- “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has been on the air for 12 years.
- Behind the scenes, queens have only 90 minutes to get ready and are cut off from the outside world.
- The winners don’t find out they took the crown until the show airs.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
It now airs on VH1 and Paramount+.
“Nine out of 10 of the people who audition for our show, they’ll 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 in 2017.
“We did have quite a few crew members who found things surprising,” lighting director Jenny Bloom told Billboard in 2018. “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.'”
In fact, one former queen, Willam, was apparently disqualified in 2012 after her husband visited her hotel room. She later insinuated that this wasn’t the exact reason for her departure.
“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,” RuPaul said in 2016.
The host responded by flipping the drag queen off.
If you don’t know the rumors, then this moment may not have made any sense. It’s widely discussed that RuPaul often wears sweatpants while sitting behind the judges’ table.
Bob the Drag Queen all but confirmed that fact in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2020.
“It is a known fact that RuPaul’s dresses are in two chunks,” Bob the Drag Queen said. “Sometimes she’ll work the runway and take off all of her padding and put on some sweatpants and Ugg slippers and walk around the studio. Everyone knows this. RuPaul gets out of drag from the waist down to sit behind the table, which I would, too!”
“I would not have changed it, but that’s their choice,” he told The Guardian in 2015. “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 introduced this art form into almost every season of “Drag Race,” saying, “Reading is fundamental.”
“Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it, because at its core it’s a social statement and a big F-you to male-dominated culture,” he told The Guardian in 2018. “So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.”
He has since apologized for that comment and has welcomed openly trans contestant Gottmik on the most recent season of “Drag Race.”
“It was different from what I was used to working on,” she told In Magazine in 2013. “… Sharon subsided on bread dipped in ranch for a month while filming because her vegetarian food needs were never met.”
“There’s so many things that made it on camera to be proud of, but a lot of my favorite moments are things that never make it on air,” Bloom said in the interview. “Back in season two and tree, Ru used to roller skate around the set when there weren’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.”
“It’s a mantra,” he told NPR in 2020. “You need touchstones and totems. And, actually, it’s a tradition my mother passed on to me, which is having sayings that can help realign you in this life…But it plays on the insecurities that every human has, which is – are they going to like me? Do I smell? Do they not like me because I smell? So these mantras are set to align you with the truth of who you are, which is – you are love, and you cannot give something that you do not have.”
When Lady Gaga appeared on the show in 2017, she gave the queens extra feedback on their performances when the cameras stopped rolling.
“When she came back into the [Werk] Room, she really came back with some constructive feedback and criticism, but that was preceded by a nice, pretty good conversation,” one of the queens, Peppermint, said on Entertainment Weekly’s BINGE podcast in 2020.
Sasha Velour added that Gaga was giving them so much feedback, “there was even a moment when the producers were kind of like, trying to get her to wrap it up, because she had hand-written notes about each and every one of us, and she went through, took her time, and gave individual feedback to each of us sitting right there.
“They were like, ‘OK, we’ve got to get back to filming!’ And she was like, ‘No, I’m going to finish this!'”
After appearing on the show, many of the A-list guests also appear on RuPaul and Michelle Visage’s podcast “What’s The Tee?”
“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,” she said.
This means the final queens get to watch the finale live to see who RuPaul chose to wear the crown.
When Aquaria won season 10, she can be seen in a video, holding hands with her fellow contestants before breaking down in tears when she heard her name.