RuPaul's Drag Race Finale: And The Winner Is...

After thousands of sequins sewn, gallons of lipstick applied, and untold amounts of shade thrown, the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race came to its dramatic conclusion on Monday night. [SPOILERS AHEAD, so stop reading now if you haven’t watched yet.] After a battle of Greek Goddess backup dancers in RuPaul’s “Champion” video, third-place honors went to perky Alexis Mateo, leaving a final lipsynch-for-your-life round between Manlia Luzon and Raja. And the Season 3 crown went (not surprisingly) to the unimonikered gal with the ferocious runway strut and avant-garde fashion sense (albeit nonexistent comedy chops).

Of course, it was pretty clear from the episode’s opening moments that Raja was on her way to victory, as the producers began to soften the elitist member of the “Heathers” gang by showing her declaring her “newfound respect” for fellow finalist Alexis Mateo.

The queens then met with choreographer Ryan Heffington (or, in the words of Alexis, “the genie from the lamp”) who served up lumberjack sideburns and facial hair with an off-the-shoulder red jumpsuit and pearls. Alexis asserted her authority in the dancing department — not that she had a lot of competition, what with Raja flailing on a pedestal and colliding with her fellow dancers, and Manila repeatedly missing her marks. Of course, the latter contestant bizarrely attempted to blame her mishaps on Alexis’ oversized coif. “They’re trying to blame my hair because of Manila’s mistakes,” huffed Ms. Mateo. “Bitch, don’t hide behind me! You got your mark!”

Back on the runway, though, Raja’s Fosse-inspired look — black bowler hat, skimpy black tank and shorts, 20 lbs of gold accessories — proved to be the thoroughbred in a field of Shetland ponies. I was really disappointed in the comparative cheapness of Manila’s chartreuse and purple sequined princess gown and Alexis’ fluffy pink showgirl frock (complete with parasol!), although the latter’s unabashed enthusiasm — “I feel like when you wanna roll your Rs so bad!” — was infectious. Which is why I was surprised at Ru’s decision to place Alexis third, and give us a Raja-vs.-Manila final showdown. (Anyone else notice the producers didn’t show any footage of Raja revealing any of her own negative qualities in the “name your own pros and cons” segment? Hrmmm.)

I’ve got to admit that based on Raja and Manila’s previous lipsynch-for-your-life encounters, I was expecting a totally different level of fierceness and energy when the gals faced off to the tune of RuPaul’s “Champion.” Where was the insane drama Manila brought to “MacArthur Park” or the maniacal commitment Raja delivered during “Straight Up”? Maybe both queens knew Raja had already sealed the deal, and figured it wasn’t worth messing up their hair and makeup? I wonder how things would’be played out had Alexis Mateo brought her cha-cha razzle-dazzle to the party?

In the end, Raja cried into her lace gloves while offering a winner’s speech about her desire to help kids know it’s okay to be a social misfit, while Manila scored her own personal victory by dropping the episode’s best zinger: “I’m first runner-up, so if Raja dies of old age, then maybe I’ll get the crown.”

Did the right queen win? How did you feel about the season finale, and season 3 overall? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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56 Comments
  1. Michael says:

    I can’t stand RuPaul. She has no idea what drag is beyond runway drag. She can’t perform to save her life.

  2. Jake says:

    I cannot believe Raja won, YUCK…this show just repeated itself like last year crowning the overly done Tyra. The winner should have been either Manilla, Alexis.

    • Pop Vulture says:

      Totally disagree. This is the first season RuRu got it right. Nina was robbed in S1, anyone – ANYONE – other than Tyra should’ve won S2. Finally, a deserving queen! Raja is classy, funny, biting, and gorgeous. She’s been the clear frontrunner since the first ep. Love her!

    • Deion says:

      Nah, Raja was not an entertainer, neither was Tyra. This one should have gone to Manila or Alexis.

    • Gil says:

      Rupaul has proven himself to be fake time and time again. He chooses these winners that don’t really sparkle at all. Where is Bebe and Tyra? No one really wants to see them. We want to see the fun bag which has Manila, Jujube,Ongina, Raven and all the other excellent Queens. Drag Race is becoming like American Idol, most aren’t interested in the winners. It’s the runner ups that go on to become big stars. I love Manila Luzon and feel she’s the real queen.
      I think the show was bogus once again and Ru had already decided to pick Sutan/Raja because of her connections to Tyra Banks. Networking is a huge aspect to this industry and I’m sure Ru didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Also Ru is getting pretty up there in age and needs a really great make up artist like Sutan to help her out. She’s just manipulative, fake and a bad judge if you ask me.

