From sharing stages with Miley Cyrus to AIDS activism, where are the season 1 sisters now?
Season 1’s nine-strong batch of queens survived and the infamous “Vaseline filter,” high heel disasters on the runway, and sparring matches with Mama Ru herself — all to blaze a trail for the RuPaul’s Drag Race queens of the future. Ahead of Friday, Dec. 14’s All-Stars 4 premiere (8:00 p.m. ET on VH1), that laid the foundation for what Drag Race is today, catch up with the show’s OG first ladies in EW’s then-and-now gallery ahead.
Victoria "Porkchop" Parker (9th place)
Drag Race‘s OG first eliminee turned her misfortune into a treasured success narrative, graduating from her successful tenure on the drag pageant circuit to sharing a stage with the likes of Alyssa Edwards and Shangela during Miley Cyrus’ 2015 MTV VMAs performance. She has also toured internationally, acted on an episode of 2 Broke Girls, appeared on the reality series Botched, and has graced the Drag Race studio for guest appearances several times since 2009.
Tammie Brown (8th place)
Perhaps the most delightfully bonkers contestant in RuPaul’s Drag Race history, Tammie “Excuse Your Mouth” Brown made her mark on the Emmy-winning show with her oddball behavior, singular fashion choices, and her fearlessness in clashing with the judges (remember that epic throwdown she had with RuPaul and Santino Rice during the season 1 finale? “I don’t see you walking children in nature” is still one of the best reality show lines of all time). Though she was eliminated on the second episode, Brown has grown a cult following, aided largely by All-Stars 3 champion Trixie Mattel’s support, as Brown was the opening act on the singer-songwriter’s most recent world tour. Brown has also appeared in several photo and video campaigns (including ads for Orbitz and Allstate), competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 1, and dabbled in music.
Akashia (7th place)
The “body-ody-ody” of season 1 came and went without much of a bang before her seventh-place elimination, but she still claims two Drag Race titles: The first lip-synch assassin and the first lady to take a spill on the runway. While sashaying toward the judges in a gorgeous evening gown, Akashia’s booty hit the floor after she tripped on the dress’ train. In true diva form, Akashia quickly improvised and turned the accidental landing into a genius pose that saved the moment. After entering the Drag Race elimination abyss after three consecutive bottom-two appearances, Akashia has continued to perform at Pride events and in clubs, primarily in Cleveland. She stopped performing around September 2017, however, when her hometown bar closed for good. Her season 10 reunion appearance in June marked her first drag performance since her self-imposed retiremement the previous year, and she is now active on social media in an effort to court new fans. She has also expressed interest in returning for a future All-Stars season.
Jade (6th place)
The self-proclaimed “original fish” competed on Drag Race when she was just 25 years old — the second youngest of the entire contest at the time — and she certainly made waves clashing with Rebecca Glasscock, whom she lost an epic lip-synch to on the show’s fourth episode. Between acting gigs in and out of drag (including the 2017 indie Bailiwick), Jade has steadily performed at bars and clubs since rising to prominence on the Drag Race stage, which she returned to this summer to perform a medley of RuPaul’s hits alongside Monique Heart at the season 10 finale.
Ongina (5th place)
Some Drag Race girls go down in her-story for their lip-synch abilities and fashionable lewks, but fifth-place finisher Ongina warmed her way into fans’ hearts with a key moment of emotional vulnerability. After winning the Mac Viva-Glam AIDS awareness commercial challenge, the Filipino-American queen broke down on the main stage and revealed her own personal struggle with HIV. “You have to celebrate life,” she said as the judges wiped away tears. “You keep going, and I keep going.”
Since then, Ongina has become an HIV and AIDS activist while continuing to perform, appear on television shows (she was a professor on RuPaul’s Drag U), and act (she had a small role in the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” music video). She’s also co-hosted several episodes of the popular Drag Race recap web series Fashion Photo Ruview.
Shannel (4th place)
Shannel pioneered the art of talking back to the judges before her untimely season 1 elimination, shockingly nominating herself to get the (heavily sequined) boot when RuPaul asked the remaining ladies which of the remaining queens should be sent home. But Shannel held a special place in fans’ hearts up to that point, having performed what is considered to be the first official “wig reveal” in Drag Race her-story during her lip-synch to “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. She later competed on the first season of All-Stars with team member Chad Michaels, who ultimatley won the competition. She also appeared as a drag professor on three seasons of RuPaul’s Drag U between 2010 and 2012 and had a small part on the season 8 premiere.
Outside of the Drag Race realm, Shannel performed in Lady Gaga’s “Applause” lyric video in 2013 and was a featured cast member in the Divas Las Vegas drag show in 2017.
Rebecca Glasscock (3rd place)
RuPaul once described Miss Glassock — who famously got emotional and cut her own Mac Viva-Glam commercial shoot short, leaving Mama Ru hanging in the director’s chair — as “just another girl at the mall,” but the self-proclaimed “small-town girl with a big dream” realized her prophecy with a glow-up throughout season 1 debut. Her post-show output hasn’t matched those of her castmates, however, but she has steadily performed at clubs and even had a small role in the 2012 blockbuster Men in Black 3. Glasscock made her first appearance on Drag Race in nine years when she lip-synched to RuPaul’s “Glamazon” alongside Dusty Ray Bottoms at June’s season 10 finale.
Nina Flowers (2nd place)
Her sickening lewks and killer groove won season 1’s Miss Congeniality a spot in the RuPaul’s Drag Race final, during which she filmed a small role for RuPaul’s “Cover Girl” music video. She has since parlayed her musical prowess into a career as a DJ, performing at Pride events around the world in addition to appearing on the Puerto Rican singing competition show Objetivo Fama. Her single “Loca” reached No. 15 on the Billboard dance club chart in 2010, and she subsequently released an EP titled Start Your Engines later that year. Flowers has also returned to the Drag Race stage multiple times, having competed on the first All-Stars season in 2012, performed makeovers on women as one of the expert advisors on RuPaul’s Drag U, and joined her season 1 sisters for a reunion at the season 10 Drag Race finale in June.
BeBe Zahara Benet (winner)
Since claiming the reality competition series’ inaugural crown, BeBe Zahara Benet has worked stages around the world with her commanding performative presence. And fans got a major re-introduction to the First Lady of Cameroon when she sashayed back into the Werk Room for All-Stars 3, which she finished as a finalist. “I knew I was going into the show with a different point of view. We all [have] a different drag aesthetic and drag persona, but there are so many people who haven’t gotten to know who I am [on the show],” Benet told EW of returning to the competition. “I speak a different drag language, which I can add to your taste buds. I know people have said I’m coming into a competition next to people who are very popular, but we created [the show’s] popularity! So, have some tea with that! [The other queens] are popular because all of the season 1 girls created that situation for [us] to be that popular.”
Benet has since released a music video for her catchy single “Jungle Kitty” and is currently preparing to drop a documentary about her life titled Being BeBe.