RuPaul's Drag Race
|RuPaul's Drag Race|
|Directed by||Nick Murray|
|Theme music composer||RuPaul Charles
|Opening theme||"Drag Race Theme"|
|Ending theme||"Fly Tonight"
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||99|
|Running time||42–48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||World of Wonder Productions|
|Original release||February 2, 2009– present|
|Related shows||RuPaul's Drag U|
RuPaul's Drag Race is an American reality competition television series produced by World of Wonder for Logo TV. The show documents RuPaul in his search for "America's next drag superstar." RuPaul plays the roles of host, mentor, and source of inspiration for this series, as contestants are given different challenges each week. RuPaul's Drag Race employs a panel of judges, including RuPaul, Michelle Visage and a host of other guest judges, who critique contestants' progress throughout the competition. The title of the show is a play on drag queen and drag racing, and the title sequence and song "Drag Race" both have a drag-racing theme.
RuPaul's Drag Race has spanned seven seasons and inspired the spin-off shows RuPaul's Drag U and RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race. The show has become the highest-rated television programme on Logo TV, and airs internationally, including in Australia, Canada and the UK. The show won Outstanding Reality Program at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards, has been nominated for 4 Critics' Choice Television Award including Best Reality Series – Competition and Best Reality Show Host for RuPaul, and was nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Make-up for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic). In 2015, both RuPaul's Drag Race was renewed for an eighth season and RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race was renewed for a second season.
- 1 Background
- 2 Format
- 3 Series overview
- 4 Music
- 5 DVD releases
- 6 Awards and nominations
- 7 Criticism
- 8 International airings
- 9 Spin-offs
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The show was greenlit in May 2008, according to a press release by MTV Networks. It premiered in the U.S. on Logo on February 2, 2009. On March 20, 2015, RuPaul's Drag Race's Facebook page confirmed that the show was renewed for an eighth season.
Casting calls are announced online, where prospective contestants submit audition tapes in hopes of being cast. All contestants selected must be 21 years of age or older at the time of taping. They may be any sexual orientation, although most contestants to date have been gay men. Transgender women are eligible, and have become more common as seasons have progressed. Sonique (a season two contestant) became the first openly transgender contestant of the series when she revealed her status as transgender during the season two reunion special. Monica Beverly Hillz (a season five contestant), became the first transgender woman to reveal her status during the competition. The other transgender contestants have begun transitioning after their elimination. Carmen Carrera, a season three contestant, announced her transition during an episode of ABC's Primetime: What Would You Do? Season four contestant Kenya Michaels announced her own transition via Facebook and Twitter.
RuPaul plays dual roles in the show. USA Today's Lifeline explains: "RuPaul the drag queen will be the final word in judging and eliminations, while RuPaul the man will offer guidance to contestants for each challenge." RuPaul's Drag Race uses progressive elimination to reduce the number of drag queens in the competition from the initial field of fourteen contestants (the maximum a season has started with) down to the final three, who will compete in the final challenge. Each episode (with the exception of the casting special, "recap" episode, and reunion special) follows a format consisting of a mini challenge, a main challenge, a runway walk (where the contestants model fashion on a runway, usually with a theme based on the main challenge), the judging panel, and the elimination of a contestant. There have been some exceptions to episodes, including double-elimination episodes, no-elimination episodes, and the disqualification of contestants.
In the mini challenge, each contestant is asked to perform a different task with varying requirements and time limitations. Certain mini challenges are repeated from season to season. For instance, the first mini challenge of each season is a photo shoot with the photographer Mike Ruiz that includes some kind of special twist (such as being doused with water while in full drag, having a high-powered fan turned on during the shoot, or being photographed while jumping on a trampoline). Another recurring mini challenge is dedicated to "reading," which is a drag term for making insulting observations about one's peers for comic effect. The winner of a mini challenge is sometimes rewarded with some kind of advantage in the main challenge. Though most episodes have a mini challenge, select episodes do not and progress straight to the main challenge.
The requirements of the main challenge vary across each episode, and can be individual or group challenges, and initially grant immunity to the winner in the next challenge (until RuPaul announces the discontinuation of that policy mid-season). However, as of season 6, immunity is no longer granted to challenge winners. The winner of the main challenge also receives a "special" prize for their win. In the past, challenge winners have been rewarded with prizes including custom designer clothing, vacations, cruises, and quality cosmetic items.
