‘Drag Race’ Kahanna Montrese on Almost Quitting ‘All Stars’ Season 8 and That Heidi Feud

Despite being eliminated from the competition later in the episode, Kahanna Montrese is thankful that RuPaul kept her from quitting. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 8.

After several back-to-back appearances in the last two, drag queen — his drag daughter Drag Race Season 5 alum Coco Montrese — felt the pressure on the building was insurmountable and, in a moment of doubt, wanted to leave the show at the beginning of episode 7. Heidi N Closet had done the same in episode 5 after a fight with Kahanna.

The space was caused by confusion during “Snatch Game of Love,” in which Kahanna played mother dear Coco. When her performance went south, Heidi (playing Blackbeard) began to grow closer to Kahanna. The comments felt like a punch to the Season 11 alum, and she confronted Heidi in the Werk room afterward. Feeling sick of Kahanna and Kandy Muse and feeling a lack of support from the other contestants, Heidi decided to leave the show. Kahanna was in the bottom two that night, but Heidi’s early exit meant no queens were sent home. In Episode 7, Kahanna declared that she would follow in Heidi’s footsteps, though she tells StrippedPixel below that Heidi had nothing to do with her decision.

To avoid two queens from self-elimination in a row, host RuPaul staged an intervention in the Werk Room to “straighten the shit out” with the final six contestants. Here, Kahanna explains why she almost left, why she’s thankful for RuPaul’s intervention, and why she and Heidi have to “agree to disagree” about their episode 5 fight.

Kahanna Montrese in

Kahanna Montrese listens as RuPaul urges her not to quit the competition (Credit: Paramount+)

You almost left the show like Heidi N Closet. Can you explain your Werk Room thoughts that led to this?

Kahanna Showed: I was going through a lot with how I was doing (in the competition). Being at the bottom so many times really got to me. I was in a place where I was like, “I don’t know if I can give anything more,” and I didn’t feel like the judges were seeing that for me. I felt defeated. And then I had to step back from it and remember that I wasn’t here for anyone but myself. It’s like proving to myself that I deserve to be there. That’s why I decided to stay.

Did you feel intimidated by acting challenges like “JOAN: The unauthorized Russian” and then the “Ru-Crime” show.. But both weeks, the judges said it was a matter of separating the “A+s from the As.” So no one, including you, did a bad job. How does it feel to be at the bottom when the judges admit that everyone did pretty well?

I have mixed emotions because it’s so nice to hear from the judges that you were good. And a lot of times, you know, that’s not always the case. So I was so happy to at least get validation that what I did was good. But what got me was just being at the bottom so many times. He was like, “Dang, apparently I’m not good enough.” Sometimes when you’re in a competition, it really gets to you. There I was. I wanted to come through and make sure I was shining in a way they hadn’t seen before or was good enough to land on top.

Despite how the episode ended, you still dug deep and did well. Were you proud of yourself?

Absolute. There were so many layers to it, honestly. For me to almost give up on myself and fight through all of this and see that if I had left, I would never have had the opportunity to see that I could overcome my fear and touch myself. Even though I went home, I know I did such an amazing job and I was so proud of what I presented. Even looking at myself when I was on stage and watching the movies (“Ru Crime”), I didn’t even recognize the person. I’m like, “Who is this girl who’s giving these jokes and really selling the character?!” I was so happy to be able to say, “That’s me! I did such a good job!”

I would never have had this opportunity if I had left. I was so happy even walking home because, without tea, I looked like a million bucks in my runway. I knew I did well, and the girls, I feel like we all came together in this challenge. It was exactly as you said in Rusical: it was a powerful week. So if I was going to go home, thank God it’s for the best and the girls who really stand up.

That makes you an All-Star too. You compete with the best. And I really feel like our season, a lot of people probably didn’t feel that for us. But we show the world, no, we are stars. Just seeing week after week how hard these challenges are and how we rise to the occasion, I was so happy that I was able to do as well as I did in the competition and be among the damn stars.

LaLa Ri, Kahanna Montrese, Kandy Muse, Jimbo, Jaymes Mansfield, Alexis Michelle and Jessica Wild perform

The cast of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ Season 8 performs ‘JOAN: The Unauthorized Rusical’ in episode 6 World of Wonder/Paramount+

Last week’s episode was uniquely challenging, given that you had to emulate Joan Crawford and Grace Jones.

