RuPaul's Drag Race (season 1)

RuPaul's Drag Race (season 1)
RuPaul's Drag Race
Logo of the show including a lipstick case with Logo inscribed
Format Reality television
Created by RuPaul Andre Charles
Directed by Ian Stevenson
Judges RuPaul Charles
Santino Rice
Merle Ginsberg
Country of origin USA
Language(s) English
No. of episodes 9
Executive producer(s) Fenton Bailey
Randy Barbato
Tom Campbell
Producer(s) World of Wonder
Running time approx. 43 minutes per episode (1 hour including commercials)
Original channel Logo
Followed by RuPaul's Drag Race (season 2)
External links

One of the nine contestants to compete on RuPaul's Drag Race was determined by an audience vote via the show's official website. The results were announced in early September 2008. The contestant to win this honor is Nina Flowers from Denver, Colorado. Nina Flowers went on to win Miss Congeniality.

The winner of this first season of RuPaul's Drag Race was BeBe Zahara Benet.



Contestant Real Name Age Hometown 1 2 3 4 5 6 8
BeBe Zahara Benet Nea Marshall Kudi[1] 28 Minneapolis, MN IN LOW WIN HIGH LOW WIN WIN
Nina Flowers Jorge Flores[2] 34 Bayamón, PR WIN HIGH HIGH HIGH IN HIGH OUT
Rebecca Glasscock Javier Rivera[3] 26 Ft. Lauderdale, FL LOW HIGH IN LOW WIN LOW OUT
Shannel Bryan Watkins[4] 29 Las Vegas, NV IN HIGH LOW LOW HIGH OUT
Ongina Ryan Ong Palao[5] 26 Los Angeles, CA HIGH WIN HIGH WIN OUT
Jade David Sotomayor 25 Chicago, IL IN LOW IN OUT
Akashia Eric Flint[6] 24 Cleveland, OH LOW LOW OUT
Tammie Brown Keith Glen Schubert[7] 26 Los Angeles, CA IN OUT
Victoria "Porkchop" Parker Victor Bowling[8] 39 Raleigh, NC OUT
     The contestant won RuPaul's Drag Race.
     The contestant won a challenge. Winners in Episodes 1-3 also received immunity in the next challenge.
     The contestant was one of the best but did not win the challenge.
     The contestant was one of the worst but was not in the bottom two.
     The contestant was in the bottom two.
     The contestant was eliminated.
     The contestant was the runner-up and was voted by viewers as Miss Congeniality.


Episode One: Drag On A Dime

The nine queens arrive in costume and size up the competition. They are then immediately thrust into a car wash photo shoot, portraying sex appeal while posing with two men, with Mike Ruiz as their photographer. Afterwards, everyone takes off their makeup for the first time and gets to know each other as their real-life selves, with most people being stunned by Nina's tattoos and questioning if Rebecca has had plastic surgery.

The queens' first challenge involves making an outfit out of thrift store clothes and accessories from a 99 cent store. At the judging session, which includes Bob Mackie, Santino Rice, Mike Ruiz, Merle Ginsberg, and Ru herself as judges, the queens are judged on their outfits and photos. Ongina, Nina, and Rebecca score well, with Nina being declared the winner, while Akashia and Victoria are in the bottom two. For their final test, Akashia and Victoria have a lip-sync battle set to RuPaul's signature song, "Supermodel."

In the end, though Akashia's attitude is discussed, Victoria's less-than-stylish outfit and questionable potential as an international star make her the first queen to be eliminated.

  • Challenge: Sexy Photo Shoot & Thrift Store outfits
  • Challenge Winner: Nina Flowers
  • Bottom Two: Akashia & Victoria Parker
  • Lip Synch Song: "Supermodel" by RuPaul
  • Eliminated: Victoria Parker

Episode Two: Girl Groups

The eight remaining queens are given a mini-challenge in which RuPaul has them act out certain emotions and take pictures of themselves with a digital camera. He deems Akashia and Ongina the winners and makes them the group leaders in the next challenge, a girl group task.

Ongina selects Shannel, Nina, and Rebecca for her group while Akashia selects Bebe and Jade and is stuck with Tammie, admitting she didn't want Tammie on her team because their personalities clash and because she thought she was too weird. The groups would each be responsible for their own hair, makeup, costumes, and choreography and must each perform to a Destiny's Child song.