The goal of each main challenge involves a new theme and outcome. Contestants are often asked to design and construct a custom outfit, sometimes incorporating unconventional materials. Other challenges focus on the contestants' ability to present themselves on camera, perform with music, or perform humorously. Some challenges become a tradition across seasons. For instance, "Snatch Game" is a challenge where the contestants re-enact Match Game: the contestants impersonate celebrities of their own choosing, RuPaul stands in as host, and two celebrity guests stand in as Match Game contestants.
|1||2||3||4||All-Stars 1||5||6||7||8||All-Stars 2|
||Main||Guest||To be announced|
As of season 7, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews and Carson Kressley are the staple judges alongside RuPaul. Visage joined the show at the start of season 3, while Matthews and Kressley joined at the start of season 7, and each joins RuPaul and Visage on alternate episodes. Past fixtures on the panel include Merle Ginsberg, who was a regular judge in the first two seasons, and Santino Rice, who held his position from the first season until the conclusion of the sixth. To date, Rice is the only person, apart from RuPaul, to take part in every season of the show, serving as a main judge for seasons one through six, and all stars, and guest judging for season seven. In certain instances, Rice was absent and replacement judging has been provided by make-up artist Billy Brasfield (better known as Billy B), Mike Ruiz, Jeffrey Moran (Absolut Vodka marketing executive), or Lucian Piane. However, due to Brasfield's numerous appearances in seasons three and four, including appearing in the Reunited episodes both seasons, Rice and Billy B are considered to have been alternates for the same seat at the judges table throughout the two seasons.
Prior to the grande finale, the three main judges are joined by two celebrity guest judges each week. Guest judges have included Paula Abdul, Pamela Anderson, Eve, Ariana Grande, Neil Patrick Harris, Kathy Griffin, Khloé Kardashian, La Toya Jackson, Adam Lambert, Demi Lovato, Bob Mackie, Rose McGowan, Olivia Newton-John, Rebecca Romijn, Sharon Osbourne, Dan Savage, John Waters, and Michelle Williams.
The judges each provide their opinion on the contestants' performances in the main challenge and on the runway before RuPaul announces which queen is the episode's winner and which two had the weakest performances. The day before judging, the contestants are all provided with a song to which they must learn the lyrics. The contestants deemed as being the bottom two must "lip sync for their lives" to a song by a female artist in a final attempt to impress RuPaul. After the lip sync, RuPaul alone decides who stays and who leaves. RuPaul describes the qualities the contestants must have to be crowned the winner of the show as "Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent... These are people who have taken adversity and turned it into something that is beautiful and something powerful." The phrase "charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent" is used repeatedly on the show, the acronym of which is CUNT. On the All Stars season, "synergy" was added to provide an explanation behind the contestants being sorted into teams (expanding the acronym into CUNTS).
The first season of Drag Race was accompanied by a seven-episode web series, titled Under the Hood of RuPaul's Drag Race. LOGOonline published a webisode of Under the Hood after each episode of Drag Race. In this companion series, RuPaul presents a documentary of contestants' conversation in the green room, replays pertinent moments from Drag Race, and airs deleted footage.
Starting with season 2 of Drag Race in 2010, Logo reformatted Under the Hood, increased its production budget, moved it from the web to television, and re-titled it to RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked. Logo broadcast an episode of Untucked after each episode of Drag Race. Untucked replaces the basic green room of Under the Hood with two decorated rooms that were until season 6 sponsored by Absolut Vodka and Interior Illusions, Inc.: the Interior Illusions Lounge and the Gold Bar. FormDecor sponsored the Lounge for season 6. These two backstage areas allow for separated group conversation.
In the seventh season of the Drag Race, Untucked reverted to a webseries, as part of the World of Wonder YouTube page. Instead of two decorated rooms, Untucked was moved back to the one room, an empty backstage space that connects to the main stage, with couches for contestants to chat on. The newly renovated version also follows contestants following their elimination from the show, documenting them packing their belongings and leaving the set.
