‘Drag Race Down Under’: How much hotter can the tea get?
Reading for filth, snatches, and accountability, oh my! We already knew the drama in the Drag Race Down Under was hot as can be, but somehow the tea is scalding after this week’s episode. Between Ru opening the library for the mini challenge, and the queens selling yeast spread as their maxi challenge, plenty of tea is going around.
Plus, and this is a big one, Ru straight up called out Scarlet Adams for performing in blackface in the past and gave her a chance to apologize and recognize her mistake. While she’ll move on in the competition, we are saying goodbye to Etcetera Etcetera this week. But more on that later. Let’s talk about those reads.
Is Etcetera Etcetera still alive?
Respecting their pronouns while dragging them through hell and back? Now that is a read, people. Art Simone deserved that mini challenge win if just for that read alone. And we specifically mean that read because her dig at Karen from Finance was weak sauce at best.
Vulgar isn’t funny all the time
Look, sometimes a vagina joke just isn’t what we want. Especially when it’s advertising a yeast paste like Vegemite. Unfortunately, certain queens must have forgotten that this week. While both Etcetera Etcetera and Scarlet Adams had funny moments in their infomercials, overall the low-brow humor didn’t work out in their favor.
Meanwhile, Electra Shock saw her first win by roasting herself! Who knew self-deprecating humor was the key to scoring a maxi challenge win in Drag Race Down Under? Ru is right: the other girls better start taking Electra seriously if they want to stay in the competition.
Calling out controversy
While getting ready for the runway, we heard a bit about Scarlet Adams addressing the controversy of her past performances in blackface. But Ru was quick to call her out during critiques about the photos. Rather than automatically berate her, Ru gave Scarlet a chance to say her piece, and more importantly, apologize for her past actions.
After a genuine apology for her mistakes, Ru admitted that rather than “cancel” Scarlet Adams, she wants not only Scarlet, but the rest of the queens, to use this moment as a lesson learned.
And now we get to Etcetera Etcetera‘s departure. No one wanted to see them leave, but sadly they just couldn’t make the commercial work in their favor. We spoke with them about their time on Drag Race Down Under and what they would do differently if they could go back in time. Read our full interview with the queen down below.
What drew you to drag in the first place?
I mean, everyone gets drawn to drag for different reasons. To be honest, I just wanted a job where I could drink while doing it and get away with it, you know what I mean? I grew up in a pretty government town, Canberra, it’s the capital of Australia. There’s a lot of politicians there.
There’s a queer scene, but it’s not super vibrant. So I moved to Sydney, which is, you know, Sydney is a gay mecca, we’ve got Mardi Gras and everything happening here. I moved there at the age of 17 and thought, you know, I should get my toes in this whole drag thing. I can meet some queer people, I can find my way in the big bright city and it’s kind of a bit addictive. It kind of took off from there and I didn’t look back.
I mean like, I was always, I was always a little bit creative. I always made short films and I did like art and I was an oil painter. So I just kind of, I transferred all of the artistic disciplines I already, already had in my wheelhouse, into, I suppose cross dressing which is the greatest combination of all the art forms to me because you’ve got a little bit of everything.
A little bit of costume, a little bit of makeup, you know, if you’re making videos or performing. It’s kind of like you’re creating a character in a movie, but then you have to be that character. It’s a really interesting art form to play with as someone who works in other art forms, you know, multidisciplinary artists, I think the buzzword at the moment.
Why did you audition for Drag Race Down Under, and what was your reaction when you were cast?
Well to be honest, I never thought that I would audition for a show like Drag Race because I didn’t think I would get the opportunity in a country like Australia. So when I got the email one day inviting me to audition, because it was a closed round of auditions and they invited us all in. I got the email and I thought, “Surely this is a prank, it’s one of my friends. It’s one of my friends making fun of me trying to catch me out.”
But then, then, when I went through the process and started going through it all, I realized, “Oh no this is really really legit.” And when I got casted, I didn’t even know how to react to be honest. We just came out of COVID, we just had this huge shutdown of our nightlife industry here as I’m sure you know the rest of the world experienced.
I think to have an opportunity where you know, I was getting the opportunity to showcase myself on the world stage directly out of something like that, it was such a breath of fresh air to be able to. I got all my friends who are costume designers, all my friends who do my wigs and said to them “Look, I’ve got a bit of work for you coming up” and kind of embarked on the creative process again, it really was quite extraordinary.
How would you describe your experience with Drag Race Down Under?
I would describe it as amazing. You know we’re out here doing drag on TV. It’s something I think that is definitely changing lives. It’s changing people’s understanding of queer identity. It’s providing a platform for you know, non-binary & trans individuals like myself to be on TV and talk about their gender journey.
I think I think the biggest thing for me has been the positive fan reaction, having people message you and say, “Oh, I don’t really watch Drag Race but having seen your episode where you talk about being non-binary or being able to see the art you create it’s really inspired me or made me feel like I have people out there like me or who can connect with me.”
And for me, the show is definitely one thing and you know, we all do as well on the show as we do, that’s written in the stars. But I think, after the show and getting to experience the fan reactions and being at, you know, screening parties and live gigs and having people come up to you and share that kind of connection that you’ve made with them is really special. I think it’s everything that an artist wants.
