You Better Work!

Drag queens go to battle, preparing to be read by RuPaul, strut their stuff on the catwalk, and do anything they can to avoid hearing the words "Sashay…away" on RuPaul's Drag Race.

BY Dan Avery

January 30 2009 1:00 AM ET

Long before
Project Runway’s Christian Siriano
uttered his first “tranny fierceness,” RuPaul
was turning heads at international hotspots,
headlining her own VH1 talk show, and burning up the
dance charts with singles like "Back to My Roots" and
"Supermodel (You Better Work)."

Now, the 6-foot-7
glamour girl is poised to conquer reality TV with
RuPaul’s Drag Race, a cutthroat
competition that sees her putting nine female
impersonators through their paces in a bid to be
crowned the next drag-queen superstar. With her team of
judges -- and help from celebrity guests like Bob
Mackie, Destiny’s Child’s Michelle
Williams, Lucy Lawless, and Tori Spelling -- Ru quickly
separates the boys from the queens.

But as the
Supermodel of the World herself would say, beauty
ain’t always pretty: Each week the bottom two
contestants must duke it out in a “lip-synch
for your life” showdown that determines who gets to
prance for another week. The last diva standing gets
$20,000 in cash, a photo spread in Paper
magazine, a print ad campaign with Greg Gorman and
L.A. Eyeworks, and other fab prizes.

In anticipation
of the eight-part series’ February 2 premiere on
Logo, Advocate.com chatted with RuPaul about putting
the show together, some of Drag Race’s
less-accomplished applicants, and her thoughts on
Obama.

Advocate.com:So many people loved the drag episode of Project
Runway
you appeared in with Varla Jean Merman
and Hedda Lettuce. Was that fun to work on?
RuPaul: Well, I don’t know about fun -- it
took something like seven hours to film just a few minutes
of film. Even on our show, there are a ton of things
that have to happen behind the scenes to make it all
look effortless. Television is like drag: There’s a
lot of illusion involved.

Did the Runway episode inspire your show? No, we’d been planning it for some time
already. But it was great exposure for a lot of those
girls.

How did you pick the contestants for Drag Race?We were looking for queens who had charisma, uniqueness,
nerve, and talent. There was a lot of discussion about
what kind of contestants we were going to feature. Are
you gonna do trannies, or pre-op or post-op girls? We
decided they all had to be showgirls. None of the
contestants have had any surgeries. But it was really
hard to choose, actually. There were tons of video
submissions to RuPaulsDragRace.com, but we ended up
picking just one [of those]. We had a casting director
choose most of the girls. 

Tags: television

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