RuPaul's Drag Race
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RuPaul's Drag Race

RuPaul's Drag Race
RuPaul's Drag Race Logo.svg
GenreReality competition
Directed byNick Murray
Theme music composerRuPaul
Opening theme"RuPaul's Drag Race" theme (season 1-present)
Ending theme
  • "Cover Girl (Put the Bass In Your Walk)" (season 1)
  • "Jealous of My Boogie" (season 2)
  • "Main Event" (season 3)
  • "The Beginning"(seasons 4-5)
  • "Dance with U" (season 6)
  • "Fly Tonight"(season 7)
  • "Die Tomorrow" (season 8)
  • "Be Someone" (season 9)
  • "Kitty Girl" (season 9)
  • "Rock It (To the Moon)" (seasons 10-11)
  • "American" (season 12)
Country of originUnited States
Original English
No. of seasons12
No. of episodes159
  • Fenton Bailey
  • Randy Barbato
  • Tom Campbell
  • RuPaul
  • Steven Corfe
  • Pamela Post
  • Mandy Salangsang
  • Chris McKim
  • Michelle Visage
  • John Polly
Camera setupMultiple
Running time42-60 minutes
Production World of Wonder
DistributorPassion Distribution
Original networkLogo TV (2009-2016)
VH1 (2017-present)
Picture format
Original releaseFebruary 2, 2009 (2009-02-02) -
present (present)
Related shows
External links

RuPaul's Drag Race is an American reality competition television series, the first in the Drag Race Franchise, produced by World of Wonder for Logo TV, WOW Presents Plus, and, beginning with the ninth season VH1. The show documents RuPaul in the search for "America's next drag superstar."[1] RuPaul plays the role of host, mentor, and head judge 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. There have been twelve winners of the show: BeBe Zahara Benet, Tyra Sanchez, Raja, Sharon Needles, Jinkx Monsoon, Bianca Del Rio, Violet Chachki, Bob the Drag Queen, Sasha Velour, Aquaria, Yvie Oddly and Jaida Essence Hall.

RuPaul's Drag Race has spanned twelve seasons and inspired the spin-off shows RuPaul's Drag U, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars and RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race. The show has become the highest-rated television program on Logo TV,[2] and airs internationally, including in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Israel. The show earned RuPaul four consecutive Emmys (2016 to 2019) for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. The show itself was awarded as a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program in 2018 and 2019, and the Outstanding Reality Program award at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards. It has been nominated for four 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). Later in 2018, the show became the first show to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program in the same year, a feat it has since repeated.[3][4][5]


RuPaul's Drag Race premiered in 2009 as a replacement for Rick and Steve[6]. 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.

RuPaul plays several roles in the show: host, coach, and judge. USA Todays 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."[7]RuPaul's Drag Race uses progressive elimination to reduce the number of drag queens in the competition from the initial field of fifteen contestants (the maximum a season has started with) down to the final three or four, who will compete in the final challenge. In seasons 1-3 the contestants were narrowed down to a final two, with a winner being selected in the final episode. 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, a lip sync battle, and the elimination of a contestant. There have been some exceptions to episodes, including double-eliminations, no-eliminations, a disqualification of a contestant, and the removal of a contestant due to an injury.

Mini challenges

In mini challenges, 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 the first six seasons is a photo shoot with the photographer Mike Ruiz that includes a 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," a drag term for making insulting observations about one's peers for comedic effect. The winner of a mini challenge is sometimes rewarded with an advantage in the main challenge. Though most episodes have a mini challenge, select episodes do not.

Maxi challenges

The requirements of the maxi challenge vary across each episode, and can be individual or group challenges, and initially grant immunity to the winner in the next challenge. However, as of season 6, immunity is no longer granted to challenge winners. The winner of the maxi challenge also receives a special prize for their win. In the past, challenge winners have been rewarded with custom designer clothing, vacations, cruises, and quality cosmetic items. The final maxi challenge of every season up to season 8 involved the contestants starring in a RuPaul music video.

The goal of each maxi 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 became a tradition across seasons, such as the "Snatch Game" (in which the contestants impersonate celebrities in a humorous recreation of Match Game), a ball or a makeover, in which the contestants create drag personas for other people.


The contestants walk down a runway presenting outfits. If the maxi challenge involves the creation of an outfit, that outfit is presented to the judges in the runway. Otherwise, a theme is assigned and the contestants must put together a look that fits the theme, which is presented to the judges. The runway looks and presentation are judged along with the maxi challenge performance.


A panel of judges cast opinions about the challenge performances and runway looks, first to the contestants onstage, and then again with them offstage.

Judges on RuPaul's Drag Race
Judge Season
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
RuPaul Main
Merle Ginsberg Main Guest
Santino Rice Main Guest
Michelle Visage Main
Billy B Main
Ross Mathews Guest Main
Carson Kressley Main

Beginning with the seventh season, Michelle Visage, Ross Mathews and Carson Kressley are the staple judges alongside RuPaul. Visage joined the show at the beginning of season three, while Mathews and Kressley joined at the beginning of season seven, 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. Until season eight, Rice was 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, the first season of All Stars, and guest judging for season seven. In certain instances, Rice was absent and replacement judging was provided by make-up artist Billy Brasfield (commonly 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 in both seasons, Rice and Billy B are considered to have been alternates for the same seat at the judges table throughout the two seasons.[8]

Prior to the grand finale, the three main judges are joined by celebrity guest judges each week. Guest judges have included Pam Tillis, Paula Abdul, Pamela Anderson, Eve, Ariana Grande, Audra McDonald, Miley Cyrus, Troye Sivan, Neil Patrick Harris, Kathy Griffin, Debbie Harry, Debbie Reynolds, Khloé Kardashian, Kat Dennings, La Toya Jackson, Adam Lambert, Amber Riley, Demi Lovato, Bob Mackie, Rose McGowan, Olivia Newton-John, Tamar Braxton, Rebecca Romijn, Chanel Iman, Gigi Hadid, Kate Upton, Sharon Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne, Lizzo, Dan Savage, John Waters, Michelle Williams, Candis Cayne, Martha Wash, Natalie Cole, Dita Von Teese, Niecy Nash, Vanessa Williams, Paulina Porizkova, Wilmer Valderrama, The Pointer Sisters, Trina, Leah Remini, The B-52's, Jordin Sparks, Mel B, Emma Bunton, Ciara, Kacey Musgraves, Kesha, Shania Twain, Graham Norton, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Halsey, Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy, Cara Delevingne, Katherine Langford, Miles Heizer, Elvira, and Tiffany Pollard.

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 winner of the challenge and which two had the weakest performances.

Lip sync

Season 11 contestants, Scarlet Envy (Right) & Rajah O'Hara (Left) lip syncing for their lives.

The contestants selected as the bottom two must "lip sync for their lives" to a previously assigned song in a final attempt to impress RuPaul. After the lip sync, RuPaul decides which contestant won the lip sync and is safe, while the one who lost the lip sync is eliminated. Two contestants in the show run have been eliminated without going through a lip sync: Willam Belli for breaking the competition rules, and Eureka O'Hara due to an injury. In both cases, the bottom two contestants performed the lip sync, but neither of them were eliminated. The only instance with more than two contestants lip syncing "for their lives" was in season 11, where an entire six-person team was up for elimination after losing a challenge. Ultimately though, only one contestant, Honey Davenport, was eliminated.

From Season 9 on, the final contestants are also made to "lip sync for the crown". 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."[9] The phrase "charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent" is used repeatedly on the show, the acronym of which is CUNT. On the first season of All Stars, "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.[10][11]

In the second season 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 six sponsored by Absolut Vodka and Interior Illusions, Inc.: the Interior Illusions Lounge and the Gold Bar. FormDecor sponsored the Lounge for season six. These two backstage areas allow for separate group conversations.

At the start of 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 and work room, 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. The webseries format continued for the eighth and ninth season. For the show's tenth season, Untucked returned to television, where it airs on VH1 during the 30 minute time slot after the 90 minute episode airs.

Whatcha Packin

"Whatcha Packin'" is a Drag Race web series that began at the start of the sixth season, and has also included the third, fourth and fifth seasons of All Stars. It features main stage judge Michelle Visage interviewing the most recently eliminated queen about their run on the show, as well as showcasing outfits that they had brought but did not have the opportunity to wear.

The Pit Stop

Since the eighth season, every episode of Drag Race has been followed by a 5 to 10-minute long aftershow called The Pit Stop. It involves a host and guest, typically past competitors of Drag Race, discussing the recently aired episode. The Pit Stop for the eighth season of Drag Race was hosted by YouTuber Kingsley. Seasons 9 and 10 and All Stars season two were hosted by Raja, with Bob the Drag Queen filling in for the ninth and tenth-season finales. The third season of All Stars was hosted by previous All Stars winner Alaska Thunderfuck. The fourth season of All Stars, as well as the first season of Canada's Drag Race was hosted by All Stars 3 winner, Trixie Mattel, with Manila Luzon subbing in for her in the finale episode. Luzon also hosted the Pit Stop for season eleven. The host for season twelve for All Stars 5 is season eight winner Bob the Drag Queen.

Series overview

RuPaul's Drag Race series overview
Season Premiere Date Finale Date Winner Runner(s)-up Miss Congeniality Winner's Prizes
1 Nina Flowers
  • $20,000, courtesy of the V&S Group (producers of Absolut Vodka) and MAC Cosmetics
  • Top billing in Logo TV's Drag Race Tour, sponsored by Absolut Vodka
  • Appearance in an advertising campaign for L.A. Eyeworks
  • A photo-spread in Paper magazine
  • A crown from Fierce Drag Jewels
  • $25,000
  • A lifetime supply of NYX Cosmetics and be the face of
  • Top billing in Logo TV's Drag Race Tour, sponsored by Absolut Vodka
  • Appearance in an advertising campaign for L.A. Eyeworks
  • A one-year contract with LGBT public relations firm Project Publicity
  • A crown from Fierce Drag Jewels
  • $75,000
  • A lifetime supply of Kryolan make-up
  • Top billing in Logo TV's Drag Race Tour, sponsored by Absolut Vodka
  • A crown from Fierce Drag Jewels
  • $100,000
  • A lifetime supply of NYX cosmetics
  • Top billing in Logo TV's Drag Race Tour, sponsored by Absolut Vodka
  • A holiday courtesy of
  • A crown from Fierce Drag Jewels
  • $100,000
  • A collection of ColorEvolution cosmetics
  • Top billing in Logo TV's Drag Race Tour, sponsored by Absolut Vodka
  • A holiday courtesy of
  • A crown from Fierce Drag Jewels
  • $100,000
  • A collection of ColorEvolution cosmetics
  • A crown from Fierce Drag Jewels
11 Yvie Oddly
12 Jaida Essence Hall

Season 1 (2009)

Season 1 winner BeBe Zahara Benet

The first season of RuPaul's Drag Race 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 on the cover of Paper Magazine, was featured in an LA Eyeworks campaign, joined the Absolut Pride 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). The theme song playing during the runway every episode was "Cover Girl" from RuPaul's album Champion.

The winner of the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race was BeBe Zahara Benet, with Nina Flowers winning Miss Congeniality.

In late 2013,[12] Logo re-aired the first season, which was titled RuPaul's Drag Race: The Lost Season Ru-Vealed, and featured commentary from RuPaul.[13]

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, 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 the workstation mirror was started by the first eliminated queen of the season, Shangela Laquifa Wadley. The theme song playing during the runway and the end credits each episode is "Jealous of My Boogie" from RuPaul's album Champion. Each week's episode is followed by a behind-the-scenes show, RuPaul's Drag Race Untucked.

The winner of the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Tyra Sanchez, with Pandora Boxx winning Miss Congeniality.

On December 6, 2011, released this season on DVD via their CreateSpace program.[14]

Season 3 (2011)

Season 3 winner Raja

This season had Michelle Visage replacing Merle Ginsberg on the judging panel and Billy Brasfield[15] (commonly known as Billy B), Mike Ruiz, and Jeffrey Moran (courtesy of Absolut Vodka) filling in for Santino Rice's absence during several episodes. Due to Billy B's continued appearances, he and Rice are considered to have been alternate judges for the same seat on judges panel.[16] Other changes made included the introduction of a wildcard contestant from the past season, Shangela; 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 each 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.

The winner of the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Raja, with Yara Sofia winning Miss Congeniality.

On December 6, 2011 released this season on DVD via their CreateSpace program.[17]

Season 4 (2012)

Season 4 winner Sharon Needles

The fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on January 30, 2012,[18] with cast members announced November 13, 2011.[19]

The winner of season four headlined Logo's Drag Race Tour featuring Absolut Vodka, won 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."[20] Like the previous season, Santino Rice and Billy B (Billy Brasfield), shared the same seat at the judges table alternatively, with Brasfield filling in for Rice when needed.[16] Both judges appeared side by side in the audience during the "Reunited" episode.

The winner of the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Sharon Needles, with Latrice Royale winning Miss Congeniality.

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.

Season 5 (2013)

Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon

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 inaugural season of the show with a total number of fourteen.

Season five's winner 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, 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 on the panel.[21] The theme song played during the runway each episode is "I Bring the Beat", while the song playing during the credits is "The Beginning", both songs are from RuPaul's album Glamazon.

The winner of the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Jinkx Monsoon, with Ivy Winters winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 6 (2014)

Season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio

The sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing February 24, 2014.

Like the fifth season, this season featured fourteen contestants competing for the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar". For the first time in the show's history, the season premiere was split into two episodes; the fourteen queens are split into two groups and the seven queens in each group compete against one another before being united as one group in the third episode.

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.[22] The winner of this season won a prize package that included a supply from Colorevolution Cosmetics and a cash prize of $100,000.[23] This was 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 known as the Silver Lounge or FormDecor Lounge. The theme song played during the runway segment each 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 the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Bianca Del Rio, with BenDeLaCreme winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 7 (2015)

Season 7 winner Violet Chachki

The seventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on March 2, 2015.

Returning judges included RuPaul and Michelle Visage, while the space previously occupied by Santino Rice was filled by new additions Ross Mathews and Carson Kressley.[24] Mathews and Kressley were both present for the season premiere and then took 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, did not appear this season and were replaced by Bryce Eilenberg.

Like the previous two seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, the season featured fourteen 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 season premiere debuted with a live and same-day viewership of 348,000, 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.[25]

The winner of the seventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Violet Chachki, with Katya winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 8 (2016)

Season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen

The eighth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on March 7, 2016, with cast members announced during the 2016 New Now Next Honors on February 1, 2016.

Michelle Visage returned as a main judge, while Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews returned as rotating main judges.[26]

The first episode celebrated the 100th taping of the show, and the 100th drag queen to enter the work room. Similar to the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race, the season featured twelve 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 winner of the eighth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Bob the Drag Queen, with Cynthia Lee Fontaine winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 9 (2017)

Season 9 winner Sasha Velour

The ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on March 24, 2017, with cast members being announced on February 2, 2017.

Michelle Visage returned as a main judge, while Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews returned as rotating main judges.

This season features fourteen 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 ninth season aired on VH1, with encore presentations continuing to air on Logo.[27][28] This season featured the return of Cynthia Lee Fontaine, who previously participated in the series' eighth season. The ninth season featured a top four in the finale episode, as opposed to the top three, which was previously established in the fourth season. This season featured a twist in the finale called "Lipsync for the Crown" where there will be two rounds of lipsyncs and the winner of both lipsyncs will move ahead to the final lipsync and who ever wins the final lipsync will be declared as the winner.

The winner of the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Sasha Velour, with Valentina winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 10 (2018)

Season 10 winner Aquaria

The tenth season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing on March 22, 2018.

Michelle Visage returned as a main judge, while Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews returned as rotating main judges.

This season features thirteen new contestants, and one returning contestant, 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. Eureka O'Hara, who was removed from the ninth season due to an injury, returned to the show after she accepted an open invitation.[29] The tenth season of Drag Race premiered; alongside the televised return of Untucked.[30] The tenth season featured a top four in the finale episode, as opposed to the top three, which was previously established in the fourth season.

The winner of the tenth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Aquaria, with Monét X Change winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 11 (2019)

Season 11 winner Yvie Oddly

The eleventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race began airing February 28, 2019. This season has a record-breaking fifteen contestants total, whereas previous seasons typically stuck to fourteen contestants consistently.

Michelle Visage returned as a main judge, while Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews returned as rotating main judges.

This season features fourteen new contestants, and one returning contestant, 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. This season saw return of Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, who was first eliminated in the tenth season. The eleventh season featured a top four in the finale episode, as opposed to the top three, which was previously established in the fourth season. As with the previous season, each week's episode was followed by an episode of the televised return of RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked.

The winner of the eleventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Yvie Oddly, with Nina West winning Miss Congeniality.

Season 12 (2020)

On January 22, 2019, casting for the twelfth season was announced via YouTube and Twitter and was closed on March 1, 2019. On August 19, 2019, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a twelfth season.[31] The season began airing on February 28, 2020. The twelfth season includes celebrity judges such as Nicki Minaj, Normani, Whoopi Goldberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chaka Khan, Robyn, Leslie Jones, Jeff Goldblum, Daisy Ridley, Thandie Newton, Olivia Munn, Rachel Bloom, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett and Winnie Harlow.[32] This is the first and only season to have the reunion and finale recorded virtually from the contestants' homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The winner of the twelfth season of RuPaul's Drag Race was Jaida Essence Hall, with Heidi N Closet winning Miss Congeniality. This is also, coincidentally, the first season with both an African-American winner and African-American Miss Congeniality.

Season 13 (2021)

On December 2, 2019, casting for the thirteenth season was announced via YouTube and Twitter. The casting call closed on January 24, 2020.[33]



RuPaul's Drag Race: Green Screen Christmas (2015)

On December 13, 2015, Logo aired a seasonal themed episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. The non-competitive special episode was released in conjunction with RuPaul's holiday album Slay Belles and featured music videos for songs from the album. The cast included RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Siedah Garrett, and Todrick Hall, and former contestants Alyssa Edwards, Laganja Estranja, Latrice Royale, Raja, and Shangela.[34][35][36]

RuPaul's Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular (2018)

On November 1, 2018, VH1 announced a seasonal themed special episode of RuPaul's Drag Race scheduled to air on December 7, 2018. The special saw eight former contestants compete for the title of America's first Drag Race Christmas Queen.[37] In the same announcement, the eight contestants confirmed to be competing were Eureka O'Hara, Jasmine Masters, Kim Chi, Latrice Royale, Mayhem Miller, Shangela, Sonique, and Trixie Mattel.[38][39]

RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race (2020)

On April 10, 2020, VH1 announced a celebrity edition of RuPaul's Drag Race titled RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race was scheduled to air for four weeks beginning on April 24, 2020. The four-part event series will feature a trio of celebrities opening up their hearts and minds to the transformative power of drag. After getting some help from beloved past contestants -- deemed "Queen Supremes" -- Alyssa Edwards, Asia O'Hara, Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi, Monét X Change, Monique Heart, Nina West, Trinity the Tuck, Trixie Mattel and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, the celebrity contestants will compete in fan-favorite challenges and step onto the runway in their new looks with one of that week's three celebrity contestants will win the title of "America's Next Celebrity Drag Race Superstar" and prize money for a charity of their choice.[40]

RuPaul's Drag Race: Vegas Revue (2020)

On July 22, 2020, it was announced that a docu-series titled RuPaul's Drag Race: Vegas Revue will premiere on August 21, 2020.[41]


Most of the music used in the series comes from RuPaul's albums,[42] with the exception of songs used during the lip sync portion of the show and original music challenges.

Music videos

During seasons 1-8, the top queens must lip sync to and sometimes record a verse for a new RuPaul music video. From season 9 and All Stars 2 onward, the finale music video was replaced by the queens recording new verses to a RuPaul song and perform it with full choreography on the main stage.

Original music challenges

Occasionally throughout the show, and in every season finale from season 9 onward, the cast will be challenged to write their own original verses to new or existing RuPaul songs.

Other music challenges

In addition to the original music challenges, sometimes the contestants will be challenged to lip sync or sing live to a new original song, and even an entire Rusical. For seasons 7 and 8, the top 3 queens each had songs specifically written for them to lip-sync on the finale. Some of these have been released as singles, and an album was released containing some of songs written by Lucian Piane entitled RuPaul's Drag Race: The Rusical on April 22, 2016.

  • "The Diva Awards" (Season 2)
  • "Lady Boy" (feat. Tyra Sanchez, Raven, Jujubee, Tatianna, Pandora Boxx, Jessica Wild, & Sahara Davenport) (Season 2)
  • "Superstar" (feat. Raja, Manila Luzon, Alexis Mateo, Yara Sofia, Carmen Carrera, & Shangela) (Original version from Glamazon) (Season 3)
  • "Bitch Ball" (Season 4)
  • "Sugar Babies" (Season 5)
  • "So Much Better Than You" (feat. Latrice Royale, Willam, Phi Phi O'Hara, Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels, & DiDa Ritz) (Season 4)
  • "Shade: The Rusical" (feat. Courtney Act, BenDeLaCreme, Adore Delano, Bianca Del Rio, Darienne Lake, Joslyn Fox, Trinity K. Bonet, Laganja Estranja, Milk, Gia Gunn, & April Carrión) (Season 6)
  • "Always Wear a Jewel" (Season 6)
  • "Glamazonian Airways" (Season 7)
  • "Eggs" (feat. Ginger Minj & Trixie Mattel) (Season 7)
  • "Cha Cha Heels" (feat. Katya & Kennedy Davenport) (Season 7)
  • "Poo" (feat. Pearl, Miss Fame, & Violet Chachki) (Season 7)
  • "Too Many Daddies" (written for Violet Chachki) (Season 7)
  • "Pray & Slay" (written for Ginger Minj (Season 7)
  • "Sleepwalker" (written for Pearl (Season 7)
  • "Rucapella (Bitch Perfect)" (Season 8)
  • "Jerri Blank Tribute" (Season 8)
  • "I Don't Like To Show Off" (written for Bob the Drag Queen) (Season 8)
  • "Fat, Fem & Asian" (written for Kim Chi) (Season 8)
  • "Legs" (written for Naomi Smalls) (Season 8)
  • "Kardashian: The Musical" (Season 9)
  • "PharmaRusical" (Season 10)
  • "Cher: The Unauthorized Rusical" (feat. Aquaria, Eureka, Kameron Michaels, Miz Cracker, Monét X Change, & The Vixen) (Season 10)
  • "Trump: The Rusical" (Season 11)
  • "Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical" (feat. Brita, Crystal Methyd, Gigi Goode, Heidi N Closet, Jackie Cox, Jaida Essence Hall, Jan, Sherry Pie, & Widow Von'Du) (Season 12)
  • "The Shady Bunch" (feat. Aiden Zhane, Brita, Crystal Methyd, Dahlia Sin, Gigi Goode, Heidi N Closet, Jackie Cox, Jaida Essence Hall, Jan, Nicky Doll, Rock M Sakura, & Widow Von'Du) (Season 12)
  • "Glamazon (Savage Sisters)" (All Stars 1)
  • "Cover Girl (Fanny Shosha)" (All Stars 1)
  • "Jealous of My Boogie (V3)" (All Stars 1)
  • "Good vs. Evil" (All Stars 1)
  • "Herstory of the World" (All Stars 2)
  • "Divas Live" (All Stars 3)
  • "Best Judies" (All Stars 4)
  • "Twerkin' 5 to 9" (RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race season 1)

