EXCLUSIVE: RuPaul Dishes on 'Drag Race' Season 9 -- How They Landed Lady Gaga and the Move to VH1

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Sashay away… to VH1!
RuPaul’s Drag Race is packing up its supply of wigs, heels and duct tape for season nine, relocating from its longtime home, VH1’s sister network, Logo.
“We're on VH1 now, which is in 93 million homes,” RuPaul gushes to ET. “I've been out promoting our show for so many years, trying to get people to come over to Logo … now, sort of my work is made easier by the fact that we're on VH1, where more people have it.”
Being in more homes means more eyes on the show.
“I'm most looking forward to the new eyes who will get to see our show for the first time,” he adds. “I remember, I grew up in San Diego, and back then, it was a very conservative culture, and I couldn't wait to hightail it out of there. My savior was watching Monty Python on PBS. And I thought, there is my tribe right there. That's who I need to go and find.”
“Now, with the kids who get to see our show, they know that their tribe is waiting for them,” he says.
Season nine kicks off with, possibly, the series’ biggest opening ever. Lady Gaga stomps into the workroom as if she’s part of the competition.
“We got Lady Gaga!” RuPaul exclaims. “And she is turnt-ing it … She wrote to me several years ago on Twitter, 'Please! I want to be a judge on your show.' And it's taken us this long to coordinate the schedules so that she could be on.”
“She comes from the club world,” he continues. “She is a class A drag queen, and she'd be the first one to say that. She's great. She knows what she's talking about.”
RuPaul calls Gaga a “brilliant” addition to the judging panel, teasing that this season will see some of the best guest judges in series her-story.
“We get the biggest stars and the greatest fans of our show,” he shares. “People [who] really understand what it's like to be a drag queen. And I'm not just talkin', you know, pussycat wig and a pair of cha-cha heels.”
The just-released trailer previews Kesha, Naya Rivera, Tori Spelling and Lisa Kudrow as some of the familiar faces fans will see in the coming weeks. Of course, there’s always a laundry list of dream guests, too.
“The big issue, as with Gaga, too, is coordinating schedules,” RuPaul laments. “I know that Scarlett Johansson has always been a fan, and she's always said, 'I love the show. I wanna be on the show.'”
“A lot of these people love the show because people in show business understand, more than anyone, that the face you put on when you go on stage, or in front of the camera, is very different from the face you put on to go schlep your dry cleaning around,” he explains. “There's an affinity with that life.”
But don’t expect a bigger network and bigger stars to mean Drag Race will be playing it safe.
“I don't know if you know this or not, but all of our producers are gay!” RuPaul says. “So, keeping things fresh, putting a spin, pulling some fierce, epic stunts. That is in our wheelhouse. Honey, you know, we can always keep it real and keep it exciting.”
The host promises fan-favorite challenges will be back for the new crop of episodes, but also a lot of new twists. He says it’s a “different beast” every year.
“Some of [the contestants] got into drag because of our show,” RuPaul offers. “So, they come in thinking, 'Oh, I got this. I got this.' It's like, think again, doll … we have no problem keeping it exciting.”
RuPaul is also very adamant that the show, and drag in general, will never be “mainstream” -- even if the series did earn him an Emmy for hosting last year.
“I don't do this really [to] snatch trophies,” he admits. “It's a calling. It's my calling. But the trophies are, it's cute. It's cute. I wish it was a cash prize, though.”
For more on RuPaul’s Emmy win, check out our interview with the star below. RuPaul’s Drag Race premieres Friday, March 24, at 8 p.m. ET on VH1. Encores will air on Logo.