Rabid fans have just 24 hours to go: RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 will premiere on Thursday evening.
— alexia 5000 (@alaskaVEVO) August 24, 2016
Though it hails from the low-brow world of reality competition TV, Drag Race has become something of a cultural crossover. Last season, nationally acclaimed author David Sedaris appeared as a guest judge alongside RuPaul. Clearly giddy with the experience, he gushed about how “captivating” the queens were in person.
Sedaris isn’t the first unlikely fan boy. GIFs of many of the queens appearing on All Stars 2 have become ubiquitous across the internet. Without ever watching Drag Race, many have seen Alyssa Edwards spinning into baffling death drops, or Phi Phi O’Hara rabidly arguing with Willam and Sharon Needles in Season 4.
— drogachachkina (@drogachina) June 16, 2016
If the cast is any indication, All Stars 2 will certainly bring the nail-biting lip syncs; but perhaps more intriguing is the re-appearance of several of the show’s key villains. As noted above, Phi Phi set the gold standard for messy shade when she was on the show more than four years ago. Her reputation was especially tarnished when she was shown sabotaging Jiggly Caliente, one of her closest friends in the competition. Afterward, she famously had quarters — in lieu of dollar bills — thrown at her while performing in bars around the country with the other RuPaul’s Drag Race finalists.
Since then, O’Hara has undergone a massive public image upheaval. Instead of retreating from the unforgiving spotlight that RuPaul’s Drag Race gave her, Phi Phi funneled the attention into innovating her art form. This year, she undertook a dizzying 365 drag looks — one for every day of the year. If her Instagram is any indication, she’s ready to be a hot contender for All Stars 2. O’Hara herself told Manhattan Digest that she has shaken the negativity.
“There is still a bunch of fools out there that go off for no reason and haven’t even taken the time to meet me or get to know me outside of the show, but whatever. I am not here to impress everyone. As long as I impress the fans that have been there all along and the new ones that come with then I am happy.”
my top four favs frm phi phi’s 365 days of drag challenge pic.twitter.com/TmPBPt46ET
— ️ (@veganmiIk) August 6, 2016
— Paulinha Alves (@paulinha_v) April 2, 2016
Some, however, aren’t convinced that Phi Phi has toned down her temper, and they’re anticipating that it will flare up again on All Stars 2. Even years after appearing on Drag Race, O’Hara continued to track down and aggressively respond to negative criticism on social media — even when it was not posted to her directly.
Most recently, some RuPaul’s Drag Race fans were unimpressed with the way that Phi Phi publicly quarreled with Season 6 queen Trinity K. Bonet in April. O’Hara even took the battle to Reddit. It’s the kind of defensive, irascible nature that has people wondering if All Stars 2 is going to see her undo all of the damage control she’s pulled off in the last few years.
“So I can’t have an opinion or disagree when someone who doesn’t get booked for a reason wants to play victim to the world and give local queens a bad name. Girl bye. I am so sick of these drag racers playing the victim. I will speak on it and call bulls**t when I see it.”
Phi Phi isn’t the only All Stars 2 hopeful that RuPaul fans have an eye on. Drawn-out tensions between Coco Montrese and Alyssa Edwards seem to have dried up, but both of them had several run-ins with other contestants as well on their season. Likewise, Tatianna drove much of the drama on Season 2, and Roxxxy Andrews incited the only negative public reaction that could rival O’ Hara’s when she was depicted bullying fan favorite, and eventual Drag Race winner, Jinkx Monsoon.
— Kevin O’Keeffe (@kevinpokeeffe) August 24, 2016
Aside from Coco who will likely be going home within the first two weeks, Phi Phi had a particular breed of viciousness on her season that makes her the one to watch on the drama front. Additionally, she’s proven herself to be one of the most creative contestants post-RuPaul. Fans are likely to see her get down to that ultra-tense last few weeks: a moment where even the coolest of Drag Race competitors tend to lose their heads.
RuPaul has loaded Drag Race All Stars 2 to the brim with frontrunners. Alaska Thunderf**k 5000’s extraterrestrial Valley Girl shtick has made her one of the most popular queens from the show, an obsession that is perhaps only rivaled by the absurdist Russian prostitute Katya Zamolodchikova. Also not to be counted out is Detox iC**t, who came in fourth on her season but is widely regarded to have one of the greatest looks in the history of the show: a full black-and-white make-up that inspired a challenge on the show’s most recent season.
— DAL (@dalchodha) May 3, 2013
You can catch Phi Phi O’Hara, Alyssa Edwards, Alaska, and Katya on the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2 premiere Thursday night on LOGO TV.
[Photos by Gary Gershoff and Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]