RuPaul's Drag Race season one winner interviewed
“Tighten your tucking panties, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”
When RuPaul, the Amazon-size cross-dressing legend, uttered those words on the debut episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Logo’s 2009 hit show, 25-year-old BeBe Zahara Benet (a.k.a. Nea Marshall Kudi) took note.
n Drag Race, Benet created couture out of fruit, got soaped up with studs and engaged in other outrageous stunts to become season one’s winner. Oozing self-confidence and poise it’s no surprise Benet’s first single is called “I’m the Shit”).
Were you surprised you were picked for the show?
No. Was I interested in doing the show? Really, no. I was very skeptical about how I and the rest of the artists would be portrayed. I didn’t know if they were going to make us look like class clowns, because every drag character you see in the media is very campy. There’s nothing wrong with campy drag, but it’s all you get to see, and so then people grow up with this whole stereotype about the art form.
The show was a huge success. Did that shock you?
No. We are always creating, entertaining and trying to please people. [A performer] will not even eat just because they have to sacrifice what little money they have to buy a wig, shoes or makeup. I was really, really surprised at the kind of people who watched it, from the suburban wife to these really straight macho dudes who are like, “Dude, good show.”
Why do you think you won?
I didn’t go into the show to win. I went in to really be able to showcase who BeBe Zahara Benet is. I did it with honesty. I also had an international appeal. I did my best to show that many cultures and races is what makes the beauty of America.
Describe BeBe Zahara Benet.
I don’t want to give you a whole list because you’ll be like, “Wow, you’re very conceited.” I usually call her femme sauvage, which means wild cat in French.
What’d you think of RuPaul?
He was like how a mother would be with her children. She was nurturing, and when she would criticize, she would make sure she did it with respect.