So who is the most famous draq queen in the world?
Drag queens have become increasingly mainstream and popular in recent years, gaining more exposure through popular TV shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. While drag culture has existed for decades, it is now more visible and celebrated than ever before. Some drag queens have risen to fame and amassed significant wealth through their talents and success. Here is an in-depth look at some of the most famous and influential drag queens in the world today:
RuPaul – The World’s Most Famous Drag Queen
Background and Career
Without a doubt, RuPaul is the world’s most famous drag queen. Born RuPaul Andre Charles in 1960, RuPaul skyrocketed to fame as a drag performer in the 1990s. With her glamorous look, witty personality, and catchy dance music, RuPaul became an international superstar who brought drag into the mainstream like never before.
RuPaul’s career began in Atlanta, Georgia, where she performed at local nightclubs. Her early drag persona was inspired by the over-the-top disco divas and supermodels of the time. After relocating to New York City, RuPaul broke out in 1989 with the release of her debut album “Supermodel of the World.” Hits like “Supermodel” and “Work It Girl” displayed her clever songwriting and cemented her status as a talented drag queen.
Throughout the 90s, RuPaul became a household name, appearing in major films, TV shows, and music videos. She released several successful albums and even had her own VH1 talk show, “The RuPaul Show.” RuPaul made history in 1999 when her single “Glamazon” became the first song by a drag queen to reach the Billboard Top 40 charts in America.
RuPaul’s Drag Race and Continued Success
In 2009, RuPaul launched the reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, which pitted drag queens against each other in challenges to become “America’s next drag superstar.” The show became a massive hit, running for 14 seasons on VH1 and producing numerous spinoffs. It provided a vast platform for up-and-coming drag talent while RuPaul served as host, mentor, head judge and executive producer.
Winning RuPaul’s Drag Race provides a big career boost for the victors. Notable winners include Bianca Del Rio, Violet Chachki, Bob the Drag Queen, Sasha Velour, Aquaria, and more. Even non-winning contestants like Katya, Alyssa Edwards, and Shangela have become famous names in the drag world through their appearances.
Beyond her TV success, RuPaul has expanded her business empire in recent years. She launched a cosmetics line, RuPaul’s Drag Race, in collaboration with Mally Beauty. She also opened DragCon, a drag-themed convention annually in Los Angeles and New York City.
According to Forbes, RuPaul has a net worth of around $60 million, making her the wealthiest drag queen in the world. Now in her 60s, RuPaul remains one of the most prominent figures of the art form she helped introduce to the masses. Her name has become synonymous with the idea of drag itself.
Bianca Del Rio – The Insult Comic Queen
Background and Drag Persona
Outside of RuPaul, one of the most famous drag queens today is Bianca Del Rio. Bianca has become known for her insult comedy routines and exaggerated clown-like appearance. The persona of Bianca Del Rio was created by Roy Haylock, who had experience as an actor, costume designer, and club performer in New Orleans.
As Bianca Del Rio, Roy portrays a sassy, foul-mouthed, wisecracking drag queen who doesn’t hold back with her blunt opinions. She is often sporting voluminous wigs, heavy makeup with drawn-on eyebrows, and colourful form-fitting dresses. Her look is reminiscent of insult comics like Don Rickles or The Muppets character Statler Waldorf.
Bianca’s comedy style is observational, sarcastic, and self-deprecating. She frequently picks on audience members and other drag queens with her biting and hilarious commentary. Bianca’s exaggerated voice and mannerisms add to her comedic talents. She can improvise quickly and land jokes effortlessly.
RuPaul’s Drag Race and Later Career
Roy Haylock as Bianca Del Rio first gained widespread attention by competing on season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2014. Del Rio immediately stood out for her charisma, unique look, and talent for reading the other contestants. She ultimately won the competition, adding to her credibility as one of America’s top drag queens.
