What If Drag Race Took Place in the 90’s?


What if. They’re two of the most broad and most powerful words in the English language. Just by asking what if, you can speculate on significant changes to history. What if people had stood up to Adolph Hitler rather than appeasing him prior to World War II? What if the United States never invaded Iraq? What if the powers-that-be at E! television never green lighted a single Kardashian show?

The world as we know it could be very different. Today we’re going to start a new journey together based on the what if question, “What if Drag Race Took Place in the 90s?”, specifically the early 1990’s. The world was very different then. Bill Clinton was just settling into his presidency. The internet was not yet a part of our everyday lives. The words google, instagram and grindr didn’t mean anything to anyone yet. But there was a thriving drag scene, especially in New York City.

Now just suppose some forward thinking television producer has an idea for a competition show involving drag queens from around the country. Now sure, it easily could have wound up on public access television following The Robin Byrd Show but for the sake of this story, let’s imagine that VH-1 decides to gamble on this new show, agreeing to air it late in the evening at 11pm.

The newly christened “Drag Race” show would need a cast so they’d have to go across the country to find the best and most TV friendly drag queens they could find. This is where our series is going to begin. What would the cast look look like? Who would be host and judges? Who would emerge victorious? Every day or so, we will announce a new member of the cast until we’ve filled out the entire roster. Then you, the readers, will vote, sending one queen home each week until we can finally crown the winner!

So every competition needs an esteemed judges panel and our 1990’s Drag Race show would be no exception. Let’s take a look at who might have wound up judging our queens…..

Our hypothetical judges panel: Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite, female impersonation legend Charles Pierce and makeup icon Kevyn Aucoin

First up is Lady Miss Kier! In the early 90’s, she was riding high as a member the group Deee-lite, coming off their smash hit “Groove is in the Heart”! As a musical star, a fashion trendsetter and strong supporter of the LGBT community, Lady Miss Kier would have been an obvious first choice for the producers of the show.

Next up is one of the most legendary figures in the world of female impersonation, the iconic Charles Pierce! A veteran of stage and screen, including appearances on Wonder Woman, Laverne and Shirley and Designing Women, as well as in the epic film, Torch Song Trilogy, Pierce was winding down his career in the early 90’s but I’m sure the producers could have twisted his arm for a project this big!

And finally, we have the iconic Kevyn Aucoin! If you don’t own “Making Faces”, head here right now and buy it. We’ll wait. To say Kevyn was a makeup artist doesn’t come close to doing him justice, nor do the nine Vogue covers in a row and the seven Cosmopolitan covers in a row that he did the makeup for. There simply would have been no other choice in the early 90’s for a judge representing the beauty world aside from Kevyn. Period.

So without further adieu, let’s announce the first contestant on our new 90’s edition of Drag Race…….


Well this is no shocker, it’s RuPaul herself! In the early nineties, RuPaul had worked her way up from the club scene in Georgia and was a rising star in New York City. Her big breakout hit song “Supermodel (You Better Work)” was about to debut. As she was on the verge of stardom, there is no doubt that Ru would be one of the first queens that our hypothetical show would go after.

Since we’re on a roll, let’s look at the second contestant on our show……..

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It’s Lipsynka, aka the drag artist alter ego of actor and pianist John Epperson! Lipsinka debuted in New York City in 1988, performing at renowned 90’s hot spots, Club 57 and the Pyramid Club. In the early 90’s, Lipsinka was a star on both the drag and cabaret scenes, making her a no-brainer for the show. Best know for flawlessly lip syncing incredibly complex and meticulously edited numbers, Lipsynka is surely one to watch in this competition!


Why it’s the fabulous Varla Jean Merman! As the alleged daughter of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine, this New Orleans native has wowed audiences from New York to London to Sydney and all the way back to Provincetown. Perhaps best known for her work in the film, “Girls Will Be Girls”, Varla was just breaking on to the New York drag scene in the early nineties and her larger than life persona and talent couldn’t help but attract the attention our casting directors.
Next up……
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud to present, star of stage and screen, Mr. Charles Busch! If you don’t know about this icon, shame on you! One of the true legends of New York, he starred in numerous plays, including probably his most famous, “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”.In the early nineties, he was appearing at the Ballroom Theatre in “The Charles Busch Revue”, while also appearing off-Broadway in “The Maids”, in addition to working on a book, “Whore of Lost Atlantis”, a fictionalized re-telling of the creation of his play, “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”. The producers of the show really twisted his arm to fit “Drag Race” into his already packed schedule!
Well hello there Sherry Vine! A long time fixture on the New York City drag scene, best known for her fabulous song parodies, Sherry was just breaking on to the scene in the early 90’s. While her selection might be a big controversial considering her relative inexperience at the time, there was a strong feeling that Sherry was destined to become a big star, a feeling that ultimately proved right.

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Happy Birthday Mr. President indeed! Arguably the greatest Marilyn Monroe impersonator ever, male or female, Jimmy James should prove to be a force on Drag Race! With a voice that rivaled Ms. Monroe herself, Jimmy James was a talk show fixture in the late 80’s and early 90’s, transfixing Phil Donahue and his ilk with his spot-on act!jpg10_clipped_rev_1

Why it’s Hedda Lettuce! Miss Lettuce has been a staple of the NYC drag scene ever since her debut on local cable’s  “The Glenda and Brennda Show” in 1991. Since then, the funny lady who also sings live has made numerous television and film appearances. The self-proclaimed “Queen of Green” is lucky that in the 90’s there was no Michelle Visage on the judges panel to read her for filth for all that green!

I wonder who is next?


Can we talk? No, it’s not Joan Rivers, it’s Frank Marino, the longest running headliner in Las Vegas history! At this point in his career, he was already a few years into her epic run hosting “An Evening at La Cage” at the Riviera Hotel on the Vegas Strip but being as fond of the camera as Frank has demonstrated over the years, it would be a safe bet that with a little arm-twisting, the producers could add him to the cast!



It’s Savannah, Georgia’s own Lady Chablis! First coming to national prominence in the early 90’s as a character in John Berendt‘s book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, the Lady Chablis later played herself in the movie version of the book, directed by Clint Eastwood. That kind of exposure would have been tough for the producers of Drag Race to pass up so it’s logical that the Lady Chablis would be a part of the cast.

Next up…..


Now for those of you that know your history, you know that it didn’t all start with RuPaul’s Drag Race. For those of you who don’t, well, let me put it this way. Candis Cayne was Carmen Carrera before Carmen Carrera was cool! In the early 90’s, Candis was a fixture at New York City’s Boy Bar and Tour, as well as being a featured performer, putting on elaborate numbers, at Wigstock. In addition to being a stunning beauty, Candis was also a singer and dancer of high renown and would have been an obvious selection for the show.


Why it’s Miss Understood! The larger than life, super colorful Long Island native has been an iconic figure on the NYC drag scene since the early 90’s. The Pyramid Club and Wigstock star has appeared in numerous television shows and films and in the early 90’s was about to start Screaming Queens Entertainment, which to this day provides drag queen and showgirls for some of the biggest parties around the world. There is no question the producers of our show would have snatched her up for Drag Race ’90!

Let’s see who else is going to be a part of the cast!

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Well hello there Coco Peru! Probably best known for her performance in the film “Girls Will Be Girls”, the star of numerous one-woman shows as several television and film appearances would have been a no-brainer for the producers of our show. With her trademark flip hair style, her incredible wit and her strong theatre background, Coco would definitely be a tough competitor on this show.


Well it’s Jackie Beat of course! As an actor, singer, songwriter and screenwriter, Jackie Beat has been a huge star on both the New York and Los Angeles drag scenes for other twenty years. There is no question that one of the first calls the producers of our show would made would have been to her.

Two more to go! Who could it be?



Why, Joey Arias of course! The soulful singer who has been evoking memories of Billie Holiday in clubs and theaters from New York to San Francisco to Paris over the last thirty years has also appeared in numerous films, such as Big Top Pee Wee, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and the drag classic, To Wong Foo and was also the hostess of the Las Vegas strip show, Zumanity. A competitor with a set of pipes like Joey Arias should not be taken lightly!

One more queen to go! Who could it possibly be?




You didn’t REALLY think we’d be doing this show without the Lady Bunny, did you? If you don’t know who she is, I question how you even got to this site.

Our fifteen fabulous queens are set so get ready to start your engines everybody! The race is on! Let us know who you think would win!

About Chiffon Dior 627 Articles
Despite being a drag journalist for over five years, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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