RuPaul's Drag Race (season 1)

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RuPaul's Drag Race
Season 1
Broadcast from February 2 (2009-02-02) – March 23, 2009 (2009-03-23)
Judges RuPaul
Santino Rice
Merle Ginsberg
Host(s) RuPaul
Broadcaster Logo
Competitors 9
Winner
BeBe Zahara Benet
BeBe Zahara Benet.jpg
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Runner-up
Nina Flowers
Chronology

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 first season was filmed during the summer of 2008. 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 BeBe Zahara Benet from Cameroon (currently residing in Minneapolis, Minnesota). 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. This and the first season of Allstars, are the only season to not feature the "Snatch Game".

The winner of this first season of RuPaul's Drag Race was BeBe Zahara Benet with Nina Flowers being the first runner-up. In late 2013,[1] Logo re-aired the first season, which was titled RuPaul's Drag Race: The Lost Season Ru-Vealed, and featured commentary from RuPaul.[2]

Nina Flowers, Shannel and Tammie Brown competed on the first season of All Stars. Nina and Tammie placed 9/10th overall together and Shannel finished in 3rd/4th with fellow season 2 contestant Jujubee.

Contestants

(Ages and names stated are at time of contest)

Contestant Name Age Hometown Outcome
BeBe Zahara Benet Nea Marshall Kudi 28 Minneapolis, Minnesota Winner
Nina Flowers Jorge Luis Flores Sanchez 34 Bayamón, Puerto Rico Runner-Up
Rebecca Glasscock 26 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 3rd Place
Shannel 29 Las Vegas, Nevada 4th Place
Ongina 26 Los Angeles, California 5th Place
Jade[a] David Sotomayor[3] 25 Chicago, Illinois 6th Place
Akashia 24 Cleveland, Ohio 7th Place
Tammie Brown Keith Glen Schubert 29 Long Beach, California 8th Place
Victoria "Porkchop" Parker 39 Raleigh, North Carolina 9th Place
  1. ^ Jade Sotomayor is simply known as Jade on the show.

Contestant progress

Contestant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
BeBe Zahara Benet SAFE SAFE WIN HIGH BTM2 WIN Winner Guest
Nina Flowers WIN HIGH HIGH HIGH LOW HIGH Runner-Up Miss C
Rebecca Glasscock LOW HIGH SAFE BTM2 WIN BTM2 Eliminated Guest
Shannel SAFE HIGH BTM2 LOW HIGH ELIM Guest
Ongina HIGH WIN HIGH WIN ELIM Guest
Jade SAFE SAFE LOW ELIM Guest
Akashia BTM2 BTM2 ELIM Guest
Tammie Brown SAFE ELIM Guest
Victoria "Porkchop" Parker ELIM Guest
     The contestant won RuPaul's Drag Race.
     The contestant was the runner-up of RuPaul's Drag Race.
     The contestant was eliminated in third place without lip-syncing.
     The contestant was voted Miss Congeniality by viewers.
     The contestant won a challenge.
     The contestant received positive critiques but was ultimately declared as "safe".
     The contestant received negative critiques but was ultimately declared as "safe".
     The contestant was in the bottom two.
     The contestant was eliminated.
     The contestant returned as a guest for the finale episode.

Lip-syncs

Episode Contestants Song Eliminated
1 Akashia vs. Victoria "Porkchop" Parker "Supermodel (You Better Work)"
(RuPaul)
Victoria "Porkchop" Parker
2 Akashia vs. Tammie Brown "We Break the Dawn"
(Michelle Williams)
Tammie Brown
3 Akashia vs. Shannel "The Greatest Love of All"
(Whitney Houston)
Akashia
4 Jade vs. Rebeccca Glasscock "Would I Lie To You?"
(Eurythmics)
Jade
5 BeBe Zahara Benet vs. Ongina "Stronger"
(Britney Spears)
Ongina
6 Rebecca Glasscock vs. Shannel "Shackles"
(Mary Mary)
Shannel
8 BeBe Zahara Benet vs. Nina Flowers "Cover Girl (Put the Bass in Your Walk)""
(RuPaul)
Nina Flowers
     The contestant was eliminated after their first time in the bottom two.
     The contestant was eliminated after their second time in the bottom two.
     The contestant was eliminated after their third time in the bottom two.

Episodes

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Original air date
1 1 "Drag On A Dime" February 2, 2009 (2009-02-02)

The nine contestants arrived in costume and size up the competition. They are then immediately thrusted into a car wash photo shoot, portraying sex appeal while posing with two men, with Mike Ruiz as their photographer. Afterwards, everyone took off their makeup for the first time and got to know each other as their real-life selves, with most people being stunned by Nina's tattoos and questioning if Rebecca has had plastic surgery.

The first challenge involved them making an outfit out of thrift store clothes and accessories from a 99 cent store. At the judging session, which included Bob Mackie, Santino Rice, Mike Ruiz, Merle Ginsberg, and Ru herself as judges, the contestants are judged on their outfits and photos. Following their runway presentations, Tammie, Jade, BeBe, and Shannel were called safe. Ongina and Nina scored well, with Nina being declared the winner, while Akashia and Victoria were put in the bottom two, with Rebecca being declared safe. For their final test, Akashia and Victoria had a lip-sync battle set to RuPaul's signature song, "Supermodel."

In the end, Akashia's attitude was negatively noted, but Victoria's less-than-stylish outfit and questionable potential as an international star made her the first to be eliminated.

2 2 "Girl Groups" February 9, 2009 (2009-02-09)

The eight remaining contestants were given a mini-challenge in which they acted out certain emotions and took pictures of themselves with a digital camera. RuPaul then deemed Akashia and Ongina the winners and made them the group leaders in the next challenge, a girl group task.

Ongina selected Shannel, Nina, and Rebecca for her group while Akashia chose BeBe and Jade and was stuck with Tammie. Akashia then admitted that she did not want Tammie on her team because their personalities would clash and because she thought she was too weird. The groups were each responsible for their own hair, makeup, costumes, and choreography and they each had to perform to a Destiny's Child song.

As the challenge progressed, Akashia created tension when she steamrolled over her teammates' decisions while she was doing little work herself. Tammie, who became frustrated with Akashia, admitted to the fact that the competitiveness was getting to her and reconsidered her place in the competition. On Ongina's team, the girls became frustrated with Shannel when Shannel tried to make the decisions for them. The girls were also concerned with Ongina's tricky choreography.

At the judging panel, each group performed their number and the judges felt Ongina's group was the better of the two, naming Ongina the overall winner. With Akashia's group, the judges felt BeBe and Jade stood out while Akashia was a mess with a bad attitude and Tammie was just out of sorts. During their last chance lip-sync battle, set to Michelle Williams', "We Break The Dawn", Akashia gave a fierce performance while Tammie chose not to lip-sync due to her not being prepared to lip-sync to the song. In the end, Tammie was sent home when it seemed like she was giving up.

3 3 "Queens of All Media" February 16, 2009 (2009-02-16)

The seven remaining contestants were told their next task was to emulate Oprah Winfrey. Shannel was bowled over because she was a huge Oprah fan, Nina was worried because she has never seen Oprah's show, and Jade took the challenge too literally at first by trying to look like Oprah. Each contestant was allowed to pick a costume from a bin supplied for them, choose a costume they brought, or make their own on the spot, although Rebecca was the only one to take the latter choice.

The challenge was in three parts, representing three stages of Oprah's career. The first task was a newscaster challenge where they had to read mock news stories from a teleprompter. The next task was to try to sell products, reminiscent of Oprah on her "My Favorite Things" specials. The third task was to interview Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott. Tori and Dean thought most of the girls did a good job, though Shannel talked over them and Akashia neither stood to greet them nor said goodbye, instead she walked off once the task was over.

For their next judging session, Howard Bragman and Debra Wilson serve as the guest judges. The queens were allowed to wear their own pre-made costumes and were judged on that plus videos of their performances in the Oprah challenge. Most of the girls received good reviews, with Ongina and Nina's bubbly personalities and Rebecca's beauty being praised as the standouts by the judges. The judges declared BeBe the winner for her regal presence, confident hand in the Oprah challenge, and runway presentation.

The judges placed Shannel and Akashia in the bottom two, Shannel for not showing any vulnerability throughout the competition and not listening to criticisms and Akashia for her poor performance in the Oprah challenge. For their lip-sync battle, the two had to sing Whitney Houston's, "The Greatest Love of All." In the middle of the performance, Shannel's wig fell off, but she earned points with the judges for continuing on with the song. In the end, Akashia could not avoid elimination for a third time and was sent home.

4 4 "Mac Viva-Glam Challenge" February 23, 2009 (2009-02-23)

Upon entering the workroom after the previous elimination, the girls noticed all the mirrors have been covered and became nervous. For the mini-challenge, RuPaul paired everyone up and gave each person 30 minutes to do their partner's makeup. Ru liked the makeup Shannel, Nina, and Jade did for their partners and named Jade the winner.