Group Song
Serving Fish (Ongina, Shannel, Nina & Rebecca) Say My Name
3D (Akashia, Bebe, Jade & Tammie) Independent Women

Michelle Williams is the guest judge.

As the challenge progresses, Akashia creates pressure when she steamrolls over her teammates' decisions while doing little work herself. Tammie, frustrated with Akashia and admitting to the fact that the competitiveness is getting to her, considers her place in the competition. On Ongina's team, the girls get frustrated with Shannel when Shannel tries to make decisions for them. The girls are also concerned with Ongina's tricky choreography.

At judging panel, each group performs their number and the judges feel Ongina's group was the better of the two, naming Ongina the overall winner. With Akashia's group, the judges felt Bebe and Jade stood out while Akashia was a mess with a bad attitude and Tammie was just out of sorts. During their last chance lip-sync battle, set to Michelle Williams', "We Break The Dawn," Akashia gives a fierce performance while Tammie chooses not to lip-sync due to her not being prepared to lip-sync the song. In the end, Tammie is sent home when it seemed like she was giving up.

  • Challenge: Destiny's Child girl group battle
  • Top Group: Serving Fish (Nina, Ongina, Rebecca, Shannel)
  • Overall Winner: Ongina
  • Bottom Two: Akashia & Tammie
  • Lip Synch Song: "We Break the Dawn" by Michelle Williams
  • Eliminated: Tammie Brown

Episode Three: Queens of All Media

The seven remaining queens are told their next task is to emulate Oprah Winfrey. Shannel is bowled over because she's a huge Oprah fan, Nina is worried because she has never seen Oprah's show, and Jade takes the challenge too literally at first by trying to look like Oprah. Each queen is allowed to pick a costume from a bin supplied for them, choose a costume they brought, or make their own on the spot, although Rebecca is the only one to take the latter choice.

The challenge is in three parts, representing three stages of Oprah's career. The first task is a newscaster challenge where the queens must read mock news stories from a teleprompter. The next task is to sell products as Oprah does on her "My Favorite Things" specials. The third task is to interview Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott. Tori and Dean think most of the girls do a good job, though Shannel talked over them and Akashia neither stood to greet them nor said goodbye, instead walking off once the task was over.

For their next judging session, Debra Wilson serves as the guest judge. The queens were allowed to wear their own pre-made costumes and were judged on that plus videos of their performances in the Oprah challenge. Most of the girls got good marks all around, with the judges citing Ongina and Nina's bubbly personalities and Rebecca's beauty as standouts. The judges declared Bebe the winner for her regal presence, confident hand in the Oprah challenge, and fierce runway presentation.

The judges placed Shannel and Akashia in the bottom two, Shannel for seeming too perfect and not showing any vulnerability throughout the competition and Akashia for her poor performance in the Oprah challenge. For their lip-sync battle, the two had to sing Whitney Houston's, "The Greatest Love of All." In the middle of the performance, Shannel's wig falls off, but she earns points with the judges for continuing on with the song. In the end, Akashia cannot avoid elimination for a third time and she is sent home.

Episode Four: Mac Viva-Glam Challenge

Upon entering the workroom after the previous elimination, the girls notice all the mirrors have been covered and became nervous. For the mini-challenge, Ru pairs everyone up and gives each person 30 minutes to do their partner's makeup. Though Ru likes what Shannel does with Ongina, overall Jade and Nina had the best make-up and Ru made them the winners of the challenge.

The next task involves the girls putting together a commercial for Mac's Viva Glam makeup, a cosmetics line which Ru once modeled. The winner of the challenge will become the new face of Viva Glam. The girls must use the commercial to explain who they are as queens, why they are beautiful, and inform people of Viva Glam's help for those living with HIV. Each girl gets ten minutes to film their spot, though Jade gets an extra five minutes for winning the challenge. Most shoots go smoothly, except for some flubbed lines and Shannel over-doing her lines. However, Rebecca, upon thinking of a friend who has HIV, becomes emotional and walks off the set with time left on the clock. She cries, but because Rebecca has had a wall up since the competition began, some of the girls question her sincerity.

