Everyone on earth watches RuPaul’s Drag Race, and half of them want to be on it. So, to make it easier for wannabe applicants, I asked a few of the gals who have actually appeared on the show for their expert advice on how to present yourself for maximum approval—i.e., a coveted gig as a Drag Race contestant. What exactly should you put on your audition reel? Their answers are illuminating.
"It's most important to be yourself. Don't try to fake a personality. Be as unique as possible. Stand out! Show them what makes you special."
Blair St. Clair
"1. Know your brand. Know your character. Who is your drag personality and what makes you special to other girls on past seasons? Find what that is and showcase it!
2. Start collecting footage now! Record everything you do—all stage performances, take a photo, and a mini runway clip every time you’re in drag, and take B-roll of you behind the scenes.
3. Make a concept for your audition video. Is it going to follow the audition requirements step by step or are you going to make it a theme that best represents you? Have fun with it and be genuine. Answer questions how you truthfully feel. Don’t say what you think producers want to hear."
“I suggest the girls read and listen carefully to what Ru and the producers are asking for in their audition reels. Give them what they ask for, as this is your first opportunity to show you can take direction as a competitor and excel under a certain set of guidelines. I also suggest you snatch the attention of casting immediately in your reels, as they view many tapes and boring auditions get buried very quickly in the elimination process. Above all, show RuPaul and casting who you are as a queen and make them laugh. After all, everyone likes to laugh. Good luck, girls!!!”
“Applying to RuPaul's Drag Race is like applying for a job. Know what position you are going for, and I'm not talking top or bottom. They cast certain ‘types’ of queens. If you know what you are going for, then it's easier to show your strengths. But don't pretend you are something you aren't. Save the fakery for your delusion of drag! Ask yourself after you watch your tape, would you watch this past 60 seconds?”
“The best thing you can do is to be yourself. Don't overproduce it. Don't be who you think they're looking for--be you. They can smell ‘a put-on’ a mile away. Oh, and whatever you do, don't say, ‘Hi. My name is Mimi Imfurst.'"
Mrs. Kasha Davis
“I hear quite a few queens say, 'I started the video process and saw the application, and it’s a lot this year!' Let me tell you something, Sister Bitch, if you are not ready to work and have a team and treat this as a business, do not apply. I don’t care how many queens audition or get cast to compete—only a select few consistently rise to the top with the work ethic healthy enough to stay afloat. Finally, it’s taken years of therapy, meditation, box wine, and rehab for this next part to even begin to sink in. 'Just be yourself and do not copy others.' Good luck with that one because it’s the key not only to this Drag Race shit, but to life! You, my dear reading this, are exactly who you are and who you need to be! Not like me or like any other queen who can repeat their name three times (Vanjie, Vanjie, Vanjie) #beyourself
"Remember, someone new is coming and there is room for all of us at the table, so be patient and use your manners because getting full fast is temporary. What you want is the slow and steady simmer, not just the boil!"
“1. There’s no surefire way to get on. It’s really based on what they may need in a given season. Sometimes producers may feel it isn’t your time, or you’re maybe too similar to another girl.
2. Showcase anything that truly makes you stand out from the rest. That could be your drag if it’s truly different, more creative or simply ‘next level’ in presentation. It could be your life story or family background or your work in the community outside of drag. It could simply be your personality. It could be your number of followers too. Viewership may or may not be a factor, but in these times, having a good fan base before getting casted shows your work is being appreciated.
3. Show that you are at the top of whatever drag you do. Prove that you are the fiercest dancer, makeup artist, comedian, performer, singer, etc.
4. Versatility in looks, hair and makeup. Whether you are a campy queen, look queen, or pageant queen, etc., show that you can be versatile if they need you to be, while still trying to be true to the ‘type’ of drag you want to be known for.
5. ‘Let go and let God.'”
“Just be yourself because they want to see you for you, not like someone they've had already on the show or see you putting up an act. When you are yourself 100%, the star within you will shine. When you are yourself, you are unique and nobody can be you. They've seen thousands and thousands of videos already, and they know when someone is not themselves. So just be you.”
“Contestants should be themselves and not a caricature of personalities they’ve seen on the show. Leave out the ‘Yassss, mammas’ and tongue pops. If you really want to get noticed when you film your interview section, don’t do it in your bedroom. Get inventive and shoot it on the crosstown bus, in the dentist’s chair, or at a sauna.”
Bianca Del Rio
“Don’t do it. Drag is a trap. It can fuck up your life. Look at Katya. No, don’t—she’s in rehab!”
My two cents?
I have no personal advice, except to anyone wanting to promote drag queens in a big way. The following NYC queens are worthy of more attention (and drink tickets): Honey Davenport, Sherry Vine, Flotilla DeBarge, Logan Hardcore, Sutton Lee Seymour, Cacophany Daniels, Chelsea Piers, Brini Maxwell, Ari Kiki, Tina Burner, Jackie Cox, Paige Turner, Brita Filte...and on and on.
Champagne Bubbles and Chocolate Dreams
And wait, there are more. There’s Cherry Poppins,
At the benefit for GMHC and Alliance for Positive Change, Delighted ToBeHere (from America’s Got Talent) hosted the array of gals in their various categories, in between making remarks like, “The song ‘Let It Go’ is actually about farting” and “I want to get a hat that says ‘Make a Merkin Great Again.'” The top four gals were the pert Didi Cumswell, the bold Mini Horrorwitz (who bravely went with a Holocaust theme for her talent), the snazzy Champagne Bubbles, and the winner Mariette Moore, a ballet dancer with the face of Mae West, who was crowned by last year’s winner, Lady SinAGaga.
I judged with Richard Pryor Jr., who said he’s writing a tell-all, and Crystal Demure (aka J. Harrison Ghee), who stars in Kinky Boots. Before the show, we were served chocolate in the shape of penises and vaginas, upon which Crystal said that if she munched down on the latter, it wouldn’t be the first time: “I’ve gotten my fingers wet.” Alas, that wasn’t said into a mic. The weird thing is, we three were seated in the audience with mics in our faces, but we were never asked for any comments (except to score ballots), so we didn’t say a word. And that’s how a drag pageant should be–wacky as hell.
Drag queens (like Brini Maxwell) mixed with tattooed people, hairdressers, and Sony execs at my Vamp Bikers movie release party at the Townhouse gay bar the next night. As Nora Burns from the comedy trio Unitard put it, “Only you can gather goth bikers, plastic surgeried semi-socialites, ex-porn stars, old school Rounds clientele, condemned club kids and assorted queens and crazies.”
Vamp Bikers is Eric Rivas’ culty trilogy that I costar in, which has been picked up by the Sony-owned distribution company the Orchard and is coming out on Amazon on June 21, as well as on iTunes. The Townhouse used to be a hustler hangout—before they all went online—so at the bash, I announced, “Well, the whores are all here tonight! This is fabulous!” I was especially gushing over Marcia McBroom—one of the stars of the 1970 cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls—when in walked Michael Alig, the club kid killer who has a part in the movie. “I’m sorry I didn’t get the invite right away,” he told me. “I don’t have a computer and I‘m homeless now.” Anyone want to take him in?