After her win, Bianca Del Rio launched a successful comedy and music career. She tours the world with her stand-up show Rolodex of Hate, performing at venues like London’s Wembley Arena. She has also hosted theatre events like the West End production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Del Rio’s 2018 comedy film Hurricane Bianca: From Russia with Hate broke records for Wolfe Video as their most-watched film. She also made history as the first drag queen to headline Wembley Arena in London. Besides live comedy, Del Rio posts regularly to her massively popular YouTube channel and podcast.
With her original drag persona and observational wit, Bianca Del Rio has cemented herself as one of the most famous and influential drag queens of the 21st century.
Violet Chachki – Burlesque Performer Turned Drag Superstar
Background and Drag Aesthetic
Violet Chachki stands out for her bold burlesque-inspired drag looks. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Violet began performing in drag after getting experience as a burlesque dancer, fetish model, and aerialist. She, therefore, incorporated corsets, gloves, lace, and glamorous vintage fashion into her drag persona.
Violet describes her drag aesthetic as “spooky stripper clown chic.” She often wears dramatic eye makeup, tiny waist-cinching corsets, and wigs with blunt bangs. Violet uses her flexibility and dance skills in many performances. Her look conveys a mysterious, couture pin-up vibe compared to more comedic or campy drag queens.
Rise to Fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race
In 2015, Violet Chachki competed on season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, wowing with her unique burlesque style. During challenges, she showed off talents like aerial acrobatics and contortionism, along with her makeup artistry and costuming skills. Though sometimes criticised for being arrogant, Violet’s talents were undeniable. She ultimately won the competition and gained international fame.
After her victory, Violet became an in-demand performer, modeling for Moschino and Jean Paul Gaultier. She tours with her cabaret show A Lot More Me and appeared in music videos for artists like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. Violet also works as an LGBTQ nightlife promoter and consultant in Los Angeles.
Known for breaking the mold of what a drag queen can be, Violet Chachki’s avant-garde aesthetic and performance skills have made her a contemporary drag icon.
Trixie Mattel – Folk and Comedy Drag Musician
Background and Persona
Trixie Mattel has a unique approach to drag that incorporates music, comedy, and American fashion influences. The drag persona of Trixie Mattel is portrayed by folk musician Brian Firkus from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
As Trixie Mattel, Brian often wears platinum blonde wigs, heavy pink makeup, and loud, sparkly outfits inspired by county music stars. She also includes Barbie and doll references in many of her looks.
Trixie’s act incorporates stand-up comedy and original folk songs played on guitar or autoharp. Her music is melancholy yet humorous, covering failed relationships, drug addiction, loneliness, and other depressing topics in a lively folk style.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Fame and Music Career
Trixie Mattel first appeared on season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, displaying her sense of humor through impersonations and country song parodies. After being eliminated, she returned and placed 6th overall.
Trixie won season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars in 2018, further boosting her career. She co-hosts a popular web series with fellow queen Katya Zamolodchikova called UNHhhh, where they chat about random absurd topics.
Outside of drag, Brian Firkus has released six successful studio albums as a folk musician, blending lyrical comedy with 60s folk-pop style. His third album, One Stone, reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in 2020.
Trixie Mattel has garnered a big LGBTQ following with her unique marriage of music, comedy, and campy drag style. She stands out as one of the funnier breakout stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Katya Zamolodchikova – Quirky Comedic Queen
Background and Persona
Another Drag Race alum known for comedy is Katya Zamolodchikova. Boston-born Brian McCook portrays the character of Katya. Katya’s drag aesthetic is described as a “hot mess” blend of Russian prostitute and ’50s housewife. She often wears revealing outfits, heavy eye makeup, huge blonde wigs and chunky heels.
Katya has an over-the-top, experimental comedic style, mixing jokes with absurd improv and exaggerated Russian character acting. Her manic physical comedy makes her stand-up routines and web videos very entertaining. Katya also shares openly about her past struggles with drug addiction and anxiety.