It’s having your audience connect emotionally to your work. It’s really special, and I don’t think I would have gotten the opportunity to do that on such a scale without a show like Drag Race.
Fans have been split about your Snatch Game character as Lindy Chamberlain. Looking back, do you think that performance was in poor taste?
Well it’s controversial. It’s really interesting to see the reaction to everything around Snatch Game. I think that Australian drag culture — and especially the drag that I started doing — has always had a very dark sense of humor. I’ve seen countless performances doing very, very, you know, things that cross the line between being funny and being controversial.
I was playing a very, very risky choice by doing that, I stand by my decision to do it. I understand it did upset some people. And I suppose I do apologize to the people that I’ve upset, but I think looking at things in the context of the show, and looking at the controversial things that have happened on Drag Race, it’s all part of reality TV.
It’s a lot of live entertainment, and at the end of the day putting drag queens on TV. It’s a controversial decision to make. I think some audiences maybe aren’t ready for what’s brought out of the nightclub onto TV, because drag queens have always been controversial. They’ve always had a dark sense of humor, and they’ve always been toeing the line between what’s okay and what’s not okay.
I think it’s really interesting to see fan & mainstream reactions. I’ve had a lot of really constructive conversations with fans about it and understood their thoughts and it made me understand the situation a lot better. It also made me understand what the world, what the world’s sense of humor is like, because a lot of people found it hilarious. A lot of people didn’t find it funny. I think that’s just what humor is, isn’t it?
At the end of the day we’re all drag queens on TV dressing up, it doesn’t really encompass the entire sphere of morality. Most people would look at this and go, “Oh yeah that’s what I based my entire moral compass on.” I think if you’re looking at drag queens to be a role model, you might need to find different role models.
What do you think you struggled with most while working on the infomercial challenge?
I thought I did a great job. I thought my ad was so funny, but then again, here comes that personal sense of humor thing. I thought I was doing something that me and my friends back home, performing with would laugh and laugh and laugh at, and I suppose it just wasn’t the taste of the judges.
Well, I find it interesting because I think to be honest, my ad was dinged for being vulgar. But like, you know Karen [from Finance] being called Discharge and Scarlet [Adams] being about vaginas, I find those just as vulgar. I honestly think that you know, a gay man mocking a woman’s body like that and making fun of her vagina is honestly to me a little bit more gross than you know just making some light hearted joke.
I think to be honest, it’s a big difference between Australian humor and potentially American humor. When I went over to America, I found myself talking to a lot of my American friends, and even just in conversation they were really surprised by the kind of phrases and the jokes I’ve made, and I came to realize that there is, there is a huge difference in in sense of humor between countries all over the world.
When all the other queens found my ad really, really funny, all the other Australian Queens, and so did most of the New Zealand crew. It was just interesting, I suppose, to see how Ru & Michelle reacted to it, andI think, again, it goes back to how drag has always been underground. You look at Divine eating dogsh*t in Pink Flamingos, and look at other challenges that have been on Drag Race.
I mean you’ve got Miss Fame and Violet Chachki eating poop on season seven, and that wasn’t too vulgar. I found it as an interesting thing to point out because I mean, at what point do drag queens become mainstream enough that they’re not allowed to take a piss in a glass?
That’s the drag I grew up watching, that’s the drag that I’ve seen in clubs and that’s the drag that I’ve been born out of, so it’s surprising to be told that’s too vulgar. To be honest I held back. There’s plenty of things that I’ve seen drag queens do on stages, they’re much more vulgar than that.
What did you take away from your time in the werkroom?
Oh, I took away such good memories and I took away, I suppose, a real understanding of who I am under pressure, and what I’m like in a competition setting. And I also suppose, what Australian drag looks like on the world stage. Especially watching the show back like we do have such great drag here in this country and it’s really amazing for it to be showcased like it is.
I’m really proud of that drag thing. And I think it’s the most important thing that different kinds of drag keep getting showcased. Like, I would love to see some of our amazing drag kings in this country, I’d love to see some of our amazing, you know, trans women that do drag in this country.
More about indigenous drag performance, take that spotlight and showcase it on the world stage, because there’s so much incredible drag on in Australia from 1,000,001 different diverse backgrounds, and I think that the show is this season, it shows that, but I’d love to see it show up more.
I’d love to see all the colors of the rainbow emerge for season two of Drag Race Down Under and you know, blow the world away because there’s so much amazing diverse talent down here.
What’s coming up next for you?
Well, I have my debut single dropping this Monday. It’s called “Flush”. It’s got a little bit of a pee theme, too, to go with my elimination thematic, yeah. It’ll be dropping with a music video this Monday. It’ll be on my socials and my YouTube and Spotify and Apple Music and anywhere where music is sold. You can check that one out.
But I’ve also got so many exciting shows coming up, so many exciting collaborations. I’m walking in Australian Fashion Week this week as a model, so that’s something that’s super exciting. I’m excited to use my platform and use my newly found fanbase to create more, that’s the most exciting thing for me.
Drag Race Down Under airs Saturdays on Stan in Australia, TVNZ On Demand in New Zealand, BBC Three in the UK, and WOWPresents Plus in the U.S. and other select territories.