Each season, the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race receives a selection of prizes, these prizes have increased in value each season as the show has become more popular and received a bigger budget. The prizes won for every season were:
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||9||February 2, 2009||March 23, 2009|
|2||12||February 2, 2010||April 26, 2010|
|3||16||January 24, 2011||May 2, 2011|
|4||14||January 20, 2012||April 30, 2012|
|5||13||January 8, 2013||May 6, 2013|
|6||14||February 24, 2014||May 19, 2014|
|7||14||March 2, 2015||June 1, 2015|
Season 1: 2009
The first season of RuPaul's Drag Race, later referred as The Lost Season, premiered in the United States on February 2, 2009, on Logo. Nine contestants were selected to compete in the running of becoming "America's Next Drag Superstar." The winner of the first season won a lifetime supply of MAC Cosmetics, was featured in an LA Eyeworks campaign, joined the Logo Drag Race tour, and won a cash prize of $20,000. One of the nine contestants to compete on RuPaul's Drag Race was determined by an audience vote via the show's official website. The results were announced in early September 2008. The contestant to win this honor was Nina Flowers from Bayamón, Puerto Rico (currently residing in Denver, Colorado). Nina Flowers went on to win Miss Congeniality. The theme song playing during the runway every episode was "Cover Girl" from RuPaul's album Champion.
The winner of this first season of RuPaul's Drag Race was BeBe Zahara Benet. In late 2013, Logo re-aired the first season, which was titled RuPaul's Drag Race: The Lost Season Ru-Vealed, and featured commentary from RuPaul
Season 2: 2010
For season two, the number of contestants was increased from nine to twelve, and the prizes were slightly modified: a lifetime supply of Nyx Cosmetics and be the face of nyxcosmetics.com, an exclusive one year public relations contract with LGBT firm Project Publicity, be featured an LA Eyeworks campaign, join the Logo Drag Race tour, and a cash prize of $25,000. A new tradition of writing a farewell message, in lipstick on their workstation mirror, was started by the first eliminated queen of the season. Each week's episode is followed by a behind-the-scenes show, RuPaul's Drag Race Untucked. The theme song playing during the runway and the end credits every episode is "Jealous of My Boogie" from RuPaul's album Champion.
The winner of the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Tyra Sanchez.
Season 3: 2011
This season had Michelle Visage replacing Merle Ginsberg at the judge's table and Billy Brasfield (better known as Billy B), Mike Ruiz, and Jeffrey Moran (courtesy of Absolut Vodka) filling in for Santino Rice's absence during several episodes. Billy B, celebrity makeup artist and star of the HGTV mini-series Hometown Renovation, appeared as a judge in five episodes. Whereas Mike Ruiz only judged for two episodes, and Jeffrey Moran for one, Moran only appearing for promotional reasons. Due to Billy B's continued appearances, he and Rice are now considered to have been alternate judges for the same seat at the judges table, both appearing side-by-side in the reunion special to announce Yara Sofia as the season's Miss Congeniality.
Other changes made included the introduction of a wildcard contestant from the past season, Shangela Laquifa Wadley; an episode with no elimination; and a contestant, Carmen Carrera, being brought back into the competition after having been eliminated a few episodes prior. A new pit crew was also introduced consisting of Jason Carter and Shawn Morales. The theme song playing during the runway every episode was changed to "Champion" while the song playing during the credits is "Main Event", both from RuPaul's album Champion. As with the previous season, each week's episode was followed by a behind-the-scenes show, RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked.
On December 6, 2011 Amazon.com released this season on DVD via their CreateSpace program.
Season 4: 2012
The fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on January 30, 2012, with cast members announced November 13, 2011. The winner of season four will headline Logo's Drag Race Tour featuring Absolut Vodka, wins a one-of-a-kind trip, a lifetime supply of NYX Cosmetics, a cash prize of $100,000, and the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar."
Like the last season, Santino Rice & Billy B (Billy Brasfield), celebrity makeup artist and star of the HGTV mini-series Hometown Renovation, shared the same seat at the judges table alternatively, Brasfield filling in for Rice when needed. Both judges appeared side-by-side in the audience during the "Reunited" episode.
The theme song playing during the runway every episode was "Glamazon" and the song played during the credits was "The Beginning", both from RuPaul's album Glamazon.
In the season finale, fan favourite contestant Sharon Needles was crowned the season's winner.
Season 5: 2013
The fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on January 28, 2013, with a 90-minute premiere episode. It had the most contestants since the creation of the show with fourteen. The winner of this season was Jinkx Monsoon.
As this season's winner, Jinkx Monsoon walked away with the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar" along with a lifetime supply of Colorevolution Cosmetics, a one-of-a-kind trip courtesy of AlandChuck.travel, a headlining spot on Logo's Drag Race Tour featuring Absolut Vodka and a cash prize of $100 000. Santino Rice and Michelle Visage were back as judges at the panel. The theme song playing during the runway every episode is "I Bring the Beat", while the song playing during the credits is "The Beginning", both songs are from RuPaul's album Glamazon.