Popularity on RuPaul’s Drag Race
Brian McCook initially competed as Katya on season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, placing 5th overall. On season 2 of All Stars, Katya was a breakout personality, making it to the final two.
With longtime collaborator Trixie Mattel, Katya co-hosts various web talk shows like UNHhhh and The Bald and the Beautiful podcast. She was nominated for two Emmy awards for her interstitial RuPaul’s Drag Race segments.
Known among fans for her self-deprecating Russian prostitute schtick, Katya Zamolodchikova has crafted one of the most memorable and humorous personas of recent Drag Race seasons.
Shangela – Reality TV and Acting Drag Talent
Background and Early Career
Shangela is the drag persona of D.J. Pierce, who hails from Paris, Texas. Shangela combines comedy, dancing, celebrity impersonations, and stunning fashion looks. She is among the most well-rounded and talented RuPaul’s Drag Race queens.
Shangela first broke out in 2009, competing on season 2 of Drag Race, despite having little experience in drag at the time. Though only performing in pain for a few months, Shangela gained notice for her charisma and skills. She returned on season 3 and reached the top 5.
After Drag Race, Shangela gained more polish and fame as a performer. She toured internationally and became a fixture of the Los Angeles drag scene. Her celebrity impersonations of Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and Marilyn Monroe showcased her versatility.
Pop Culture Visibility
Beyond the drag world, Shangela gained roles in various film and TV projects. She appeared in series like Glee, 2 Broke Girls, The X-Files, and Lady Gaga’s music video “Applause.”
Shangela competed thrice on RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars season 3. She demonstrated her growth over the years, eventually placing 3rd overall. Shangela also served as a coach on The Queen of Drags reality show in Germany.
Most recently, she has found success hosting red-carpet premieres and as a reality show judge. Thanks to her many talents, Shangela has become one of the most multi-faceted drag performers today.
Latrice Royale – Bold Diva Queen
Background and Performance Style
Known for her big, bold drag looks is Latrice Royale. The queen persona of Latrice Royale comes from Timothy Wilcots of California. Latrice’s plus-size frame, bright makeup, and outrageous curly wigs stand out.
Latrice describes herself as “the large and in charge, chunky yet funky, bold and beautiful.” She exudes confidence as a full-figured queen, often wearing figure-hugging dresses. Latrice entertains with lip-syncs and engages the crowd. She’s known for her boisterous personality and signature laugh.
Notable Drag Race Runs
Latrice Royale is a RuPaul’s Drag Race legend, having competed in seasons 4, All Stars 1, and All Stars 4. She reached 4th place in season 4, showcasing her stunning gowns and lip-syncing mastery.
On All Stars 4 in 2018, Latrice again proved her performance chops, ultimately placing 7th overall. That season, she introduced beloved traditions like Latrice’s elimination speeches.
Latrice Royale inspires an unapologetically prominent drag queen performer with her vibrant energy and sense of style. She demonstrates that drag belongs to bold and beautiful queens of all sizes.
Alaska Thunderf*ck 5000 – Quirky Comedy and Theater Queen
Background and Style
Known for her wacky humor is drag queen Alaska Thunderf*ck 5000. Justin Howard, an actor and musician from Erie, Pennsylvania, portrays Alaska.
Alaska often wears messy blonde hair, groupie-inspired ’70s outfits, and quirky dance moves during performances. She’s energetic on stage, mixing comedy with theatre camp and pop culture references.
Alaska draws inspiration from John Waters films and genres like punk rock and sci-fi. She sometimes incorporates bizarre props and costumes, like wearing an alien baby doll coming out of her dress. With her goofy, stoner-esque persona, Alaska puts a unique spin on drag performance.
Gaining Fame from RuPaul’s Drag Race
Alaska first competed on season 5 of Drag Race in 2013, impressing with her acting skills and oddball runway looks. She ultimately placed as runner-up. The exposure from the show allowed Alaska to tour internationally with her musical comedy act.
