Sasha Velour, Peppermint kiki on Lady Gaga's unaired Drag Race season 9 moments
The queens stop by EW's BINGE podcast to discuss Lady Gaga's sweet backstage moment, Valentina's mask, and that time Pep was Home Alone'd.
For its big break after moving season 9's premiere from queer-focused network Logo to VH1 back in 2017, RuPaul's Drag Race supersized its guest-judging roster by welcoming Lady Gaga into the Werk Room to help facilitate the transition. Now, three years later, gal pals Sasha Velour and Peppermint have reunited on EW's BINGE podcast for a sweet recollection of their time spent backstage soaking up Mother Monster's excellence.
"Lady Gaga seemed to do something unusual and make it a point to come back and connect with us. It seemed as though she was genuinely touched that we had put so much into these tribute looks to her," Peppermint tells hosts Joey Nolfi and Jillian Sederholm, referencing the season 9 opener's debut challenge, which asked the 13 competing queens to recreate famous looks from Gaga's career. "When she came back into the [Werk] Room, she really came back with some constructive feedback and criticism, but that was preceded by a nice, pretty good conversation. A very honest conversation about what it's like to be a queen and how she identifies with us and how closely she feels connected to us, and that was something I didn't expect.... now it's like, oh, every single episode when a star comes, here's their walk back, but that was the first time I remember that happened."
Velour adds that Gaga "insisted on it, because there was even a moment when the producers were kind of like, trying to get her to wrap it up, because she had hand-written notes about each and every one of us, and she went through, took her time, and gave individual feedback to each of us sitting right there. They were like, 'Ok, we've got to get back to filming!' And she was like, 'No, I'm going to finish this!'"
While Gaga clocked the queens' true colors backstage, EW's BINGE podcast playfully clocked Velour on a recycled season 9 fashion: A black leather corset the eventual season winner used to create Gaga's look from the "Applause" music video, and later repurposed for the Madonna-themed runway later in the season: "Listen, that was a $70 corset from Orchard Street Corsets, my favorite Orthodox Jewish corset shop in New York City," Velour says with a laugh (Pep, a fellow New York queen, hilariously butts in: "They know all the girls!"). "They don't always carry everything in every size, so that was the black corset they had when I was shopping.... it worked for both of those. And, up until this moment, no one has ever called me out on it before!"
While Velour and Peppermint also reflect on some of season 9's more serious issues — like Peppermint breaking barriers for transgender representation on a mainstream platform, secrets about their epic finale lip-syncs, and rallying around Nina Bo'Nina Brown after Valentina's infamous elimination — the pair fondly looks back on a hilarious instance when Peppermint was accidentally left behind at the hotel where the queens stay during production.
"You're in there until someone comes and gets you," Peppermint says, chucking as she recalls the story. "Long story short, [they] never came back and got me.... I crept out of my room, went down the hall.... I went to each queen's room and knocked and no one else was there. I went back to my room and waited. This was a couple of hours.... they ended up coming back and getting me!"
She holds no hard feelings against the show for the genuine mix-up, and speculates that it came down to simple math: "This was episode 2 or 3, and Cynthia Lee Fontaine had just [returned to the competition], and I think at that point [the drivers] counted us like kids in a van with a headcount. There were 13 people on episode 1, and there were 14 on episode 2 when Cynthia came back, so then the person who was there the first day who drove us with 13 counted 13 again [after the episode 1 elimination] and just drove off, not realizing now there's an added person. So I got left behind!"
"This is literally the plot of Home Alone!" Velour says. "It's like Drag Race Home Alone," Peppermint laughs.
EW's BINGE podcast on RuPaul's Drag Race — available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your favorite shows — returns next Thursday with Monét X Change and Eureka for a backwards sashay into a season 10 recap on knee injuries, sponge dresses, and the important conversation on race in the fandom started by The Vixen. Check out our ongoing collection of Snatch Game Fantasy podcast segments as well to hear eliminated queens perform characters they never got the chance to play on their original season.
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