The next task involved the girls putting together a commercial for Mac's Viva Glam makeup, a cosmetics line which Ru has once modeled for. The winner of the challenge would become the new face of Viva Glam. The girls are told they must use the commercial to explain who they are as queens, to explain why they are beautiful, and to inform people of Viva Glam's help for those living with HIV. Each girl received ten minutes to film their spot, though Jade got an extra five minutes for winning the previous challenge. Most shoots went smoothly, except for some flubbed lines and Shannel, who over did her lines. However, Rebecca, the challenge made her think of a friend with HIV, which made her emotional and she walked off the set with time left on the clock. She cried, but because Rebecca has had a wall up since the competition began, some of the girls questioned her sincerity.

At the judging panel, Gordon Espinet and Jenny Shimizu served as guest judges. The judges viewed the girl's commercial and gave high remarks to BeBe and Nina, but Ru named Ongina the winner. Upon hearing the news, Ongina cried and collapsed to the floor. She then revealed that she had been living with HIV for the last two years, but was afraid to admit it on national television, and was moved by the opportunity to represent a company noted for its support of HIV-related charities and organizations. Ongina then states: "life is a Celebration, you have to live your life and keep going" and Ru called her an inspiration.

Despite her commercial being criticized, Shannel's runway presentation was lauded over and she was called safe, leaving the bottom two as Rebecca and Jade, both for their lagging progress and star potential. They then had a lip sync battle to "Would I Lie To You?" by Eurythmics and Jade was eliminated. In her exit interview, Jade had some tough words on the subject of being eliminated over Rebecca.

5 5 "Drag School of Charm" March 2, 2009 (2009-03-02)

The day after elimination, most of the contestants felt Jade should have stayed and Rebecca should have gone home. For the episode's mini-challenge, Ru brought in five female fighters to put them through an exercise and endurance challenge. The last person standing would win the challenge, which was Rebecca.

Ru then told the contestants that their main challenge would be for each of them to make over one of the fighters in their own image and teach them the secrets of drag. Rebecca, who won the mini-challenge, got to select her partner and whom the others had to work with. Rebecca selected Tempele and then paired everyone else up: BeBe/Michelle, Nina/Mia, Ongina/Jarrett, Shannel/Sweepee.

The challenge commenced and the fighters admitted to not being very feminine while the contestants grow frustrated with transforming the fighters. Halfway through the day, Ru showed up to inform everyone that they must also coach the fighters on how to give a lip sync performance, which they would have to do to Beyoncé's, "Freakum Dress".

On judging day, Lucy Lawless and Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin served as guest judges. BeBe emphasized culture with Michelle, Rebecca made-over Tempele in her own image, Nina put her own 'Nina' spin on Mia, Ongina played the masculine role to Jarrett's feminine touch, and Shannel went for high glam with Sweepee. The judges loved Shannel and Rebecca's output and named Rebecca the winner.

Conversely, the judges were on the fence with Nina and were not so thrilled with how BeBe and Ongina interpreted the challenge. BeBe and Ongina were in the bottom two and had a lip sync battle set to Britney Spears', "Stronger." After the performance, Ru felt the decision was too tough to call and left the set for a minute to collect her thoughts. Upon her return, Ru stated that BeBe performed with a power that the judges hadn't seen before and did something she didn't think was possible: she out-shinned Ongina. Ru let BeBe stay and eliminated Ongina, but not before she stated Ongina had the potential to win it all.

6 6 "Absolut Drag Ball" March 9, 2009 (2009-03-09) (March 9, 2009 (2009-03-09))

The contestants met Ru on the runway for a vogue battle mini-challenge. Ru deemed Rebecca and Nina as the strongest posers and had them participate in a further pose-off, which Nina won.

For their main challenge, they were informed that they would have a drag ball. Each of them had to come up with three looks: Swimsuit, Executive Realness, and Evening Wear. Marco Marco provided fabric for the girls to work with. Ru also informed the girls that Absolut was sponsoring the event and thus, they had to each portray one of four pre-selected flavors: citron, mandarin, mango, and raspberry. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Nina selected her flavor and paired everyone else up.

