This is how much Drag Race queens spent while competing on the show

RuPaul's Drag Race

Prepare for your dreams of walking the Drag Race runway to be ruined, because an investigation has ReVealed the astronomical amounts  previous contestants have spent competing on the sow.

RuPaul is famous for her harsh critique of contestants’ runway looks. In series two of Drag Race UK, the drag icon tore into Joe Black for daring to wear an H&M dress on the stage, prompting debate about the cost of drag.

Now, an investigation by a Vice journalist who spoke to several former contestants estimated queens spend “anywhere from $4,000 [£2,895] on the low end to upwards of $20,000 [£14,476] on the higher end”.

Drag Race season eight winner Bob the Drag Queen told Vice she “did not spend a lot of money”, in her opinion. She said she “realistically” splashed “maybe $3,000” [$2,171] on Drag Race, and an additional $3,000 on her two finale looks.

“If I went back on Drag Race now, I’d probably be spending $20–40,000,” she said. That’s up to (approximately) £30,000.

The winner stands to make this back and then some. In recent years, US queens have competed for a one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics, a $100,000 cash prize and a crown and a sceptre from Fierce Drag Jewels. Recent seasons have also introduced cash tips of $5,000 ($10,000 on All Stars) for winning weekly challenges.

BenDeLaCreme, who starred in Drag Race season six and All Stars season three, told Vice the cost of appearing on the hit show created an “unfair playing field” for queens. She said a lot of queens “might not have the funds” and also “probably don’t have the time” to create fantastically, expensive runway looks.

“They’re working paycheque to paycheque, and there’s other queens who can afford it and literally can just be like ‘Make me 10 amazing outfits’ and then they pack them in the suitcase and show up,” DeLa said.

Drag Race has become a cultural phenomenon over the past years, meaning winners and fan-favourites stand to do fairly well, with many touring the world and signing up to work with famous brands.

Trixie Mattel has released three albums, gone on tour and starred in a Netflix documentary. Drag Race UK icon Tayce was recently revealed as the new face of Coca-Cola, and she’s just been signed to Europe’s biggest modelling agency.

But for other Drag Race contestants, the road has been rockier. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the drag world. The closure of clubs and venues has meant a chunk of many peformers’ incomes have disappeared almost overnight.

Drag Race UK‘s Veronica Green told PinkNews after her exit from the show that the exposure she’d had so far was “great”, but she was “struggling to earn from it” at the time with venues closed. She admitted she was “managing to pay my rent every month” but “opportunities are slim and scarce”.

In February, Joe Black revealed he had to sell outfits he intended to use on Drag Race UK because he needed money to survive during the show’s COVID break. He told PopBuzz that she was doing online shows and “sold quite a lot of my stuff” to make ends meet.

At the end of the break, Black was invited back onto the show to fill the gap left by Green, who was forced out due to a positive COVID test (she’s since made a full recovery). Black said she needed to “find the money” to keep surviving but also “needed to get the costumes again” to appear on the show.

RuPaul surprised and confused fans when she announced during the first series of Drag Race UK that the winner would get a trip to Hollywood and “her very own digital series” rather than a cash prize, believed to be due to BBC constraints. Contestants also get a Ru Peter Badge should they win the week’s main challenge.