In 2016, Alaska returned for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2. After a consistent run, she was crowned the winner, becoming one of the show’s biggest breakout stars. Alaska hosts a popular YouTube series called Alaska & Jeremy Do Stuff with collaborator Jeremy.
With her artsy pop culture references and unusual aesthetic, Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 provides a dose of surrealism in the drag world.
Alyssa Edwards – Dancing Diva Queen
Background and Talents
Alyssa Edwards is the drag persona of Justin Johnson, a choreographer and dancer from Texas. Justin fuses dancing, comedy, and over-the-top fashion looks like Alyssa Edwards.
Alyssa is known for her wacky humor, self-assurance, and ability to “tongue pop” on cue. She draws inspiration from past Texas pageant queens to craft an image that’s equal parts elegance and exaggeration.
Beyond drag, Justin Johnson has been involved in competitive dance for over 20 years. He runs his studio, Beyond Belief Dance Company, training young dancers. This dance expertise gives Alyssa Edwards a mesmerizing stage presence.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Fame
Alyssa Edwards first competed on season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2013. Memorable moments included her feud with fellow queen Coco Montrese and comedy routines. Alyssa ultimately placed 6th.
She later returned for All Stars season 2, where the placement Icon infamously eliminated herself in one challenge while portraying pop star Katy Perry.
Alyssa Edwards is one of the more unforgettable RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants, thanks to her dance skills, lovable narcissistic persona, and silly one-liners.
Jinkx Monsoon – Quirky Theater Queen
Background and Persona
Known for blending old-school drag with Broadway pizazz is Jinkx Monsoon. Jerick Hoffer from Portland, Oregon, portrays the character of Jinkx Monsoon.
As Jinkx Monsoon, Jerick wears curly red wigs, striking makeup, and vintage dresses suited for theater stages. Jinkx considers herself an all-around performer, mixing comedic acting and vocal skills with a boozy, idiosyncratic persona.
She is inspired by vaudeville and historical theater divas ranging from Judy Garland to Maria Callas. Jinkx entertains with lip-syncs, live singing, celebrity impersonations, and sketch comedy routines.
Winning RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5
Jinkx Monsoon shot to fame after winning season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2013. Throughout the competition, she showcased her acting abilities and comedic timing through celebrity impersonations of Little Edie and Lucille Ball.
Post-show, Jinkx has starred in theatre productions like The Vaudevillians musical and the off-Broadway play The Ginger Snapped. She also performs at various nightclubs and drag events around the country.
Combining old Hollywood elegance with oddball humor, Jinkx Monsoon represents a unique kind of historic drag queen. She helped pave the way for nerdy, theater-inspired performers on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Sasha Velour – Avant-Garde Drag King
Background and Performance Style
Sasha Velour is known for bringing high art and visual spectacle to drag. The persona of Sasha Velour is portrayed by Alexander Steinberg, an NYC-based performer and Fulbright scholar.
Sasha describes her drag aesthetic as “futurist, cartoonish” and often includes artistic references. She frequently performs nude with just body paint or integrates projection mapping and custom sets into shows. This avant-garde approach elevates Sasha’s performances into almost interactive drag theatre.
Rather than just female impersonation, Sasha Velour sometimes portrays drag king characters in beard makeup and masculine suits. She uses drag to explore gender fluidity and the human form as art.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Fame
On season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2017, Sasha Velour brought her cerebral art drag to the world. She impressed judges with artistic makeup looks and conceptual fashion. Her signature moment featured a rose petal wig trick during a lip-sync performance. Ultimately, Sasha won the competition with her unique, thoughtful, visual drag brand.
Since her time on Drag Race, Sasha has continued to innovate with productions like her drag cabaret Smoke & Mirrors. She also founded the drag publication Velour magazine and Nightgowns, a monthly drag review show in Brooklyn.