Nina, Rebecca, and Shannel went right to work while BeBe, unsure of what to do, took a while to start. Shannel was unsure of how to make swimsuits, Nina did not think her green fabric fit the "Executive" category, and BeBe asked for construction advice. When Ru checked in with them, Shannel wondered how much more of herself she could give when the judges weren't responding favorably to her output. Rebecca kept a lot of information to herself and, to the camera, Shannel commented on Rebecca's gameplay and her lack of drag knowledge. Nina revealed that her inspiration was her late mother, whom she said was her best friend. Midway through the day, Ru let the contestants take a break by throwing a cocktail party with special guest Charo. At the party, Ru revealed that they must use their assigned fruits as part of their runway presentations.

On the runway, Jeffrey Moran, image consultant of Absolut, and María Conchita Alonso served as guest judges. In the first category, Executive Realness, BeBe went first and Ru asked why she should win. BeBe spoke of having dignity in drag and being taken seriously. When Nina went up, she stated that she had dedicated herself to female impersonation for 15 years and wanted to inspire others. Shannel talked of having pride in one's self and Rebecca stated she had the drive and determination to win. The judges were further pleased by each contestant's swimsuit and Evening Wear presentations.

The judges loved BeBe's evolving looks, make-up, and restrained style. Nina's demureness and femininity were highly regarded. Shannel was once again criticized for not connecting emotionally while Rebecca's costume construction was negatively noted. When asked who should go, Rebecca stated she should stay, but when pressed, she once again named Shannel (having done so once before when the question was asked back in episode 2). Nina picked Rebecca due to lack of experience, BeBe picked Rebecca because BeBe thought Rebecca was on a lower level than the rest of them, and Shannel fell on her own sword and quit because she has been judged harshly from the beginning. She slammed the judges extensively for not noticing her personality and for all the negative critiques, but Ru tried to convince her to stay.

In deliberations, the judges were torn with Shannel, who wanted to take her display of emotionless seriously, but still questioned it. The judges loved BeBe's presence and outfits, thought Rebecca was the weakest, and liked Nina's work. When the queens were called back, BeBe was announced as the winner and she was a part of the final three. Nina was also told she was a part of the final three, which left Rebecca and Shannel as the bottom two. In line with Shannel's earlier request to quit, Rebecca and Shannel have a battle to, "Shackles", by Mary Mary. It seemed as if Shannel has had it with the judges, the show, and that was evident in her very unusually boring lip-sync performance. Afterwards, as requested, Shannel was eliminated, though Ru tried to assure her that her contributions had not gone unnoticed.

7 7 "Extra Special Edition" March 16, 2009 (2009-03-16) (March 16, 2009 (2009-03-16))

In this episode, RuPaul took a look back through the first season. Clips included unaired audition videos from the contestants who made it and some who didn't, backstage antics, and an inside look at the final three. Among those who didn't make it, Raven, Pandora Boxx, Sahara Davenport, Nicole Paige Brooks, Detox, and Alaska were featured. Merle Ginsberg and Santino Rice were also on hand to deliver their Top 10 picks for the most memorable fashions of the season.

Santino and Merle's Picks for Top Ten Fashion Moments (judging panel fashions only except noted otherwise)

  • 10. Tammie Brown, Episode One
  • 9. Jade, Episode Three
  • 8. Rebecca Glasscock, Episode Two
  • 7. BeBe Zahara Benet, Episode Four
  • 6. A tribute to Nina's hair and makeup throughout the season
  • 5. Ongina, Episode Four
  • 4. Shannel, Episode Three
  • 3. BeBe Zahara Benet, Episode Three
  • 2. Nina Flowers, Episode One
  • 1. RuPaul's various judging panel gowns
8 8 "Grand Finale" March 23, 2009 (2009-03-23) (March 23, 2009 (2009-03-23))

Merle and Santino came in to inform the final three that their last challenge would be to appear in RuPaul's latest video for her song, "Cover Girl (Put The Bass In Your Walk)." They would do a group dance, record a verse with rapper Cazwell, and film a solo for Ru's video.

To get them prepared, choreographer Ryan Heffington took the final three through the planned dance routine. None of them adapted easily, but Rebecca in particular, struggled with the dancing required. Afterward, each queen got an impromptu sit-down with Ru. Ru told Nina that she liked her sweetness and Nina shared the struggles she has had with her mom's death. Then, BeBe met with Ru and she wondered what BeBe would do after the show. BeBe spoke of reaching out to the community and talked about the AIDS crisis in her homeland of Cameroon. Rebecca talked about the cattiness she has faced with the other girls and Ru wondered if she herself had anything to do with that. The girls recorded their verses with Cazwell and Nina and BeBe did a good job while Rebecca struggled again, but eventually got it.

The scene switched to Ru filming her video, with episode one photographer Mike Ruiz as the director, and the three girls running through their group dance number. Mike loved BeBe's energy, thought Nina was a great performer and complimented Rebecca's beauty. Each girl then got a solo and Nina went first. BeBe went second and when it became Rebecca's turn, she was late back to set. Unhappy with her look and taking extra time away to fix it, Rebecca struggled for the third time.

For the final runway show, there were no guest judges and the girls had to pull out all the stops. The judges looked at clips of each girls' performances in the video shoot, starting with BeBe. Santino loved her eye contact, Merle liked her lyrics, and Ru stated that BeBe was a moving piece of art. With Nina, Santino felt her lyrics and delivery were dated, and Ru stated that she liked her personality on and off set. Ru also pointed out that Nina was the only one who never had to lip sync for her life. Rebecca was asked about her tardiness and what she had discussed with Ru earlier. As for her performance, Santino thought the choreography was weak and Merle wanted more individuality.

In deliberations, the judges thought BeBe was graceful and womanly. Nina was a grand performer, but her outfits seemed too similar to each other and her grasp of the English language can hinder her. Rebecca's beauty was praised, but the judges felt she was at a lower level than the other two. On the runway, the judges eliminated Rebecca and the decision came down to Nina and BeBe. The two had a final lip sync battle to Ru's "Cover Girl." Afterward, Ru announced BeBe as the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season One.

9 9 "Re-United!" March 23, 2009 (2009-03-23) (March 23, 2009 (2009-03-23))

The nine contestants gathered once again to chat about the season behind them and their current lives. Starting with Victoria, Tammie, Akashia, and Jade, Ru asked Victoria if she enjoyed her short stay and if she felt she could've done well in the later challenges, Tammie discussed her quirkiness, Akashia discussed her anger and her tearful exit, and Jade voiced her frustration with Rebecca and her joy of meeting the other girls.

Ru then brought out Ongina, Shannel, and Rebecca. Ongina talked about her progression as a drag artist and her controversial outing as an HIV positive person in the fourth episode. Shannel's overconfidence and her elimination were discussed. The girls talked about Rebecca's fake-ness and her attitude, which caused arguments to ensue.

Finally, the runner-up Nina Flowers and the Winner BeBe Zahara Benet were brought out. Nina talked about finishing second and stated that the Oprah challenge was the toughest for her. Nina also said the audience reception for her has been favorable. BeBe talked about winning and the audience reaction in Cameroon. Ru asked BeBe if she was surprised that Rebecca made it to the final three and when asked for hands, most queens felt she shouldn't have. Nina was surprised that Jade was eliminated over Rebecca and Jade took the chance for closure by extending an olive branch to Rebecca.

Ru then gave the girls some viewer questions. Akashia was asked about upgrading her hooker style, Rebecca was asked about the friend she mentioned in the Mac Viva-Glam challenge, and Shannel was asked if her wig falling off in the third episode lip sync battle was staged. Shannel admitted that it was intentional and Ru was surprised. Ongina was asked about going from winning a challenge to lip syncing for her life, Nina was asked about what lead her to choose an androgynous drag style, and all of the girls were asked about hiding razor bumps and stubble.

Merle and Santino were then brought out to discuss their experiences on the show. Merle talked about everyone's ideas of femininity and Santino discussed the fashion and his judging style. The girls were then allowed to get into the judges' heads. Shannel spearheaded a campaign against the judges and stated that she left the show because they made her feel like crap every week. The two argue and Ru was infuriated with Shannel for trying to damage the judges image and for taking the critiques as a personal attack. Ru became physically and verbally upset at Shannel and the girls for slamming the judges and took the girls to task for taking the negativity too personally. She yelled at them and told them they needed to not rely on others to hold their hands. Further, Ru and Tammie Brown had a memorable, heated exchange about critiques that formed the basis for the RuPaul song Responsitranity.

Notes

References

  1. ^ Shumaker, Jason; Jake Slane (August 18, 2013). "Gentlemen, Re-Start Your Engines...and May the Best Woman Win...Again!". Logo Press Room. Logo. Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Callie, dear...". RuPaul's Drag Race Facebook page. September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2013. Callie, dear... 
  3. ^ Virtel, Louis (March 14, 2013). "The 10 Hottest "RuPaul's Drag Race" Contestants Out of Drag". NewNowNext.com (Logo TV / Viacom International. Archived from the original on March 28, 2017. Retrieved March 28, 2017. 

External links