In an unprecedented move, this week VH1 and RuPaul’s Drag Race disqualified a contestant on season 12 of the show before they ever made their official debut. Since Tuesday, Sherry Pie, whose real name is Joey Gugiemelli has become the subject of allegations from at least eight different men, who said that in an elaborate scheme, Pie got them to send her videos featuring the men masturbating and with sex toys, while saying she was a casting agent. In response, Drag Race announced they would “disqualify” her from the show, meaning she would not appear in the grand finale set to be filmed this spring. The rest of the show would air as planned.
But that’s not enough.
While it’s certainly encouraging that Drag Race released a statement and took decisive action quickly here, releasing a statement on social media and removing Pie from what amounts to one episode should only be the beginning. And while some of the more … extreme suggestions include scrapping the entire season — what about the other contestants?! — there is a middle ground.
The reality is that every second that Sherry Pie is on VH1 is another second that allows her to build her platform. And while one could theoretically just edit her completely out of the season, if she continues to do as well as she did on her debut — getting in the top two — that’s just not plausible. What happens when there’s group challenges? What happens when she has to lip sync again? But there is a way to edit around her, removing the queen’s talking head spots, as well as scenes and exchanges built around her that aren’t essential to the competition, putting that spotlight on some of the show’s other queens. There’s 12 of them so we’re sure there’s enough material that got cut.
This does mean that VH1 and World of Wonder are going to have to spend some extra money in doing a new edit but this is the cost of doing business. Though it seems unlikely the production could have found this information out doing a routine background check — the allegations were only made public this week — they still have an obligation to do what they can to right things.
*This story was updated to remove mention of a cue card, which Drag Race has implemented.