February 2, 2009 was the beginning of something new, brilliant, sensational, and phenomenal.
RuPaul’s Drag Race made its official debut on television. The now iconic show was considered something fresh on LOGO way back when… with very little pandemonium compared to what it gets today.
Season one of Drag Race was incredibly simple and basic, however it needed to be in order to get to where it is today. It only had 9 contestants compared to the traditional 14 that the show has used since season 5 (minus the 12 in season 8).
It aired for little over a month, ending on March 23rd where Bebe Zahara Benet became the first ever crowned queen of RuPaul’s Drag Race over strong competition from runner up Nina Flowers. The reunion that followed featured the first ever major argument. It happened between host RuPaul and Tammie Brown, where the latter uttered the now infamous phrase “I don’t see you walking children in nature.”
This was a season that had that Barbara Walters filter, a stage that looked to be the size of my bedroom and a judge named Merle Ginsberg (she stuck around another season). Regardless of its look and feel, the show had something. The producers, queens and everyone involved made it a program worth seeing and gave our community an incredible amount of exposure during a time where we were still finding our footing on television, the movies and life.
That “something” proved to blossom into a beautifully tucked creature that shows no signs of slowing down. Here are just a couple of things that have happened for the show since it premiered way back when:
- Won multiple Emmys including Outstanding Reality Competition Program last year. RPDR is one of only four shows to ever win in that category since its debut in 2003 outside of Top Chef, The Amazing Race and The Voice.
- DragCon, a bi-annual gathering of some of the fiercest drag talent in the world, was created. Taking place each year in Los Angeles and New York, this 3-day weekend sells thousands of tickets to people who have traveled all over the world to see their favorite RPDR stars, buy some merchandise and experience something that would’ve never existed if this show didn’t come into play.
- Created larger-than-life careers for 140 queens (including the 14 just announced for season 11). The S11 queens are in the quiet phase of what will eventually become pure superstardom, as this show has helped each queen heighten their career to levels that have made some of them 7-figured bosses.
- Brought key figures back into the spotlight, notably RuPaul and Michelle Visage. There was a lull for both before this show started, and now the future is nothing but bright due to the energy each brings to the program alongside current mainstays Ross Mathews and Carson Kressley.
- Catchphrases that many of us use on a daily are from RPDR. “Henny”, “Oh no she betta don’t”, “Halleloo,” “Back rolls?” The list goes on forever.
- Some of the queens have taken their talents to the big screen, notably Shangela and Willam in A Star is Born and Ginger Minj in Dumpin.
- The show has reinvigorated the gay nightlife across the world, as several gay bars host RPDR-themed nights where fans come in just to watch.
There are so many more aspects to what this show has achieved over the past decade. Bottom line is this: RuPaul’s Drag Race has been nothing but a positive force and energy for our community and my hope is that it continues for many years so that future generations can feel what we have felt.
If anything, “Shante you stay” RuPaul’s Drag Race. For a long, long time.
This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.