Sasha Velour has paved the way for more alternative drag on the show, proving brains, artistry, and authenticity can win over mainstream audiences.
Bob the Drag Queen – Comedy Queen and Activist
Background and Comedic Style
Bob the Drag Queen, portrayed by comic Caldwell Tidicue, is known for hilarious stand-up routines confronting race, sexuality, and politics head-on.
Hailing from Columbus, Georgia, Bob frequently appears in wigs paying homage to black icons like Diana Ross and Whitney Houston. He entertains crowds with candid comedy about his life as a gay man and being bullied for not conforming to gender roles.
On stage, Bob has a blunt, insightful perspective, using humor to tackle complex topics around prejudice. His sets feel more like edgy stand-up shows than traditional light-hearted drag performances.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Fame and Activism
Bob the Drag Queen competed on season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2016, impressing with comedy challenges on topics like racism and America’s political climate. Ultimately, Bob won the competition based mainly on wit and social commentary.
Post-show, Bob has balanced activism with comedy, hosting fundraisers for LGBTQ charities and supporting human rights campaigns. He tours with musical comedy shows blending stand-up and song parodies.
As an outspoken, candid drag artist, Bob the Drag Queen represents a new generation of queens tackling today’s social and political issues head-on.
Aquaria – Fashionista Supermodel Queen
Background and Fashion Aesthetic
Known for high fashion looks is supermodel drag queen Aquaria. The drag persona of Aquaria is portrayed by Giovanni Palandrani – a gifted NYC makeup artist and former club kid.
Aquaria’s drag aesthetic conveys haute couture elegance that meets edgy millennials. She often wears sleek wigs, dramatic winged liner, and skin-tight designer looks. Aquaria cites inspiration from supermodels like Gia Carangi and high fashion pioneers like Thierry Mugler. Her polished, high-glam fashion makes Aquaria a standout on the runway.
Gaining Fame on RuPaul’s Drag Race
At just 21 years old, Aquaria won season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2018 – the show’s youngest winner. She demonstrated versatility with creative makeup skills, choreography talents, and the ability to construct show-stopping looks.
Post Drag Race, Aquaria performs at clubs worldwide and models for major brands like Moschino and Pat McGrath Labs. She appeared in campaigns for American Eagle and M.A.C cosmetics. Aquaria also hosts the internet show NightGowns with Sasha Velour.
Representing the future of fashion-forward drag, Aquaria remains an it-girl within the drag scene and the fashion world.
The Vivienne – UK Drag Superstar
Background and Impersonations
Hailing from Liverpool is UK legend The Vivienne, one of England’s top drag performers. Portrayed by James Lee Williams, The Vivienne is known for celebrity impersonations of British icons.
On stage, The Vivienne completely transforms into the likes of Kim Woodburn, Donald Trump, Gemma Collins and Cilla Black. Her detailed impressions incorporate comedy, vocal mimicry and physical mannerisms of each star. Beyond appearances, Vivienne sings live vocals and participates in musical theatre.
Winning RuPaul’s Drag Race UK
In 2019, The Vivienne gained international fame, winning the inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Judges praised her versatile Snatch Game impressions, acting, and fashion sense throughout the competition.
The Vivienne made history as the first winner of a RuPaul’s Drag Race season based solely in the UK. She demonstrates a uniquely British take on the art form by impersonating famous cultural figures across the pond.
Courtney Act – Australian Singer, Dancer and TV Personality
Background and Persona
Courtney Act is the drag persona of Australian entertainer Shane Jenek. Known for her fishy girly look, Courtney Act exudes Hollywood glamour in form-fitting dresses, big blonde curls and careful makeup.
As Courtney Act, Shane found fame as a singer and contestant on Australian Idol in 2003. The name “Courtney Act” is a pun playing on the phrase “caught in the act,” alluding to her convincing drag look.
