Happy Ru-Year! After ushering in 2021 with an appearance on YouTube's New Year's Eve broadcast, RuPaul kicked things off with the premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race season 13. According to numbers, things started on a herstoric high.
Season 13 of the show has logged huge numbers in terms of viewers -- more than any season premiere previously -- mostly due to the series diversifying the audience. By that we mean, not only was the premiere aired on VH1 but it was simulcast across The CW Network, MTV, MTV2, PopTV, and Logo, bringing in its biggest audience yet. According to Deadline, the result was the most-watched episode in franchise history. But, there was other history being made with Gottmik, the show's first trans masculine contestant entering the Werk Room. Last night, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, RuPaul finally opened up about the casting.
In the interview, RuPaul had much to talk about. Colbert congratulated the longtime host on making it into the Guinness Book of World Records, to which Ru responded that he would like to make a record for the "world's richest television host." He then asked Ru for the biggest lesson he's learned from doing Drag Race for so long.
"It's to keep an open mind," the star said. "I walked into this thing with an idea of what drag is and the kids have a different idea. They keep changing it. This season we have a trans man who is on our show who is competing with the other drag queens and this man is fantastic. Fantastic!"
"So, you know," Ru continued. "I keep moving with what the kids are doing."
It certainly is a change. Ru notably was -- and continues to be -- the subject of backlash after intimating that trans drag performers who have physically transitioned would not be welcome in the competition. Peppermint, in season nine, is largely considered the first out trans contestant to compete on the show in a regular season while others have come out during, or after the show. She notably made top two in her season.
Gottmik was arguably the most well-known of season 13's contestants prior to being announced in the cast. Out of drag, he is a professional makeup artist to celebrities and drag queens alike. In the first episode, after a cheeky "time to crash the cis-stem" entrance line, he beat out Utica in a lip sync battle proving that he might be more than just a look queen.
It is important to note here that while Ru's statement seems to infer a notion that drag has changed, making way for trans or otherwise gender variant individuals in the years since his ascent that didn't exist before, that's untrue. Trans folks have long been integral to drag communities, and it was arguably trans women who established the form. That RuPaul only wishes to acknowledge this now is not an indictment on the form.
Elsewhere in the Colbert interview, the late-night host asked about dream Drag Race guest judges. This season the judges will include Jamal Sims, Ts Madison, and Cynthia Erivo among others.
"Oh, absolutely," Ru responded to the idea of a dream pick. "Cher! I mean, she is the ultimate drag queen."
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