Runway songs

Every season, a new song is played as the queens present their looks on the main stage runway. When RuPaul walks down the runway, the song played in every season is "Cover Girl" from Champion.

  • "CoverGirl" from Champion (season 1)
  • "Jealous of My Boogie" (Gomi & RasJek Mix) from Jealous of My Boogie - The RuMixes and Essential, Vol. 2 (season 2)
  • "Champion" (DJ BunJoe's Olympic Mix) from Drag Race (season 3)
  • "Glamazon" from Glamazon (season 4)
  • "I Bring the Beat" from Glamazon (season 5)
  • "Sissy That Walk" from Born Naked (seasons 6-7)
  • "The Realness" (feat. Eric Kupper) from Realness (season 8; Canada season 1)
  • "Forever - Alonsso Franco (Reworked with elements of 'Spotlight' from American and 'Category is...' from Butch Queen) (season 9)
  • "Snapshot" (feat. Mark Macutchi) from Remember Me: Essential, Vol. 1 (season 10)
  • "Mighty Love" (feat. KUMMERSPECK) from American (season 11)
  • "Superstar" (Hollywood Royalty Remix) from SuperGlam DQ (season 12)
  • "Sexy Drag Queen (dootdoot 'doot-swift' Remix)" from Essential, Vol. 2 (All Stars seasons 1-3)
  • "Super Queen (Runway Remix)" from Christmas Party (All Stars season 4)
  • "Be Someone (feat. Taylor Dayne) [JROB Edit]" from Butch Queen: Ru-Mixes (All Stars season 5)
  • "A Little Bit of Love" (feat. KUMMERSPECK) from Remember Me: Essential, Vol. 1 (UK series 1)

The Covergurlz and Covergurlz 2

RuPaul confirmed via Twitter that an album, in which each contestant from season six covered a song from his catalog, would be released. The album, titled RuPaul Presents: The CoverGurlz, was released on January 28, 2014.[43]

Similar to season six, each of the seventh season'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.[44]


RuPaul's Drag U (2010-2012)
RuPaul's Drag U is a spin-off that ran from 2010 to 2012. In each episode, three women are paired with former Drag Race contestants ("Drag Professors"), who give them drag makeovers and help them to access their "inner divas".[45] Since each episode was taped in Los Angeles over a period of one month, most of the professors were queens living in Southern California.
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars (2012-)
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars is a spin-off in which past contestants return and compete for a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. The show's format is similar to that of RuPaul's Drag Race, with challenges and a panel of judges. The first season of All Stars started six months after the conclusion of Drag Race's fourth season. Twelve queens from seasons 1-4 competed over six episodes. The second All Stars competition aired in 2016, a few months after the season eight finale. This season featured ten queens, selected from seasons 2-7, competing in eight episodes, with a special reunion episode. The third All Stars season was announced in August 2017, and the cast was revealed during a VH1 television special, which aired on October 20, 2017. Ten queens selected from seasons 1-9 competed over the course of eight episodes.
The Switch Drag Race (2015-)
The Switch Drag Race is a licensed glocalization of Drag Race that premiered in October 2015 on Chilean television channel Mega. As in Drag Race, queens compete in "mini challenges" and a main challenge, and are evaluated by a panel of judges. Similarly to Drag Race, The Switch requires contenstants to lip sync, dance, and perform impersonations.
Drag Race Thailand (2018-)
In October 2017, it was announced that Kantana Group had acquired the rights to produce its own version of Drag Race.[46] Season 1 of Drag Race Thailand was met with successful ratings on Thai television. It was later announced that the first season will premiere in the United States in May 2018. The first season also made stirs in the Asian LGBT community, the most prominent of which was a campaign to establish versions of Drag Race in the Philippines and Taiwan as well, two of the most LGBT-accepting nations in all of Asia.[47][48]
Dancing Queen (2018)
In April 2013, RuPaul confirmed that he planned to executive-produce a spin-off of Drag Race that stars season five and All Stars season two contestant Alyssa Edwards.[49] Alyssa Edwards has confirmed that the spin-off's title is Beyond Belief (later retitled as Dancing Queen),[50] and that his dance company in Mesquite, Texas is the setting.[51] The series aired on Netflix on October 5, 2018.[52][53][54]
RuPaul's Drag Race UK (2019-)
In April 2014, chat show host and television presenter Jonathan Ross told the 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!'"[55] 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."[56] 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.[57] 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.[58]
On December 5, 2018, it was announced that the British version of RuPaul's Drag Race will be an eight-part series filmed in London based on local drag queens and is set to air on BBC Three in 2019. Visage has confirmed via social media that she will appear as a judge.[59] RuPaul announced there will be a challenge inspired by Meghan Markle.The first confirmed celebrity judge was Game of Thrones actor, Maisie Williams.[60]
RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race (2020)
On October 22nd, 2019, RuPaul officially announced that a spin-off of Drag Race was being developed, where Drag Race alumni give Celebrities drag makeovers and compete for the title America's Next Celebrity Drag Superstar.[61]
Canada's Drag Race (2020)
On June 27, 2019, OutTV and Bell Media's streaming service Crave announced that they had co-commissioned a Canadian version of Drag Race. Rights to the series, as well as the U.S. and British versions, will be shared by OutTV and Crave going forward.[62] Additionally, Season 11 runner-up Brooke Lynn Hytes was confirmed as one of the judges, becoming the first queen in the history of the Drag Race franchise to become a permanent judge after having been a contestant. The show premiered on July 2, 2020.[63]
Drag Race Holland (2020)

On July 26, 2020, it was announced that a Dutch version of Drag Race would premiere later in the year. The series will debut on Videoland in The Netherlands, and air on WOW Presents Plus internationally.[64]

Drag Race Australia (TBA)

On August 26, 2019 an Australian version of the show was announced to be in production, though no further information regarding hosting or air date has been announced.[65]

Brazilian localization
In August 2017, a Brazilian version of the show was announced. It was scheduled to air in late 2018, however nothing has been released since the original announcement.[66]
Feature film
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."[56]

Home media

Season Release date Special features Discs
2 December 6, 2011[67]
  • Bonus scenes
  • Interviews with contestants
  • Extended reunion moments
3 December 6, 2011[68]
  • Bonus scenes
  • Interviews with contestants
  • Extended reunion moments
4 June 26, 2012[69]
  • Bonus scenes
  • Episodes of Untucked
  • Episodes of Drag Ya Later with Jon & John
5 June 10, 2013[70][71]
  • Bonus scenes
  • Episodes of Untucked
6 October 21, 2014[72]
  • Bonus scenes
  • Episodes of Untucked
7 June 8, 2016[73]
  • Bonus scenes
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: The Ru-les
  • Episodes of Whatcha Packin'
8 July 29, 2016[74]
  • Bonus scenes
  • Episodes of Whatcha Packin'

Full seasons of shows in the Drag Race franchise are available to stream on WOW Presents Plus in over 200 territories.[75] The show is also currently available on the following streaming platforms:

  • United States -- Amazon Prime Video (seasons 1-5; Untucked seasons 1-5), Hulu (seasons 1-6; All Stars 1-2; Untucked seasons 1-3 & 5-6); CBS All Access (seasons 1-10, All Stars 1-4), WOW Presents Plus (all episodes of UK, Canada, and Holland, Untucked seasons 6-8, Thailand season 2)[76][77][78][79][80][81]
  • Canada -- Netflix (seasons 1-11, All Stars 4, Untucked season 11), Crave (all seasons, All Stars 1-4, UK series 1, Canada season 1), WOW Presents Plus (seasons 1-10, Untucked seasons 1-10, All Stars 1-4)[82][75]
  • UK & Ireland -- Netlflix (all seasons, Untucked seasons 11-12, All Stars 4 & 5, Celebrity season 1), BBC iPlayer (UK series 1; Canada season 1), WOW Presents Plus (seasons 1-10, Untucked seasons 1-10, all episodes of All Stars and Holland)[82][75]
  • Australia -- Stan (all seasons of original, All Stars, Untucked, UK, and Canada, except All Stars 1 Untucked)[82], WOW Presents Plus (UK series 1, Canada season 1)[83][84]

Awards and nominations

RuPaul's Drag Race has been nominated for twenty-three Emmy Awards, and won nine. It has also been nominated for nine Reality Television Awards, winning three, and nominated for six NewNowNext Awards, winning three.

Critical reception

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes
1 71% (7 reviews)
2 N/A
3 N/A
4 67% (6 reviews)
5 80% (5 reviews)
6 N/A
7 60% (5 reviews)
8 100% (6 reviews)
9 100% (11 reviews)
10 82% (11 reviews)
11 89% (9 reviews)
12 100% (8 reviews)

Thrillist called Drag Race "the closest gay culture gets to a sports league." [85] In 2019, the TV series was ranked 93rd on The Guardian's list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century.[86]

Early seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race were 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 'fishy' queens in the competition for the sake of drama.[87] 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."[88]

Relationship with trans community

Performers of any sexual orientation and gender identity are eligible to audition, although most contestants to date have been gay men. Transgender competitors have become more common as seasons have progressed; Sonique, a season two contestant, became the first openly trans contestant when she came out as a woman during the reunion special.[89]Monica Beverly Hillz, from season five, became the first contestant to come out as a trans woman during the competition.[90]Peppermint, from season 9, is the first contestant who was out as a trans woman prior to the airing of her season.[91] Other trans contestants came out as women after their elimination, including Carmen Carrera,[92]Kenya Michaels,[93] Stacy Layne Matthews, Jiggly Caliente and Gia Gunn.[94][95][96] There are also a number of past contestants who identify as non-binary, genderqueer or genderfluid, including Jinkx Monsoon, Courtney Act, Violet Chachki, Aja, Valentina, Adore Delano, Sasha Velour, Honey Mahogany, Bob The Drag Queen, and Gigi Goode.

In March 2014, Drag Race sparked controversy over the use of the term "shemale" in the season six mini challenge "Female or She-male?".[90]Logo has since removed the segment from all platforms and 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!"[97]

Host RuPaul additionally came under fire for comments made in an interview with The Guardian, in which he stated he would "probably not" allow a transgender contestant to compete on Drag Race.[98] RuPaul compared transgender drag performers to doping athletes on his Twitter,[99] and has since apologized.[100][101] Season nine winner, Sasha Velour, expressed her disagreement via Twitter, stating "My drag was born in a community full of trans women, trans men, and gender non-conforming folks doing drag. That's the real world of drag, like it or not. I thinks it's fabulous and I will fight my entire life to protect and uplift it".[102]


  • Australia: In Australia, lifestyle channel LifeStyle YOU[103] regularly shows and re-screens seasons 1-7, including Untucked. In addition, free-to-air channel SBS2 began screening the first season on August 31, 2013. On March 13, 2017, it was announced that on demand service Stan will fast track season 9 (including Untucked). As of 2020, Stan streams all seasons since Season 1[104][105], as well as Untucked, All Stars, All Stars Untucked, Canada's Drag Race, Secret Celebrity, Drag Race UK and Season 2 of Drag Race Thailand.
  • Canada: The series airs on OutTV in Canada at the same time as the US airing. Unlike Logo, OutTV continues to broadcast Untucked immediately after each Drag Race episode.[106] Beginning with season 12, OutTV has shared its first-run rights to the main series (but not Untucked) with the more widely subscribed Crave streaming service, with episodes available on Crave shortly after they premiere on OutTV, in connection with Crave and OutTV's co-production of Canada's Drag Race.[107] Past seasons are also available on Netflix in Canada, with each season released there shortly before the next season begins.[107]
  • Ireland: In Ireland, season 2 to season 8 of the programme were available on Netflix; As of the release of Season 10, only seasons 8 & 9 are available. Netflix has started airing season 10 episodes one day after they air in the USA. All seasons of the show has been made available on Netflix since October 2018
  • Indonesia: In Indonesia, season 1 to season 12 of the programme were available on Netflix, alongside the Christmas spectacular; As of the release of All Stars, only season 4 is available. Netflix also aired Untucked season 10 episodes one day after they air in the USA.
  • UK: E4 aired season 1 in 2009, followed by season 2 in 2010.[108] Since its success on Netflix in the UK,[109]TruTV acquired the broadcast rights for all eight seasons of the show including Untucked episodes.[110] In June 2015, TruTV started airing two episodes of the show a week, starting with season 4, followed by All Stars, then season 5. As of May 2018, the series airs on VH1 UK Monday-Thursday at 11pm, beginning with All Stars season 3.[111]
  • Israel: Yes has broadcast all of the seasons and the Untucked episodes, and seasons 1-11, Allstars season 4 and season 11 of the Untucked are also available on Netflix.

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