Drag Race UK season 5 queens reveal what it’s really like meeting RuPaul: ‘I actually wet myself’

An image composite featuring RuPaul on Drag Race and Drag Race UK queens Cara Melle and Ginger Johnson.

On 28 September, 10 of the UK’s brightest drag starlets will strut into the sugar walls of the Drag Race UK werkroom.

The season five queens will sew, sing and slay their way as they battle it out to dethrone current champ, Danny Beard

There’s a lot for these 10 queens to be nervous about: the legendary Snatch Game, living up to season four’s show-stopping Rusical, learning intense choreography in approximately two hours. Before all of that, though, they’ve got to survive meeting drag deity RuPaul (and, of course, his right-hand woman, Michelle Visage). 

RuPaul is a lot of things: a pioneer of the queer community, a young drag queen’s biggest cheerleader, a recording artist (available on iTunes etc). She’s also a little bit terrifying.

Who can forget his toe-curling confrontation with Pearl, her demand for Valentina to “take that thing off of your mouth”, or – perhaps most savagely – her brutal, anti-H&M teardown of Joe Black and Tia Kofi on Drag Race UK season two.

How do you cope with meeting someone who is simultaneously your absolute idol, but also your greatest fear? Speaking to PinkNews and other media, the Drag Race UK season five queens spill the tea.

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Drag Race UK season 5 promo image.
Meet the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season five. (BBC)

“I remember when Ru first walked into the workroom, I did wet myself,” shares Manchester’s seven-foot, non-binary fashion model Banksie, casually. “I actually did piss myself. I had a little dribble of piss drip down my leg.”

They thought it best not to tell RuPaul that he had made them have an accident, though, which is fair. “I thought that might, you know, affect my placement. Honestly!”

While Newcastle’s Michael Marouli didn’t wet herself, she did have another, visceral bodily reaction. “Stood waiting to walk into the werkroom, my legs [were] like jelly. [You] turn the corner, boom, you’re in the TV! Ru came into the room and I just got goosebumps all over my body. I was like – gasp! – it’s Mother, it’s RuPaul!”

“Nothing prepares you for that – and she literally looks airbrushed. It’s crazy.”

Drag Race UK season 5 promotional photos for Banksie and Michael Marouli.
Drag Race UK season 5: Banksie and Michael Marouli. (BBC)

Atlanta’s drag goddess Cara Melle agrees that meeting Ru was “the scariest thing” because, you know “it’s the Mother!” Yet she actually got the best vibes meeting Michelle Visage – who is, FYI, not as ice cold as she comes off.

“Meeting Michelle, I already just expected to have such a warm feeling from her even though people think she’s icy,” Cara explains. “I knew that it was gonna be like that and I didn’t get that feeling from her ever. She was always, for me, the warmest.”

Not only is Michelle warmer than fans might think, she’s also even more gorgeous (and tinier), apparently.

“It was like meeting a mythical creature, like the Minotaur or Kermit the Frog,” says self-proclaimed pig in wig Ginger Johnson, of meeting the daunting duo.

“I know it’s impossible to believe, but Michelle is even more gorgeous in real life. It’s debilitating to talk to her [because] of how gorgeous she is.”

Miss Naomi Carter and Kate Butch from Drag Race UK.
Drag Race UK season 5: Miss Naomi Carter and Kate Butch. (BBC)

Certified silly goose Kate Butch found it so unnerving that she had to simply pretend the judges were someone else: “I had to imagine that they were my mum’s friends. In my mind, I called RuPaul, Ruth Poine,” she admits. 

Once the initial, paralysing fear has passed, the queens actually do get to have a bit of a laugh with Ru, you know, swapping makeup tips and thrift shopping advice and whatnot. 

“It’s intimidating at first because obviously, RuPaul, [I] looked up to him for years. So when you do first meet everyone, it is a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, that’s them of t’telly!,” says Doncaster diva Miss Naomi Carter.

“But as the competition starts going and you start interacting with the judges a lot more… it doesn’t become as intimidating because – not that we’re like best friends – but you do develop some sort of friendship and banter with the judges.”

Much like how Drag Race fans see it, Banksie confirms that there really are two very different sides to RuPaul.

“You see Ru when they’re having a nice convo with you in the werkroom, and then you see Ru on the runway. They are two different people.”

How so? “Ru in the workroom is very personable and will have those intimate conversations with you, while Ru on the runway is doing the job. I mean – they are there to make a really tough decision.”

That they are. The tough decisions begin on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer on 28 September.