A Taxonomy of Drag Queens on 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

Big, weird, booger, funny, Puerto Rican— the drag queens of RuPaul's Drag Race come in all shapes and sizes. Think of this as your basic guide to the wild world of drag queens:

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In three days, we will once again be treated to another season shade-throwing, sickening hunties who will lip-synch for their lives each week. In amateur terms, the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race is about to premiere which means a brand new bevy of drag queens will be here to entertain us every Monday night. Big, weird, booger, funny, Puerto Rican— RuPaul's goddesses come in all shapes and sizes. Think of this as your basic guide to the wild world of queens:

The Showgirl

Shannel was one of the show's first show girls.

Characteristics: Some of the more successful drag queens — ones that make it into the last five or six standing and finalists — on Drag Race are showgirls. (Sometimes called "pageant girls.") These girls are born to perform. Some have skills like juggling or being able to do the splits.

Their Weakness: Showgirls are sometimes criticized for hiding behind their talent. The argument being that behind all the tricks that there's not really an artist there.

Best Examples: Shannel, an actual Vegas showgirl from season one; Chad Michaels, Cher impersonator extraordinaire.

Also: Ivy Winters; Morgan McMichaels; Sahara Davenport; Alexis Mateo; Phi Phi O'Hara; Alyssa Edwards; Coco Montrese

The Busted Girl

Shangela: an example of a busted queen

Characteristics: This queen defines booger drag. Her hem is a mess, as her hair, and she can't beat her face (put on makeup). But she's charming.

Their Weakness: Drag is an art, and judges can only take looking at them and their messiness for so long.

Best Examples: Last season's Serena Chacha may have fancied herself an intellectual, but her drag didn't know what end was up. Shangela managed to improve as she went along, from seasons two to three, but her lack of polish was as prominent as her "Halleloo" catchphrase.

Also: LaShauwn Beyond (who reminded us that it's not RuPaul's Best Friend Race); Nicole Paige Brooks; Akasha

The Big Girl

Characteristics : The big girl is big. And God help them if they don't have big personalities to go with them.

Jiggly Caliente

Weaknesses: Sometimes big girls tend to get negged on their outfits and how their gowns don't flatter their bodies. Sometimes they over promise and just underperform.

Best Examples: Latrice Royale, whose disappointing all-stars showing should not negate the fact that she killed it up and down in season four, including two of the biggest lip-synch blowouts you ever did see. Delta Work also hung in there for a while, though her in-competition performance matched her sour attitude before long.

Also:  Mystique Summers Madison (from Chicago); Stacy Layne Matthews (she of the "velour couture" fame); Jiggly Caliente (above)

The Weird Girl

Characteristics: Is she a little bit goth? Maybe she has an interesting set of contacts on? She's totally the weird girl.

Weaknesses: The weird girl might be a little too high concept for times (see: Nina Flowers). RuPaul is looking for mainstream appeal, sure, but in recent years, the "uniqueness" mandate in "charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent" has managed to win out.

Best Examples: Weird girls have done particularly well on this show. Nina Flowers probably should have won season one, Raja's androgyny took the crown in season three, and Sharon Needles spooked her way to the title in season four.

Also: Willam probably best fits in this category, though he was also super fishy and an actress above all.

The Puerto Rican Girl

Characteristics: Is from Puerto Rico. Sometimes has catchphrases.

Weaknesses: Getting lost in translation. Two of the biggest challenges every season are an exercise in "reading" (the art of the artful putdown) and one where the queens pick celebrities to impersonate. Sometimes, the Puerto Rican queens have a harder time with these challenges.

Best Examples: Yara Sofia echa pa'lante'd her way to the final weeks of season three, all colored contacts and odd knee-based humor; Jessica Wild looked like the favorite for a hot minute in season two (the rock challenge) before being immediately felled by some Absolute berry acaii vodka the following week.

Also: Kenya Michaels; Madame LaQueer; Lineysha Sparx

The Fashionista

Ongina was a fashion-forward drag queen

Characteristics: These girls evoke the image from RuPaul's hit song, "Supermodel" in that they are always fashion forward, have the best runway walks and take the best pictures.

Weaknesses: They tend to be one-note.

Best Examples: Bebe Zahara Benet, who won the first season by unleashing some of the wildest ensembles the show has ever seen; Roxxxy Andrews, a one-queen testament to how far only being good at picking out outfits can get you; Tyra Sanchez, season two winner and Beyonce oracle.

Also: Raja, the winner of the third season; season two's Mariah, a queen right out of the drag ball circuit who put together some dynamite looks and one horrid Joan Crawford impersonation; Ongina from the first season

The Fishy Girl

This is RuPaul's reaction to a queen serving fresh fish

Characteristics: These queens look like very pretty women with lots of contour shading.

Weaknesses: RuPaul has had to remind the fishy queens that they can't rest on pretty, and this isn't a beauty contest.

Best Examples: The Fishy Girl tends to be the column from which RuPaul often draws the seasons' top villains. Look no further than season one's friend-averse Rebecca Glasscock (who seems to have parted ways with the Ru-niverse, not having returned for any all-star seasons or Drag U episodes), or season two's teen-queen wannabe, Tatiana.

Also: Sonique and Carmen Carrera, both of whom subsequently came out as transgender; Jade Jolie, perhaps the fishiest-voiced of all queens

The Shady Girl

Jujubee is a force of nature.

Characteristics: This queen is really good at throwing shade and reading the other queens. She's probably also narrating the season.

Weaknesses: Drag Race is, at the end of the day, a popularity contest. And this queen still has to be likable.

Best Examples: The tried and true duo of Raven and Jujubee ran roughshod over season two and the all-star season, artfully cutting down their competition. No queen has ever destroyed the library challenge quite like Jujubee.

Also: Manila Luzon, who managed to combine impeccable looks with an eye for time-bomb shade that didn't even register for a few seconds; Detox, who built a small kindgom of like-minded shadesters in Roxxy Andrews and Alaska.

The Comedy Queen

Strengths: Always does best in any challenge requiring acting or public speaking. Manages to put a little something extra into their costume choices. Tends to stand out amid a sea of showgirls. RuPaul is an old-school queen who loves some old-school comedy, so the comedy queens tend to do quite well.

Weaknesses: The other judges are not as reliably impressed. Michelle Visage and Santino run hot and cold with these queens; colder still if their fashion game isn't on point.

Best Examples: The reigning Drag Race champion Jinkx Monsoon was such an expert comedy queen that the other girls were driven mad with jealousy. Pandora Boxx frustrated Santino all the way to fifth place and the Miss Congeniality trophy.

Also: Mimi Imfurst, who managed to straddle the lines between comedy queen, big girl, and busted queen throughout her two seasons on the show.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.