‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 12 preview: Our first impressions of the 13 queens vying for the crown

“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” VH1’s two-time running Emmy champ for Reality Competition Program, kicked off the new decade Thursday afternoon with the official announcement of the 13 queens that will compete in the show’s 12th season. This year the cast of all new queens will “pledge allegiance to the drag of the United Queens of RuMerica,” as declared by RuPaul Charles and the queens themselves in new promos for the season that will begin airing on VH1 Friday, February 28th at 8 pm ET.

Befitting of drag culture, the announcement was not made quietly — season 11 winner Yvie Oddly hosted a “RuVeal Runway Walk” featurette and each of the contestants was featured in their own “Meet the Queens” video all hosted on VH1’s official YouTube channel. As with past seasons, we will be following along all season with recaps of each episode, weekly polls and of course an event to predict who is eliminated and who wins.

Below we offer our first impressions of the 13 queens based on their “Meet the Queens” video. What do you think of the upcoming cast? Who are you excited for and who do you think can win? Sound off on those topics and more in the comments as well as the TV Forums!

Aiden Zhane – 29 from Georgia

First off, I think it’s really cool that she chose her name in part on the idea of going from A to Z. To me this suggests that she’s interested in encompassing a variety of aspects of drag culture, though her aesthetic certainly skews to the monster side of things. She says it’s a good thing that there aren’t many other queens that she’s comparable to and for a series that can tend toward an odd sense of sameness after 11 seasons and 4 All Star seasons, I’d say that’s a much welcomed concept! What I’m most struck by is her confidence and I’d put her near the top of my predictions already.

Brita – 34 from New York

There are two things that stood out about Brita — she looks up to “big, bold, beautiful leading women of color” (Yes!) and that she thinks very highly of the amount of hard work it takes to make it in the New York City drag scene. This season there are five queens from NYC so it’ll be interesting to see how their self-proclaimed “hard work” stacks up against the girls from California (there are three) and those from smaller cities. Brita also considers herself a “performance queen,” admits to not being the best at sewing and acknowledges that other people consider her loud. All of that screams “perfect for television” though so I’m into it!

Crystal Methyd – 28 from Missouri

Well, that face. That face! I’m really into the clown makeup when done well and, honey, she painted it well in that video. She’s a “budget girl” with a taste for thriftiness and changing up her look from gig to gig. While that doesn’t always work well for RPDR (think Nina Bo’nina Brown for instance), it did work exceptionally well for Yvie last season so there’s hope. I think she’ll be popular among the fanbase because she definitely comes off as super sweet and gentle-natured which is always a good thing.

Dahlia Sin – 28 from Los Angeles

Dahlia comes from the house of Aja (does Aja have a house?), who she says taught her everything she knows about drag. She calls herself a look queen that can be both sexy and cute — that’s a fine line to run, I think, but I’m excited to see what she means by that. She does seem to overemphasize the importance of a look when it comes to drag, suggesting that she might suffer in the performance department, but we’ll just have to wait and see if that’s true! What I will give her points for is admitting that she’s petty (seriously, she says it multiple times) and I am always here for petty. Always.

Gigi Goode – 21 from Los Angeles

Wait. Gigi started drag at the age of 15 (okay so that’s only 6 years ago) at “substance free venues” that included “rock walls.” So like rock climbing gyms? With drag shows? I’m moving to Los Angeles. And that seems entirely on par with her description of herself as “always lost.” Gigi doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a look queen anymore and says she can sing, dance and be funny so it sounds like she could be really successful at the challenges, but if she’s as competitive with herself as she says then she might get in her own way… in a bad way. I think her RuVeal Runway Walk look is the top 2 in the bunch!

Heidi N. Closet – 24 from North Carolina

I am LOL because Heidi says she’s been performing in drag for five years, but “those first three years are mysterious so we only count two.” Now I need to know what those first three years are like! All in one sentence she calls herself demure, an oddball and delusional — is there any better mix than that? I think she’ll be one of the queens focused primarily on the competition and ready to soak up the opportunity to make a bigger name for herself, so in that sense she should be regarded as stiff competition.

