Warning: This story contains spoilers for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 12, so sashay away if you haven’t watched the finale yet.
An unprecedented season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — which had to recon with the disqualification of one queen — has come to an innovative end: During Friday’s virtual finale, Mama Ru crowned a winner, baby, pandemic be damned.
The socially distanced season 12 finale included appearances from celebrities (Kim Petras! Adam Lambert! Dolly freaking Parton!) and past queens alike, including Nina West video-ing in to crown the show’s newest Miss Congeniality: Heidi N Closet, to the utter delight of everyone and surprise of absolutely no one.
The final three, meanwhile, competed in a digital lip-sync battle from the safety of their homes, with Crystal Methyd, Gigi Goode and Jaida Essence Hall turning out five numbers. But only one could win the crown and a cash prize of $100,000.
And America’s Next Drag Superstar is…
Jaida Essence Hall!
The 32-year-old pageant queen proved to be the essence of beauty and so much more, with a total of three maxi challenge wins including the all-important superfan makeover. Having previously auditioned for season 7 alongside fellow Milwaukee queen Trixie Mattel, Jaida opened up to ET’s Brice Sander about what the win means to her.
“It does not matter where you come from, what your background is, how long you’ve been working at things and how many things you failed at, you can achieve anything,” she said. “Literally, I did not finish high school — I had to go back and get my GED — and so many things in my life told me, ‘You will not be successful.'”
“But success is so many different things to many people,” Jaida explained. “And I still found a way to find success in my life just by pursuing my happiness and my dreams.”
As the youngest in the competition, the 21-year-old broke the lewk queen mold with four maxi challenge wins ranging from the Snatch Game to Rusical to this season’s ball. For Gigi, it’s all part of her campaign to Make Drag Fun Again.
“It is time to start taking things less seriously, to just have fun again,” she told ET. “Make drag less about the drama, less about the trolls. There is no reason for any of that. We need to be lifting each other up and be experiencing the entertainment that we’re trying to deliver. It’s, like, just stop taking things so seriously, OK? I’m a man in women’s clothing. Just chill.”
The 28-year-old queen from Missouri won over RuPaul with her El DeBarge-esque mullet, along with the hearts of viewers everywhere. (As for maxi challenge wins, she clinched one with the one-queen show.)
“Embrace your weirdness and embrace what makes you different, because that is what makes you special and powerful,” Crystal told ET of her message to fans. “All of us that are on the show are fans and viewers of the show, and a lot of people kind of become very similar. And drag has become something that is– I don’t know. Everyone’s pretty similar sometimes. [But I want to] encourage people to step outside of what they think drag even is and to really try and push the art form forward.”
4. Jackie Cox
Who is she? The 34-year-old camp queen and self-proclaimed cool aunt of drag made history as the first Ru girl of Iranian heritage.
Sashayed away: Episode 12, “Viva Drag Vegas,” in a lip sync against Crystal.
5. Heidi N Closet
Who is she? From small-town North Cackalacky, the 24-year-old performer her pageant background and iconic tooth gap to fall back on.
Sashayed away: Episode 11, “One-Queen Show,” in a lip sync against Jaida.
6. Widow Von’Du
Who is she? The 30-year-old performer best describes her Erykah Badu-inspired alter ego as a “ratchet ass queen with high-class fashion.”
Sashayed away: Episode 9, “Choices 2020,” in a lip sync against Jackie.
Who is she? The 36-year-old New Yorker (and drag daughter of season 9’s Alexis Michelle) is a Jill of all trades best known for her live singing.
Sashayed away: Episode 8, “Droop,” in a lip sync against Widow.
Who is she? The 34-year-old NYC hostess has a background in musical theatre, the ability to turn a look and a sizeable built-in fan base.
Sashayed away: Episode 7, “Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical,” in a lip sync against Heidi.
9. Aiden Zhane
Who is she? The 29-year-old look queen is a self-identified quiet girl who embodies the “U” in charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.
Sashayed away: Episode 6, “Snatch Game,” in a lip sync against Brita.
10. Nicky Doll
Who is she? The show’s first French queen, the 28-year-old look queen serves Parisian couture and ’90s fashion model à la Linda Evangelista.
Sashayed away: Episode 5, “Gay’s Anatomy,” in a lip sync against Heidi.
11. Rock M. Sakura
Who is she? The 28-year-old self-described anime/J-pop/manga queen prides herself on being as much a performer as she is a look queen.
Sashayed away: Episode 4, “The Ball Ball,” in a lip sync against Brita.
12. Dahlia Sin
Who is she? From the Haus of Aja, the 28-year-old look queen used to be a spooky girl, but now she serves beauty mug and kawaii couture.
Sashayed away: Episode 3, “World’s Worst,” in a lip sync against Nicky Doll.
Following multiple allegations of catfishing — in which Sherry Pie (aka Joey Gugliemelli) was accused of posing as a casting director and coaxing actors into submitting videos of a sexual or degrading nature — the 27-year-old was DQed from the Race.
“In light of recent developments and Sherry Pie’s statement, Sherry Pie has been disqualified from ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’,” a spokesperson for VH1 and World of Wonder said in a statement to ET. “Out of respect for the hard work of the other queens, VH1 will air the season as planned. Sherry will not appear in the grand finale scheduled to be filmed later this spring.”