RuPaul's Drag Race winners then and now - ditching the crown to international fame

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RuPaul's Drag Race winners then and now - ditching the crown to international fame

There has been so many seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, across several countries, we struggle to keep up with what the winners are doing now.

And with that, the library is now officially closed.

Now the successful show – and Mama Ru – has infiltrated screens in the UK, US, and then battle them together Worldwide, we want to take a trip down memory lane to the beginning.

So far there has been a total of 14 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race (the original show), and seven series of All Stars (where the Queen’s come back to compete again). We’ve also had three RuPaul’s Drag Race UK edition, and one of the UK vs the World.

Each winner has had a different level of success after their journey of taking the crown as the ultimate drag queen.

Gathering a selection of the most outstanding drag queens across the country, RuPaul puts them together to compete for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.”

While some have completely retired from their days as drag queens, others have still carried on with their legacies. We’ve seen them on reality TV shows, podcasts, releasing songs, and even appearing in movies.

However, what about the first seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race – where are the winners now compared to scooping the top prize back then?

Bianca Del Rio

Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Roy Haylock, known by the stage name of Bianca Del Rio. She is the fierce, fabulous and comical personality that isn’t afraid to show her true self to others. As a winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she also became the show’s breakout star. I mean, Del Rio’s character didn’t really need an introduction.

Since her win on Drag Race, Del Rio has written and toured several stand-up shows. Her It’s Jester Joke show made her the first drag queen to headline at London’s Wembley Arena in 2019.

Del Rio has published her own book, titled Blame It On Bianca Del Rio: The Expert On Nothing With An Opinion On Everything. In 2020, she released a documentary Workhouse Queen.

She has carried on with her theatrical career. She annually releases a new performance as Hugo (Loco Chanelle) at the popular Everybody’s Talking About Jamie show.

2.5 million Instagram followers and counting. Bianca Del Rio’s Unsanitized Tour has been touring all around North America, Latin America, Europe, and the UK for a total of 123 performances.

Despite winning in 2018, the Drag Queen occasionally appears as in episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race All stars: Untucked.

Style-wise, the 47-year-old has not changed much and their looks have remained the same. However, Del Rio has added more colour to her makeup looks and outfits. Yellow like the sunshine!

Jinkx Monsoon

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for LOGO

Known by the stage name of Jinkx Monsoon, Jerick Hoffer was crowned the winner of the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. If one win wasn’t enough for Monsoon, they returned to compete at RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars for its seventh season.

Gathering international fame, Monsoon released their first album The Inevitable Album in 2014. Another studio album titled The Ginger Snapped followed four years later.

Ever since then, Monsoon has released individual singles as well as their features with the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars from seasons five and seven.

In January 2021, Hoffer tied the knot with their partner Michael Abbott in a very small ceremony at their home. Their guests witnessed them exchanging the vows through video call.

Gathering an impressive following of 1.4 million Instagram followers, the 34-year-old is expected to release their single Know-It-All this year.

In a decade, Jinx has gone through several hairstyles and hair colours. For this year, it seems that the shorter the better. Say goodbye to the iconic red-haired Jinkx.

Sharon Needles

Photo by Beck Starr/FilmMagic

The winner of the fourth season and a total fan favourite Sharon Needles is the stage name of Aaron Coady. Interestingly, her stage name comes from a pun on the phrase “sharing needles”.

As per Billboard, her influence took her debut album PG-13 on the Billboard 200 at number 186, and also on the top 10 Dance/Electronic albums. Sharon has released a total of three studio albums, with a fourth one titled Absolute Zero to be released this year.

Compared to other Drag Queens, Sharon has done quite well as an artist. As of June 2022, her YouTube channel has accumulated over 11 million views, with various videos having more than a million views.

With a million Instagram followers, the drag queen has not stopped wowing the audience with her extravagant makeup looks. However, good thing that has added a bit more colour to it.

Raja Gemini

Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Raja Gemini might’ve gained recognition through her journey on RuPaul’s Drag Race taking the crown as the winner of its third season, but Raja also appeared on the reality TV show America’s Next Top Model as a makeup artist. Raja is also the first and only Asian American drag performer to win the show.

The native Indonesian has also released a total of six singles, and their debut song Diamond Crowned Queen peaked at number 35 in the US Dance. Fans were able to hear more of their voice through RuPaul’s album featuring the cast of season seven of All Stars.

At the age of 48, Raja has become a web star, appearing as a guest on Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, and Glamour. Raja also tied the knot with their partner Ryan Turner in 2017.

As of today, Raja is currently co-hosting the podcast Very That with former season three contestant, Delta Work. They also returned to All-Stars 7, where the first All Winners seasons compete against each other.

With 1.1 million Instagram followers, Raja has gone from iconic to more iconic and the glow-up speaks for itself. Raja doesn’t need an introduction. Just look at the transformation below.

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Tyra Sanchez

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SPI Marketing

The person behind the iconic Tyra Sanchez was James William Ross IV. As a Beyoncé impersonator, Tyra Sanchez shot to fame after winning the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

According to In Magazine, Ross announced through his Instagram account that he would be retiring from drag and no longer perform under the stage name of Tyra Sanchez in March 2020.

He wrote: “For those asking, Tyra Sanchez has fulfilled her purpose in my life. I, James Ross, no longer want to be referred to as Tyra, Tyra Sanchez, her, she, girl, or queen.”

As of now, Ross is a devoted father to his two children and has kept himself away from the public media.

Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage

BeBe Zahara Benet

Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

The first winner and iconic drag queen Bebe Zahara Benet is the stage name of Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa. BeBe told MPR News that they would rather be called a “drag artist” or a “drag performer”.

Almost a decade later, BeBe return as a surprise contestant for the third season of All Stars. However this time they did not take the crown and was placed in the top four.

Ever since taking the crown as the first winner of RuPaul, BeBe has had a very active career, appearing on a few television and web series. They have also released a total of four extended plays, and individual singles and also appeared as a featured singer. BeBe returned from their hiatus will their single TOMORROW, which was released on June 21, 2022.

More than a decade from winning the competition, their style has changed drastically through the years. Still, slaying since day one!

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