RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 has begun and it looks like this season may already have its frontrunner: BenDeLaCreme. But, on the show, it was noted that Ben had taken a large break from the spotlight with multiple queens commenting on it. Why did Drag Race’s BenDeLaCreme quit drag for a time? Though she didn't quite explain it herself, her competitors couldn't stop talking about it.
One of the things Ben did note was that she spent the intermediary time between Season 6 and now in Seattle. During Season 6, she was an absolute fan favorite, winning two different challenges. Although she only technically finished in fifth place, she ended up being voted “Miss Congeniality,” by the fans. The decision to have her be eliminated from that season is one of the most controversial eliminations on the show’s history. A writer for Queerty went so far as to say “this may be THE most controversial elimination in the show’s history” and noted that it sent shockwaves of surprise, frustration, anger, and disappointment on social media. After all, she was a favorite to win the season outright. However, despite being so loved, after her time on the show, she had strong feelings… about not returning to the show in the future.
Milk was the first to comment on the situation. When she saw BenDeLaCreme was in the competition, she told the camera, “Ben sort of fell off the face of the earth for a while. I thought she just grew a beard, ran into the woods, and was just sort of terminally delightful to the squirrels.” Milk wasn’t the only one to comment on Ben’s lack of lack of visibility after Season 6, which aired back in 2014. During the reading challenge, other queens got in some savage reads concerning Ben. Kennedy Davenport was the next to reference this, asking Ben, “Where you been? No really, where you been?” Ben responded, “Seattle.” Shangela joined in and said to Ben during the challenge, "Sister, it’s nice to see you, here. It’s nice to see you anywhere since you’ve been unemployed since Season 6.” Ben though, as of yet, hasn’t really talked about the controversy, herself.
In a September 2016 interview with The Stranger, BenDeLaCreme revealed what she’d been up to most recently: A solo drag show in Seattle called Inferno A-Go-Go, a show based on Dante’s Inferno. The show featured Ben’s signature camp style and included songs, comedy, and even puppets. In that same interview, she had seemingly made up her mind to not ever return to Drag Race.
“Those TV producers are willing to ruin friendships, professional relationships, feelings of self-worth — all for some cheap entertainment. You won't remember the details of that episode in a week. Those queens may have to work through that experience for years. I'm grateful for the experience I had, but I've already been through hell in my new show — I don't need to go through it on theirs.”
Thank goodness she did decide to come back a year later though, because she absolutely slayed in first episode of this competition. She won every challenge that was put in front of her. She won the reading challenge and earned a $3,000 gift certificate to L.A. Eyeworks. After that, she finished in the top two of the variety show with her comedy burlesque and won a trip to Ft. Lauderdale. Finally, she closed out the week, winning the lip-sync battle and the $10,000 tip that came along with it.
After Week 1, it’s BenDeLaCreme that looks to be the Queen, with the rest of the competitors seeming like princesses. While this competition can flip quickly, it definitely seems like BenDeLaCreme is the person to beat. It’s too early to know whether Ben can keep up this winning streak, but it is clear that it was worth coming out of retirement for the chance to be the winning Queen.