We would say “the Muse is back,” but she never left.

Just like all of the RuPaul’s Drag Race fandom, the runner-up of both Season 13 and All Stars 8, Kandy Muse, is locked into All Stars 9. Speaking recently to Blavity’s Shadow and Act on behalf of BetUs about who she thinks will win the season, the New York City queen also reflected on her own All Stars run from last year and bringing together iconic Black queens from Drag Race for a recent Pride Month kickoff event in New York City.

What do you think of All Stars 9 so far, including the non-elimination format?

Kandy Muse: I’m so happy to see a different format change for the All Stars seasons. I think that now in their ninth year, people want to see something different. Obviously, we all love Drag Race, but it’s amazing seeing something fresh and new. I think that this season, the girls have been bringing it. It’s great that they’re doing it for charity specifically this year, which, we’re in a very weird year on Earth…and airing a charity season during Pride Month…I mean, it just goes hand in hand. And the girls have been slaying the runways and the challenges have been so good. Honestly, it’s just exciting to see some of my really good friends on All Stars. I also love seeing everyone’s outfits every single week on the runway. I kind of don’t mind no eliminations, because I feel like we all watch the Drag Race for the looks, right?

As you said, there are a lot of queens on All Stars 9 that you have close relationships with, including your Season 13 sister, Gottmik. But you do you want to win the season and who do you think has the best shot at winning?

KM: Obviously, I’m a little biased. I love Gottmik, my girl, and then, my girl [Vanessa] Vanjie [Mateo]–love, love, love. And obviously, I love Jorgeous and stuff. But the girls have been surprising me. I think got Gottmik can take the crown. I think Angeria [Paris VanMicheals] can take the crown. I know Plastique [Tiara] is slaying, but I think that Angeria has a really great shot– she really has surprised me. She was great on Season 14, but she really came into All Stars and just dominated. And Gottmik hasn’t flopped at anything either. I think it’s between those two for me this season.

It’s been a year since All Stars 8 aired…and about two years, I would suppose, since you filmed it. A year later, how do you feel about the season and your run on it.

I love how you poke fun at yourself for the iconic “All Stars 8 is giving season 2-3-4-5 vibes” tweet…it’s so camp. But what do you make of that season now, especially since you’ve gone through some transformations since then.

KM: I have a love/hate relationship with All Stars 8. Obviously, it was a great experience. I got to go on there and really just show people that there wasn’t much for me to glow up [on]. I went in there [as] the same b***h that I was on Season 13 and be like, ‘Hey, this is still me.” I had a great time with the girls there and the drama was amazing and we had a really good time. I think though, coming after All Stars 7, it was so hard to be better than [that season] because it was all-winners, non-elimination. But we had a really great time. I think some of the fashions were great on All Stars 8, I think our Rusical is one of the best Rusicals in a very long time, and we had a great talent show and a great finale.

Obviously, when I tweeted, ‘it’s giving season 2-3-4-5’ vibes [laughs], which was while we were there, there were certain fights and stuff that were edited out to make the season seem a little lighter, which is OK, but now reflecting back on it, I’m glad I did it. People always tell me, ‘Oh, I wish you would’ve waited and would’ve done All Stars 9.‘ But now, I’ve had such a transformation. I was over 300 pounds on All Stars 8 and I’m now in my 230s and my aesthetic has changed.

And you actually had drastic changes within your aesthetic right when the season started airing, right? You started experimenting more with your mug. So that season has to be so far removed to you.

KM: It’s so far! I’m not even the same person I was on All Stars 8, let alone Season 13, and now I’m enjoying changing things up and experimenting and not staying in one single box. I think people think, ‘Find your aesthetic and keep it.’ No, have a good time. Play with it. It’s drag. It’s a fun. It’s an artform…play with it. So there are some days where I’m more artistic. [and] there are some days where I am feeling real fish. But it’s now been almost two years since I filmed All Stars and it’s been almost a year since I lost All Stars, but I’m glad I did it then because All Stars 8 has opened so many opportunities for me. Now, being on House of Villains and Slaycation, these are things that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was currently on the new season of All Stars. So, I take life how it goes, and if the world wanted me to go on All Stars 8 around that time, then that’s what the universe wanted, and I’m glad it happened. I had a great time and I made some amazing friendships like Jessica Wild, Jimbo, Heidi [N Closet], Naysha Lopez, Kahanna [Montrese]– some great, great friendships.

Now that the lip-sync assassin twist is no more for All Stars, many fans, especially on YouTube, love to theorize what would have happened if All Stars 5, 6 and 8 had two top queens each week. It’s a sure bet that many queens would have had more wins.

