Drag Race judge Carson Kressley explains unexpected disappearance from season 15

Michelle Visage, Ts Madison, Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews attend "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 15 finale red carpet at Ace Hotel on April 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Viewers of RuPaul’s Drag Race may have noticed a Carson Kressley-shaped hole on the judging panel during season 15 – but the show stalwart has now clarified the reason for his unexpected absence from much of series.

Kressley, who has appeared as a judge on US edition of Drag Race since joining for season seven in 2015, hasn’t been seen on the show since episode 4 of season 15, which was broadcast in January and saw the queens compete in a bumper-sized Snatch Game.

In each of the 10 episodes of season 15 that have aired since then (not counting the reunion special) either comedian Ross Mathews or TV personality Ts Madison have taken the third revolving judge’s spot next to RuPaul and Michelle Visage, leaving some fans wondering just where Kressley has disappeared to.

Well, now we have our answer.

Photo of Michelle Visage, who will judge RuPaul's Drag Race UK
Carson Kressley (second from right) has been a Drag Race judge since 2015. (World of Wonder/VH1)

Appearing alongside Drag Race legends Detox and Jujubee at Roscoe’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 Viewing Party in Chicago last Friday (7 April), Kressley finally confirmed his whereabouts – and it turns out his temporary judging hiatus all came down to an ill-timed bout of COVID-19.

“You might have noticed that I was very absent this season. Like, I’m there for the first couple of episodes and I just disappear like I’ve been kidnapped by aliens”, Kressley explained.

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“In this world that we live in, we get tested for COVID every day on set, and one day I showed up and they’re “knock knock knock” on my trailer, like, “Can we talk to you?” And I was like “Oh my God, I’m getting fired”.

“They’re like “You have COVID”, and I was like “What?!”

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Kressley, who shot to fame in early noughties as part of the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy series, explained that his hopes of being to return to the judging panel before season 15 wrapped filming were quickly dashed.

“They said, “You cannot come back to work for 10 days” – it’s like a California Department of Health rule”, recalled Kressley.

“The last episode was going to be in 11 days and I was like, “Well at least I’ll get to make one final appearance and see how everybody did”. And they’re like “No, we need to move the schedule up, we’re finishing in 10 days”.”

Kressley added: “So I missed the entire season. I didn’t even have a closed circuit camera in the building to spy on [them].”

While season 15 of Drag Race may have been lacking on the Carson Kressley front, the style superstar did manage to make it to the taping of the season’s grand finale, which will see one of the final four queens – Sasha Colby, Anetra, Mistress Isabelle Brooks or Luxx Noir London – snatch the crown.

The finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 airs on Friday, 14 April at 8/7c on MTV in the US and will be available to watch on WOW Presents Plus from 2am BST on Saturday, 135 April in the UK.

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