With news that RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under is holding an open casting call, we asked this year’s queens to share their advice for season 2 hopefuls.
What’s that I hear? Is it a Kylie Minogue song? Is it the unique twang of a New Zealand accent? Is it a door slamming shut as RuPaul checks into MIQ? Why, I think it is, because earlier this month TVNZ announced there would be a second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, coming in 2022.
The first season had a rocky road at first, but it’s hard to look at the result as anything other than a success: Kita Mean, shining and sparkling, as the first “down under” Drag Race superstar. The other big takeaway: we have so much more drag talent than that which made it to the stage in season one.
The first season was streamed over half a million times on TVNZ OnDemand, and is one of TVNZ’s top 10 local shows of 2021, says TVNZ’s Cate Slater. “It’s clear viewers loved seeing our local drag talent brighten up the screen. With casting officially open, we can’t wait to see some of the best and brightest apply from Aotearoa.”
That’s right, this time there’s an open casting call. Drag Race has used a combination of shoulder-tapping and open casting calls in the past, and now local queens get to throw their wigs into the ring for their shot at being the next Down Under drag superstar.
The Drag Race behemoth has been making long-awaited strides towards inclusivity. Kylie Sonique Love was recently the first trans contestant to win a season, and the upcoming UK season will be the first to feature a cisgender female contestant. Hopefully these local open auditions will help lead to a more inclusive cast in this part of the world too.
But what does it take to make it not just past auditions, but through the show itself? We asked Anita Wigl’it, Elektra Shock, Karen from Finance and Maxi Shields from the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under how they made it all the way to the main stage and to share their tips for other Drag Race hopefuls.
At the end of every episode, RuPaul yelps, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love anybody else?” Then Ru gets an amen up in there. The biggest piece of advice that the queens gave me was not loving yourself, but being yourself.
Elektra Shock, the dancing queen, says: “Remember that you’re auditioning to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race, not making an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Leave the fancy editing and scripted instructions to the professionals. Use your audition tape to show them the real you, good and bad.
“They don’t want to find the next Kita, Anita or Elektra. They want to find the next you.”
The current Anita Wigl’it concurs: “Be your authentic and amazing self! In our lives as drag performers we all idolise some incredible drag superstars, but the world doesn’t need two of them, it needs one of you.”
Learn how to sew
Every season, there’s a sewing challenge. Sometimes more than one! And every season, like gay clockwork, there’s a queen who does not know how to sew. “Learn how to bloody sew!” says fan favourite Maxi Shield, who famously sewed a garment bag into a Vivienne Westwood-esque punk look.
“Take lessons on making outfits for your body. Sewing has been a challenge since the first ever season … You have no excuse!” You might not be able to whip up couture in a minute flat like Ra’Jah O’Hara, but you can at least figure out how to thread a needle.
Get your wigs in a row
Elektra Shock, who came under fire and a light roasting for her wigs last season, has a simple piece of advice for your audition: “Wigs! Beautifully hydrated double stacked wigs!”
… and get them organised, literally and metaphorically
Once you make it onto the show, you’re going to need a big bag of tricks in every sense of the word. “Try not to overthink, there will be plenty of time for that in the workroom. Take the information you’re given and prepare for anything that RuPaul may throw at you,” says Shock. “Drag Race is packed with emotional twists and turns, and a well-packed drag bag will help you weather the storm.”
What else might help you weather the storm? “Make sure you’ve got a good therapist!” says Karen from Finance. “Tell them to clear their schedule.”
Know the potential assignments
Anita Wigl’it recommends bingeing previous seasons to “get a feel for what challenges might entail”. Her research led to her using books and video tapes in a costume design challenge, which had been done on previous seasons with both excellent and middling results. After trying it herself, her advice is to not use books and video tapes in your own costume.
Shield, who admits she was “shithouse” in the singing challenge, would’ve worked on her singing and pre-written some lyrics. “Drag Race is really ‘prepare for everything and anything but then get there and just go with the flow’.”
Think about Snatch Game from the very beginning
Snatch Game has been around since season two of Drag Race. There’s no excuse for not preparing for it, or even worse, preparing a bad Snatch Game. For every Adele, Little Richard and Maggie Smith, there’s… well, more or less every performance on the first season of Drag Race Down Under. (In fact, Karen from Finance said the one thing she wishes she could get a do-over on is her Snatch Game performance.)
Reigning Down Under Snatch Game champion Anita Wigl’it, who appeared as a memorably filthy Queen Elizabeth II, has some expert tips. “Even though it is so much fun, there’s a lot of preparation in transforming yourself into someone else and find areas for jokes.”
And as much as you can practise, things can change in an instant. “You have to be prepared to throw all of your research out the window and think on the fly,” says Wigl’it, “but this can also be practised!” In-the-moment improvisation doesn’t always work out well, as Kita Mean learned when she made a questionable pivot to Dr. Seuss in the middle of the game.
Think outside the costume box
Some of the best performers on Drag Race have been those that have had an interesting spin on a challenge or an assignment. Sasha Velour had been quietly killing it for most of season nine, but her rose petal drop was the reveal heard around the world. Take the advice from Karen from Finance, who famously took a risk dressing as Shapelle Corby: “You don’t get gold stars for being ‘good’ on Drag Race.”
There’s always next time
Maxi Shields wants to remind those attending the casting call that Drag Race isn’t the be-all and end-all. “It really has nothing to do with how fabulous a drag performer you are. If you don’t get in, you’re still bloody fabulous. There’s always season three!”
Apply to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under or find out more at rdrcasting.com. Drag Race Down season 2 is set to screen in 2022.