At the judging panel, Jenny Shimizu serves as guest judge and the judges look at each girl's commercial. They give high remarks to Bebe and Nina, but Ru names Ongina the winner. Upon hearing the news, Ongina cries and collapses to the floor. She reveals that she has been living with HIV for the last two years, but was afraid to admit it on national television, and is moved by the opportunity to represent a company noted for its support of HIV-related charities and organizations. Ongina says "life is a Celebration, you have to live your life and keep going" and Ru calls her an inspiration.

The bottom two ends up being Rebecca and Jade, both for their lagging progress and star potential. They have a lip sync battle to, "Would I Lie To You?" by Eurythmics and Jade is eliminated. In her exit interview, Jade has some tough words on the subject of being eliminated over Rebecca, saying Rebecca is the fakest bitch she's ever known.

  • Challenge: Mac-Viva Glam commercial
  • Winner: Ongina
  • Bottom Two: Jade & Rebecca
  • Lip Synch Song: "Would I Lie To You?" by The Eurythmics
  • Eliminated: Jade

Episode Five: Drag School of Charm

Ongina from RuPaul's Drag Race

The day after elimination, most of the queens feel Jade should have stayed and Rebecca should have gone home. For the episode's mini-challenge, Ru brings in five female fighters to put the queens through an exercise and endurance challenge. The last queen standing wins the challenge and that queen is Rebecca.

Ru then tells the queens that their main challenge will be for each of them to make over one of the fighters in their own image and teach them the secrets of drag. Rebecca, having won the mini-challenge, gets to select her partner and with whom the others work. Rebecca selects Tempele and then pairs everyone else up as follows: Bebe/Michelle, Nina/Mia, Ongina/Jarrett, Shannel/Sweepee.

The challenge commences and the fighters admit to not being very feminine while the queens grow frustrated with transforming the fighters. Halfway through the day, Ru shows up to inform everyone that the queens must also coach the fighters on how to give a lip sync performance, which they must do to Beyonce's, "Freakum Dress".

On judging day, Lucy Lawless and Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin serve as guest judges. Bebe emphasizes culture with Michelle, Rebecca makes over Tempele in her own image, Nina puts her own 'Nina' spin on Mia, Ongina plays the masculine role to Jarrett's feminine touch, and Shannel goes for high glam with Sweepee. The judges love Shannel and Rebecca's output and name Rebecca the winner.

Conversely, the judges are on the fence with Nina and aren't so thrilled with Bebe and Ongina's interpretations of the challenge. Bebe and Ongina are in the bottom two and have a lip sync battle set to Britney Spears', "Stronger." After a fierce performance, Ru feels the decision is too tough to call and leaves the set for a minute to collect her thoughts. Upon her return, Ru says Bebe performed with a power that the judges hadn't seen before and did something she didn't think was possible: she outshined Ongina. Ru lets Bebe stay and eliminates Ongina, but not before saying she thought Ongina had the potential to win it all.

  • Challenge: Transforming a female fighter in their own image
  • Winner: Rebecca Glasscock
  • Bottom Two: Bebe & Ongina
  • Lip Synch Song: "Stronger" by Britney Spears
  • Eliminated: Ongina

Episode Six: Absolut Drag Ball

The queens meet Ru on the runway for a vogue battle mini-challenge. Ru deems Rebecca and Nina as the strongest posers and has them participate in a further pose-off, which Nina wins.

For their main challenge, the queens are informed that they will have a drag ball. Each queen must come up with three looks: Swimsuit (as a test for gender illusionists), Executive Realness (to portray strong, real-life women and not queens), and Evening Wear. Marco Marco provides fabric for the queens to work with. Ru also informs the girls that Absolut is sponsoring the event and thus, they must each portray one of four pre-selected flavors: citron, mandarin, mango, and raspberry. As the winner of the mini-challenge, Nina selects her flavor and pairs everyone else up.

