THE ‘ RACE’ TO­WARD 100

Chicago Sun-Times - - LIFE - Jayme Deer­wester

Turns out there is at least one mal­ady that not even Amer­ica’s first drag su­per­star can over­power: jet lag.

But this is RuPaul we’re talk­ing about, so even that travel term has got­ten a drag makeover.

“I’m com­pletely jet- hagged,” he says as he pro­motes the eighth- sea­son pre­miere of Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race ( Mon­day, 9 ET/ PT) af­ter re­turn­ing from a two- week trip to Aus­tralia.

This sea­son will mark the 100th- episode mile­stone for the mash- up of Amer­ica’s Next Top Model, Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent and Pro­ject Run­way, in which drag- queen con­tes­tants do a lit­tle of ev­ery­thing: hair and makeup, cos­tume de­sign, stand- up com­edy, act­ing, singing and, if it comes down to it, lip- sync­ing for their lives.

But he has no­ticed that there’s one qual­ity that tends to go un­der the radar: “Kind­ness

will get you so far in this com­pe­ti­tion. We live in an ego- based so­ci­ety where the girls come on the show and say, ‘ I’m gonna cut a b - - - - !’ Hon­estly, if you are just your beau­ti­ful self, you’re go­ing to be just fine.”

Drag Race, which premiered in 2009, has blos­somed into the ca­ble net­work’s top- rated orig­i­nal pro­gram, as well as an Emmy nom­i­nee ( for makeup). Celebri­ties cam­paign for guest spots on Drag Race’s judges’ panel, RuPaul says, and the new sea­son’s crop in­cludes mod­els Gigi Ha­did, Chanel Iman, de­signer Marc Jacobs and Blondie’s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein.

The judges’ con­clave isn’t the only place stars pop up on the show. Ev­ery sea­son there’s the “Snatch Game,” a drag par­ody of the game show Match Game. In RuPaul’s ver­sion, the celebrity panel com­prises a mot­ley crew of drag queens im­per­son­at­ing celebri­ties from Cher and Bey­oncé to re­al­ity- show stars Snooki and Teresa Gi­u­dice and even Down­ton Abbey’s Vi­o­let, played by Mag­gie Smith.

Some­how, the queens have yet to ful­fill RuPaul’s fond­est “Snatch Game” wish. “I’m still wait­ing for some­one to do La­Toya Jack­son,” he laments. “It seems so ob­vi­ous tome! That’s who I’d do.”

Speak­ing of game shows, RuPaul is get­ting a real one, too. Logo rolls out Gay for Play on April 11 ( 10 p. m. ET/ PT), in which he tests con­tes­tants’ pop- cul­ture IQs. Should they fal­ter, they can turn to a celebrity panel — Drag Race judges Michelle Vis­age, Car­son Kress­ley and Ross Mathews and vi­ral- video star To­drick Hall. But un­like “Snatch Game,” this panel will con­tain celebri­ties such as Am­ber Rose, Re­becca Romijn, Cheyenne Jack­son and other Friends of RuPaul.

“It’s sexy, it’s cheeky and so, so so gay,” he prom­ises. “It’s a com­bi­na­tion of Fam­ily Feud, Hol­ly­wood Squares, Match Game, Deal or No Deal. It’s all in there. ... It’s fun­nier than the Repub­li­can de­bates — with more use­ful take­away.”

RUPAUL HITS MILE MARKER WITH ‘ DRAG RACE,’ STARTS NEW GAME SHOW

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