RuPaul’s Drag Race has taken over the world with several international spin-offs, including RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. Only one of two international Drag Race franchises hosted by RuPaul himself, Drag Race Down Under was criticized by many fans for several reasons, including the observation that it appeared RuPaul wasn’t actually there to film the show in person.
RuPaul hosted ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’
RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under premiered in spring 2021. The show brings together some of the biggest drag performers in Australia and New Zealand, and is hosted by RuPaul himself, flanked by his good Judy, Michelle Visage, and Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson.
One issue that plagued the show was past racism among its contestants. Scarlet Adams, who was the frontrunner of the show’s first season, was confronted by RuPaul on the main stage regarding photos of the queen performing in blackface. Meanwhile, another finalist, Karen From Finance, made headlines years before Drag Race Down Under for her golliwog doll collection and tattoo.
Some eagle-eyed fans on Reddit speculated that Ru wasn’t even a part of filming the show in person. From filming the first episode’s judging out of drag to appearing green-screened in at times, many believed that he was edited entirely into the show remotely.
Art Simone and Rhys Nicholson confirmed RuPaul filmed ‘Drag Race Down Under’ in person
Season 1 finalist Art Simone first addressed the rumors on Twitter in May 2021 as the show was airing. “Just here to quash the rumours that RuPaul was green-screened onto set,” she said. “There’s no way we would have the budget after we splurged on those beautiful cement cherubs.”
Both Art and Rhys Nicholson addressed the rumors once and for all in a June 2022 interview with Daily Mail Australia. “The most annoying thing to have come out where the show should be filmed is people thinking that RuPaul wasn’t there,” Nicholson laughed. “Ru was there!”
Art, meanwhile, wanted to have fun with it. “No, actually. Let’s start a rumor,” she joked. “No, there was a tennis ball on a stick, and we had to look at a tennis ball.”
‘Drag Race Down Under’ was filmed in New Zealand
While many people think of Australia when they hear the term “Down Under,” RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under welcomed both Aussie and Kiwi queens to its ranks, and even crowned Kiwi queen Kita Mean as its winner.
The show was originally scheduled to film in Australia, but ultimately filmed in Auckland, New Zealand. RuPaul nodded to their location at the start of every judging with “Kia ora,” a traditional Māori greeting.
Because they filmed in New Zealand, which is known for its strict coronavirus (COVID-19) policies, both Art and Nicholson would’ve preferred to film in their native Australia.
“I do think it should have been filmed in Australia,” Art said. “I had to fly to New Zealand, go in quarantine and then film.”
Nicholson agreed, adding “I had to do five [separate] quarantines.”
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’ season 2 has a release date
Despite the flack that Drag Race Down Under received, the show became a worldwide sensation. Both Art and Nicholson weren’t surprised that it did.
“It went crazy,” Art said. “It made a big splash across the entire world and now there’s a season two coming.”
Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under premieres on July 30, 2022.