RuPaul’s Drag Race executive producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have hinted that future iterations could feature more trans performers and –for the first time – drag kings.
While the Drag Race franchise now has countless spin-offs and international variants, they nearly all have one thing in common: a focus on a cast that is predominantly cisgender gay men.
While RuPaul has previously criticised suggestions that the contest should reflect the full diversity of drag, World of Wonder co-founders Bailey and Barbato have signalled their support for broadening the show’s horizons.
In an interview with Digital Spy, the pair were asked if they have “considered including drag kings and trans talent in future iterations of Drag Race”.
Bailey responded: “Yeah. Our constant mantra is charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, and that does not exclude anyone.
“I mean, obviously we can’t reveal future casts. So until then, all will be revealed.”
Barbato added: “There’s been trans people on the show. It is charisma, uniqueness nerve and talent, so it would not be some headline-making news.
“For some people it would be, but yeah.”
Drag Race has made some progress in terms of trans representation in recent years.
Peppermint became the first queen to be cast as trans in season nine, while Gia Gunn was invited back to compete in All Stars 4 after coming out as a trans woman. Several other queens have come out as trans during or following their time on the show.
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The Drag Race producers also opened up about the challenges of expanding the reality staple into an international franchise, promising “more Drag Races coming to more countries” in the future.
Bailey said: “The success of the global expansion is all about partnering with markets and production entities and networks who are as passionate about Drag Race as we are. That’s why it’s been successful.
“If you watch each market’s iteration of Drag Race, you know it’s Drag Race, but each one has its own identity.
“The producing team and the cast inform the flavour. And that’s why, I think, Drag Race has been so successful around the globe.
“It’s all about getting into bed with the right people.”
Barbato added: “We’ve had a few false starts in a few places, because the show has a particular perspective, and whoever’s producing it in their territory has to understand that.”
Drag Race Thailand is notable for its trans inclusion, delivering the franchise’s first trans winner, Angele Anang, in 2019.
Last year, rival drag reality competition show The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula — which is “open to all drag artists regardless of gender, sexuality or form of drag expression” — showed the way forward by including a drag king in its cast.
The horror-themed show featured Landon Cider, a “proud cis woman, lesbian and drag king” in the “search for the world’s next drag supermonster”.