‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’: contestants, judges, premiere date and everything you need to know

The Australia/New Zealand edition of the iconic show will feature guest star Kylie Minogue, making her long-awaited Drag Race debut

Get ready to say “Shantay, G’Day” to a whole new crop of queens because RuPaul’s Drag Race is coming down under!

The search to find Australia and New Zealand’s next drag superstar starts this week with the global premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. Hosted, as usual, by RuPaul herself, this season will see 10 trans-Tasman queens compete for the crown and follow in the footsteps of recent US winner, Symone, of Season 13.

From premiere dates to guest judges and drag alumni, here’s everything you need to know about RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.

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Latest news:

  • Kylie Minogue and Taika Waititi announced as guest stars
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under announces premiere date
  • Rhys Nicholson announced as judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under officially confirmed for 2021

When does RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under start?

The inaugural season of Drag Race Down Under will kick off Saturday (May 1).

How many episodes will Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under have?

New episodes will arrive weekly each Saturday, totalling eight from start to finish.

How can I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under?

The inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under will be available to stream on Stan Australia and TVNZ, with the first episode being released on Saturday, May 1 at 4PM AEST/6PM NZST.

UK audiences can catch the season premiere on May 2 on BBC Three, or stream the show on BBC iPlayer from 9AM BST. Episodes will continue to be available each Sunday morning, after airing locally in Oceania.

And audiences in the United States and select territories will be able to watch Drag Race Down Under from May 1 on the WOW Presents Plus app.

Who are the contestants in RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under?

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This season, Ru will welcome 10 queens to the Drag Race family: seven from Australia and three from New Zealand. There will also be a few familiar faces walking through the workroom doors, including Elektra Shock, who was the runner-up in Season 2 of Kiwi spin-off series House Of Drag.

Famed drag export Art Simone, who represented Australia at RuPaul’s annual drag convention in Los Angeles and New York last year, will appear on the series alongside fellow DragCon veteran Karen From Finance, who made subsequent appearances from 2017 to 2019.

Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under will also be the first season of the entire franchise to feature a queen of Indigenous Australian descent (Jojo Zaho), a queen of Fijian descent (Coco Jumbo) and a queen of Lebanese descent (Anita Wigl’it).

Meet all the queens competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season 1 in this reveal video, and find the full list below.

Anita Wigl’it (Auckland, NZ)
Art Simone (Melbourne, AUS)
Coco Jumbo (Sydney, AUS)
Elektra Shock (Auckland, NZ)
Etcetera Etcetera (Sydney, AUS)
Jojo Zaho (Newcastle, AUS)
Karen From Finance (Melbourne, AUS)
Kita Mean (Auckland, NZ)
Maxi Shield (Sydney, AUS)
Scarlet Adams (Perth, AUS)

Who are the judges on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under?

RuPaul and Michelle Visage will be on the judging panel for the entire season, having made the journey to Auckland for filming earlier this year in January 2021. This marks the third franchise of the series that the pair have hosted, following the US and UK versions.

On March 3, Rhys Nicholson was ru-vealed as the third judge for Drag Race Down Under. The Australian comedian has spent the last decade performing on stages across the globe, including Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and London’s SOHO Theatre.

In a statement regarding the news, RuPaul said, “Rhys Nicholson is the perfect addition to the Drag Race Down Under family. His quick wit, love of drag, and willingness to carry Michelle Visage’s heavy luggage have already made him indispensable. I know our audience is going to love him as much as we do.”

Who are the guest stars on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under?

As always, Rupaul’s Drag Race has a rotating door of celebrities, musicians and even politicians that either appear on the judging panel or pop up in the workroom for an inspirational pep talk.

On April 22, it was announced that Kylie Minogue will be making her highly-anticipated Drag Race debut, with sister Dannii Minogue and Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi.

“I’m so excited to finally be a part of RuPaul’s Drag Race for the first series [of] Down Under,” Kylie said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly, who first broke the news. “It’s such an iconic show and I can’t wait to watch the contestants perform their hearts out to win the title of Down Under’s first Drag Superstar!”

Dannii added: “I got to have a cheeky Untucked chat with the girls on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season 1. They had come straight from the runway challenge so it was exciting and tense all at the same time, not knowing who was going to have to lip sync for their life!”

All three stars will appear on the franchise virtually, as per COVID-safety protocols, with The Edge reporting Waititi will join episode one and the Minogue sisters episode two.

Other guests are still to be confirmed.

Is there a trailer for Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under?

Yes – a first look trailer was released April 15. Get a sneak peek of some of the Antipodean antics in store this season below.

What can we expect from the first episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under?

The first episode of Drag Race Down Under is set to feature one of the franchise’s most beloved runway challenges: a ball.

According to a synopsis for the episode, all 10 queens will participate in a ‘get to know you’ ball, paying homage to their hometowns. Typically, each contestant presents three distinctive outfits in this challenge, so we can safely expect to see a whole array of looks right from the start.

Where was RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under shot?

RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under was shot in Auckland, New Zealand between January and February 2021.

Back in August 2019, Aussie superfans received the first indication that the franchise would be expanding down under, when ITV Studios Australia confirmed it had secured the rights to an Australian installment of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which it hoped to premiere in 2020.

At first, it seemed like the Antipodean Drag Race would be focused only on Australia – until the shoot was moved across the pond in December from Sydney to Auckland, seemingly due to COVID-19 outbreaks and restrictions in Australia.

On January 8, Stuff reported the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had allowed 16 temporary visas to be approved for cast and crew to travel into the country, through “managed isolation”, to assist in the filming and production of the show.

The series wasn’t officially confirmed until January 19, when Stan Australia tweeted a video of RuPaul formally addressing the “ru-mours” and confirming that Drag Race Down Under would air in 2021 with himself and Visage as hosts.

Drag Race’s move to Aotearoa caused a minor stoush in Australian parliament: On February 18, Sydney Labor MP Rose Jackson asked Arts Minister Don Harwin why the NSW government didn’t do more to accommodate the series and find a way to go ahead with production in Sydney, ensuring jobs in the state’s creative sector.

In response, Harwin claimed that RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under “did not at any time approach Screen NSW or have conversations with them”, and that working with the government body “would have been a good idea… because we have done so much to help films go ahead over the last year”.

According to the Star Observer, Jackson later said the “shade being thrown at this missed opportunity for our great city is substantial”.

“It’s not a case of ‘they should have called us’, we should have been calling them… The NSW government didn’t even lift a finger to try and keep that production in Sydney… It’s sickening, and not in the good way.”

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