“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has featured 10 seasons full of lip syncs, death drops, and iconic one-liners. The show has turned into an Emmy-winning reality show, complete with spin-offs, conventions, and tours.
The show is entertaining, but what goes on backstage is even more shocking than what happens on the runway. Keep scrolling to find out some of the most surprising facts about “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Charles said it took only one pitch meeting for the show to be picked up.
RuPaul Charles told Us Weekly that it only took him one pitch meeting to sell the show, presumably to its first network, Logo. It now airs on VH1.
The queens get two chances to walk the runway.
The show makes it look like the queens only get one chance to sissy that walk, but they actually get two. The contestants walk once with music and once without so that the judges can voice their quippy commentary the second time around.
Contestants are handed an iPod at the beginning of the season which features each of the lipsyncs.
It takes a bit of preparation for each week’s challenge, so at the beginning of the season, the contestants are given an iPod with each week’s songs on it, but they don’t know which will be chosen and when.
Initially, some members of the crew apparently thought they were taping a real race.
Although the show is a household name, apparently, some members of the crew took the show’s name a little too literally at first.
“We did have quite a few crew members who found things surprising,” lighting director Jenny Bloom told Billboard. “They would come in and wonder where the quarter mile [of the drag race] was. Or at one point, I had a crew member come up to me on their first episode, with all the queens lined up on stage, and he whispered in my ear, ‘So they’re all dudes?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of the concept of the show.'”
The queens are secluded during filming.
While “Drag Race” is being filmed, all of the contestants are completely cut off from the outside world. They aren’t allowed to have phones, they’re kept in separate hotel rooms, and sometimes production will even put tape on their doors to know if a queen has left her room.
In fact, one former queen, Willam, was apparently disqualified after it was revealed that her husband was visiting her in her hotel room. She later insinuated that this wasn’t the exact reason for her departure.
The show has produced several spin-offs and companion series.
If the main show isn’t enough for you, you can also sink your teeth into “Untucked,” a companion show that airs after the main show and features behind-the-scenes footage; “Whatcha Packin,'” where judge Michelle Visage interviews the eliminated queen from each week; and “The Pit Stop,” a YouTube series that airs featuring two former contestants or celebrities, discussing the events of the show.
Phi Phi O’Hara said she was supposed to be on season one of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars,” but then she got arrested.
Phi Phi O’Hara made her comeback to “Drag Race” on season two of “All Stars,” but it turns out she was actually supposed to be on season one. In an interview with Vulture, the queen revealed that she couldn’t compete because she got arrested.
She said, “I got arrested for some stuff that was on my background, stuff that I didn’t take care of, so that was the reason I couldn’t do the first season – because my background check came up dirty.”
It takes RuPaul six hours to get ready.
RuPaul makes being a drag queen look effortless, but in reality, a lot of time is spent transforming. The TV star told “Hollywood Today Live” host Ross Matthews that it took him and his former makeup artist, Mathu Andersen, a whopping six hours to get ready for filming.
“Mathu and I, we get back there, we start at six in the morning, we have tea, we eat, we dance … we look at the outfits, we just get into it,” he said.
Tyra Sanchez and Aquaria are tied for the youngest “Drag Race” winner.
Tyra Sanchez because the youngest person to win “Drag Race” when she took home the crown at just 21 years old in season two. She held the title until season 10, when Aquaria, also 21, beat out Eureka and Kameron Michaels for first place.
Despite how glamorous it looks on TV, former contestant Willam Belli said it wasn’t so pretty behind the scenes.
Though the queens make it look easy, former contestant Belli accused the show of poor set conditions and providing little food.
“It was different from what I was used to working on,” she later told In magazine. “This set was rife with un-taped wires underfoot, non-regulated food breaks (like $US75 to feed 12 men after a 14 hour day). Sharon subsided on bread dipped in ranch for a month while filming because her vegetarian food needs were never met. Major safety issues and human rights violations that any union rep woulda s— themselves over.”
Belli has been critical of many other aspects of the series as well, including the details of her disqualification.
The show has featured many celebrity guests.
“Drag Race” has had some amazing celebrity guest judges in the past: Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Ariana Grande, just to name a few.
After appearing on the show, many guests also appear on RuPaul and Michelle Visage’s podcast “What’s The Tee?”
One of RuPaul’s most memorable moments from the show is a heartwarming one.
More than 100 queens have been a part of the show, but RuPaul said that one queen’s story is particularly memorable because of how inspirational it is and how it captures the spirit of resiliency that drag represents.
“Because the kids are so courageous and their stories are so rich, they bring such a unique story every single time,” he told Vulture. “I always think about Roxxxy’s story when she revealed she was abandoned at a bus stop as a 4-year-old. It’s usually their stories that surprise me of how resilient and strong they are.”
The show and RuPaul have faced controversy.
The show is not without its controversy. Many took issue with the former segment “She-mail,” a play on “America’s Next Top Model’s” “Tyra-Mail.” The segment seemed to be a play on an anti-trans slur. The segment has since been eliminated, but RuPaul said that was not his doing.
“I would not have changed it, but that’s their choice,” he told The Guardian. “Our intention was always coming from a place of love. On paper, you cannot read intention, so it was actually hurtful. First of all, drag is dangerous. We are making fun of everything. But when someone doesn’t get the joke or feels offended by it, it’s a lose-lose situation, because you can’t explain a joke. It isn’t funny if you explain it.”
RuPaul has also faced controversy for using an anti-transgender slur and for saying that he would “probably not” have brought on a trans woman like former contestant Peppermint if he knew that she was transitioning.
“You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body,” he told The Guardian.
The show has won four Emmys.
Despite famously telling Vulture in 2016 that he’d rather “have an enema than an Emmy” RuPaul received Emmys for hosting the show from 2016-2018, and the show made headlines in 2018 when it snagged the Emmy for outstanding reality-competition program for the first time.
There’s a phrase that many aspiring contestants say when they audition.
RuPaul said that he looks most for authenticity when auditioning queens, but that one phrase always cracks him and the other judges up because of how common it is during the process.
“Nine out of 10 of the people who audition for our show, they will say these words-and it’s funny ’cause we all laugh every time we hear it-they say, ‘Honey, I will cut a b—-!'” he told Vanity Fair.
Ru apparently used to roller-skate off camera.
The competition is serious business, but that doesn’t mean that the host doesn’t have a little fun. Bloom told Billboard that RuPaul used to rollerskate around the set in the show’s early seasons and make the crew laugh.
“There’s so many things that made it on camera to be proud of, but a lot of my favourite moments are things that never make it on air,” Bloom said. “Back in season two and tree, Ru used to roller skate around the set when there wasn’t any sets being built. And you can never forget the best sound in the whole world is hearing RuPaul laugh from somewhere off in the distance.”
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