'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 1 Queens: Where Are They Now?
In February 2009, fans were introduced to nine drag performers who walked into a basement-looking studio to film a brand-new reality competition series called RuPaul's Drag Race.
With a judging panel that consisted of RuPaul, fashion expert and book author Merle Ginsberg, and Project Runway star Santino Rice, the entire first season of Drag Race felt like a nine-part pilot episode to get this new show off the ground. Extra special guest judges featured throughout this inaugural season include Bob Mackie, Michelle Williams (from Destiny's Child), Mike Ruiz, and Maria Conchita Alonso, to name a few.
The nine drag trailblazers who signed up to compete in this first-ever season of Drag Race consisted of Akashia, BeBe Zahara Benet, Jade, Nina Flowers, Ongina, Rebecca Glasscock, Shannel, Tammie Brown, and Victoria "Porkchop" Parker. With no previous season to go off of, these contestants had to quite literally set up the blueprint for what this Emmy-winning franchise would become over time.
Scroll through to find out what the contestants featured on season one of RuPaul's Drag Race are up to now.
The first queen in herstory to sashay away from RuPaul's Drag Race was the iconic Victoria "Porkchop" Parker. Since then, Porkchop has gotten countless shout-outs from Mama Ru and was referenced numerous times over the course of the franchise. During the grand premiere of season 13, there was even a twist that was literally named the "Porkchop Loading Dock."
Outside of the Drag Race universe, Porkchop is still a hard-working queen in the Los Angeles area. Even though she's been mostly silent during the pandemic time period, Porkchop is still an active drag performer who appeared on Netflix's AJ and the Queen as recently as 2020. As of this writing, Porkchop has nearly 32,000 followers on Instagram.
The incomparable Tammie Brown might not have been a good fit for a reality competition like Drag Race, but she still left her mark on the series and even came back a few years later to compete on the first-ever season of All Stars.
With 275,000 current followers on Instagram, Brown has truly solidified her career beyond her presence on Drag Race over the years. In 2013, she was featured in the 2013 documentary I Am Divine. In 2019, Brown released an album of original songs called Schubert'. She also traveled the world alongside Trixie Mattel as the opening act for the Moving Parts Tour.
Akashia's verified account on Instagram - which has nearly 19,000 followers - is currently empty. The name on the profile reads, "MEDEIROS, Fellipe."
There's a chance that Akashia has retired from drag or is taking a break for the time being, but not much is known about what's going on with this season one legend. In recent years, Akashia did a lot of cosplay drag as she impersonated characters like Marvel Comics' Storm and DC Comics' Poison Ivy. Alas, those images are currently gone from her Instagram page.
The man behind the Jade Sotomayor drag persona is still interested in drag, but now also invests an equal amount of time to his boy-presenting stage name, which is aptly nicknamed Trade Sotomayor.
Altogether, Sotomayor is known for performing at various LGBTQ+ events whether in or out of drag. On Instagram, Sotomayor currently has over 53,000 followers.
The original bald queen of RuPaul's Drag Race was a fan-favorite request to come back to All Stars for many years. It finally happened on All Stars 5, but Ongina's second journey on the show wasn't exactly what she had expected for herself.
Nonetheless, Ongina is a booked and busy queen who's constantly on the road performing and making some nice coin. She has over 470,000 followers on Instagram as well, making her the second most-followed contestant from Drag Race season one.
Shannel had a roller-coaster ride on the first season of Drag Race, but made it all the way to the finale alongside Chad Michaels on All Stars 1.
As of 2022, Shannel is still a fierce and busy queen who is currently appearing on RuPaul's Drag Race Live! on the Las Vegas strip. Shannel's drag has consistently evolved over the years despite how long it's been since she appeared on Drag Race season one. Her drag might've been misunderstood by the judges back in the first season, but there's no denying that Shannel proved her point over the course of her career. On Instagram, Shannel currently has over 130,000 followers.
Not a lot of viewers expected Rebecca Glasscock to get to the top three of season one, but she got there against all odds. Unfortunately, though, the artist known behind Rebecca, Javier Rivera, is no longer performing as an active drag queen.
Now, Rivera invests a lot more of his time showing his body-ody-ody on Instagram - where he has 21,000 followers - and competing in male pageants. In the last two years, Rivera has been crowned Mr. Stonewall 2021 and Mr. Noche Latina 2022.
Nina Flowers is a fixture of the LGBTQ+ community beyond her work as a drag performer. Since appearing on Drag Race, Flowers has become much more known for working as a DJ for various queer parties and events. With that said, Flowers still serves some major looks during each performance as a DJ - many of them being incredibly beautiful and androgynous.
All things considered, Flowers is a great example of a queen who's still active in the artform of drag and remains "booked and busy," but no longer is limited to just being a drag performer who was once featured on RuPaul's Drag Race. As of this writing, Flowers has 288,000 followers on Instagram.
BeBe Zahara Benet
The OG winner of Drag Race, BeBe Zahara Benet, is the most-followed contestant featured in season one. Years later, Benet competed again on All Stars 3 and reintroduced themselves to a brand-new audience that might've not watched the first season of the series.
Despite not competing on the all-winners season of All Stars 7, Benet has had very busy years as of late. In 2022, the drag artist released a new documentary, Being BeBe, which explored the depth and impact of their career in the years before and after Drag Race. Benet currently has 530,000 followers on Instagram and has just released two brand-new songs: "Smoke Signals" and "Waiting" on all music streaming platforms.