With a million and one RuPaul's Drag Race spinoffs, mainstream television has become very much acquainted with the creative, limitless world of drag. We can all thank the Supermodel of the World, Mama RuPaul herself, for marketing drag queens to a wide international audience. Without the Emmy-winning Drag Race franchise, we likely wouldn't have been blessed with Paramount Plus's upcoming competition series, Queen of the Universe.
While Drag Race famously features drag queens battling it out in Lip Sync for Your Life performances, Queen of the Universe is an entirely different animal. The competition series will showcase the singing talents of drag queens across the world. So, picture the Eurovision Song Contest, RuPaul's Drag Race, and American Idol all wrapped up into one fabulous show. Lip syncing will get contestants nowhere in Queen of the Universe. Let's discuss every Swarovski-crystal-studded detail.
Who will judge 'Queen of the Universe'?
Set to premiere on Dec. 2, 2021, Queen of the Universe will round up competing queens from 10 countries — including the U.S., Mexico, India, China, England, France, Brazil, and Canada — to sing their hearts out in front of a live audience and a killer judging panel. Hosted by Ireland's own BAFTA Award-winning comedian Graham Norton, the show will present Michelle Visage, Trixie Mattel, Vanessa Williams, and Leona Lewis as judges.
The selected judges fabulously complement each other, as each one boasts something special. Michelle Visage — who's famously RuPaul's BFF and a longtime (strict) judge on RuPaul's Drag Race — was a singer in musical groups Seduction and The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M. in the late '80s and early '90s.
"It's a singing competition first, it's a drag competition second. What you think you know is going to be out the door because, yes, it's singing, but it's definitely different," Michelle told Entertainment Weekly.
RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars Season 3 winner, entrepreneur, and comedian Trixie Mattel is, believe it or not, a folk and country singer-songwriter. Her exquisitely cheery albums include 2017's "Two Birds" and 2020's "Barbara."
Aside from winning RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race in 2020 (which is obviously what she's most known for), Vanessa Williams made history as the first Black Miss America winner back in 1983 — you know, before she de-crowned herself a year later. She then went into acting and singing, for which she has earned 11 Grammy nominations.
"We'll be judging them not only on the quality of their talent and musicianship but also their star quality," Vanessa explained to Entertainment Weekly.
Leona Lewis — whom you might know for her explosive 2007 hit single, "Bleeding Love" — famously won the U.K.'s The X Factor in 2006. Leona also served as a guest judge on Germany's drag competition series Queen of Drags back in 2019.
While Queen of the Universe will surely thrive on its fresh concept and impressive judging panel, it aims to do more than simply entertain. The show attempts to further push drag queens to the forefront of entertainment, proving to the often stubborn world that stacked wigs and tucking panties don't take away from brilliant vocal talent.
Heck, Trixie Mattel believes drag queens are responsible for "setting the trends that pop stars follow."
As for if the show will be any good, well, we'll let Trixie Mattel convince you. "Drag queens in general are stealth producers, so even at like a low-budget local drag show, drag queens are worried about the costumes, the words, the choreography, what are people eating at the Hamburger Mary's while the number goes on, so, giving drag queens the key to the car and saying, 'Go give me a great number,' it's a recipe for success," she said.
Queen of the Universe will premiere on Dec. 2, 2021, on Paramount Plus.