And before that, I knew nothing about Joan Crawford, so it was a quick study. I did my best to channel Mother Jones, honey. (laugh)

You got an education then. So how close were you to leaving?

oh girl The bags were packed. He was almost out the door.

And how did you feel when RuPaul walked into the Werk Room to stage that intervention?

Oh, that was a lot. The biggest thing was the instant regret because here, my idol was looking at me with disappointment. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone because I really admire Ru, his work ethic, and I try my best to channel a lot of that with my own career. So when he gave his advice, he was really hit hard. I was like, more than me doing this for him, I owe it to myself because I can’t give up on myself. Even if people don’t see it for me, I have to always lean on my back, always put in my best effort.

That moment, if I’m honest, changed so much in me. I will never forget her. It was a lot, but there was something that clicked in me to never give up. I was so close (to leaving) and I’m so grateful. It’s a memory I’ll always cherish because, you know, he didn’t have to. He could have easily let me go. But he showed that he really cares. And many girls, we don’t have the opportunity to have one on one with him. So when you do, you really take it, and to have that experience, it was like, I don’t ever have to get to this point, where I give up on myself.

Did Heidi’s exit influence your decision to leave? Did her early departure make it seem possible to you?

Not. Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about it. Anyway, when Heidi left, I felt like, yeah, this might be a good opportunity for me to step up because I knew I’d probably be going home that night. No, probably not. I knew I was going home that night. There was a part of me that felt I had overstayed my welcome. When I continued to be at the bottom after that, I was like, “God.” I could understand the pressure he was feeling. I don’t know what her deciding factor was to leave, but what I do know is that I definitely felt the unique stakes.

Here I am in a situation where I feel like I’m doing well, but I’m constantly at the bottom. I wanted to get rid of it because I didn’t like seeing it for myself. I didn’t like looking back and being like, yeah, I have a win, but most of me is here, am I at the bottom? I just didn’t want to continue this. I was like, “I was probably going home during Snatch,” and then I snapped out of it. Never forget; I have to show my runway. I have to really show my performance outside of the first episode. So I definitely recognize the blessing of having the opportunity to stay and I can’t thank Heidi enough for that. Because at the end of the day, it really opened the door for me to be there.

I interviewed Heidi after she left and asked her about your struggle. She reiterated that during the Snatch game, she tried to browse you in the shade that the Snatch Game requires. In retrospect, do you understand what she was trying to explain in the Werk room?

Yes, listen. I’m an adult. I can understand that we all have different perspectives. I totally respect his point, but I guess I’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one, just because I really feel like there was more to it. I’ll leave it at that. I certainly understand that in a Snatch Game, there’s a lot of volleying going on, but yeah. I’ll leave it at that.

What advice would you give to the future? Drag Race queens considering leaving the show mid-season?

I don’t know if I should really talk about it because everyone has different reasons for wanting (to leave). I can only speak for myself. The only thing I would say is that, looking back, it was a moment I know I would have regretted, without a doubt. If I had left I would have been so mad at myself because you don’t know the future. You don’t know if you would have proven it, and then that could have been the turning point not only for the world to see you differently, but for you to see you differently I don’t think anyone should shy away from this experience. Even when you’re in the thick of it, you should give it your best shot, even if you land on your face.

I felt like even though I was at the bottom of that challenge, I rose (for) that occasion and I was absolutely great. I did well. I looked amazing on that track. And if I had left, I wouldn’t have been able to see my favorite track! There are so many factors, like that moment with Jimbo that I had—I couldn’t have experienced that.

Do you have any regrets from this season?

Not at all. I’m so glad I did everything I wanted to do Drag Race, except winning. (laugh) I really feel like I did everything I set out to do (I set out to do), like show my personality, be able to show my love, and be proud of the tracks I put out. I was so happy. And even with the troubles I’ve had, I feel like it’s not as big as I’m making it out to be, because in the big picture, I’ve been doing really well. I do not regret anything. I had so much fun and I’m so proud of myself.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Season 8, Friday, Paramount+

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