Season 6: 2014
Santino Rice and Michelle Visage are back as judges at the panel. Two new pit crew members, Miles Moody and Simon Sherry-Wood, joined Jason Carter and Shawn Morales. The winner of this season won a prize package that included a supply from Colorevolution Cosmetics and a cash prize of $100,000. This was also the first season where Absolut Vodka and Interior Illusions, Inc. were not sponsors for the show, more specifically for the Untucked episodes. The Interior Illusions Lounge is now simply known as the Silver Lounge or FormDecor Lounge. The theme song played during the runway segment every episode was "Sissy That Walk" while the song playing during the credits is "Dance With U", both from the album Born Naked. The winner of this season was Bianca Del Rio.
Season 7: 2015
The seventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on March 2, 2015.
Returning judges include RuPaul and Michelle Visage, while the space previously occupied by Santino Rice has been filled by new additions Ross Mathews and Carson Kressley. Matthews and Kressley are only both present for the season premiere and will take turns sharing judging responsibilities. Shawn Morales, a member of the Pit Crew since the third season and Simon Sherry-Wood, a member in the sixth season, do not appear this season and were replaced by Bryce Eilenberg.
Like the previous two seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, the season featured 14 contestants competing for the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar", a one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics and a cash prize of $100,000. The premiere of season, the show debuted with a live and same-day viewership of 350,000, a 20% increase from the previous season. On March 20, 2015, it was announced that LogoTV had given the series an early renewal for an eighth season. The winner of this season was Violet Chachki.
Songs used while the contestants walk the runway have been:
- "Cover Girl" from Champion (season 1)
- "Jealous of My Boogie" (Gomi & RasJek Mix) from Champion (season 2)
- "Champion" (DJ BunJoe's Olympic Mix) from Drag Race (season 3)
- "Glamazon" from Glamazon (season 4)
- "Sexy Drag Queen" (dootdoot 'doot-swift' Remix) from Sexy Drag Queen (Remixes) - EP (All Stars)
- "I Bring the Beat" from Glamazon (season 5)
- "Sissy That Walk" from Born Naked (season 6-)
The Covergurlz & Covergurlz 2
RuPaul confirmed on Twitter that a new album, in which each of the Season 6 contestants covered a song from his catalog, would be released. The album, titled RuPaul Presents: The CoverGurlz, was released on January 28, 2014
Similar to Season 6, each of the season 7's contestants covered a song that was previously recorded by RuPaul. The album is titled RuPaul Presents: CoverGurlz2 and was released on February 3, 2015. The album also features the single "New York City Beat", a song by RuPaul featuring Michelle Visage.
Two promotional singles have been released from the show's respective casts. The first single, titled "Can I Get an Amen" was released in 2013, and featured the eight remaining contestants of the season 5 cast. "Can I Get an Amen" was a parody of the charity single "We Are the World", and featured Alaska, Alyssa Edwards, Coco Montrese, Detox, Ivy Winters, Jade Jolie, Jinkx Monsoon, and Roxxxy Andrews. The second single to surface from the show was a rap song titled "Oh No She Better Don't," and was released in 2014. The single featured the remaining nine contestants of the season 6 cast: Adore Delano, BenDeLaCreme, Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, Darienne Lake, Joslyn Fox, Laganja Estranja, Milk, and Trinity K. Bonet.
Following Drag Race, many contestants from the show have delved into music careers, with some garnering moderate success. Albums released by the shows alumni include PG-13 by season 4 winner Sharon Needles and Till Death Do Us Party by season 6 runner-up Adore Delano.
