The RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise is doing something it has never done before– an international all-stars series of sort! And though it’s not exactly that, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World is bringing Drag Race queens from across the globe together for a new series that will see them all go head-to-head to become something bigger than [insert country’s] Next Drag Superstar or a slot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame…they’re vying to be Queen of the Mothertucking World!
The competing queens include RuPaul’s Drag Race (U.S.) icons Jujubee (season 2, All Stars 1 and All Stars 5) and Mo Heart (fka Monique Heart; season 10 and All Stars 4) RuPaul’s Drag Race UK‘s Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea and Cheryl Hole (all season 1), Drag Race Holland‘s Janey Jacké (season 1), Canada’s Drag Race‘s Lemon and Jimbo (season 1) and Drag Race Thailand co-host Pangina Heals.
Shadow and Act spoke to the cast, including Mo Heart, Pangina Heals, Jujubee, Blu Hydrangea, Cheryl Hole, Janey Jacké, Lemon and Jimbo ahead of the season’s premiere to discuss everything leading up to the debut episode, why they signed on for it, what they’re excited about and what we may be surprised about!
Heals is officially the first host to compete in a Drag Race season after presiding over a season once before. The Thai drag legend understands she may have some sort of advantage over her competitors.
“To my advantage, I would know a lot about fashion, definitely,” she said. “And working with [Art] Arya, my co-host on the show, she is a fashion stylist and also a fashion designer. So when I was preparing for the show, she gave me all these fashion history lessons, all these textbooks, and she was like, ‘Learn them, know this, you have to know everything.’ You have to know what silhouette is, you have to know how to sew, you have to know everything. So I trained with her to become a seamstress. But I didn’t know any of that before knowing that I was tasked it, so I had to learn in a short amount of time.”
Jacké is excited to be able to connect to English speakers without the barriers of subtitles. “Obviously a lot of people in the world are just not a fan of [subtitles],” she explained. “We’re very used to it in Europe because we grow up with a lot of a UK and the US television in general. Plus, I think I’m just able to show a lot more layers as well in what I’m going to do or what I did in versus the world rather than I did in Drag Race Holland. Also because it was just a very different concept of what I wanted to do, because it was the first show around. We didn’t have a sewing challenge, which I was really hoping for to have. I was able to show some [things] performance-wise, but I hope[d] that the other challenges would also teach me a lot more stuff in general.”
The iconic Jujubee is back for her fourth season of Drag Race, and she’s on her fifth drag-related show if you count her stint on singing competition spinoff, Queen of the Universe. We had to tell her that she’s out-Shangela’d Shangela herself!
“When Ru calls, you really do answer,” she said. “Yeah, I have out Shangela’d Shangela [laughs]. I think I am the queen that has been in the most competitions. Don’t tell RuPaul this, but I want to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race more than RuPaul. And I think I’m going to get there. The ultimate goal for real like, ‘Hey Mama Ru, what’s up!?” I’m going to be in every single episode of every show and competition that you do.”
With the UK is the first host nation for a Drag Race series like this, Cheryl Hole said it worked to their (she, Baga and Blu’s) advantage.
“We were coming back into the home ground, the familiar place…your nan’s house…you knew exactly where everything was,” she explained. “And it was just so comforting, reassuring that you could keep your head in the zone. And yes, there was that voice in the back of your head saying, ‘Oh, this is your home country. Make sure you turn it out.’ But we all came back for a reason and we wouldn’t have come back if we didn’t think that we were ready to compete and slay the game. So, I just put my game face on and I just went let’s represent for the UK and let’s get me back in the old workstation.”
But for Hydrangea, she say she didn’t sign on as fast as her UK season 1 sisters. “I believe the All Stars [season 1] was after season four of normal [U.S.] Drag Race,” she said. “So I assumed that we’d have [until] season four of UK Drag Race. So I thought I had another year. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s great..I have another year to find myself and blah, blah, blah, blah.’ But no, I got the call and it was like, “And we were wondering just if you might want to go on an All Star season?” I was like, ‘Oh yeah, in the future, that would be great.’ They were like, ‘No, we mean next month. And oh, and also it’s going to be worldwide,’ which was even more intense.”
And the legend that is Mo Heart (formerly known as Monique Heart) told us about her name change which takes effect on this season, which she says will be her last time on Drag Race.
“I have been growing as a queer individual and just the healing of my own heart and whatnot,” she explained. “And so as Kevin heals, I feel like Monique is healing at the same. And I feel like for this next season of my life, I just didn’t want my character’s name to necessarily have a binary female because I feel like drag is so evolved now. And so, I want to try different things and express myself differently. Also, I feel like this butch man is just coming through [and he[ likes to play in makeup world. Much like much how Prince the artist had an evolution, that is the evolution of me, Mo Heart. I just want to give Mo Heart more love, more of that grace that the father gives us.”
And Jimbo, arguably one of the most eccentric (if not the most eccentric) personalities that have graced the competition, she’s so happy to be here.”
“It is an exciting honor to be considered an international all star,” she said. “And like Mo said, anytime mama Ru calls, you drop whatever you are doing, you pack your bags and you head to that competition. So it’s just an absolute dream and an honor to be a part of this Drag Race sisterhood and family. And it’s just amazing to represent Canada on the world stage. And of course I would’ve loved a little bit more time [before returning], but that’s life. You always want more time. I think it’s just a really great opportunity to show the world how I evolved and changed since my first season. And I’m just really excited for the world to learn a little bit more about me and to see how I’ve grown. As an artist, we like to grow and evolve and to change and to shift. Drag Race really is this like epic bootcamp where you enter in as one artist and you exit as another. I’m just so grateful for this journey and I’m just so excited to keep upping my game. It’s all exciting.”
The first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World dropped Feb. 1 on WOW Presents Plus. New episodes will air weekly over the next few weeks.
Check out the full interview below: