Two weeks ago, after the last original competition episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race that pared the queens down to a final three — that’d be last night’s competing trio: Raja, Manila Luzon, and Alexis Mateo — two polls were posted here on EW.com: One asked who should win, while the other asked who will win. So let’s talk some real, scientific data. Late yesterday, the poll results were as follows in the should win category: 44 percent said Raja, 29 percent said Manila, and 27 percent said Alexis. The will win category was a bit (although not much) different: 69 percent of voters said Raja would win, while Manila garnered 18 percent of the vote, and Alexis grabbed just 13 percent.
Well now, the official poll results are in, Drag Racers! Minutes before the hour ended last night — after both a music video competition and the usual runway look-off — RuPaul announced: “Ladies, I have made my decision. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, America’s Next Drag Superstar, is…
Surprise, surprise: Both polls predicted the queen who eventually took home the crown. Truly, though, it wasn’t such a surprise — Raja completely dominated the competition this year. I even posed the question after episode four of this season: “Does Raja have this season locked up already?”
And really, the episode came down to a battle between Raja and Manila. (Alexis Mateo, despite all her bam!-filled efforts and pageant-esque looks, was booted before the final lip synch between Raja and Manila.) Much of the rather tame hour focused on the final three making a music video for RuPaul’s “Champion.” That situation was rather unthrilling, with the most excitement coming whenever wackadoo coreographer Ryan Heffington showed up on stage, wearing his red toga and various necklaces. (Where’s his reality show? Please?)
Alexis, of course, brought her signature big-ass hair, which caused much controversy during the video shoot. Was it sexy? Could she rock it and still rock a silhouette? Was it bigger than Michelle Visage’s weave? Was it appropriate for the other queens to blame the big wig on why they were doing so poorly? (“They trying to blame my hair!” Alexis said at one point. Later she explained: “The bigger the hair, the closer to God.” Right.)
As has become standard during the Drag Race finales, Ru sat down with each of her final gals for “lunch,” which so bitingly consisted of one solo Tic Tac for each party. “What is this? Thanksgiving?” quipped the eventual winner Raja when she spotted the spread. The “lunch” that Ru throws for the girls, however, always elicits some great moments. Alexis took the opportunity to revel in how far she’d come: “I am very sure,” the queen said, “that I am perfect.” Meanwhile, Raja said hi to her loved ones: “Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. Look, I’m sitting with RuPaul.”
Finally, we arrived at the runway. One thing you could say about all three queens was that they all certainly served exactly who they were. Alexis came as a (err?) dainty pink showgirl, in a get-up (complete with parasol) that would have made even Elizabeth Berkley blush. Manila looked ravishing and bodacious in a lime-green gown perfectly in line with her usual looks. And Raja, well, the judges commented that her outfit looked like All That Jazz, and it certainly did, as Raja seemed to be pushing the boundaries between genders here with cabaret fierceness. (Well, I mean, as if the whole show weren’t doing that already.)
Alexis was quickly jettisoned. Michelle Visage — who had hair so sky-high it looked like she should have been competing herself — told her: “You were not one I expected to see in the final three.” That cleared the way for Raja and Manila to complete their lip sync to — yes, the Ru product placement didn’t stop! — to RuPaul’s “Champion.” (Yes, again.) It was a tame lip synch, actually, that ended in what seemed to be a heartfelt hug between the final two gals. (Although, why no use of “Superstar”? I’m really loving that song right now, but I guess they already showed it a lot of love this season.)
The final judging panel tried to size Manila and Raja up as equal competitors. (But like, c’mon…) However, Santino summed it up best when he said of Raja: “Bitch is bad.” Manila eventually was told to “sashay away”: “Manila, you are an inspiration,” Ru said. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now, sashay away.” The most genius sound bite of the night actually goes to Manila, who quipped right after her offing, “I’m first runner up, so maybe if Raja dies of old age, maybe I’ll get the crown.” Brilliant. Her constant jokes about Raja’s old age (she’s 36!) were totally on point.
But it was somehow gratifying to see Raja take home the (hugely, gaudily, obnoxious) crown: Raja certainly has the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to do justice to the title. Well, certainly more so, than, say, last year’s rather personality-less winner Tyra, but we’ll have to see if she can top season 1’s winner, the delightful BeBe Zahara Benet.
“Now, prance, I say!” a positively giddy Ru said, after putting the hideous thing on Raja’s head. “Prance, my queen!” And what did Raja have to say at the end? “The cash is mine, and I am America’s Next Drag Superstar!” That you are, queen.
Look for my interview with Raja here on EW’s PopWatch on Tuesday afternoon. If you have any questions for Raja, leave them in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to ask her.
But now: Tell me what you think of the outcome of season 3, Drag Racers! Happy? Pissed? Sad? Never gonna watch Drag Race again? Should Manila or Alexis have won? Will you shower Raja with the appropriate level of accolades for being crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar? Tell me all that and more — you can air your gripes here! — in the comments below.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky