RuPaul’s Drag Race stars and fans alike have called out American broadcast journalist Tamron Hall for inviting Sherry Pie onto her show Tuesday afternoon (16 February).
Across various social media posts, Hall earlier this week announced that Pie would be appearing on her eponymous chat show, outraging the Drag Race community.
The drag queen – real name Joey Gugliemelli – was disqualified from Drag Race season 12 just hours before her debut after being accused of posing as a director to catfish a number of young actors.
The announcement roiled RuPaul’s Drag Race fans and stars alike, alongside journalists who covered the accusations. Many voiced concern over whether the ABC show’s producers had reached out to the victims at all – at least one was, a victim claimed.
When the slot aired Tuesday afternoon, Hall directly addressed the criticism she’s faced about giving Gugliemelli a platform, according to TV Line.
Joey Gugliemelli "Sherry Pie" joins us now. pic.twitter.com/QzOzyFrQAI
— Tamron Hall Show (@TamronHallShow) February 16, 2021
Drawing on her decades of journalism experience, which included “interviewing murderers” among other criminals, she said: “It’s not giving away your platform.
“It’s called an interview, and people who do bad things are interviewed. R Kelly comes to mind.
“That’s just one person I’m thinking who was recently interviewed on multiple platforms and shared all over social media.”
While Gugliemelli began his interview by “admitting to my wrongdoings and horrible behaviour” and said he’s “prepared to take any responsibility” for his actions.
“I don’t know if more [victims] will come forward. I’m here to apologise, and I want to make that very clear,” he said.
“I understand now, in lieu of this year, how much pain I’ve caused. I just want to let the victims know, and everyone else know, that I am so sorry.”
Tamron Hall slammed for spotlighting Sherry Pie by Drag Race stars, victims and journalists
“I am publicly calling on Tamron Hall Show to reconsider giving Sherry Pie access to the platform of national television to tell their side of the story without first speaking with the victims of her abuses and allowing them to weigh in on their own trauma,” she wrote.
Through personal conversations I have had with these victims, it is clear that the abuses Sherry perpetrated go far beyond what is commonly referred to as “cat fishing”.
Please be warned that the tweet following this one may be a trigger. (2/4)
— Jackie Cox (@JackieCoxNYC) February 15, 2021
Being a performer and public persona is not a right, it is a privilege. Sherry relinquished this privilege by their actions. Giving Sherry a spotlight without the forethought to reach out to victims is irresponsible, immoral, & wrong. I stand with the victims of Sherry’s actions.
— Jackie Cox (@JackieCoxNYC) February 15, 2021
“Through personal conversations I have had with these victims, it is clear that the abuses Sherry perpetrated go far beyond what is commonly referred to as ‘catfishing’,” she added.
Canada’s Drag Race star Ilona Verley took aim at not only Hall but the “Ru girls that still follow Sherry Pie” on social media.
“For her to receive any sort of support or recognition from mainstream media is WRONG,” Verley tweeted.
For her to use a media opportunity like this to stage a comeback is so scummy. She needs to understand it’s not possible to come back from something as horrid as she did and if she actually felt bad she wouldn’t have taken this opportunity to further traumatize her victims.
— Ilona Verley (@IlonaVerley) February 16, 2021
She sought to stress that trauma must be “addressed” rather than “ignored” and that “at least some of the victims should have been given the same platform” as Gugliemelli was.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I watched the @TamronHallShow because I don’t believe ignoring trauma makes it go away.
I do believe in addressing it, however, and feel that AT LEAST some of the victims should have been given the same platform.
Go on, unfollow if you must
— Yvette Normally • Yvie Oddly (@OddlyYvie) February 16, 2021
Ben Shimkus, one of the first accusers to come forward, revealed that he was asked by Tamron Hall producers to appear on the segment, he tweeted. Producers, however, allegedly refused his and other victims’ joint requests to pull the plug on Pie’s slot.
Just so we are all clear on this, I spoke with producers at @TamronHallShow and told them that I and the 20 victims that I spoke to today DO NOT want them to air a segment with Sherry Pie. They're going to air it despite the all of our requests.
— Ben Shimkus (@BenShimkus) February 15, 2021
I’m the reporter who first wrote about Sherry Pie. There are things here that suggest a worrying lack of research (accusations? she admitted the behaviour) but the biggest is one victim has already contacted me in distress as it appears there’s been no effort to hear from them. https://t.co/cZbtzmY0Gv
— David Mack (@davidmackau) February 15, 2021
While Ella Dawson, a sex and culture critic, said she was “disgusted” by the show having Gugliemelli on when they tried to book her. She swiftly declined.
I'd love to know if the Tamron Hall Show is reaching out to Sherry Pie's victims, or to prominent folks like @JackieCoxNYC who have spoken up against their decision to film this episode.
Why would they try to book me?? Like, what the actual hell.
— ella dawson (@brosandprose) February 16, 2021
Disgraced Drag Race star posed as a casting director to coax men to send compromising videos
Across startling interviews that deeply alarmed Drag Race fans, five actors accused Pie of posing as a casting director and coaxing them into filming videos of themselves in compromising positions last year.
Gugliemelli, they said, posed as an “auxiliary casting agent” for a woman in New York called “Allison Mossie”.
“Mossie” took a liking to the then 21-year-old Shimkus, he said, and was asked to send her videos, some sexually charged, to her.
Another actor said he filmed himself masturbating on Gugliemelli’s advice.
Gugliemelli, amid scathing backlash, posted an apology to his Facebook page. “I want to start by saying how sorry I am that I caused such trauma and pain and how horribly embarrassed and disgusted I am with myself,” he began.
“I know that the pain and hurt that I have caused will never go away and I know that what I did was wrong and truly cruel.”