Beyond drag, Shane is an accomplished singer, actor and TV host in Australia. While Courtney Act performs catchy pop songs and dance numbers, Shane also releases indie folk music under his name.
Competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race
In 2014, Courtney Act competed on season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, making it to the top 3. She demonstrated solid vocal skills during musical challenges.
After the show, Courtney Act gained more fame in the US and UK. She appeared on reality shows like Celebrity Big Brother UK, where she won over audiences with her kindness and eloquence in speaking on LGBTQ issues.
Known for breaking down gender barriers, Courtney Act represents a glamorous yet politically-minded brand of drag. She bridges the gap between drag performance and mainstream pop culture visibility.
Adore Delano – Drag Musician and Party Queen
Background and Music
One of RuPaul’s younger Drag Race stars is Adore Delano, known for upbeat party songs and a grungy pop persona. Adore Delano is portrayed by Danny Noriega, who initially gained fame on American Idol in 2008.
As Adore, Danny combines drag with the music and fashion of pop-punk bands and partying Hollywood starlets like Ke$ha. Adore often wears messy makeup, big wigs, fishnets and revealing outfits on stage as she sings and dances provocatively.
After appearing on Drag Race, Adore Delano has released several albums of dance-pop songs touching on topics like relationships, self-love, and partying. Songs like “D.T.F.” and “I Adore U” showcase her fun, irreverent musical persona.
Competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race
On season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Adore Delano became known for her self-deprecating charm and singing voice. She ultimately placed second on the show.
Adore returned for All Stars season 2 but later withdrew from the competition, paving the way for her music instead. She represents a new generation of drag queens inspired by punk-pop culture.
Katya – Fan Favorite Russian Comedy Queen
Background and Persona
Gaining a massive cult following is the Russian character Katya Zamolodchikova, portrayed by Brian McCook. Katya often wears revealing outfits, heavy eye makeup, and substantial blonde wigs with her Russian prostitute persona.
Her act incorporates physical comedy, improv, and exaggerated Russian accents into stand-up routines and bizarre web videos. Katya openly discusses her past addiction issues and ongoing mental health struggles with anxiety and depression. Her honesty and humor about taboo topics have earned Katya a devoted LGBTQ fanbase.
Soaring Popularity from RuPaul’s Drag Race
Katya first competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 7 in 2015, gaining notice for her offbeat lip-syncing style and comedic timing. She returned on All Stars 2, ultimately placing runner-up while cementing herself as a breakout fan favorite.
Today, Katya co-hosts popular web series like UNHhhh and The Bald and the Beautiful podcast with collaborator Trixie Mattel. She entertains live crowds with her silly, self-deprecating brand of drag comedy.
The Most Famous Drag Queens Share Key Traits
While their styles vary widely, certain qualities unite some of the most popular and influential drag queens today. Traits that often lead to mainstream drag fame and success include:
- Strong performance skills – Most famous drag queens excel in dancing, live singing, comedy routines, celebrity impressions, lip-syncing, or other talents that connect with audiences during shows. Variety acts go a long way.
- Unique persona – A distinctive character, sense of style, or schtick helps a drag queen stand out. Fame often goes to those with a signature aesthetic or act.
- Self-aware humor – The ability to laugh at oneself and not take drag too seriously seems critical. Stars like Katya, Trixie, Bianca, and others blend comedy into their acts.
- Crossover pop culture appeal – Queens who transcend drag spaces and engage wider audiences through TV, film, music, and the internet tend to gain the most fame.
- Authenticity and vulnerability – Letting genuine personality shine through even exaggerated drag characters connects with fans. Stars like Sasha Velour and Bob the Drag Queen get personal in their art.
Of course, fame and influence ultimately come down to hard work, networking, and some luck in many cases. But the top ru girls and other drag icons remind us that charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent go a long way. With drag now cemented in the mainstream, there’s ample room for up-and-coming queens to snatch crowns and build loyal fanbases of their own.