All Stars 8: Why Kahanna Montrese deserves to win Drag Race All Stars’ first-ever Fame Games

All Stars 8 contestant Kahanna Montrese against a red montage of all her All Stars 8 looks.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 is finally – finally – wrapping up soon, but there’s two questions left to answer: who will be the winner, and who will be the “winner”.

This time around, in RuPaul’s never-ending attempt to shake up the Drag Race formula, she introduced the Fame Games.

Here’s how it works: each week, the eliminated queen is entered into the Fame Games, aka an opportunity to showcase the looks they would have worn that week on the runway. The new, slightly convoluted idea is likely in response to fan criticism that queens spend tens of thousands on runway looks that then never make it to air.

A fan vote, which has now closed, will determine which one eliminated queen really brought their A-game to the runway, with said queen then awarded the “Queen of the Fame Games” title and a not-to-be-sniffed-at $60,000 tip. 

The thing is, there really is only one queen deserving of that sought-after Queen of the Fame Games title: Kahanna Montrese.

Kahanna Montrese
Kahanna Montrese. (Getty)

When the All Stars 8 cast list dropped earlier this year, fans were surprised to see more than a couple of early-out queens on the line-up. Kahanna, who came fourteenth on season 11 back in 2019, was one of them. With little appreciation from the rabid Drag Race fandom, there wasn’t much anticipation for her ru-turn.

You may like to watch

Yet, she crashed into the competition in episode one by destroying the first girl group challenge, revealing the week’s best “Signature Drag” look on the runway, and becoming the season’s first top queen of the week.

Moments later, the Vegas-based stunner gave us one of the season’s best lip-syncs to Beyoncé’s “Freakum Dress”, against season nine royalty Aja.

“I’m back, and I’m here with a glow-up,” she said during her girl group verse, and boy, did she mean it.

Granted, in the weeks that followed, she may have found herself in the bottom four times, eventually being eliminated in sixth place. OK, she faltered in the acting and the comedy challenges. But really, the Fame Games is all about the looks – and Kahanna Montrese gave us some gag-worthy garments, before and after she said goodbye.

Her “Net Gala” and “Miss Fill In The Blank” looks were probably the best two on the runway in their respective weeks, while she could – and should – have been in the top for episode three’s ball challenge.

That banana look? As Katya once said, she’s at the “intersection of glamour and comedy, and you can find her right on the corner, selling her ass”.

As she made it relatively far in the competition, we’ve only been blessed with one “Fame Game” look since her departure: her constructed snowflake eleganza glam for the “Snow Bunny” runway. Yet it was, by some stretch, the most glamorous look of the week, including compared to those still in the competition.

In the most recent episode, fans saw all the eliminated queens return to compete in a variety show, for a chance to wildly increase their Fame Game votes.

The top two performers, which ended up being Jaymes Mansfield and LaLa Ri, lip-synced, with the winner spinning a wheel to determine whether their votes would double, triple, or increase fivefold.

While Kahanna didn’t place in the top two, slashing her chances of winning the overall fan vote, the point is that she absolutely could’ve done.

Once again, her performance – a cheerleader-inspired, call-and-response rap, complete with some pretty stellar choreography – was worthy of a position in the top. 

There was a backflip, a lift, some light twerking; everything that, had the episode been edited differently, could’ve seen her land another win.

The biggest reason Kahanna Montrese should be named Queen of The Fame Games though, is simple: she’s come an extraordinarily long way, in such a short amount of time.

Four years ago, she faced elimination in season 11’s first episode for a poor runway look. In the second, she was given the chop, thanks in part to her Astrological Sign look underwhelming the judges.

Now she’s made a comeback, left her mark, and showed arguably more growth than anyone on the All Stars 8 cast. She’s given us some of the most polished looks, the most enthralling performances, a hint of drama, and a character journey that’s to be admired. 

“My mission was to show growth, who I am and what I represent,” Kahanna wrote in a tweet last week. “I’m an All star because I didn’t give up since going home 2nd. I worked HARD on my craft. I put in self work and dedication to becoming better.

“I truly feel I brought my best self to All Stars 8. That’s why I hope you’ll vote for me.”

That’s why we hope the fans have voted for her, too.

The RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 finale airs Thursday, 20 July on Paramount+ in the US and on WOW Presents Plus in the UK and internationally.

Please login or register to comment on this story.