As RuPaul prepares to drop a ninth season of Drag Race, he looks upon the growing cultural impact of all the queens he brings together … and Lady Gaga.
Next week, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 finally premieres on VH1. In preparation for what is sure to be a riotous season of fun, RuPaul explained in a new interview how he still feels like the show sits outside of the Hollywood bubble, despite its growing popularity and move to a larger network.
Of course, to see the entire lineup of queens, you can head over here.
By now you’ve likely heard that Lady Gaga will appear this season, but the extent of her role is still unclear. While she’s not the first celebrity to appear, RuPaul notes in his conversation with Entertainment Weekly that her role really stood out because of nothing other than gratitude:
"Did Gaga bring a different energy?Yes: her appreciation! She comes from this background of downtown New York City clubs, so that was the difference between her and other guests who’ve been appreciative of what we do but don’t know where we come from. She comes from that world."
However, the best part of the interview comes next when RuPaul needs to explain why Drag Race is interesting.
"This season’s cast seems like such an eclectic group, but will they keep longtime Drag Race fans happy and also spice things up a bit?Anyone who actually makes it on the show already has such an interesting backstory. Anyone who chooses to do drag in a male-dominated culture is a superhero because these are precisely the things we, as boys, are told not to do. The number one taboo for boys is to be feminine, so for someone to not only override their internal directive but society’s directive, is mind-boggling and heroic. It’s courageous. Automatically, they’re super interesting and I think the audience will find them super interesting. I know they will."
All Stars is a lot of fun, because you know everyone already. But by the nature of drag, everyone’s exciting, or as RuPaul says, “already has an interesting backstory.” Most of the time, we meet people who overcame a very specific struggle and are now doing what makes them happy. And I’m glad RuPaul’s Drag Race shines a light on that. It reminds everyone that the world is comprised of many different and wonderful people.
But that also doesn’t mean they cast anyone willy nilly. It’s a bit of a process, which RuPaul does say has only improved over time.
"Did you have to fight for anyone this season?No. They know and trust me now. The only time I come up against any kind of [opposition] is when we have two girls who are really good at representing the same genre, whether it’s body queens or comedy queens or younger or older queens. We want a cross-section. That’s the only time there’s any kind of a dilemma: if we have two queens we really love and really want but they kind of cancel each other out."
Having moved to VH1, RuPaul will reach an even larger audience than before when Drag Race aired on Logo. Which also means it could be opening itself up to more hatred. But thankfully, the show isn’t afraid to show its true colors. Season 9’s theme appears to focus a lot on “authenticity.”
"Given how Trump has treated the LGBT community as of late, I feel like that might be hard for a lot of young people to do right now.Our show is important now more than ever before, and that’s why I’m so proud of it. Young people need to know there are ways for them to navigate this life. Our show has been a great way not just for drag queens, but also for anyone who dances to the beat of a different drummer to see the courage, the family, and the tribe band together to support one another."
I think everyone needs to re-read that over and over and over. Like, whenever you feel too different, remember that there are other people like you out there. Other people who understand and will support you. RuPaul’s got your back.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 premieres March 24 at 8 p.m. ET. Stay tuned for our weekly recaps of each episode right here on Culturess.