*This post contains mild spoilers from the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race season 12.
There's a lot that goes into winning RuPaul's Drag Race. The reengineered, televised drag pageant requires contestants to be funny, pretty decent with their aesthetics, know how to act a little, and most importantly understand their brand. So far, on season 12, the queens who are winning that game are Gigi Goode, followed closely by Sherry Pie and Jaida Essence Hall. But, as been said here before, Drag Race is as much a reality show as it is a competition. And in that iteration of the VH1 series, Heidi N. Closet is winning by a mile.
There's a legacy of Drag Race competitors that come on the show and maybe don't have the makeup skills as the other queens, or don't have the same polish when it comes to looks, but there's something about them that captures us all. They usually come into the show with a little less means than everyone else but often go on to have the most impact, becoming viral memes, GIFs and reaction videos, or a deep love from the fandom. Closet falls squarely within this lineage.
On her debut, Closet received a pretty stern critique from guest judge Nicki Minaj.
"I hate, hate, haaaaate your hair and makeup today," the globally renowned rapper said on the mainstage. "The wig and the makeup could have enhanced your face even more to match this beautiful gown that you have on." Minaj went on to compliment Closet's performance abilities and her "genuine spirit," but the Ramseur, North Carolina queen was still bothered by the comment. In Untucked, she asked Minaj about the comment
"What is it that you hate so much about my face?" Closet asked bluntly.
"Your features and your face are beautiful, let me make that clear," Minaj said at the time. "And I'm not a makeup artist y'all, but I just think that your makeup look kind of half done." The rapper went on to detail her critique. It began a series of critiques, week after week, where judges are all impressed by the queen but have constructive feedback to help her reach the next level (see: Bob Harper in this week's challenge).
As weeks have gone by, Closet has been not only revealing herself as arguably the most loveable contestant -- remember that time she defended Aiden Zhane from being piled on by the rest of the queens -- but has been slowly incorporating the critiques. That all came to a head this week where she revealed in the Werk Room that last year she made $9,000 working at a gas station, and then ended the night taking home $5,000 as the winner of the week's maxi-challenge, getting complimented for both her performance and her runway look.
Sure, Goode might be our top pick for this season's winner with Hall coming in at a close second, but regardless of how this shakes out, Heidi N. Closet will always be our Miss Congeniality and the heart of season 12.
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