like Yara Sofia, Shannel, Derrick Barry, and India Ferrah. She’s here to finish what Coco Montrese started . . . minus the Dorito Dust, hopefully.
MERCEDES IMAN DIAMOND
At the young age of 11, Mercedes Iman Diamond moved to America from Kenya. Diamond says that “drag saved her life” after growing up struggling with her bisexual identity. Ten years of drag later, the artform gives her a sense of purpose and reason to inspire. Diamond is a Minneapolis icon “with a Birkin bag full of titles” including Miss Gay 90’s, Miss City of the Lakes, Miss Queen of Hearts, and Miss South Dakota Gay United States 2015. Will she be making room for another crown on the shelf?
Here comes the comedy queen! Nina West comes from “a colorful, candy-coated wonderland where dreams come true.” Nina has been an icon in the central Ohio drag scene for 18 years, producing 35 main stage production shows and raising more than two million dollars for The Nina West Foundation, her non-profit that “serves central Ohio LGBTQ youth and families.”
With a mother like Alyssa Edwards, all eyes are on Plastique Tiara, the youngest member from the legendary-boots-the-house-down-*tonguepop*-hallelu-absolutelyyyyyyyy-yes GAWD-*deathdrop* drag family, The House of Edwards! Hailing from Vietnam and inspired by Asian pop icons, Plastique has racked up a strong and steady Instagram following with the likes of Tyra Banks reposting her lewks. Fingers crossed Alyssa finally shared her secret and an Edwards queen can go home with the crown.
What happens when a daughter hails from two legendary drag families? Ra’jah O’Hara. A descendant from both the Davenports and O’Hara’s, Ra’jah is the third cast member with Davenport blood, known for her kicks, splits, and tearing up the dancefloor. There’s a 20% chance a Davenport is taking the crown home this season . . . the big question is which one?
Southern Belle Scarlet Envy is inspired by movie bombshells from the 40s, Warholian superstars of the 60s, and supermodels of the 80s. She’s graced the New York City nightlife for six years and appeared on Saturday Night Live, Netflix, and HBO. Not to mention that her mother is controversial Season 7 runner-up, Pearl. We’ll have to wait to see how this turns out.
Shuga Cain left her six-figure corporate job to become a full-time drag queen just a little over a year before being cast on Drag Race. Don’t get it twisted, though; Shuga is from the competitive New York City drag scene, where she is a stand-out for her opera and musical theater background.
SILKY NUTMEG GANACHE
“Big Silk” has a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership and is on her way to becoming a Doctor of Philosophy. If that isn’t intimidating, I don’t know what is. Will a masters degree be the secret ingredient to the crown?
Honey, Shuga, Nutmeg Ganache, Soju . . . this is really starting to be RuPaul’s Best Grocery Race. Soju is a Chicago K-pop Superstar Drag Icon who is also a taekwondo master. We wouldn’t mess with her on Untucked.
Season 9 and All Stars 3 kween Aja has been vocal about her support for Colorado drag queen, Yvie Oddly. She’s a revolutionary queen who pushes the boundaries of drag, known for her sickening and out-of-this-world looks. You’ll never know what to expect on an Yvie show, besides your jaw dropping.
VANESSA VANJIE MATEO
She’s back with a vengeance! After a short but iconic run on Season 10, Miss Vanjie returns for another chance for the crown. We’re not at all surprised RuPaul invited her back to the mix after breaking the internet last year, but we’re dying to see what she has in store this time around. We don’t want her to go home, but if she does, what would she say if she left?
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 is scheduled to premiere on Thursday, February 28 on VH1.