The Future of Drag (Race) — How RuPaul Turned a Reality Series Into an International Franchise

It isn’t easy being one of the world’s most popular drag queens. It’s also not a title that RuPaul takes lightly. Since appearing in a music video for the B-52s, starring in The Brady Bunch Movie, and launching one of the most popular LGBTQ-centered shows on television, this performer proved that she truly is “the Queen of Drag.” 

RuPaul is a drag performer and the host/creator of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

This drag performer first burst into the public eye in the 1990s. There were songs like “Supermodel (You Better Work)” that helped RuPaul gain popularity. Since then, the drag queen took to television, starring on The RuPaul Show and appearing in a few music videos and films of the era.

At the start of the new decade, RuPaul continued to be a powerful influence in pop culture, hosting the podcast, RuPaul: What’s the Tee? and an Emmy-award winning reality competition series.

One of RuPaul’s most popular and well-known projects is the reality competition series, titled RuPaul’s Drag Race. There, the drag performer stars as the host, choosing one contestant (with charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent,) to be “America’s Next Drag Superstar.” Over 10 years ago, in 2009, RuPaul debuted the first season of Drag Race.

Over time, the series gained momentum, eventually becoming the most popular LGBTQ-centered reality competition series. It earned multiple Emmy awards, for Outstanding Host, Costumes, Directing, and Reality Series. As a result, RuPaul branched off from this television show. 

Cast members and RuPaul speak onstage during 'RuPaul's Drag Race Live!'
Cast members and RuPaul speak onstage during ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!’ | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

RuPaul stars in the Netflix original series, ‘AJ and the Queen’

This drag perform has even done drag on one of the biggest streaming platforms in the United States. In 2020, Netflix released the first season of AJ and the Queen, an original comedy starring RuPaul.

“In my career, I’ve been able to show certain angles. I’ve been able to paint on a face and edit what I presented,” RuPauls said during an interview with Vogue. “I thought by doing this acting project, I would be exposing myself to the world: the raw, unfiltered self.”

“But what I found out yesterday was that I was exposing myself to myself. I got to see the parts of me that even I didn’t allow myself to recognize or acknowledge. I had thought, ‘I’m going to be naked to the world.’ No, I was naked to myself,” he continued.

Most recently, fans can see RuPaul on season 12 of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Now, fans can see their favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants live at DragCon New York City, Los Angeles, or London. There’s also the Drag Race residency in Las Vegas, featuring former contestants like Vanessa “Miss Vanjie” Matteo and Yvie Oddly.

Aside from regular seasons of this series, fans can watch RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars, which features some former contestants back in the Work Room. RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked shows fans what happens behind the scenes of the competition. 

The show went overseas during 2019 when the host created the first season of Drag Race UK. Recently, the drag performer announced another spinoff series, Celebrity Drag Race, coming to Showtime during 2020.

Currently, fans can watch RuPaul, in addition to other drag performers, on season 12 of this reality series. New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race premiere on VH1 on Friday nights.