The Next Cycle Of “America’s Next Top Model” Will Include A “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Crossover Episode


It’s not often that the universe conspires to do us a favor but it must feel really sorry for us right now because it’s thrown us a tasty bone. I nearly plotzed (oh who am I kidding, I plotzed like a bitch) when I read in Entertainment Weekly that one of my favorite shows of all time, America’s Next Top Model was going to have a crossover episode with my absolute favorite show of all time RuPaul’s Drag Race in it’s upcoming Cycle 24. As we already know, Tyra Banks is back, and joining her will be Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker, Ashley Graham, and Drew Elliott. Also, since both ANTM and Drag Race are on Vh1 now, there will be a crossover episode starring Katya, Valentina and Manila Luzon.

If you’ve watched ANTM Original Recipe (let’s collectively pretend that that Rita Ora season never happened), you know that Tyra loves to torture her girls. Well, in one episode of the upcoming cycle, Tyra makes the models try to pose next to one of Ru’s queens.

“That’s a difficult model to be in a shot with.… Not all of my models prevailed. Valentina killed it. I’m sitting there editing film and I’m like, can I get a shot of my girls looking at least half as good as Valentina?”

I’m gonna guess no, Tyra, never in a million years. Here’s Manila, Katya and Valentina with Drew Elliot.

In addition to this stuntery, Tyra’s also going to be paying homage to Great Moments In ANTM History with a throwback episode featuring EvaThe DivaMarcille (soon to be featured on the next season, sorry, cycle of The Real Housewives of Atlanta) who won cycle 3. That’s the eppy Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker will be appearing in.

“We were inspired by Throwback Thursday on Instagram and how popular that is, so we decided to dedicate an entire episode to Top Model throwback, and that’s something I want to continue on the show in the future: to always have an episode that’s all about the throwback,”

The stunts don’t end there, this cycle Tyra’s done away with age restrictions so there will be some older models in their 40s competing.

I have watched every single episode of this stupid show and it’s always a beautiful mess of tears, fights, bad wigs, diva behavior, back stabbing and filthy living conditions and Tyra is the mother of it all. The only thing that could make me happier about this reboot is if Tyra looked directly into the camera on the first episode and demanded “BRING. BACK. MY. JAYS!” and Jay Manuel and J. Alexander came strutting out from back stage. But hey, I’ll take what I can get.



RuPaul’s DragCon NYC: Photos Of All The Queens We’ve Seen

RuPaul’s DragCon hit New York City for the first time this weekend. And I’ve given you a rundown of what it was like to sashay through the show floor, and shante to panels and the press lounge. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here’s a bunch of snapshots that’ll give you impression of being there, bustling along with freaking out fans and stomping queens.


Here’s two shots of the show floor from above. Yes, that is a giant inflatible Trump Rat. Photo ops abound at DragCon.


Not pictured, immediately behind me I could see out the next occupied Javits show floor. It was ornate carpet displays, wall to wall. Imagine what the oriental rug conventioneers thought when they rolled up and saw towering drag queens pouring out of cabs. I bet they were disappointed when they realized they weren’t there for the same convention.

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There were scads of cheeky merch on sale. Swish Embassy caught my eye with this drag take on Disney princes. The booth worker pointed to Gaston, and said, «He didn’t get the girl, but he gets the gown!»


The designer of Sasha Velour’s Drag Race-winning «I Get So Emotional» look had a booth, which naturally sold gloves, but also let fans snap shots of THAT DRESS. There were even roses to pose with!


If you threw a party, the Golden Gays would bring the tea, then spill it.


I also came across Cory Harris, the ingenious inventor of Zip My Dress, a necessary device for tackling that irksome backzip you (normally) can’t do alone. Props to Harris, she not only had a dummy to display the device on, she spun around and gave me a demo with her own dress.


Which fan is your favorite? I dare you to choose.


A burly man with a cookie in his mouth pointed at me. Pointed at my skirt (a dinosaur bone print, skater skirt), then pointed at his booth. He didn’t say a word. But I followed. He had my number. Pretty Snake gets my idea of fashion.


Peppermint, who Bob The Drag Queens says has the «shiniest tits in the business,» had fans lined up and gagging to get buy her t-shirts and get pics with her. I am short, and was short on time. So here’s a picture taken from as high as I can reach to cut over the crowds. You’re welcome.


I spotted Tempest DuJour as she was prepping to host a Runway event. She’s roughly 900 feet tall, give or take a yard.


Club kid Vivacious upgraded her Ornacia look, and was even selling the accessory.


I’ve never been a fan of Kimora Blac’s brand of drag. Which I guess explains why I stopped at this less than stellar shot. #norupologies


Alyssa Edwards, not here, but her presence was felt.


G-G-Gia Gunn and Laganja Estranja tagged teamed with a shared booth.


Mimi Imfurst might be infamous for her dangerous Lipsync for Your Life. But on the show floor, she was all smiles.


I’ve seen Amanda Lepore with my own two eyes. I’m still not sure she’s real.


You know Broadway queen Alexis Michelle was there giving curves and swerves.


Pageant queen turned cosplay queen Phi Phi O’Hara was there. Embracing her reputation as a Drag Race baddie, she had a shirt for sale that read «FCK PHI PHI.» Tyra’s gonna be pissed she’s stepping on her Beyonce game.


Hey look! It’s the best shot I managed to get of Sasha Velour! The reigning queen’s booth had a dizzyingly long line, so this picture of her on the pink carpet is the best I managed. That’s her in the red and blurry!


Never forget, before there was Sasha Velour, there was the bald queen who was everything, Ongina.


I caught Ginger Minj in a spin!


After her UNHhhh panel, Trixie Mattel hit the press lounge.


And we have talked about little miss thing, Lactatia.


The always inventive Kim Chi offered a dreamy set dressing for fans to step into.


Acid Betty’s shop was showing wigs, and admirers were showing more.


Naomi Smalls got intimate with fans in her own lounge.


As I snapped this shot of Farrah Moan, a young woman next to me screamed, «OMIGOD IT’S FARRAH.» Farrah winked at her. «OMIGOD FARRAH WINKED AT ME!» DragCon is magic.


My favorite booth design was Bob The Drag Queen’s. It was simple, fun and irreverent, cleverly commenting on how putting the queens in boxes made the event a bit of a side show circus.


But Bob’s always game to give you glam clown realness.


Michelle Visage had a booth right across from Ru, and the line was always LONG. But it was easy to see why, every time I walked by she was dolling out hugs and love, love, love.

The line to meet Mother Ru starts here.


RuPaul’s gowns flanked her signing area as if there were guards. I didn’t get to see Ru in person, but the gowns were startlingly long, and that waist so cinched it’s sickening! (Like I thought I’d pass out if I tried it.)


It was here that I spied the winner’s crown and scepter, so shiny, so behind protective glass! But I had to try it on. So I did!


The only way I could. WERK.


«It IS RuPaul’s Best Friend Race!» On The Niceness of Season 9 of Drag Race

We are reaching the end of the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and much has changed since the early days of zero budget, questionable music choices and Vaseline on the camera lens. Now, the reality TV series to find America’s Next Drag Superstar is an Emmy winner, with the most recent season changing broadcasters, moving from the LGBTQ cable network Logo to the more mainstream VH1. Ratings are at an all-time high and the show has never been more visible in the wider (straighter) public consciousness: RuPaul just made the cover of Entertainment Weekly and was part of the Hollywood Reporter‘s reality TV Emmys round-table, alongside Leah Remini and Kris Jenner, not to forget the guest judge appearance in the season’s premiere of a certain Lady Gaga.

The season finale will, for the first time, decide between four queens instead of three, as RuPaul could not bring himself to eliminate anyone in the penultimate episode. This moment of generosity felt organic — this year’s top four are uniformly strong and cover a fascinating range in the drag world — but also highlighted a problem many dedicated fans had with this season: For some, season 9 was just too damn nice. Everyone apologized for shade gone wrong, tight friendships were formed and never challenged, and even the reads felt softened. As one queen joked during one of the season’s many emotional moments, «It is RuPaul’s Best Friend Race!» Many fans felt this betrayed the appeal of the show, where shade is thrown left and right and the competitive wit forms a backbone of drag’s style, as featured in Paris is Burning.

The best of Drag Race can be found in its full-throated embrace of theatricality. You can’t make a show about drag with Kardashian challenges and constant references to yanking your dick backwards with duct-tape and not be wholly aware of that. One thing that the show does better than anything else in the reality genre right now is use its own artifice to further its aims. This is a reality TV show that never forgets it’s a reality TV show. The behind the scenes crew are referenced frequently, and in one episode included in a main challenge; RuPaul’s constant name dropping of sponsored content, episode hashtags and his own music (now available on iTunes) offer one of the more daring drinking games in contemporary pop culture; and the interludes to Untucked, the aftershow that shows the behind the scenes gossip between the queens during the main challenges, show the cameras moving and crew prepping for filming. It’s easy to spot the strings pulling the narratives in place, and audiences embrace the facade, because that’s what drag is, as well as reality TV. Susan Sontag’s pioneering essay on the aesthetics of camp noted how it was a way of consuming pop culture «in quotation marks». Here, Drag Race is pop culture in a hashtag.

All of that can create thrilling TV — like the glorious read of Serena Cha Cha in season 5’s Untucked or Alaska’s meltdown in All-Stars season 2. But now, we’re 9 seasons in, and every queen on that show has seen those episodes. They know how the game works and are less willing to let the veil slip. With the inherent performativity of drag in the context of this show comes the weight of expectation. Much of this season has focused on issues affecting the LGBTQ world — Charlie Hides breaking down in tears recounting the loss of a number of friends during the AIDS crisis, Sasha Velour talking about eating disorders, Peppermint’s difficulties while travelling to Russia as a trans woman — and emphasised the show’s standing as a pillar of the community. Alongside that is the show’s awareness of how it can and must appeal to younger viewers as a potential lifeline. The importance of this cannot be downplayed. Representation matters, now more than ever in an America living under the rule of insidious homophobia and transphobia, and that’s a reality that weighs heavily on the bejewelled wig of every queen this season. The necessity to harbour a safe and open discourse has come before some catty jokes.

Reality infringes on the filming of the show in several ways (the queens are mostly cut off from the world during production), but when the material comes to air, there’s a whole new level of the messiness of the real world to deal with. Social media plays a major part in the show, which leverages that online buzz to great effect and brings a potent brand of youthful enthusiasm to the table. Like any fandom, there are good things and bad, but there’s always been something sad about a show that preaches acceptance and community having a fanbase so toxic. Many queens have talked about receiving harassment and death threats from over-zealous fans because of a perceived slight or incident on the show that put them in a bad light. The artifice of the show is evident but the goings-on are still real enough for some to take it very personally. Any queen with the villain narrative, however weak — Phi Phi O’Hara, Darienne Lake, Roxxxy Andrews — has admitted to receiving countless death threats, particularly if they are seen as slighting a fan favourite. This season, both Alexis Michelle and Nina Bonina Brown received such a barrage of abuse that they were forced to briefly lock down their social media accounts. Their crime: Lasting longer on the show than season stand-out Valentina. This is an issue that came up in the season reunion, with both Alexis and Shea Coulee calling Valentina out for her seeming refusal to call her fans off, and it’s a bigger issue the show has tried to deal with. That’s easier said than done, and hardly helped when the site in question is more concerned with the shape of a user’s profile pic than whether or not it contains Nazi material. All a queen can do is play the positive game and hope they don’t cross the one contestant elevated to deity by the fans.

There have been moments that echoed back to the shade of episodes past. Both Alexis Michelle and Eureka had the burgeoning of villain narratives, but Eureka’s was hampered by an early exit, pre-empted by apologies to her fellow queens, while Alexis was too painfully self-aware of her own insecurities to come across as a fun antagonist. Both she and Nina Bonina Brown had evident issues with self-esteem and anxieties, with the latter open in interviews about her struggle with depression. The show, as empathetic and carefully controlled as it is, still stumbled in depicting Nina’s issues in a manner that fully conveyed their seriousness and didn’t just paint her as a Debbie Downer. The other queens tried to tread carefully, but as humans are prone to doing, sometimes patience wears thin, and so the feud story is formed. The natural inclination of the reality TV mould is to push such elements into an easily categorised narrative: Alexis the «bitch», Eureka the Hater, Nina the misery guts. Combine that difficulty with a group of queens who can’t drop the knowledge that they’re being filmed for a million viewers and the tone feels very different from seasons past.

Perhaps that’s why this has felt so calm and friendly and more muted compared to the show in its prime. That’s not to say it’s been a bad season: The queens have been strong, the challenges fun, some of the lip-syncs legendary, and the emotions very real. Any of the four queens in the final would make a worthy winner of the crown (although my money is on Sasha). During the reunion, the tension amongst certain queens was palpable, and it was hard to deny the effect severe public scrutiny and unreachable expectations had on them. For 40 minutes, the veil dropped. There’s no misery or shame in RuPaul’s Drag Race embracing such a practiced form of niceness, but one can’t help but feel that it didn’t have much of a choice either.


This Might Make You Wish For ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: Kids’ Edition

Amid all the shade and make-up of RuPaul’s Drag Race, there’s a big thumping heart of a message about self-love and acceptance. It’s the motto that Ru heralds at the end of every episode: «If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love anyone else?» And it’s a message that’s not only been impacting the queens on the show, but also those watching from home, including 8-year-old drag princess Lactatia Werqs, who briefly shared the stage with season six winner Bianca Del Rio at Werq The World in Montreal.

Watch this charming video to see what magic happened when this little queen was invited on stage. Guaranteed to give you life!

«Even though I’m not your favorite,» Del Rio quipped about Lactatia’s preference for Ginger Minj, «You’re my fucking favorite.»

The world-famous queen also gave a shout-out to Lactatia’s supportive mom, who brought her son in full drag to the sold out show. Best of Montreal followed up with this family, revealing Lactatia’s real name is Nemis Quinn Mélançon Golden, and detailing that Nemis does drag «with the support of his older sister Kashmyr Luna Higgins (14 years old) as his Senior Drag Consultant, his ‘pillar of safety’ in (drag) mother Jessica Mélançon and father-of-the-year Coriander Golden.»

It’s remarkable to not only see a young queen so confident, but also to see a family warmly embrace Nemis for exactly who he is. His parents told the outlet in a joint statement:

When Nemis is out of character he identifies as a boy and in drag as a girl. Drag for Nemis, is about the performance, the character. When he’s Lactatia, becoming her character, he’s a girl with a penis. As far as gender roles go, we’ve gifted both of our children with the ideal that there’s nothing just for girls and nothing just for boys. He grew up wearing his sisters hand me down princess costumes and fancy shoes while playing with monster trucks and riding a skateboard.

I think his biggest milestone in life or a pivotal moment was when he told us that when he grew up if he wanted to, he could be a girl with a penis (He was three and going through a pretty intense Beyonce phase).

Did we know it would lead to him being passionate about becoming the greatest drag queen the world has ever seen? No, but we were one hundred percent certain that Nemis was a natural performer, had the ability to captivate a crowd and was the most self-aware person we knew.

I recommend reading Jessica Mélançon and Coriander Golden’s full statement, because it’s beautiful, and likely to pry tears from even the chillest queen.


Could this be the next frontier of RuPaul’s Drag Race? A bevy of talent competition shows boast kid-centered spin-offs. Imagine a RuPaul’s Drag Race that folds in not just the next generation of queens, but also their supportive parents who help them hot glue their runway looks and beat their faces like any good Drag Mother should, with make-up and love. They could even invite on all-stars to play mentors!


RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Valentina on Latina Excellence in the Trump Era

When Valentina starts broadcasting live on Instagram, fans inevitably ask the Question: First, they want to know if she’s Mexican-American. When they learn she is indeed Mexican, they want to know specifically where in Mexico her parents came from. Mom’s from Aguascalientes; dad’s from Chihuahua.

Read more…


RuPaul’s Wild Youth Is Getting Its Own Show

You know RuPaul, the supermodel of the world, drag queen extraordinaire, and Emmy-winning host of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But before this fearless entertainer was conquering the world, he was RuPaul Charles, a young, black, gay teen searching for himself and a path to happiness. RuPaul has occasionally addressed his coming-of-age and discovery of drag on his hit reality show, but now he’s teaming with Drag Race‘s production company World of Wonder and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot to craft a dramedy series out of this tender and tumultuous time.

Tracking Board reports the series will be penned by Gary Lennon, whose served on a producer for the Starz crime-drama Power and Netflix’s prison-centered series Orange Is The New Black. The unnamed show will focus on RuPaul’s time in 1980s New York City, where he became a fixture on the nightclub scene, rising from club kid to queen. (You can check out a pretty solid slideshow of Ru’s evolution (Ruvolution?) on Reddit. ) RuPaul will executive produce the 30-hour series along with Abrams, and some WoW and Bad Robot peeps.

What remains to be seen is who’ll buy this fascinating project. It’s going on sale to networks soon, and frankly I wonder if VH1—who snatched Drag Race from Logo TV ahead of season nine—might want to lay claim to this related show. But frankly, I’m hoping for a brand that’s shown more daring, like CW (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, iZombie, Riverdale) or Netflix (Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Ru needs a network who’ll dare to be as different and defining with this show as he’s been.


But while that’s worked out, let’s move on to dream casting. Who do you want to see play Young(er) Ru? How about Baby Lady Bunny? Tell us in comments.


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