They put the bass in their walk! RuPaul’s Drag Race introduced drag to a mainstream audience in 2009, but the art form has thrived in the LGBTQ community for decades.
RuPaul — whose drag persona skyrocketed him to fame in the ’90s — told Us Weekly in 2012 that his idea for the unconventional series was “bought during my first pitch meeting.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s freshman season debuted on Logo with eight episodes and became known for its limited budget and low production quality. However, the show gained a cult following and slowly became a cultural phenomenon.
Celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande have appeared as guest judges on the show, which moved from Logo to VH1 in 2017. The critically acclaimed series has won 13 Emmys, including two wins for Best Reality Competition Series and four wins for Best Reality Host. The Drag Race empire has even expanded into international versions in Canada, Thailand and the U.K.
Although RuPaul’s Drag Race is known for delivering sickening lip-synchs and meme-worthy feuds, the show has also spotlighted issues such as mental health, heartbreak and self-doubt. Even though the queens can be vulnerable on camera, the contestants make it clear that they are there to win.
“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 bitch,’” RuPaul told Vanity Fair in 2017.
The queens have taken that winning mentality with them into their post-Drag Race careers.
Trixie Mattel (All Stars 3) and Katya (All Stars 2) joined forces to create a drag comedy empire after meeting on season 7. The pals released their acclaimed web series, UNHhhh, in 2016 followed by their short-lived Viceland series, The Trixie & Katya Show, one year later. The queens are also the cohosts of Netflix’s web commentary series I Like to Watch, which premiered in 2019. Mattel and Katya released their book, Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood, in 2020, which landed them on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
Past contestants are sometimes invited back to compete for the crown on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. Fan favorites Jujubee, Miz Cracker and Shea Couleé all returned for season 5 and made it to the final three.
Scroll down to see where some of the RuPaul’s Drag Race stars are today.
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