Queen Flavor
BeBe Zahara Benet Raspberry
Nina Flowers Mango
Rebecca Glasscock Citron
Shannel Mandarin

Nina, Rebecca, and Shannel get right to work while Bebe, unsure of what to do, takes a while to start. Shannel is unsure of how to make swimsuits, Nina doesn't think her green fabric fits the "Executive" category, and Bebe asks for construction advice. When Ru checks in with the queens, Shannel wonders how much more of herself she can give when the judges aren't responding favorably to her output. Rebecca keeps a lot of information to herself and, to the camera, Shannel comments on Rebecca's gameplaying and lack of drag knowledge. Nina reveals that her inspiration is her late mother, whom she says was her best friend. Midway through the day, Ru lets the queens take a break by throwing a cocktail party with special guest Charo. The queens have a blast, but aren't so thrilled when Ru adds the extra twist of telling the queens they must literally use their assigned fruits as part of their runway presentations.

On the runway, Jeffrey Moran, image consultant of Absolut, and Maria Conchita Alonso serve as guest judges. In the first category, Executive Realness, Bebe goes first and Ru asks why she should win. Bebe speaks of having dignity in drag and being taken seriously. When Nina goes up, she says she has dedicated herself to female impersonation for 15 years and wants to inspire others. Shannel talks of having pride in one's self and Rebecca says she has the drive and determination to win. The judges are further pleased by each queen's swimsuit and Evening Wear presentations.

The judges love Bebe's evolving looks, make-up, and restrained style. Nina's demureness and femininity are highly regarded. Shannel is once again knocked for not connecting emotionally while Rebecca's costume construction is negatively noted. When asked who should go, Rebecca says she should stay, but when pressed, she once again names Shannel. Nina picks Rebecca due to lack of experience, Bebe picks Rebecca because Bebe thinks Rebecca is on a lower level than the rest of the queens, and Shannel falls on her own sword and quits because she's been judged harshly from the beginning. She slams the judges extensively for not noticing her personality and for all the negative critiques, but Ru tries to convince her to stay.

In deliberations, the judges are torn between Shannel having just shown vulnerability while questioning her sincerity. The judges love Bebe's presence and outfits, think Rebecca is the weakest queen, and like Nina's work. When the queens are called back, Bebe is announced as the winner and part of the final three. Nina is also told she is part of the final three, leaving Rebecca and Shannel as the bottom two. Despite Shannel's earlier request to quit, the two have a lip-sync battle to, "Shackles," by Mary Mary. Afterwards, Shannel is eliminated after a strong but somewhat tacky performance though Ru assures her that her contributions have not gone unnoticed.

  • Challenge: Drag Ball featuring three different looks
  • Winner: BeBe Zahara Benet
  • Bottom Two: Rebecca & Shannel
  • Lip Synch Song: "Shackles" by Mary Mary
  • Eliminated: Shannel

Episode Seven: Extra Special Edition

In this episode, RuPaul takes a look back through the first season. Clips include unaired audition videos from the queens who made it and some who didn't, backstage antics, and an inside look at the final three. Merle Ginsberg and Santino Rice were also on hand to deliver their Top 10 picks for the most memorable fashions of the season.

Santino and Merle's Picks for Top Ten Fashion Moments (judging panel fashions only except noted otherwise)

  • 10. Tammie Brown, Episode One
  • 9. Jade, Episode Three
  • 8. Rebecca Glasscock, Episode Two
  • 7. Bebe Zahara Benet, Episode Four
  • 6. A tribute to Nina's hair and makeup throughout the season
  • 5. Ongina, Episode Four
  • 4. Shannel, Episode Three
  • 3. Bebe Zahara Benet, Episode Three
  • 2. Nina Flowers, Episode One
  • 1. RuPaul's various judging panel gowns

Episode Eight: Grand Finale

Merle and Santino come in to inform the final three that their last challenge will be to appear in RuPaul's latest video for her song, "Cover Girl (Put The Bass In Your Walk)." They will do a group dance, record a verse with rapper Cazwell, and film a solo for Ru's video.

To get them prepared, choreographer Ryan Heffington takes the final three through the planned dance routine. None of the queens adapt easily, but Rebecca in particular struggles with the dancing required. Afterward, each queen gets an impromptu sit-down with Ru. Ru tells Nina that she likes her sweetness and Nina shares the struggles she's had with her mom's death. Then, Bebe meets with Ru and Ru wonders what she'll do after the show. Bebe speaks of reaching out to the community and talks of the AIDS crisis in her homeland of Cameroon. Rebecca talks about the cattiness she's faced with the other girls and Ru wonders if she herself had anything to do with that. The girls record their verses with Cazwell and Nina and Bebe do a good job while Rebecca struggles again, but eventually gets it.