  3. Kate says:

    Wooohooo! Way to go Raja! My Queen, now and forever!

  4. oriharakaoru says:

    SO HAPPY!!!!!!! #TEAMRAJA Though I really liked Manila, too!

  5. tuppy says:

    Congradulations RAJA!

    I was rooting for Manilla going into tonight, but Raja owned it all season and definitely stood out during the finale. Though I did love what Manilla had to say about taking over as ANDS if Raja dies of old age.

    But, let’s be real: the best part of the finale was the fact that Alexis does NOT understand what “the jig is up” actually means. LOVED it!

  6. AnnaW says:

    Whooooo Hooooo!!!!! Way to go to the beautiful inside and out Ms. Raja!!

    • John Berggren says:

      Inside? She was nasty. A heather through and through.

    • Debbie M says:

      Raja was NOT beautiful inside and out. A very mean-spirited queen. A booger. Alexis had a huge heart and deserved better than third place.

      • Michael says:

        Alexis was one of the meanest queens. I don’t know what show you were watching but she was critical of EVERYONE, especially when she wasn’t the winner of the challenge.

        • NJ says:

          I agree! I was always baffled by people saying how she has a big heart and whatnot, when she was so bitchy all the time.

  7. Nina says:

    Absolutely the right choice! Time for a queen that thinks outside the pageant box. Androgyny is HOT! Raja OWNS it! \o/\o/\o/

  8. Joe says:

    After Tyra’s win left such a bad taste in my mouth last year, I was hoping for a non-villain to win this year. That would be Alexis. Not that Raja was horribly evil or repugnant, but sweet Alexis winning would have left such a smile on my face.

  9. agrimesy says:

    I think Raja deserved the title! Drag needs a face lift, and Raja is fresh. I suppose a campy stand up routine in costume has it’s place in the club scene, but it’s an entertainment stereotype. I prefer the artistic interpretations that Raja brought to the themes each week. Raja’s androgyny grasps the mystique of feminity that isn’t something to be put on like a wig or a dress, but something that emerges from within . . . an attitude and sensuality. I like what she said about the duality of being a Gemini because I also see that yin and yang of the male and female in her even when she’s off stage. Raja is the fierce new drag. I like it.

  10. kitty munroe says:

    Considering that Raja and Rupaul have known each other for years, this was a yawn of finale, too predicatable. It was revealed from, practically the beginning, that Raja was going to win, especially after Raja and Rupaul’s previous relationship/friendship was revealed. Even if he/she is a bitch, I would’ve preferred Manilla to win just because it would’ve have been a more fair win.

    • Jake says:

      Totally agree…it was almost written on the wall.

    • KenBud says:

      I think this post could be posted a million times so it knocks people over the head with the truth.

      Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, knew Raja was the winner from day one. Why? Because Raja and Ru ARE friends, and yes, drag needs a facelift, so ta-da …… interesting, new look Raja is inserted into the mix by her dear friend RuPaul.

      It’s insane to think Manila or Alexis had a chance.

      Three seasons. Disappointed by every winner. Even more this year, as every drag queen across the country knew it was rigged when they saw Raja from day one. Nina should have won season one. Raven should have won season two. And now this.

      Don’t get me wrong. i was pulling for Raja …. until I heard the rumors confirmed about their very long friendship. Take this and mix it with the first two season mistakes, and I’m starting to wonder if this show means anything at all except more money in Ru’s pocket.

      • Jake says:

        I totally agree with you. Do you ever hear anything in the media about the Queens after the tour??? I haven’t. The only time we see them back in the media spotlight is when Ru brings them back for Drag U or for Drag Race.

      • Teresa says:

        You know, I don’t care if RuPaul sewed Raja under her loin and birthed her in the mists of Ancient Greece. The reality is that Raja is the most forward-thinking, developed, and worthy successor to the crown.

        The top three was the correct top three, but Alexis is too mired in a single tradition, while Manila is still developing her style.

        And, if Raja was the designated winner of this season (something I do not believe in the slightest), RuPaul certainly didn’t make it easy on her. If they truly are such good friends, then RP had to know that casting Shangela would push Raja’s buttons, and keeping her on the show beyond all reason drove Raja up the wall.

        This season was longer, fiercer, and harder on the queens than previous two. It was a trial by fire for everyone, and not everyone made it to the finish. The ones that did were the strong ones. Whether or not Ru had a favorite from the beginning, the truth is that Raja blew everyone but Alexis and Manila away because she’s just that strong.

