October 15, 2019

The Jewishness of RuPaul’s Drag Race

There’s a certain, Je ne sais quois, “Jewiness” about RuPaul’s Drag Race (think America’s Next Top Model, but for drag queens).

Last night at the 2017 Emmys, RuPaul’s Drag Race (which just celebrated its ninth season) may have lost Best Reality-Competition Series to The Voice, but it didn’t go home empty-handed, nabbing Best Reality Host and Outstanding Costumes – to name a couple.

RuPaul (AKA Mama Ru) occasionally sports a Star of David necklace (as seen in this screenshot, supplied by Jewcy) on the reality competition. “RuPaul is obsessed with Jews, obsessed with Yiddish,” said Michelle Visage, a judge on Drag Race and RuPaul’s right-hand woman. Visage added that during the show’s eighth season, RuPaul kept an English-to-Yiddish dictionary underneath his chair for reference when he wanted to incorporate some Yiddishkeit into his schtick.

Visage, who was adopted at four months old and raised by Jewish parents – Arlene and Marty, met RuPaul while clubbing in New York City; they’ve been best friends ever since. With a bigger-than-life personality, Visage is famous for her ability to call out the drek and state the truth, even if it ain’t pretty. “I am that tough love auntie,” she told the Journal, attributing her “saying it like it is” attitude to her Brooklyn-born mother Arlene.

“And true story, when I met my biological mother, I was 25 years old. I told her I was raised by Jews and she said, ‘I am so happy, I was praying you’d be adopted by a Jewish family.’” 

Watch the interview below:


Last month, Visage announced that she’ll be a judge on the first season of Ireland’s Got Talent, which will air in January 2018. Of course, she’ll continue judging on Drag Race (season 10 will be her eighth season).

RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine winner Sasha Velour (Alexander Hedges Steinberg) also happens to be Jewish. “Whenever there’s a Jew, it’s an automatic identity,” said Visage. “I love it when it becomes part of their [drag] identity. It’s mishpucha.