7 times Drag Race queens fought with the judges: From shady to uncomfortable

RuPaul's Drag Race UK season four. (BBC/RuPaul's Drag Race)

It’s a well known fact that in the RuPaul’s Drag Race multiverse, what the judges say goes.

Whether it’s RuPaul herself, her deputy-HBIC Michelle Visage or any of the many, many guest judges who’ve joined them on the panel, a lot of critiques have been given out throughout the years.

It goes without saying: where there’s a drag queen, there’s shade. And where there’s shade, there’s a clapback!

Here’s seven times the queens of Drag Race gave the judges a taste of their own medicine.

1. Tammie Brown to RuPaul: ‘I don’t see you out there walking children in nature‘ (Season 1 reunion)

Through Tammie Brown’s time on Drag Race season one and the first iteration of All Stars, she gave us multiple clap-backs, including reading Michelle’s makeup on All Stars 1 (“If I was gonna read I would talk about that line… on someone’s neck”).

Her epic reunion clapback came when RuPaul and Tammie got into a heated debate about Tammie’s performance on the show. Ru gave a classic ‘inner saboteur’ speech to Tammie, who replied: “You both called me losers… and I don’t see you out there walking children in nature.”

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It’s all as bonkers as you would expect. Ru raised her voice, shouting: “You forgot who you are! You forgot! Don’t blame me for that, that’s your f**king responsibility”.

Then came the reply: “Excuse your mouth?” from Ms. Brown, in the most effective way that anyone has ever taken wind out of RuPaul’s sails. If the reunion was a challenge, Tammie would have won.

2. The Vixen and Asia O’Hara call out RuPaul (Season 10 reunion)

In another reunion moment, The Vixen had some harsh (but necessary) words for RuPaul, backed by season 10 runner-up, Asia O’Hara.

On the season, The Vixen was very outspoken about the differences in the ways the fandom treats queens of colour, which came to a head when RuPaul tried to critique her feud with Eureka O’Hara.

“Everybody’s telling me how to react, but nobody’s telling her how to act,” The Vixen pointed out. It’s a fantastic line, and one that provoked RuPaul into trying to get a rise out of The Vixen even more, to the point that she sensibly removed herself from the situation.

When Ru asked if there’s anything anyone else wants to say, Asia responded, not-so-indirectly attacking Ru’s seemingly blasé response to the situation” “The Vixen to me seems like a person that’s crying out for help. Everybody else is like ‘That’s on you, figure it out’. It’s unfortunate.”

Ru said: “At one point, you gotta let people go. It’s not a two way street, it’s one-sided, and that’s where we are.”

Getting visibly upset, Asia replied: “It’s ridiculous that our thought process of people is so self-centred that if it’s hard to help somebody… you just let ’em struggle.”

It’s not exactly a ‘Yas, Diva, werk’ of a clapback – but it’s incredibly important, and the closest thing a contestant has got to breaking through to Miss Paul’s obsession with therapising her contestants without a legitimate medical degree.

3. Raja vs Michelle Visage (All Stars 7)

All Stars 7 was a gag, purely on the basis that it was the first time we saw eight former winners return for round two (or three).

It could have been so much more dramatic, though, had a certain clapback from season three winner Raja made it to air – and we have Trinity the Tuck to thank for enlightening us.

In a TikTok, Trinity revealed Raja gave Michelle Visage a piece of her mind following a critique that never made it to air.

“They did give us negative critiques on All Stars 7, they just chose to edit that out,” Trinity revealed, adding: “But, Michelle came for Raja during episode three, and Raja looked dead at Michelle and said: ‘Who are you to judge me? You have no credentials other than being the host’s best friend.'”


4. Laganja Estranja vs Michelle Visage – (Season 6 reunion)

There’s a lot of ‘vs Michelle’ going on, isn’t there.

Icon, legend, star Laganja Estranja essentially invented the gay lexicon during her stint on the show’s sixth season, and was consistently read for doing so.

Her main antagonist was Michelle Visage, who took issue with Estranja’s loud personality.

When asked at the reunion – filmed in front of a live studio audience – whether she agreed with the critiques, Laganja clapped back: “Girl I honestly just think y’all were all boring and I was just tryna turn the party yes GAWD!”

The camera cut to Michelle, who looked like she’s just seen a thousand crunchy death drops at once.

5. Pearl to RuPaul: ‘Is there something on my face?‘ (Season 7)

It was the clapback heard around the world, and the closest we’ve ever seen to Ru genuinely lose her sh*t in the Drag Race werk room.

During a werk room tutorial, Ru gave Pearl some (harsh) words of advice following Pearl’s apparent ‘flazéda’ attitude during the competition.

Pearl refused to break, however, holding Ru’s gaze before breaking the silence by asking: “Do I have something on my face?”

Ru exited very quickly, presumably to go and devise new ways to psychologically break Pearl.

MAX then said: “I feel very uncomfortable” – SAME, MAX.

Pearl vs RuPaul is a drama that’s continued to rumble on long after season 7 wrapped, with Pearl explaining later that she’d felt affronted after RuPaul told her off-camera: “Nothing you say matters unless that camera is rolling”.

Michelle Visage later came to Ru’s defence, explaining that queens are not allowed to speak to anyone off-camera to ensure that everything is captured for viewers.

“[That] is where that quote from Pearl came from, with Ru,” Visage said in 2019. “That whole drama with Ru saying: ‘If the cameras aren’t rolling it doesn’t count’. Because they want the magic.”

6. Jimbo reads Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Canada’s Drag Race season 1)

Canada’s Drag Race was chaos, we been knew. Adding to that chaos, though, was Jimbo the Drag Clown.

After Jeffrey gave the critique that Jimbo’s runway look was “campy”, Jimbo pointedly shot back: “But not glamorous in any way?”

The library did not shut there, though. Jimbo’s tirade continued into Untucked, where she said: “He maybe needs to look up the word ‘Glamour’ – you question my taste level, I question your knowledge of the English language.”

We’re still screaming – if only that read had come out on the main stage.

7. Valentina’s lipsync request: ‘I’d like to keep it on please‘ (Season 9)

This one needs no introduction – and is absolutely classified as a clapback because it is SO gagworthy.

It’s a tale as old as time – Nina Bo’Nina Brown and Valentina lip-sync to “Greedy” by pint-sized pop powerhouse Ariana Grande. Valentina’s mask stays on. RuPaul stops the music, asking her to take it off.

“I’d like to keep it on, please.”

And with just seven words, Valentina cemented not only her fate on season nine, but a place in the Clapback Hall of Fame. It’s the ‘please’ that really does it.