Since its (blurry Vaseline lens) Season 1 in 2009, a massive 160-plus drag queens have competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drag Race: All Stars. As a result, the venerable RuPaul has brought the art form of drag, and LGBTQ+ representation, to new heights. RuPaul helped drag emerge from the shadows, going from the backs of bars and cult films, like 1991’s ballroom documentary Paris Is Burning to, as The New York Times wrote, a “modern staple of television.” Per the outlet, by 2018, the Emmy-winning VH1 juggernaut, which features costumed competitors going head-to-head — or wig-to-wig — in endless fashion, comedy, and acting challenges, had averaged “nearly 1.2 million viewers per episode.” Sickening!
Yup, RuPaul’s Drag Race has become a huge success and so has its host. With a net worth of $60 million and a sprawling, 60,000-acre Wyoming ranch, a property The Guardian called a “fracking empire” — the land is famously leased out to oil companies — RuPaul has essentially “Sissy That Walk”-ed himself into the role of media tycoon! And, while the show has also been a pipeline (no pun intended) to success for countless contestants from Alyssa Edwards to Trixie Mattel, for other queens, not so much. In fact, many have spoken out about, and had surprisingly dark encounters with, the clearly influential and perhaps even intimidating RuPaul. Read on for drag queens who simply can’t stand RuPaul Charles.
One drag queen said RuPaul broke her spirit
Some drag queens feel they’re better off having “sashayed away” — far away — from RuPaul. Pearl, for instance, butted heads with RuPaul on-and off-camera during RuPaul’s Drag Race. The contestant appeared on Season 7 and their relationship was immediately… frosty (at best). During one tense moment in the “werkroom,” Pearl now-iconically asked RuPaul, “Do I have something on my face?”
After the season, Pearl explained on the YouTube series Hey Qween that their relationship was even shadier than that. “We were filming a segment, just chatting… and then the camera went down for a moment,” Pearl said. “I turned to RuPaul and said, ‘Oh my god, thank you so much. It’s such an honor to be here, such a pleasure to meet you, you have no idea..'” Pearl added, “She [RuPaul] turned to me and she said: ‘Nothing you say matters unless that camera is rolling.'” Ouch. “That broke my spirit,” Pearl added. “I felt like it was just so disrespectful.
Other notable drag queens have tried to justify the admittedly surprising moment. “I’ve learned to separate ‘RuPaul: The icon and the legend who’s inspired me, and RuPaul: The person who’s at work,” Australian drag queen Courtney Act told GayTimes. “He’s just there doing his job. He’s said in the past that he’s turning up for a paycheck… I prefer to think about all the wonderful opportunities Drag Race has given me,” the performer added. Certainly “nothing you say matters” is RuPaul’s most inspiring pull-quote to date.
Willam Belli recently got into a 'screaming match' with RuPaul
Another contestant who, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a less-than-stellar opinion of RuPaul is Willam Belli. The queen, who had a great comedic turn alongside Shangela in A Star Is Born — “sign my ti**ies,” you might recall — was the only competitor on Drag Race to ever get disqualified. She was infamously removed from Season 4 for apparently having conjugal visits at her hotel with her husband while filming; a big no-no. But the drama doesn’t end there. Willam has apparently had many bad experiences with RuPaul, culminating in 2018 with a screaming match on the street. Wait, what!?
“I’ve had some really bad interactions with RuPaul which have tainted it for me,” William said on the Out for a Good Time podcast, per GayStarNews. “The thing about the show is… RuPaul doesn’t even look at people.” The performer continued, singling out the alleged outburst. “I did yell at her in the street last week… She [RuPaul] backed up her car, and she said ‘How f*cking dare you.'”
Per Screenrant, the spat occurred after William claimed RuPaul stopped visiting their mutual friend who was sick in the hospital. “He’d actually like see you, show some face,” William apparently told RuPaul. “She said ‘F**k you’. I said ‘F**k you too b***h.'” Well, we probably won’t see that reenacted in a comedy challenge next season. Willam is clearly a vocal drag queen, but this certainly could have taken place as described.
Carmen Carrera said RuPaul 'erased' trans drag queens
Meanwhile, RuPaul has infamously said some not-so-iconic things about transgender drag queens. According to Them, there have only been a “handful” of trans contestants in the history of the show, as opposed to men or male-presenting performers in drag, with multiple Drag Race alumni calling out RuPaul’s “conscious exclusion” in 2020.
“To @RuPaulsDragRace: Enough with the feigned inclusivity. Time to start putting your money where your mouth is. #AllDragIsValid,” contestant Detox tweeted. Carmen Carrera, another alum who, per Them, came out as transgender after her season, also went after RuPaul on Twitter. “I’m sure Ru suffered for years with no work between her talk show and drag race but that’s not our fault or a reason to erase us,” Carrera wrote in series of tweets. Shady.
Meanwhile, RuPaul defended not casting trans performers in a controversial 2018 Guardian interview. “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 said. “So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.” RuPaul later apologized for the comments in a tweet that has since been deleted (per Billboard). “You are my teachers,” he wrote. Fans also cheekily pointed out the star used a flag for “trains” in the apology instead of a trans flag, per The Wrap. It sure sounds a little messy! But clearly, more than a few queens have issues with RuPaul.
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