KM: It’s funny that fans say that, because as queens, we see it as well. Yes, it was nice seeing a different queen each week for the lip-sync assassin, but for a second, I was like, ‘It could be two top queens [and] two top all stars.’ And then, it distributes the wins [better], because if we would have had two top all stars, I would’ve had four wins at the very end of the season. But because of that, I only had two wins. And also, we would want to see more girls with more wins that way. But, I think that in order for things to succeed, some things have to fail. And not that All Stars 8 failed, but, we saw it, we love the assassin [twist]…we’ve moved on from it, and now we’ll do no eliminations, or charity, or whatever they do for future All Stars seasons. But nonetheless, we had The Fame Games, which showed everyone’s looks. But yeah, I don’t know, [the season] has a little special place in my heart. All Stars 8…love/hate her [laughs].

And you’ve already teased your return television this year on not one, but two new series. What can you tell us about your time on E!’s House of Villains and WOW Presents Plus/Crave’s Slaycation and how they will be different from your previous stints on television, especially with the latter not being in a competition setting.

KM: When fans catch me this fall on House of Villains, you’re going to see a completely different side. It is Kandy Muse in a house filled with other reality TV villains who don’t know anything about gay culture, queer culture, drag or Drag Race. So it’s really me having to solidify who I am and stand my ground, while also competing and being the best villain there is. If you thought I was a villain on Drag Race, oh baby, you just wait for House of Villains. It is going to be really, really good.

And then, when they catch me this winter on Slaycation, it’s going to be such a wholesome show– fun [and] drama. It’s going to be really fun. It’s so different just seeing your favorite Drag Race girls in a house, in a winter cabin…kind of just thrown in a house and they’re like, ‘Hey, let’s see what happens.’ We do little challenges, we perform for the town and we create performances.

It’s going to be two different sides on the shows, but both of the shows are a completely different side from what I was on Drag Race.

For House of Villains, I feel like you were probably put in the position of not only being the representative from Drag Race, but also becoming like a de facto rep for just LGBTQ/queer culture. Kind of like how Peppermint was on this season of The Traitors. And then, you become a person who has to be this representation for those in the house and for viewers.

KM: Funny enough, there was a cameraman on House of Villains from Drag Race who worked on both my seasons. So anytime I would feel a bit uneasy or uncomfortable, I would just always look at the cameraman, because he has worked with me before. But one thing I said and did from day one was kind of just stand on who I am and explain to everyone what I do. Because some people weren’t aware of the lines between being a drag artist, or being trans, or being queer, or being non-binary– they just had no idea on what queer culture was.

So it was nice educating, because as you got along with people, people were more understanding and people were more curious. And then the guys started picking up the lingo and all of a sudden, here’s Safaree saying, ‘S**t’s getting gaggy.’ You can tell people were really open to learn. Yeah, we were all villains, but we played villains on television. We’re not villains in real life. We were all there to learn as human beings, and they were really open with me and really caring. And there was never a time that I felt like, ‘Wow, I made a mistake coming here.’

And you and your drag daughter Xunami Muse, and the House of Muse, put together an iconic show at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn recently as a kick-off to Pride Month. Y’all brought together legendary Black drag race queens, I mean, Symone…Shea Coulee…Jaida Essence Hall. What was it like to pull this off and have an event like this to start Pride Month that put Black queens at the forefront.

KM: Before I was on Drag Race, I would produce my own parties [and] I would book the RuGirls in town and stuff. And obviously after Drag Race, I’ve been a little bit more busy, so I’ve been unable to continue my party producing dreams But the House of Muse together and we said, ‘Hey, we want to do a pride kickoff.’ And I’m really close friends with these girls. So I hit up the girls, I said, ‘Listen divas, I need a favor. Charge me the friend discount [laughs]. I’m bringing you girls out and let’s have a good time. Let’s kick off Pride being those b*****s.’ Having Black excellence, some of the most iconic queens and the most iconic winners in the Drag Race franchise…it was just so fun because the amount of people that were in that room that looked like us and that felt represented, it was like, ‘OK, we did this and we f****g did it hard. We slayed.’ [It was] Pride kickoff with five bomb ass queens, and we did this iconic ass group number on stage to Doechii’s “Alter Ego” and just kind of partied with the fans all night. And the fans really appreciated it. It this moment where we just were all in a room with so much love, because I think we were all so excited for Pride season, but also so excited to be with each other.

The above interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.