Drag queens come and drag queens go, but there's one queen who always reigns supreme. That person is, of course, the one and only RuPaul. As the legendary drag performer looks to the premiere of the Season 9 of RuPaul's Drag Race, he revealed who he thinks has been the fiercest of the fierce to slay the series.
"Oh, um, Jocelyn, that would be me," he recently told The Daily Dish, with a laugh. But RuPaul does actually have a lot of love and respect for every single person who has ever competed on the series, revealing that he still gets surprised by every set of queens who angle for a shot at the Drag Race crown.
"I know these kids even before I meet them in person," he said. "The fact that they have persevered in this culture, in this male-dominated society where being feminine is akin to an act of treason — not just for boys, for girls too — and to prevail and to still against all odds come out on top, these are creative, courageous, gorgeous creatures. So they will continue to surprise me because I've said this before, at its core the show is about the tenacity of the human spirit and they have it in spades."
As a pop icon in his own right, Ru says it's a mutual admiration society when he meets these up-and-coming queens. "It's a meeting of kindred spirits," he added.
Which brings us to Friday's premiere on VH1, which will welcome Lady Gaga to the show as a guest judge (finally!). And while she's worn many unforgettable looks over the years, he says that what she rocks in the premiere is truly one for the record books — and may serve as inspo if you're looking for your own iteration of Gaga to do in drag.
"I think the look that she does on our show is really spectacular," he said. "It's really over-the-top. In fact, in the first episode she comes out and the girls don't know it's her. She comes out as the fourteenth contestant saying that she's the world's preeminent Lady Gaga impersonator."
Ru and the producers are always looking for ways to keep the show spicy, but the idea to prank the contestants was all Gaga. "The producers and I are all from the same school we are pop culture junkies," he said. "We grew up watching the same things and when you grow up on the fringe, you really get to study pop culture. And so we've applied everything that we've picked up through the years to our show. And so far we haven't run out of things to not only amaze the audience and contestants, but really amaze ourselves. That's where it starts."
Ru teases that the celebrity judges this season are "gonna blow your socks off." Unsurprisingly, A-listers are clamoring to sit beside him on the series because they understand the core value of the show is drag culture. "All of these people understand intrinsically that we are all in drag," he said. "You're born naked and the rest is drag, so they understand the concept of presentation [and] of what it is like to present yourself in your sort of Superman costume. Drag is like Superman to Clark Kent."
While the celebs keep rolling through, one remains on the top of RuPaul's judges' panel wish list. "Top of mind has always been Judge Judy," he said. "She's doing $50 million a year on her show and she judges on her show [so] I don't know if she wants to spend any other time judging." Should she decide to stop by in a future season (and really we'd love to see that), RuPaul revealed how he thinks the show has changed pop culture the most since its debut back in 2009.
"The biggest change is in the vernacular because of social media and because of the way queens speak with a certain irreverence and a certain humor and a play on words," he said. "These sweet, sensitive souls throughout history have survived through our laughter and our ability to make light of seemingly heavy topics. So the vernacular that has always been a part of gay culture and drag culture is now part of the pop lexicon. When you get the first lady talk[ing] about 'throwing shade,' that's been the most remarkable change. But also I think the most significant change has to be with acceptance and with people realizing that there is only one of us on this planet. We are not separate from one another. We are actually one thing on this planet; we're all connected and I think our show has helped emphasize that [feature] of our combined experience."
Check out more from RuPaul, below.