The scene switches to Ru filming her video, with episode one photographer Mike Ruiz as director, and the three girls run through their group dance number. Mike loves Bebe's energy, thinks Nina is a great performer, and compliments Rebecca's beauty. Each girl then gets a solo and Nina goes first. Bebe goes second and when it gets to Rebecca's turn, she's late back to set. Unhappy with her look and taking extra time away to fix it, Rebecca struggles for a third time.

For the final runway show, there are no guest judges and the girls pull out all the stops. The judges look at clips of each girls' performances in the video shoot, starting with Bebe. Santino loves her eye contact, Merle liked her lyrics, and Ru says Bebe is a moving piece of art. With Nina, Santino felt her lyrics and delivery were dated, and Ru says she likes her personality on and off set. Ru also points out that Nina is the only one who never had to lip sync for her life. Rebecca is asked about her tardiness and what she discussed with Ru earlier. As for her performance, Santino thought the choreography was weak and Merle wanted more individuality.

In deliberations, the judges think Bebe is graceful and womanly. Nina is a grand performer, but her outfits seem similar to each other and her grasp of the English language can hinder her. Rebecca's beauty is praised, but the judges feel she's at a lower level than the other two. On the runway, the judges eliminate Rebecca and the decision comes down to Nina and Bebe. The two have a final lip sync battle to Ru's, "Cover Girl." Afterwards, Ru announces Bebe as the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season One.

  • Challenge: Recording a verse and filming a spot for RuPaul's latest video
  • Eliminated: Rebecca Glasscock (Third Place)
  • Lip Synch Song: "Cover Girl (Put the Bass in Your Walk)" by RuPaul
  • Runner-Up: Nina Flowers
  • Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season One: BeBe Zahara Benet

Episode Nine: Re-United!

The nine queens gather once again to chat about the season behind them and their current lives. Starting with Victoria, Tammie, Akashia, and Jade, Ru asks Victoria if she enjoyed her short stay and if she felt she could've done well in the later challenges, Tammie discusses her quirkiness, Akashia's anger and tearful exit are touched on, and Jade voices her frustration with Rebecca and her joy in meeting the other girls.

Ru then brings out Ongina, Shannel, and Rebecca. Ongina talks about her progression as a drag artist and her controversial outing as an HIV positive person in Episode Four. Shannel's overconfidence and her elimination against Rebecca are discussed. The girls talk about Rebecca's fakeness and attitude, causing arguments to ensue.

Finally, Season One runner-up Nina Flowers and Season One Winner Bebe Zahara Benet are brought out. Nina talks about finishing second and says the Oprah challenge was the toughest for her. Nina also says the audience reception for her has been favorable. Bebe talks about winning and the audience reaction in Cameroon. Ru asks Bebe if she was surprised that Rebecca made it to the final three and when asked for hands, most queens feel she shouldn't have. Nina is surprised that Jade was eliminated over Rebecca and Jade takes the chance for closure by extending an olive branch to Rebecca.

Ru then gives the girls some viewer questions. Akashia is asked about upgrading her hooker style, Rebecca is asked about the friend she mentioned in the Mac Viva-Glam challenge, and Shannel is asked if her wig falling off in the episode three lip sync battle was staged. Shannel admits that it was intentional and Ru is surprised. Ongina is asked about going from winning a challenge to lip syncing for her life, Nina is asked about what lead her to choose an androgynous drag style, and all of the girls are asked about hiding razor bumps and stubble.

Merle and Santino are then brought out to discuss their experiences on the show. Merle talks about everyone's ideas of femininity and Santino discusses the fashion and his judging style. The girls are then allowed to get into the judges' heads and Shannel says she left the show because Santino made her feel like crap every week. The two argue and Ru intervenes to tell Shannel not to let someone else's opinion get her down. Ongina says negative critiques can sometimes override positive ones and Akashia says she had never had problems with Santino. Ru says negativity exists and Tammie argues that they don't need to feed into it, arguing with Ru on the subject. Ru gets upset and takes the girls to task for taking the negativity too hard, telling them they need to build themselves up and not rely on others holding their hands.

Nina Flowers is crowned Miss Congeniality.


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