Never a drag, always a queen, Lady Gaga has spent nearly a decade bucking mainstream conventions with an eccentric conceptual aesthetic (we’re looking at you, meat dress), so if there’s anywhere she fits in, it’s among the teased and bejeweled contestants vying for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar.
“There’s an ease and familiarity that is apparent when you watch her,” says host RuPaul, who earned an Emmy in September for his work as host of the show. “We had a fabulous time with Gaga. She was in heaven because this is all so much a part of her wheelhouse and what she does with imagery, costumes, and the way she presents herself.”
While the episode marks the first time Mother Monster has appeared on the competition series, her presence has long been felt on set: A bevy of queens have lip-synched for their lives to tracks from Gaga’s discography, and two have even channeled her likeness for the perennial celebrity-impersonation challenge. Yet, according to RuPaul, it was a single heartfelt tweet from the Grammy winner back in 2013 that jump-started the collaboration: “Can I PLEASE be a judge on Drag Race! @RuPaul I started out in these [clubs], these women taught me how to serve!” she wrote.
And serve she has.
“She comes from this background of downtown New York City clubs, so that was the difference between her and other guests who’ve been appreciative of what we do but don’t know where we come from,” says RuPaul. “She comes from that world.”
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Lady Gaga goes cheek to contoured cheek with the contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race as a judge in the season 9 premiere, which airs March 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET on VH1.