Other guest judges include artists Nicki Minaj and Chaka Khan, and comedienne Leslie Jones
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “The View” moderator Whoopi Goldberg are among the guest judges on Season 12 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” VH1 announced Thursday.
Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described superfan of the drag queen competition, appearing on the Season 11 reunion special with a message of support for fan-favorite contestant Nina West. AOC also attended the show of Season 9 winner Sasha Velour and agreed to a “glam session” with contestant Shuga Cain.
Goldberg was a guest speaker at DragCon — the annual drag queen convention — in New York last year. She is a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights, kicking off World Pride Day in June with several notable “Drag Race” alumni.
Nicki Minaj will appear in the season opener, continuing the tradition of pop star premiere judges that began with Lady Gaga in Season 9 and Christina Aguilera in Season 10. Other guest judges this season are Chaka Khan, Robyn, Leslie Jones, Normani, Jeff Goldblum, Daisy Ridley, Thandie Newton, Olivia Munn, Rachel Bloom, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett and Winnie Harlow.
Normani and Harlow know what it’s like to compete on reality TV, rising to fame on “The X Factor” and “America’s Next Top Model,” respectively.
They join regular judges RuPaul, Michelle Visage and Ross Mathews in deciding who will stay, lip-sync for their life or “sashay away.”
The 13 contestants vying for the ultimate title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar” and a grand prize of $100,000 include: Aiden Zhane (Acworth, GA), Brita (New York, NY), Crystal Methyd (Springfield, MO), Dahlia Sin (Los Angeles, CA), Gigi Goode (Los Angeles, CA), Heidi N Closet (Ramseur, NC), Jackie Cox (New York, NY), Jaida Essence Hall (Milwaukee, WI), Jan (New York, NY), Nicky Doll (New York, NY), Rock M. Sakura (San Francisco, CA), Sherry Pie (New York, NY), and Widow Von’Du (Kansas City, MO).
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked” are produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Mandy Salangsang and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers. Tim Palazzola serves as Executive Producer for VH1 and Jen Passovoy serves as Producer.
Season 12 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” premieres Friday, February 28th at 8:00 PM ET/PT on VH1. Check out the new trailer above.
9 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Season 9 Moments, Ranked From Worst to Best (Videos)
- Liza MinelliIt’s shocking that a drag queen hadn’t attempted Liza before the Season 9 “Snatch Game.” Other gay icons have gotten the impersonation treatment multiple times — Cher and Lady Gaga for starters — but Liza? No takers? We’re glad the first try was done by Alexis Michelle, who clearly reveres the superstar. Her theater training didn’t always shine throughout the season, but it didn’t get any more clear than this.
- Eureka’s elimination“Drag Race” is full of atypical eliminations — from two queens getting booted at once to Willam getting disqualified in Season 4. However, Eureka’s elimination due to her torn ACL was the first time one had been eliminated for medical reasons, and it was bittersweet. Eureka later said that she received support from her fellow contestants and from the crew, which added to the emotional moment. That, plus the fact she got asked back for Season 10, makes us want to tune in.
- SargeRuPaul loves Sarge. The contestants love Sarge. We love Sarge. The makeover challenge this season went behind the camera and allowed the queens to transform the crew into their drag daughters. They were all surprisingly charming, but one stood out. Sarge was quick-witted and hilarious, but when RuPaul asked him about working on the show and how he views drag, he was able to tone it down for a sweet moment where he showcased his respect for the medium.
- Club KidsIt was by far the best runway of the season. The episode gave us a primer on Club Kid culture and allowed the contestants to stretch their creative muscles. Trinity, who had never experienced the culture before, was able to wow with her interpretation but it was Peppermint in her candy-inspired clown outfit that made our jaws drop.
- Sasha Velour’s entranceThere are only a handful of memorable workroom entrances, and this season, it belonged to Sasha Velour, who walked into the workroom, lifted her hands in the air, and screamed. We know now that Sasha is an intelligent, quirky queen with a unique sense of style, but in that moment we just felt her emotions. When you enter a new situation for the first time, you’d want to scream too (watch the first 20 seconds of the clip to the left).
- Valentina compares herself to SelenaWe’re happy to see the return of a full-length reunion episode, since the queens are allowed to be more emotional and raw when they’re not in front of a large audience. The whole episode was tense, but when the spotlight finally focused on Valentina and her fans, things got a little weird. When asked to explain her rabid fanbase — some of which sent abusive messages to the other contestants — she compared herself to 1990s superstar Selena. The other queens’ faces are priceless.
- “Macho Man”In a season full of lackluster lip syncs, we were happy whenever Peppermint ended up in the bottom two. At least you knew she was going to put on a show. The one quality lip sync featured her and Alexis Michelle going head-to-head while lip syncing to “Macho Man.” It’s everything a lip sync should be — competitive and dynamic. Alexis started it off with a mustache reveal, but once Peppermint pulled off her wig to reveal another wig, it was over.
- “You look like Linda Evangelista”We’ll be saying this on our deathbeds. When Aja came for Valentina in “Untucked,” she, in her own words, “aggressively complimented” her for what she felt was an undeserved spot in the Top 2. “You’re perfect, you’re beautiful, you look like Linda Evangelista, you’re a model. Did you stone those tights? Oh you’re smiling!” It’s almost like Aja knew it was going to be on a T-shirt, or a song, which you can listen to at the clip.
- Valentina shockerThis was the season of one-sided lip syncs. We thought it couldn’t get worse than Charlie Hides sway and clap effort, but somehow it did. Valentina was doing well throughout the entire season, but a major misstep sent her into the bottom two and into a lip sync against Nina Bonina Brown. She could’ve gone all the way, as Ru said after, but when you don’t know the words and refuse to take off your mask, you’re going to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
What this season lacked in pizzazz it made up for with shocking eliminations and quotable drama
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