        And then she won because, out of the three on that stage, she had the most to offer.

  11. Thom says:

    Booo…that wench didn’t deserve the win. Alexis you are still the one and only champion.

  12. pAnDoRa says:

    Three seasons, and three times I’ve been disappointed by the winner… I have nothing but respect for RuPaul, but I think she’s just looking for the next version of herself, and that’s not necessarily the only thing to look for in a drag superstar. Personality counts, too! In season 1, Nina Flowers was fierce with a big heart, and Bebe won. In season 2, Raven was beyond gorgeous and so driven, but Tyra won. And now in season 3, Alexis was so sweet, uplifting, and stunningly beautiful, and Raja won. ARGHH! I think it was obvious from about mid-season that RuPaul already had her mind made up that this was Raja’s season, and I don’t debate that Raja is amazing on the runway, but her personality is just so bad. She says great things about giving a voice to all of the kids who feel scared and misunderstood — which is admirable — but then she’s judgmental and hateful toward her fellow queens. How can I believe that Raja wants to give a voice to the bullied when she was the biggest bully on this season?? All I can say is that I’m glad Manila lost because she had Raja’s personality flaws but with less talent.

    Oh well… Maybe next season…

  13. John Berggren says:

    I thought Alexis dominated the final challenge. Raja was a terrible choice. I wouldn’t hire her to perform.

  14. raun says:

    Love Raja!..but Manila should have won it….much more personality and sparkle…

  15. Sia says:

    Yara Sofia was my favorite, & she deserved to be in the final three. Of the 3 finalists, I was rooting for Alexis Mateo; her femininity & self-assurance won my heart. I found Raja’s androgynous appearance and mean comments to & about other contestants off-putting–even though I’ve always loved Sutan on “America’s Next Top Model” for the kind, gentle way he talks to the models as he’s doing their make-up. Manila seemed one-note to me & I would have sent her home much earlier in the competition.

  16. T.J. says:

    Not sure why Raja gets labeled as a bitch, while Alexis gets off scott free. Raja is honest, but always balances it with a pretty fair judgment on each person – Alexis, not so much. Team Heathers!

  17. wowzer says:

    I feel like the girl I root for always makes it through the whole season, just to end up in 2nd… I am 3 of 3 that way… next season I will try not to like anyone :P for the sake of a deserving winner…

  18. M says:

    I’m glad that Alexis didn’t win. She was utterly one-note and threw just as much shade as Manila and Raja. While I would have preferred a Manilla win (her bubbly personality, warmth, and fun cattiness won me over, and it was her friendship with Raja that turned me onto Raja herself), I can’t complain.

  19. Ken says:

    This is the first time the Queen I wanted to win actually did win… Nina should have one Season 1, Raven Season 2… I actually liked all three of the final Queens… While I would have loved to see Yara make it to the finale (the true dark horse of Season 3), Raja was the best and only choice for winning this season. And for those that say Raja won because of her relationship with RuPaul, that is BS. If that was true then Shangela should have NEVER been allowed to come back and Manila should have been banned from competing since she her BF was in season 2. Hating on Raja or any of the Queens is just sour grapes, Ru will NEVER please everyone. I, for one, can’t wait for Season 4 (but I can sure as hell PASS on Season 2 of DragU, as in DragUGH)

  20. Siobhan says:

    Bad choice with Raja. Yes, great on the runway, artistic, etc.. but she looks like a man. Her body is just not so hot. If you watch any of Manila’s vids on youtube, or Carmen Carrera’s for that matter, you see talent and queens that look like women. Raja just doesnt look right..and as for being a role model for kids? He drinks and smokes on all the new vids I saw.. not that I’m against either, but its not really something kids should be “looking up to”. I’ve watched Drag Race since it started. I’m kinda done now.. Raja should never have won, I feel let down, cheated and can we say.. “it was FIXED?!”

  21. Geo says:

    Until RuPaul decides to finally give the crown to a queen because of humor and performance– a crucial trait to drag– this show is always gonna just be an increasingly uninteresting take on “America’s Next Top Model.” Runway, runway, runway. That’s the only way you win.

    Sure, Ru has humor and performance challenges, but it’s hard not to notice that the contestants who do the best there rarely make it even to the finals. Pandora, Ongina, JuJu… Ru treats the spunky, funny queens like the smart guy or girl a high school kid leads on for a long time and then dumps to take the cheerleader to the prom. The judges will praise comedy and performance, but even the following week seem to have forgotten it– the things that seem to consistently make the most lasting impression on these particular judges are modeling and sewing outfits, but that’s more ANTM and “Project Runway” than it is drag.

    I hate to say it, Ru, but you’re letting your show get dull. Shake it up a bit, baby.

    • mt-expat says:

      Thank you! This sums up perfectly this show’s fatal flaw.
      I love watching RPDR, but the ‘Drag Superstars’ chosen thus far are simply not people I would pay to see perform. A queen in the greatest dress ever, with flawless makeup, walking a runway gorgeously gets boring awfully quickly without humour!

  22. Buffy Freak says:

    Such a boring finale. Even the judges quips during the runway weren’t up to par. There isn’t one queen from this season I would go out of my way to see perform.

    The judges just overpraised Raja all season but last might was ridiculous. No mention of her multiple screwups during the challenge? And her runway oufit was, IMO, heinous. Those shorts looked like black adult diapers.

    Most people want to see an entertaining, funny queen. Raja is neither…but then again, I’m not sure any of the queens from this season were.

  23. DontBADragJustBAQueen says:

    Surprise surprise. RuPaul’s BFF of 15+ years won. This show isn’t fixed from the beginning. REALLY! <—sarcasm

  24. SwanBlackheart says:

    People hate on Raja for the same reason they hated on Raven last season: She has confidence. Alexis has a lot of confidence issues and she’s always cutting herself down — this gets people’s sympathy. Somehow because of all her self-depreciating viewers ignore the fact that she was easily one of the nastiest queens. From the first episode, where she kept whining about Shangela’s return, to the end where she questions Raja and Manila’s talents behind their backs.

    I think Manila is more marketable to the masses than Raja, and I would’ve been just as happy to see her win instead. However, the most artistic and talented queen won. A vote for experience and true style. Congratulations Raja, you deserve it!

  25. NJ says:

    IDGAF if Ru and Raja are friends. Raja’s fierce, and I feel like the things she says are fair (and kind of hilarious) even if they’re not nice things. If this was a voting kind of show, I would’ve speed dialed for Raja all the way through.

  26. Katrina says:

    What a HUGE disappointment!That show was soooo flat….at the judging (what judging) when the video performance was shown, RaJa looked terrible,that face looked like a scary mask,(Manila looked beautiful), RaJa must be RuPaul’s pet to be the BiG winner. The Crowning ceramony was “tacky” too. No one there to applaud the winner but RuPaul. This show needs call -in votes,like American Idol,why have a contest if the winner is RuPaul’s Pet? I do applaud all the contestants for awesome talent, creativity,and courage to BE on the show. I hope they all go on to great success.

  27. the girl says:

    Based on the pic at the top of this article, Manila should have won. She looks amazing!!

  28. Giovanni says:

    My view on Raja’s “win”…

    Raja:

    Hi, yes, I am a friend of RuPaul, Adam Lambert and I’ve done makeup on America’s Next Top Model (Tyra Banks host).
    I do makeup, professionally, also.

    I can’t do my own makeup very well, because it seems no matter what I do, I can’t hide the fact that I am a man,
    and my skin has been damaged due to smoking, drinking and probably any type of drug passed to me while I roam
    nightclubs trying to hold onto my long gone youth.

    I do have an interesting view on fashion, and I am fairly creative, although my artistic sense is in no way something
    people have not seen before..even though I do like to push the idea that I am unique/eccentric/and not like other
    people. I tend to be delusional.

    I can walk a runway.. it’s too bad I have no talent for dancing, movement,lip synche or being a woman.

    I want to be a mentor for youths, especially young males who are too effeminate for the “normal” world. By my
    actions on stage, when doing drag.. I am showing them that smoking, drinking, groping myself and eating other
    people’s food are all part of what I am teaching. I’m showing them its ok to never grow up, to be anti-social,
    and to hurt their bodies/minds/and spirits by polluting them. Oh, and that you can live your dream, as long as
    you have the right connections you can beat out other people who are more talented than you are. It’s all in
    who you know, why did the Drag Race even go on? The Tiara was in my pocket before the show started.

    Author’s Note: Raja winning RuPaul’s Drag Race is a farce, a fake, a setup. Many good performers were thrown off
    the show that could and should have won. I will be boycotting this “show”, and the ridiculous filler: RuPaul’s
    DragU. I am digusted. DONE!

  29. Liana in San Diego says:

    Here’s why Alexis shouldn’t have won: she is old-fashioned drag that you don’t see much in better drag establishments any more. She never understood the criticisms given to her, and didn’t know how to take them and incorporate them to become better. It was always the same ole, same ole. No growth instinct at all. She’s an antique. Raja, on the other hand, whether she has comedic ability or not, is a fashion conscious, edgy drag queen who injected vitality into an otherwise predictable event. I’m delighted she won. And had Manila won, I would have been okay with it, but not as pleased. And we know that BOTH of them will go far and far outshine any of the others that vied for the crown.

