Fans are pleased to have RuPaul’s Drag All Stars season 5 on screens, with some of our fave queens from over the years returning to the werk room for another shot at the crown.
The likes of Alexis Mateo – who fans will recognise from season 3 and All Stars season 1 – and Season 10’s Blair St. Clair took to the stage to sashay for another day when the series kicked off earlier this month.
But while these queens slayed as per usual, a strict casting process was undertaken before each alumna was chosen.
So what exactly goes into the selection process for All Star queens?
Mama Ru and his team of producers recently revealed the strict regime they follow before calling girls back.
And according to the series co-showrunner and executive producer Mandy Salangsang – who has played an integral role in helping RuPaul and fellow EPs Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey shape the cast since season 4 – the crew has to sissy that talk before they agree on which queens should be given another shot.
“We track the queens and their careers and stay in touch with them as they’re conquering the world,” she told EW in an interview.
“We know who’s expressed interest in coming back, and that’s something we look at: Who really wants to play? Who has experienced a real glow-up? We just start throwing names out. It’s people we want to see and watch on TV competing against one another.”
The process she says, often begins with the chosen family of colleagues sitting in a room, throwing names out and seeing what sticks in their minds.
She added: “We look at who’s going to come in on this platform and take advantage of it and who’s going to give a great show for us.”
From there, the crew also look at diversifying its representation of different drag aesthetics, ranging from the comedy-leaning queens of the Pacific Northwest to southern beauty queens and New York City showgirls.
But despite the queens forging very successful careers for themselves internationally, it doesn’t mean they’re always ready for a televised comeback, with Salangsang stating that All Stars is a much bigger “commitment”, so the queens need to be very honest about whether they can handle it.
“Committing to do an All Stars season, it’s a commitment. I appreciate when a queen says she’s not ready,” Salangsang explained.
“When people waffle about it or don’t feel they’re ready to perform at their best, I don’t think that makes for the stiffest competition or the most authentic work room experience. They know that they’re going to be tested and scrutinized in a different way. The challenges are a little harder and we expect more from them…. They’re going to compete against fiercer competition, all at the height of their careers. So, they have to be ready for it and come in swinging!”
Selecting for season 5 was particularly challenging for the team due to new features on the show, with the top queen now lip-syncing for their legacy against a returning lip-sync assassin from Drag Race’s past.
“The whole team felt we needed to shake up the format. We felt like the audience wanted that, too,” Barbato revealed.
“The girls we invite back are stars, so we wanted to treat them with respect and give them a platform that does them well, so when you’re trying to think of how to tweak the format, you want to do it in a respectful way, but you also want some juice. Making it more democratic creates an interesting layer of social experimentation on top of the heels, wigs, and makeup.”
Speaking of these alterations, Ru added: “With great power comes great responsibility. My all-stars have competed before and experienced the rollercoaster ride of fame that comes after that global exposure. When they return for All Stars, every aspect of the competition is turned up to 11. If Drag Race is a talent competition, then All Stars is a masterclass in surviving show business.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars is available to stream on Netflix in the UK, while US viewers can watch on VH1. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.