When the first nine contestants of World of Wonder’s ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ entered the “werk” room doors on Feb. 9, 2009, thousands of viewers got their first glimpses at this fabulous, underground art form. Now, after 13 seasons of Emmy-winning content within its American series and host/executive producer, Rupaul Charles, ushering over 150 drag queens from obscurity to total stardom, the franchise outreaches abroad. This list counts down all current international adaptations of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’.
1. Thailand’s Drag Race
As the vast fan base for Drag Race expanded with each sickening season, avid viewers grew tired of the repetitive formula the show dogmatically subscribed to. The birth of Drag Race Thailand was just what fans were looking for when the innovative sister show unveiled the glamour of Asian drag culture. With eager, unfiltered queens that harkened back to earlier seasons of American Drag Race, Line TV’s hit adaptation gave new life to and perspective to drag.
Taking the spot of RuPaul Charles and Michelle Visage on the judging panel of Drag Race Thailand are the country’s superstars of drag, Art Ayra and Pangina Heels. A 30 year veteran of the fashion industry, Ayra carries the torch of American drag legend, RuPaul, with elegance and grace. Upon greeting the competing queens of the competition, shrimp farmer and runner up of the competition, Dearie Doll, describes Ayra as the “Madonna of Drag Queens”.
Each queen who enters the competition has their own special irreverence and character, as opposed to the quite vocally fan-proclaimed filler queens of later American seasons. Whether it’s the wackiness of the bubbly, Korat quee, B Ella from season one or the sheer beauty of season two’s young, Ariana Grande impersonator, Kandy Zyanide, the queens of Thailand never fail to entertain as they compete for the cash prize of $500K.
2. Rupaul’s Drag Race UK
Anyone who’s ever visited the Drag Race subreddit is aware of the circulation rumors of the show’s over the pond adaption. Their dreams finally came true as RuPaul’s Drag Race UK premiered on the BBC in October of 2019. Fans were even more elated to find that RuPaul would be judging the competition alongside Michelle Visage.
Joining them on the panel are British telly icons, Alan Carr of Channel 4’s Alan Carr: Chatty Man and five time British Academy Television Award winner, Graham Norton. Stand out queens of the series’ first season were the London fashion clown, Bags Chipz, the self- proclaimed “total slag”, Vinegar Strokes, and the whistle tone primadonna, Divina De Campo. Though, the title of UK’s Next Drag Superstar ultimately went to the 2015 UK Ambassador of RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Vivienne.
With the show’s November 2019 renewal, fans can binge both seasons back to back and get their fill of the best drag talent across the pond.
3. Canada’s Drag Race
The ever so illustrious fan favorite, Brooklyn Heights, amazed fans with her high end fashion sense and lip syncing abilities on the eleventh season of US Drag Race. Along with her laundry list of pageantry titles, Heights came second place in the competition as the show’s first Canadian contestant. Little did she know, this was only the beginning of her career as a drag television personality.
In a recent interview with Johnny McGovern on the YouTube hit queer talk show, Hey Qween, Brooklyn recounts how she became the first contestant to ever host their own series of Drag Race. “Right after we filmed season eleven,” she says, “I was in the World of Wonder offices talking about doing a WOWPresents Plus show . . .. next thing I know they said ‘Hey so you wanna be a permanent judge on Canada’s Drag Race?”
Thus, on July 22nd, 2020, Canada’s Drag Race was born. Heights was joined on the judging panel by Canadian/American Next Top Model modeling coach, Stacy McKenzie and Lifetime’s Unreal star, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman.
On Hey Qween, Heights reflects on getting the chance to judge the first competitors of Canada’s Drag Race right after her spotlight performance on the American version. Getting the chance to see the very queens she worked alongside before fame got their golden television opportunity humbled her as a person and a performer.
The fan favorite of the Great White North’s adaptation was the comedy clown, Jimbo. Fans raved the internet as her seemingly premature elimination landed her in fourth place. The constant level of crackling wit and camp landed previous child actor, Priyanka with the $100K cash prize and title of Canada’s Next Drag Superstar.
Alongside it’s ever-growing stack of industry accolades, the little-show-that-could, RuPaul’s Drag Race launched the careers of over 100 drag careers across the world. With a loyal fan base, World of Wonder continues to produce more and more amazing drag content.
All World of Wonder productions can be streamed on the World of Wonder app.
By Omar Letson