Chad: So you founded the subreddit for RuPaul's Drag Race, right? How long ago was that?
Broosh: I founded the sub right after Season 3. It's been about 6 years! I still can't believe how much we've grown since then.
Chad: Wow! I started drawing the show at the start of Season 3. There was something about that season, eh? You've continued to serve as one of the main moderators, right? What goes into that? How much time do you spend as a moderator every week?
Broosh: It's evolved from a hobby into (basically) a second job, and I'm loving every moment of it. For those unfamiliar with Reddit, it's a fan forum for people to express, share and create their ideas online 24/7. It's an amazing community, but it requires a lot of work. Thankfully, I am blessed to have a very dedicated and helpful team to help me manage this community to what it is today. But really, it's a nonstop gig. The queens never stop working, so the content never stops.
Chad: It's fair to say that the RPDR subreddit has become one of the most visible and vocal communities for Drag Race fans online, isn't it?
Broosh: YES! I don't think there's anything else like it out there. It truly is the place to go to for fans (and queens alike) worldwide to watch and talk about the show.
Chad: Yeah, I mean, I check in every day to see what's up! In fact, I specifically wanted to talk to you this week, because the whole RPDR reddit has essentially known for months that Cynthia Lee Fontaine was going to have a surprising return to Season 9. Can you tell me how you guys figured that out?
Broosh: I give all the credit to all the "Nancy Drews" out there on the sub. They're committed in finding out ALL of it. Cynthia was rumored to be on Season 9 ever since this podcast came out. [An NPR story from August of last year!] I can't recall the specific Reddit thread at the moment, but people clocked Cynthia's voice, and since then... the rumors began haha.
Chad: Like there was some background audio of the queens in the workroom, and there was some CSI audio forensic stuff going on, like, "AH HA! I've isolated the CUCU!"
Broosh: CSI has nothing on our fans! Haha. They go to great lengths in finding out info for future seasons. It's part of the fun! Now that Season 10 has been officially confirmed, I'm pretty sure they'll be on the lookout soon.
Chad: Yeah, I LIVE for all the speculation and and stuff on the subreddit. The Nancy Drews have a really amazing record of sussing out the queens of each cast long before they're officially announced, right?
Broosh: Yep! They get better each year. I think this is the first season they got all the queens down before they were even announced. There are SO MANY queens out there that could be on the show, to narrow it down to the 14 queens is quite the feat.
Chad: Yes, absolutely! As a fan of the show, how do spoilers and speculation play a role in how you actually view and respond to the Drag Race?
Broosh: We (the mods and I) get spoiled big time before the show even airs. Despite the leaks, spoilers, and speculations, the show is so entertaining and fun to watch... part of the fun is seeing how it actually plays out when the episode premieres. Even though I knew Cynthia would be back, it was amazing to see the episode play out. I'm still gagging.
Chad: Right, and the rumors don't always turn out to be true, right? I remember lots of us thought Bianca was going home in the first episode of Season 6!
Broosh: RIGHT! Girl, did Bianca prove us wrong. Even though we may not be always right, it's still so fun to speculate and analyze. It's like our Monday night football. The fandom is unlike any other.
Chad: Haha, so what do you think of Cynthia's return to the show? How does it change the competition?
Broosh: I was so touched to hear Cynthia's story last night. I'm glad she came back. She's a talented queen, and I can't wait to see more of her. She might have an advantage with experience, but all these queens this season are SO talented. So you never know.
Chad: Yeah, I think we've got an extremely strong group of contenders. I really like Cynthia, but I didn't feel like she shook things up too much this episode. With 14 queens on the screen, there's just so much going on! How relieved were you that no one broke their leg in that damn cheerleading challenge?
Broosh: Girl, I was praying to my candle for Charlie specifically. It was a fun challenge to watch, but I'm so glad no one got hurt. I was so surprised by some queens though, Eureka's high kicks were EVERYTHING.
Chad: Right?? I was very, very skeptical of the challenge, but it turned out... alright. I expected a big, live lip sync performance in front of the judges, but instead we got a more edited, condensed package shot on a different set, which seemed to work better. Plus, they seemed to have pros doing a lot of the scarier lifting!
Broosh: The previews made it seem like another Bitch Perfect lip sync challenge. I agree, the different format was a bit better for the challenge this episode. It's so hard to pick any favorites so early in the competition. I think this is the first season where anyone can easily snatch the crown.
Chad: I disagree, Broosh: I don't think it will be easy for ANY of them.
Broosh: Haha! Touché. From a fan's perspective, though, it seems like anyone can rise to the top. This isn't like Season 6 where you could already tell the top 3. It'll be interesting how it turns out.
Chad: Yes, agreed -- I could maybe pick out a top ten? Or 8? But there's really no frontrunner, and so many of them are so easy to love! Who are some of your favorites so far?
Broosh: Valentina, Farrah, and Nina are some of my favorites so far.
Chad: Valentina is certainly shaping up to be one of the stars of this season, right? What do you think sets her apart?
Broosh: I definitely think so! Apart from her strong looks so far, she is oozing with confidence and her personality is one of the best I've seen on the show. She was made for this show. And to have only been doing it for 10 months (at the time of filming)? Definitely a strong contender in my books.
Chad: Yeah, I think she and Cynthia both approach challenges with relentless optimism and energy, which is super endearing. But Valentina has that underdog quality to her, despite being so ridiculously polished already.
Broosh: Definitely. I have to admit I may be a bit biased though, as I'm also Mexican and finally seeing some representation on screen is definitely one of my favorite things about her so far. That candle and prayer moment...so many of us can relate! Sidenote: her mother's wedding dress story in Untucked has been one of the sweetest things I've seen on the show to date.
Chad: Where do you think the judges will tell her she has room for improvement?
Broosh: That's a tough question... she's so polished, but I'm sure the judges will find something to clock her on (the nude shoes, for example). They always do. I'm curious to see how she'll do in the acting challenges (or even the Snatch Game), it's kind of like a deal breaker for some queens. We'll have to see!
Chad: Yeah, I do wonder about her level of improvisation and comedy. But I think she could go very, very far!
Chad: Why do you think Jaymes looked so thoroughly uncomfortable pretty much any time she appeared on screen?
Broosh: My best guess is that Jaymes got in his own way this competition. Was she overwhelmed? Absolutely. And you can see that on screen.
Chad: Yeah, my theory is that she is a HUGE introvert. Really talented and funny, but just really anxious and awkward when it comes to navigating the surreal social environment on set! I think there's a reason that she's best by herself, filming YouTube videos!
Broosh: They don't call it a Race for nothing. And I agree wholeheartedly. Jaymes is such a sweetheart though, I wish we could have seen more of him. I'm hoping this experience will allow him to improve and become an even better queen.
Chad: I do have to say that she had one of my all-time favorite exits from the show: first, her "I came in first!" line, and then that playful (I think) sobbing right as she disappeared backstage. I think even the producers felt kind of bad -- her exit scenes in Untucked seemed especially poignant and lengthy, right?? We don't usually spend SO much time with the departing queen.
Broosh: Half of Untucked was dedicated to Jaymes' departure. It was so surreal. I'm sure they felt for her. Especially when she was departing, you could see that they were all rooting for her.
Broosh: It was so sweet of Aja to leave her that note, too! I'm hoping the sisterhood is strong this season. It looks like it's shaping out to be.
Chad: This week's runway went by in a flash, partly because of the snappy editing, partially because they were ALL WHITE! Were there any notable looks for you, apart from Valentina's gown?
Broosh: Yes! Charlie and Shea's looks were among my top 3. I loved it.
Chad: I was looking forward to the runway theme, but I felt like a few too many queens' gowns blurred together for me. But I agree that Charlie and Shea looked especially good! Shea is one of my absolute favorites, and her body suit was extraordinary! Hard to draw, though! I was so glad that she got so much praise from the judges this week, despite not quite coming out on top.
Broosh: I'm just glad it wasn't another Kimono-gate. They were varied, but the color choice made it blend all together.
Chad: I thought Sasha looked quite good, despite getting zero screen time this episode. Looking forward to the season, what rumors have you heard that probably AREN'T true, but you really hope they are?
Broosh: That's a tough question! I mean, these queens have everything down to a T. I mean... They made this. [A compendium of ALL the Season 9 rumors with real-time fact-checking] It's a very dedicated fandom.
Chad: I haven't heard any big, juicy secrets about this season, apart from Cynthia's role in it. I kind of like HEARING the fun speculation without knowing for sure it's legit.
Broosh: Right. I think that was the "biggest surprise" I've heard so far. They made it hard this year though. (the producers I mean) They're catching on.
Chad: Right! Have you had much interaction with World of Wonder on Reddit?
Broosh: Surprisingly, not yet! (Hi WoW, call me!) Our subreddit has gotten a lot of our readers to interact with certain queens these past couple of years though. Trixie, Katya, Ginger, Darienne, Willam, Bianca, among others have dropped by and interacted with our users.
Chad: Yeah, I get the sense that a LOT of queens check in with the Reddit, but a lot of them also like to complain about it, too. Do you get sick of that?
Broosh: I think part of the reason why we get a lot of complaints from the queens is because they're unfamiliar with the site. The subreddit encourages discussion and criticism of queens. No one is immune, and I think they're wary of that as well.
Chad: Yeah, I see the RPDR subreddit as the hub for all the most passionate, but also opinionated, fans of the show.
Broosh: That's part of the charm of our sub, it's definitely evolved into a community where people can feel 'right home' when it comes to the show. Some people don't have the luxury of doing that in real life.
Chad: Exactly! And so much of the show is about shade, so it's only fair that we like to dish and argue about the various queens. You don't always expect the queens themselves to "overhear" those conversations.
Broosh: No one is immune! Haha, I'd like to think we walk the fine line of being 'shady' yet still being constructive. The mods and I do our best at filtering out unneeded negativity on there.
Chad: I have to say that I LOVE the absurd memes that evolve within the Reddit community. The tower of heads from Season 7 remains an all-time classic to me.
Chad: The weird, recurring jokes and one-liners of the Drag Race Reddit are, like, my favorite thing on the internet.
Broosh: YES! Every year we get some new classics. All-Stars 2 definitely brought out some worthy ones. But I have to say the Laganja Estranja 'emoji-pasta' is still my favorite to date. I can't wait to see what we come up with this season.
Chad: Haaaaa! Is this what you're talking about?
Broosh: Yes Gawd!
Chad: So, I think we've talked about most of what I wanted to get to. I know that you're currently trying to raise funds for the subreddit to have a presence at DragCon, right? What can you tell me about that?
Broosh: Last year, we had the amazing opportunity to have Reddit sponsor DragCon. This year, the mods and I are trying to keep that momentum going by hosting a unique meet-up for people attending the convention (and for our online readers as well).
Chad: The video that Reddit made from last year is so epic and amazing!
Broosh: We currently have a GoFundMe set up, and I'm absolutely floored by the contributions so far. Kim Chi was our first donor!
Chad: That's because 1) she is the best and 2) she rich.
Broosh: LOL I think she's also a big fan of Reddit. As far as DragCon goes: It was an amazing experience, to say the least. And we want to share that with people. The users have given us so much and we want to give back to people.
If you managed to make it all the way to the end of this interview, clearly you're a huge Drag Race fan, and you should be on the RPDR Reddit. I seriously love the community so much, even though they're all shady apes. Thanks again to Broosh for joining me! (and for creating my favorite place to dish about queens!) Once again, here's the link to help the subreddit make it back to DragCon this year!