  30. Juan Pantoja says:

    Congratulations RAJA

    It should be very obvious why she is the queen of drag I love her fashion taste her runway and creativity. I believe she gives the correct description of what drag is about, beyond the usual camp queen look we are so accustomed to.

  31. Appalled says:

    I am appalled at who won this contest! How can Raja who has known Rupaul for DECADES,worked with Mike Ruiz and Mathieu Anderson,and also Vanessa Williams,be a legitimated contestant! That is a conflict of interest that is HUGE! It is a farce…Raja was no great shakes as a drag queen,what a joke! No Feminine illusion,and a personality straight out of Hades,what a vile bully! And Raja can NOT entertain whatsover! No way he was the best! I think Manilla should have won. But for the endorser of Boogars and Heathers to be the winner is absurd! Tyra and Bebe were GREAT drag Queens in comparison and worthy winners….Raja is pisspoor!

  32. TJ Norris says:

    START YOUR ENGINES: So much to say about the 3rd Season of RuPaul’s Drag Race! Most people would say the Raja shouldn’t have won, and I might agree on a number of points…but…standardizing drag is plain boring. And niceties aside, she spiced it up quite a bit. The rants between Raja and the hysterically comic Shangela were sorta priceless on ‘Untucked’.

    The queens that seemed a bit not-ready-for-prime-time this year were most definitely: Delta Work, Phoenix, India Ferrah, Stacy Layne Matthews and Venus D-Lite. For me, if I was a preliminary judge they would have been ruled out before the show got on the road. The others were all advanced and interesting, with talent and nerve galore. I found Mariah to be the most ravishing, Shangela the most talented…but of the final three most consistent was definitely Manila. I was rooting for Alexis, however. Mainly because she seemed most “above it all” and the most effectively personable. Yara Sophia was really interesting and added the strange factor and Mimi Imfurst, a bit sloppy, brought an excellent amount of kitch factor. Raja, in the end, walked the walk and talked the talk (albeit in a very bass voice). Drag is like a wild spindly tree that has many branches. It was hardest for me to watch the depth of cat-calling backstabbing bitches in the Interior Illusions Lounge – especially Delta Work (who’d be much better suited for John Waters type territory). Carmen Carrera was an interesting wild card – she brought a sexy Jersey girl thang, it was well suited for this.

    SUGGESTIONS FOR SEASON 4:

    – Bring back some of the previous contestants as either regular or guest judges;

    – Don’t put ‘plus size girls’ on the show unless they are polished – and there are aplenty;

    – The demographics are covered (asian, black, white, asian, latino), but don’t be too obvious;

    – Bring is some powerhouse judges (Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, John Waters, Greg Louganis, Kylie Minogue, Vera Wang, so many…)and spend a lil more time on their comments…if they are there chatting for an hour – give us some of their feedback so we know what determinations they are making (Santino and Billy B are blah, and though Mike Ruiz is hot – not a good judge, Michelle Visage gives real criticism – a keeper!);

    – Add a ‘den mother’ element to this. Sometimes it seems the contestants (most are young enough to wander) could use a lil more coaching, more scenes of Ry as ‘Mom’.

    That’s all. ;) TJ

  33. KevyB says:

    Another Clothes Hanger wins RuPaul’s Drag Race! WHAT A SHOCKER! Three for three! If these queens are the “next great drag star” then why aren’t they on DragU? Because they don’t have enough personality! Oh wait, Ru’s trying to prove that Tyra’s winning wasn’t a total joke so she’ll be on the next season of DragU… no doubt boring all viewers. I’ll watch DragU, but I’m done with RuPaul’s Clothes Hanger Race.

  34. Terra says:

    Honestly, Alexis should’ve won. She’s spicy and fierce. Raja always looks like a man in woman’s clothing. And it should’ve been a lypsync between alexis and raja and I’m sure alexis would’ve won. but yeah it does seem like manila gave up completely and I expected a different reaction from Raja’s win, I think it was rigged I think she knew she was going to win. And I love Raja’s personality so much, but I don’t think she should’ve won. I think there was fiercer queens than her. idk maybe Ru picked Raja cause he’s attracted to him. Whatever. Totally unhappy with the results. But I can honestly say Raja was the most original when it came to make up and costumes, but it would’ve looked better on a different queen.

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