|Season||Release date||Special features||Discs|
|2||December 6, 2011||
|3||December 6, 2011||
|4||June 26, 2012||
|January 22, 2013||
|5||June 10, 2013 ||
|6||October 21, 2014 ||
Awards and nominations
|2009||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Ongina||Won|
|2010||GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Reality Program|
|NewNowNext Award||Best New Indulgence|
|Most Addictive Reality Star — Jujubee||Nominated|
|2011||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Carmen Carrera|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Series – Competition|
|2012||NewNowNext Award||Most Addictive Reality Star – Willam|
|Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul|
|TV.com's Best of 2012 Awards||Best Reality Show Judge/Host – RuPaul||Won|
|Best Reality Competition Series|
|2013||RyanSeacrest.com's Favorite TV Show Awards||Best Reality Series|
|POPrepublic.tv Awards||Favourite International TV Shows||Nominated|
|2014||Critics' Choice Television Award||Best Reality Show Host – RuPaul|
|TCA Award||Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming||Won|
|2015||Primetime Creative Emmy Awards||Outstanding Make-up for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)||Pending|
RuPaul's Drag Race has been criticized for appearing to favor glamorous drag queens over comedic or camp queens. For example, Popbytes commented Drag Race has been accused numerous times of keeping some of the more unpleasant but feminine queens in the competition for the sake of keeping the drama high. However, Common Sense Media commented, "RuPaul's Drag Race combines the fashion design drama of Project Runway with the modeling excitement of America's Next Top Model to create an entertainingly voyeuristic glimpse into the performance art world of drag queens. There's plenty of over-the-top stuff, but rather than simply treating drag performers as people to be laughed at and/or scorned, the show also focuses on the hard work and talent that goes into drag performances." Entertainment Weekly cited the elimination of comedian and eventual season two fan favorite Pandora Boxx as the season's most controversial.
In March 2014, Drag Race sparked controversy over the use of the term "She-male" in the season 6 Mini-challenge "Female or She-male?". Logo has since removed the episode from all platforms and has addressed the allegations of transphobia by removing the "You've got she-mail" intro from new episodes of the series. This was replaced with, "She done already done had herses!"
- Australia: In Australia the fourth season will air early 2013 on cable television channel LifeStyle YOU. In addition, free-to-air channel SBS2 began screening the first season on August 31, 2013.
- Canada: The series airs on OUTtv in Canada at the same time as the US airing.
- Germany: During Summer 2009, TIMM – a former gay television channel from Germany – aired the first season every Friday night.
- Hungary: In Hungary the show aired on FEM3 channel as RuPaul – Drag Queen leszek! ("RuPaul – I'll be Drag Queen!").
- Latin America: In January 2011 VH1 Latin America aired season 2 followed by season 1, season 3 and season 4.
- The Philippines: The Philippines aired season 3 on the Velvet cable network every Tuesday at 11 pm with RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked, airing directly after the show. Season 4 started airing on April 17, 2012
- UK: E4 aired season 1 in 2009, followed by season 2 in 2010. Since its success on Netflix in the UK, TruTV acquired the broadcast rights for all seven seasons of the show including Untucked episodes. In June 2015, TruTV started airing two episodes of the show a week, starting with season 4, followed by All Stars, then season 5.
RuPaul's Drag U: RuPaul's Drag U is the first spin-off of the franchise, in which women compete to discover and develop their female potential through drag. They are counseled, mentored and given makeovers by Drag Professors, who are contestants from "Drag Race." As the series is filmed in Los Angeles over a month's time, the majority of the professors are queens who reside in Southern California.
Beyond Belief: In April 2013, RuPaul confirmed that he would be the executive producer of a spin-off show featuring Alyssa Edwards from season 5. Alyssa Edwards confirmed that his spin-off would be titled Beyond Belief and, in an interview with Queerty, revealed that the series will be centered around his dance company based in Mesquite, Texas.
RuPaul's Drag Race UK: In April 2014, UK chat show host and presenter Jonathan Ross told UK newspaper Daily Star that a UK version of the show was being planned, fronted by Jodie Harsh instead of RuPaul. Ross said, "I’ve been working with Jodie on a UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Unfortunately we have had to take a break because of some family issues. But we’re hoping to pick it up again in the near future. I am definitely serving ‘middle-aged-realness!’" RuPaul has since explained, "I think that because truTV has brought all the seasons of Drag Race to the UK I think that that might be something that will happen much sooner...I think that people will fall so in love with the show, I think that the hunger and the thirst for a UK version will probably happen. That's my prediction." To coincide with TruTV airing new seasons of the show in the UK, RuPaul hosted a competition to find a UK Ambassador for RuPaul's Drag Race with judges Jonathan Ross and Katie Price in May 2015. The Vivienne, a drag queen from Liverpool, won the competition and created vlogs to accompany Drag Race episodes on truTV as well as visiting the set for the eighth season of Drag Race in the US.
RuPaul's Drag Race Movie: In August 2015, RuPaul revealed that a movie featuring all of the contestants was in the works. "We've got a director for it, we've got a light script, but it just needs a little more retooling and scheduling," RuPaul stating, adding that he believes filming will begin in October 2015.
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