'Drag Race: Vegas Revue' Queens on Vanjie and Kameron's Hookup and Who's the Biggest Diva
By John Boone
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What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas if RuPaul has his say: The grande dame of Drag Race set up shop on the strip for his first-ever residency -- and then turned all the devotion, drama and dragtasticness of putting on a live show into a new spinoff, RuPaul's Drag Race: Vegas Revue.
The six-episode docuseries follows fan favorite queens Asia O'Hara, Derrick Barry, Kameron Michaels, Naomi Smalls, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Yvie Oddly as the girls set out to launch RuPaul's Drag Race Live! and documents all of the blood, sweat and tears that go into not f**king it up.
"It's the biggest peek behind the curtain," Yvie teases. "You get to see who we really are and who we were before we became professional drag queens. So, I think that's going to surprise people to find out who these bitches really are."
In conversation with ET's Brice Sander, the queens of Vegas Revue chatted about showcasing their drag outside the Werk Room, broke down the backstage hijinks and sounded off on that unexpected showmance.
The Reality of Reality TV
Vegas Revue may fall under the RuPaul's Drag Race umbrella, but it could not be more different from the flagship competition. This is a fully realized reality show documenting the lives of the queens on and offstage, showcasing the good, the bad and the ugly as they attempt to pull off arguably the biggest drag show ever.
Derrick Barry: I've been ready for this since I moved to Vegas in 2004... The fact that now it's RuPaul's Drag Race and it's a reality show, it's every component that I've been waiting for. I really do feel like the last 15 years has just prepped me for this moment. And I'm the only one from All Stars 5 in the show. So, cheers!
Asia O'Hara: It really is following us getting ready for what I think is the hardest thing we've done when it comes to drag, so it's nice for people to get to see behind the scenes and see what goes into putting together a drag show on this scale -- but without us competing with one another.
Naomi Smalls: I don't want to put my drag into a competition ever again. I'd rather just, like, compete in my head with the girls' wigs backstage.
Yvie Oddly: What did make me nervous was the fact that it was following us in this whole new experience that none of us have ever really been in before, in a city where I know I haven't spent more than a drunken night or two. That was the nervousness that came through for me, was being like, well, I don't want to look a fool too much.
Derrick: It's really highlighting all of our talents, and it's giving people a backstage look into our lives that you really just get from, like, the Untucked videos when someone sends you love and support on your season. You're actually going to get to see behind the scenes of our relationships, our love life, our home life, our family life. That's really what the fans want to see the most.
Vanjie and Kameron, Sitting in a Tree
K-A-I-K-A-I-I-N-G. One of the series' more eyebrow-raising moments is the on-camera makeout between Kameron and Vanjie, and while the latter is no stranger to Werk Room romance -- she hooked up with Brooke Lynn Hytes during season 11 of Drag Race -- it was no less shocking to her Sin City sisters.
Yvie: I know I was shocked, but that's just because I think of these girls as, like, my sisters and my coworkers. And I have to be deep in the hole to want to put my tongue down my sister's throat.
Kameron Michaels: I always said I thought Vanjie was cute. I'm always looking for-- I don't want to say the next ex-Miss Michaels, but you know, they always end up being that way. Maybe this one will work out.
Asia: Kameron is very much so a hopeless romantic -- she really is -- and Vanjie is just a "do whatever I want when I want" type of person, so something like that was maybe bound to happen.
Yvie: [Vanjie] likes 'em tall and she likes 'em flexible, apparently.
Vanessa Vanjie: Chile, yes I do. We need somebody that can bend me up like a pretzel-wetzel. Wait, but if they're flexible, that's got nothing to do with me. Uh, yeah. Tall, flexible, make me feel fishy.
A Celebration of the Queens of Color
Amid our reckoning on racism, the Drag Race fandom has been forced to take a long, hard look in the mirror at its treatment of queens of color. And though Drag Race has crowned four Black queens consecutively -- and the majority of the Vegas Revue cast are queens of color -- there's still work to be done.
Asia: I think that RuPaul's Drag Race in itself has always celebrated queens of color. The piece of the puzzle that people miss is that quite often the fans pick the winner. It doesn't matter who wins a season. It doesn't matter who wins the most challenges. It doesn't matter who gets the best critiques. The fans pick who works the most.
Naomi: I'm very excited that a lot more queens of color are definitely being highlighted right now. I think it's long overdue... And I'm hoping with the political climate, we can really appreciate people for who they are instead of the color of their skin. 'Cause it really has nothing to do with your drag. As long as your foundation matches, like, that's what I'm impressed by.
Asia: The change that I have seen is the fans that are true ride-or-die friends and family that have always supported us just as drag queens, they have definitely been a lot more vocal about the positivity in all of us. And they really have done their best to overshadow any negative energy that's coming from other fans.
Yvie: It feels really good to know that people in general are more willing to step back and, like, check their biases and be like, "I like this queen. But what are the reasons why I like her? What are the reasons why I'm not following these girls?" And I think the more we have these conversations, the better the future of Drag Race is going to be. Because clearly Black excellence exists. And I think it's about time that we've been given the props for all the work we've put in.
And Plenty of Queen-on-Queen Drama
To borrow the tagline of another reality series, Vegas Revue is what happens when drag queens stop being polite and start getting real. And even without a crown or $100,000 cash prize up for grabs, that means drama. Or "fighting, yelling, hooping and hollering," as Vanjie puts it, in true Vanjie fashion.
Vanjie: Well, it's a bunch of queens. You know s**t's gonna happen. It is what it is.
Asia: You would think going into this -- because we're not competing -- that there would be less tension between one another. Clearly we find out really quick that that's not the case. I mean, bitches are going to be bitches.
Derrick: I think Asia has a big personality. And anytime you have a big personality in drag -- we've seen it on seasons of Drag Race -- that's not always easy for big personalities to blend and mesh well. I think it's just really gonna be exciting to see unfold.
Asia: Most of us have our moments. You'll have to tune in to see how that plays out, but there are several, bitchy moments. I think the audience is going to watch this and they're relate to one of us, and in these situations, they're going to be like, "OK, I understand where she's coming from," or "I understand where she's coming from." It's something else, I'll tell you that. The queens on this Vegas show are something else.