“RuPaul’s Drag Race” fans, we know you are ready to rate a whole new set of queens (plus one veteran of the show). Season 11 of this Emmy-winning reality competition series kicks off on Thursday. Watch with us as the girls duke it out for the honor of being chosen by RuPaul Charles to join the Drag Race Hall of Fame. A whopping 15 contestants are in the fight for the coveted title. So who shantayed with the first all-important win and which queen sashayed away?
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “RuPaul’s Drag Race” recap of Season 11, Episode 1, titled “Whatcha Unpackin’,” to find out what happened on February 28, beginning at 9/8c. After following along with our live updating blog, be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite queens on VH1’s reality TV show, who annoys you the most, and who you think will ultimately join the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winners list.
Keep refreshing/reloading this live blog for the most recent updates.
9:00 p.m. – It’s been only two weeks since the controversial crowning of both Trinity the Tuck and Monet X Change as the season 4 All Star champions, but we’re back with a whole new competition whether you like it or not! Vaaaaaaanjie!
9:01 p.m. – Rightfully so, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo was the first queen to enter the workroom for the new season, following the meme explosion she experienced after her premature exit from season 10. But instead of hanging around she hid in the workroom so that she could surprise the newbie queens later on. She was followed by Nina West from Ohio and Shuga Cain from New York City, two queens high on personality and but with very different careers in drag (Nina for 17 years and Shuga for only 1.5 years).
9:03 p.m. – Next was 21 year old Plastique Tiara who Vanjie clocked as legitimately “stunning, not Instagram filter,” Mercedes Iman Diamond from Kenya by way of Minnesota, Scarlet Envy exemplifying “Southern beauty” and Honey Davenport, both from New York City. Honey is well known in New York and believes herself to not fit into too many boxes.
9:05 p.m. – Before the rest of the girls could come in, the ones already in the workroom started guessing that Vanjie would be returning to the competition and so she decided to prove them right by jumping out of her hiding place to their applause.
9:06 p.m. – After Vanjie’s re-entry, A’Keria C. Davenport from Dallas (yes, another Davenport), Yvie Oddly from Denver (a “conceptual queen”), Silky Nutmeg Ganache from Chicago (admittedly wanting to get her own spin-off show), Brooke Lynn Hytes from Canada by way of Tennessee (a former professional dancer and Miss Continental–a major pageant winner), Ariel Versace from Jersey (an Instagram star that says her style is like “if Lisa Frank threw up”), Ra’Jah O’Hara from Dallas (both her earrings fell off just from walking!!), Kahanna Montrese from Vegas (“hip hop showgirl queen” and daughter of Coco Montrese), and Soju from LA (a Youtube star not known for performing) all entered the workroom to join the competition.
9:15 p.m. – Ru joined the girls for the first time this season to present to them clues to the season as well as their first challenge–a photo shoot. The clues? Oh, it seems former contestants may pop up throughout the season to help Ru with challenges and/or twists along the way. Ugh! I thought All Star rules were permanently suspended!! Enough!
9:20 p.m. – The set for the photo shoot with photographer Albert Sanchez was a sort of Hall of Fame, a room full of portraits of former contestants. Ru directed the girls to direct themselves, choosing their spots and poses on their own, but then surprised them each with an All Star of their own to pose with and out shine. We saw appearances by Scarlet with Raja, Shuga with Jasmine Masters, Honey with Manila Luzon, Ra’Jah with Ginger Minj, Vanessa with Farrah Moan, Brooke Lynn with Ongina, Plastique with Sonique, Soju with Porkchop, Ariel with Eureka, Nina with Raven, Mercedes with Delta Work, Kahanna with Derrick Barry, A’Keria with Kimora Blac, Silky with Mariah Balenciaga, and Yvie with Adore Delano. And after all the girls sat for the camera, Ru selected Silky as the winner.
9:32 p.m. – Following the photo shoot, Ru re-entered the workroom to break the bad news that their luggage was lost and they’d have to use “previously unclaimed luggage” for their first maxi challenge of the season. That luggage was “junk” leftover from former queens and since Silky won the mini challenge she got to assign trunks to each queen. She gave herself Peppermint‘s, Scarlet Violet Chachki‘s, A’Keria Bebe Zahara Bonet‘s, Yvie Alaska‘s, Soju Kim Chi‘s, Ariel Laganja Estranja‘s, Brook Lynne Detox‘s, Kahanna Katya‘s, Ra’Jah Kennedy Davenport‘s, Mercedes Bianca Del Rio‘s, Nina Thorgy Thor‘s, Shuga Sharon Needles‘, Plastique Sasha Velour‘s, Honey Ben De La Creme‘s and Vanjie Valentina‘s. Silky’s thought process was to try and match each queen with a trunk based on their own personal style and at first glance it seems like she achieved that pretty well!
9:36 p.m. – Vanjie had flashbacks to her first season where she was sent home early on during a garment creation challenge. This time she thinks she’s grown enough to overcome that hurdle, which I believe, but then we have Silky not only complaining about the fabric she got out of the Peppermint box but also prancing around the workroom spending more time trying to be a television personality than working on her garment.
9:43 p.m. – Because it’s a construction challenge the focus for many of the girls was sewing skills. After auditioning for the show nine times, Nina was worried that this challenge could eat her alive because she’s not a great sewer. Nina’s insecurity perplexed some of the other girls because they know her to be a long-working legend and would think that she would be more confident in her skills.
9:50 p.m. – Guest judge Miley Cyrus wanted to catch a glimpse of the girls behind the scenes so she disguised herself as a male crew member so she could be in the workroom while the queens finished up their garments and started applying their faces. When Miley got closer to a few of the girls Silky clocked the look and screamed, announcing to the room that it was Hannah Montana herself! With a “whattup y’all” Miley kiki’d with the girls for a little bit and fangirl’d out over being the workroom herself. She also took some time to give them advice about dealing with nerves and reminded them to always be themselves.
9:58 p.m. – Joining Ru and Miley on the panel tonight was Ross Mathews, Michelle Visage and Carson Kressley. On the runway, Plastique created a floral body suit with an elegant train, Brooke Lynn donned a neon latex superhero look, Honey was in a form-fitting pink and blue baby girl dress, Ariel was in all green sequins, Yvie made a plastic jacket and pink mini dress, A’Keria created a really cool black and gold body suit with a huge mohawk wig, Scarlet managed a glam red dress, Soju formed a formless tulle dress, Ra’Jah also did a superhero looking garment but in blue and red, Mercedes was in all blue and white, Shuga created a black hoop skirt to twirl, Vanjie created a gothic red bathing suit with train, Silky was in a large sequin pencil skirt and cape, Nina strutted in a fitted red plastic dress and Kahanna was in an asymmetrical red and black bathing suit.
10:08 p.m. – Based on their performances, Ru called Ariel, Yvie, Ra’Jah, Silky, Shuga, Scarlet and Honey as safe. The first critique they gave out was to Plastique, who they said had a memorable and gorgeous runway look. They also loved Brooke Lynne’s skills with the sewing machine and Miley said that she picked up on her advice to be confident. A’Keria’s look excited Ross and Miley backed up her decision to be over the top in her presentation. Soju receive the first harsh criticism due to an overwrought garment and, oddly, Soju got defensive by oversharing about an ailment she was currently suffering from which, even more oddly, made the judges feel better about her personality! Carson told Mercedes that she looks like a worker at Sea World, which was a positive comment apparently???, but that she still wasn’t as lively as she could have been. Vanjie made a huge jump from her previous season because this time the judges loved her first runway, but veteran Nina did not impress despite her extreme passion for the show and for Ru. Last, Kahanna was also on the bottom for an uncohesive look that even she admitted wasn’t that representative of her overall aesthetic.
10:23 p.m. – After consideration, Ru and the panel decided that Vanjie and Plastique were safe and Brooke Lynne was the winner of this week’s challenge! A’Keria, Nina and Mercedes were all also safe, leaving Soju and Kahanna in the bottom to the lip sync for their lives.
10:25 p.m. – In their LSFYL to “Best of Both Worlds” by Hannah Montana Kahanna got to show off her dancing skills while Soju had to prove that she’s not just a Youtube blogger and can also perform with the best of them. Soju was very cutesy cutesy, but Kahanna’s energy was higher and she gave the more dynamic performance, including a back flip and working across more of the stage than Soju.
10:28 p.m. – In the end, it was Kahanna that earned the shantay, meaning Soju was asked to sashay away as the first eliminated queen of the season. Though she was disappointed to be leaving so early, Soju promised to live by the Korean culture and persevere.
NEXT WEEK: The girls star in two film spoofs (based on “Get Out” and “Black Panther”), testing their improv and acting skills and causing Ross to declare already that he is in love with this season.