Jackie Cox – 34 from New York

Okay so Jackie is all up in the musical theater, camp scene and totally cool with relishing in that aesthetic of being part of “New York evening life” which is very different from “New York night life.” What she means is she’s literally in bed by 10. Okay, girl… werq! She’s Canadian and Iranian (the first Iranian queen on the show) so she’ll bring a different perspective to the show than the other girls that are mostly American born. She’s seeking to be the voice of queer Middle Eastern kids that don’t see themselves reflected in the community often which I know she’ll succeed at and will be a huge help to any kids who have felt left out of the culture in that way. Go Jackie!

Jaida Essence Hall – 32 from Milwaukee

Jaida is one of the girls I’d consider in top 2 for their “RuVeal Runway Walk” looks — she has a killer walk that will surely slay each and every episode. She fully embraces and goes full tilt in feminizing herself and comes from the pageant world of drag, noting a few wins under her belt. I love that she discusses her fears and the nature of the show in that one week you can be on top and the next you can be on the bottom. It’s clear she’s going into the season with the right mindset of being fearless and seeking to challenge herself to always up her game and not hold back.

Jan – 26 from New York

Okay so Jan is very bubbly and super excited! I’ve already decided that I need another queen to say “Sure, Jan!” to her so that we get a drag gif of that classic Brady Bunch meme between Marcia and Jan. Her drag mother is Alexis Michelle from season 9, which makes sense since both queens are obsessed with music. Jan says it’s the “driving force” behind her drag so I think we’re probably going to get a good Snatch Game impression from her! Well, and also she said her drag began as a Kris Jenner spoof, so there’s that. Jan’s energy is going to be through the roof and likely unmatched by anyone else in the cast so I genuinely think that’s going to be her leg up on the competition.

Nicky Doll – 28 from New York

Nicky was born in France, but lives in New York now so she’s certainly bringing a different perspective on drag to the series this season. As we saw with the sister series “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” in 2019, drag in other countries can be very different from what we see in America and I loved that series so I’m excited to find out what Nicky brings to the competition. Based on her video she seems to intellectualize her drag in a way we probably haven’t seen since Sasha Velour, and she seems just as focused and determined as Sasha was before winning her crown.

Rock M. Sakura – 28 from San Francisco

With a love for toys and anime, Rock brings something different aesthetically to show that I’m not sure has ever fared well in the competition. But she says she is a great performer despite not being able to achieve “fishy makeup” so she’s more than just a big look. I’m worried that she’s worried about the critiques because you can’t succeed in a competition if you don’t accept the criticism of the judges and learn from it. If she’s sensitive to their commentary then Michelle Visage is going to eat her alive and she won’t last very long.

Sherry Pie – 27 from New York

So Sherry is the only queen in this cast that seem whole-heartedly and completely of the comedic thread. She’s very reminiscent of season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon, but like with the effortless positivity of Nina West and about 400x the energy of both of them. Her love for the “magical” aspect of drag is inspiring and her dedication to reclaiming the “past” of drag as something that should be fun and entertaining not just about turning looks is refreshing. Based on the other queens this season I can’t tell if she’s going to be sidelined because she’s so different from all of them or if she’ll be fully embraced because of that.

Widow Von’Du – 30 from Kansas City

Of all the girls, and honestly I’m basing this off of her makeup in the video, I’d predict that Widow is going to be the least prepared for the season. She describes her style as “ratchet” and “high class,” but those are polar opposites and queens that use those phrases for themselves are usually never the good aspects of either of them. That being said, she’s obviously super confident and completely owns her size and look which is half of being a great drag queen. She understands the power of drag as a tool of change both for the queen and for the community so let’s buckle up and let Widow change our minds about her promise!

More News from GoldDerby