These queens are royally transforming TV. Drag is having a huge moment on television, courtesy of the pioneer: “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the Emmy-winning cross-dressing competition now in its 12th season. Former contestants are reigning over new shows across multiple networks. And in the latest twist from RuPaul Charles’ extravagant empire — which currently includes the …
These queens are royally transforming TV.
Drag is having a huge moment on television, courtesy of the pioneer: “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the Emmy-winning cross-dressing competition now in its 12th season. Former contestants are reigning over new shows across multiple networks. And in the latest twist from RuPaul Charles’ extravagant empire — which currently includes the original “Drag Race,” “All Stars,” “Untucked” and several international editions — a rotating set of queens will make over public figures in “RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race,” premiering at 9:30 p.m. Friday on VH1.
Harlem resident and “All Stars” Season 4 co-winner Monét X Change tells The Post that the celebrities getting transformed come from a wide swath of stardom. “People can expect rock stars, comedians, actors, influencers,” says Monét, who will serve as the celebs’ drag mentor alongside Bob the Drag Queen and Trixie Mattel in the debut episode.
The 30-year-old adds that “pretty much most” of the celeb contestants “have never put on a crazy wig or done drag,” which leads to engaging evolutions
“Anytime you see a new person in drag, it’s like that scene in ‘Bambi’ when the baby’s born,” Monét says. “It’s like a newborn child kind of realizing their motor skills and how things work and how to fix their equilibrium so this, like, 8-foot-tall wig doesn’t fall off. Oh, it’s so fun to see people navigate their new extremities in drag.”
Navigating wigs and teetering in heels aren’t the only new challenges contestants will face en route to crowning America’s Next Celebrity Drag Race Superstar. They also have the chance to learn the fine art of “tucking,” or hiding one’s private parts to complete the illusion.
“Oh, yeah, we teach them tucking if they want to,” Monét says. “Obviously, it’s up to them. You always have the final say: It’s your body, your choice what you want to do with your body. But, listen, we’re trying to teach them everything about drag.”
But, she adds, that’s not necessarily the hardest part of the transformation.
“A lot of people worry about their public perception and what people will think if they’re doing drag,” she says. “Celebrities aren’t really scared of the wigs and the heels and all that; perception, I think, would be their biggest hurdle they have to pass.”
As “Secret Celebrity Drag Race” transforms stars, here are some of the other shows leaping over hurdles and transforming television into a big drag showcase:
Series premiere May 27 on HBO Max
What becomes a legend most? The showrunners of this upcoming HBO Max series hope the underground ballroom community finally will.
“Ballroom’s been around us for 30 years. This is the time to bring this story up,” executive producer Rob Eric told The Post during a visit to the show’s Stamford, Conn., set in early February. “It’s about a world, a marginalized community, that hasn’t been celebrated properly, and we wanted to figure out the best way to share it with the world.”
In the show, voguing teams (a k a “houses”) will compete in over-the-top balls in front of boisterous audiences and a panel of judges en route to achieving “legendary” status. While not featuring “Drag Race” alum, the series does throw a spotlight on “Pose” star Dashaun Wesley, who serves as master of ceremonies, and judges including ballroom veteran Leiomy Maldonado, stylist and “America’s Next Top Model” judge Law Roach, singer Megan Thee Stallion and “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil.
Of course, Jamil, 34, has already attained a certain legendary status. When she was announced as a cast member earlier this year, she faced backlash for not being part of either the ballroom or LGBTQ communities. She subsequently came out as queer, which shocked Eric and co-executive producer, David Collins.
“We had no idea,” Eric tells The Post.
“It was a surprise to everyone, but ultimately it was not calculated,” says Collins, who with Eric also produces the “Queer Eye” reboot on Bravo. “Jamila’s fabulous and she’s going to bring fabulousness to this.”
Now, long after RuPaul made his own mark on NYC’s club scene, Collins says the “Legendary” stars are ready to take their place in history.
“This is African-American, gay, trans — people marginalized beyond the marginalized world,” he says. “Transformation, telling and sharing our stories, lifting each other up — that’s what ballroom culture’s all about. It is about celebration, and that’s what we do in our storytelling.”
9 p.m. Thursdays on HBO
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumnae Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley sashay into small-town America to help townsfolk face their fears and mend emotional fences. With a resounding “Halleloo!” they don their most eye-popping outfits, transform residents into queens themselves and “put on one hell of an amazing” drag show.
“There are people in every town who don’t feel empowered to stand up and be themselves,” says NYC-based Bob in the series premiere, which aired Thursday night. “And hopefully in doing these drag shows in these communities, we’re able to provide that feeling of, ‘Look: I’m not by myself.’”
In the first hourlong episode, they travel to historic Gettysburg, Penn., population 7,636. “We don’t know if everyone’s gonna accept us,” says Eureka with a hint of foreshadowing. It turns out the tantalizing trio has their work cut out for them as — you guessed it — not everyone is pleased to see them. “I’ll never buy anything in here again. All these freakin’ freaks,” a thrift shop customer says before storming out when the hosts pop in for a visit.
Expect the gals to let their freak flags fly as they throw some suburban shade and spill some townie tea.
10 p.m. Mondays on TLC
“Dragnificent!” takes the conceit of Bravo’s “Queer Eye” — in which four fabulous experts reboot someone’s self-image — and give it an even more fabulous twist. Each week, “Drag Race” faves Alexis Michelle (a sassy savant for makeup and body image), BeBe (event planning), JujuBee (fashion) and Thorgy Thor (music and entertainment) “zhoozh the flower” who is wilting on the vine before a milestone life event.
In the series premiere, which dropped Sunday, they head to Roselle Park, NJ, to lend well-groomed hands to pro wrestler Corinne Mink, who is getting married and says she wants “tips and tricks to deal with looking feminine in a masculine body.” In other words, to quote BeBe, she needs some “drag magic.”
Luckily, Corinne and the queens find common ground about battling insecurities on the way to the altar. “You know, I am very comfortable in or out of drag,” says BeBe. “What we are really trying to show Corinne is that you can be comfortable in or out of the ring.”
In the second episode, the queens prepare to help another queen: Danyale, who will be crowned queen of her LeFlore High School 30th reunion in Mobile, Ala., with hundreds in attendance.
“I waited 30 years to be queen,” she says. “I think when I’m crowned, it’s just gonna make me feel whole again.” The gals give her an eye that pops and a waist-cinching corset for a silhouette that rocks. They also teach her to make a coronation-worthy entrance on the crowded, red TKTS staircase in Times Square — which she descends with style.
Available now on Quibi
Meet Sasha Velour, stream queen.
“I always had a vision for what ‘NightGowns’ could be, where each number feels like a completely different universe,” the Season 9 “Drag Race” winner says in a teaser for her eight-episode series, which premiered earlier this month on Quibi, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s new streaming service that promises quick-hit content with episodes lasting 10 minutes or less.
“NightGowns” follows Velour and six other performers behind the scenes as they turn her acclaimed Brooklyn drag bar review — which she started in 2015 — into a full stage production. They have help from an entertainment heavy-hitter: Each episode is directed by Sophie Muller, the force behind music videos for Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Shakira, Maroon 5, Sade, Pink, Annie Lennox and more.
The timing seems right for a streaming drag show geared toward mobile viewing. Drag queens across the world have been forced to cancel live gigs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and are now finding new ways to showcase their talents. “Suddenly, [drag queens] are taking to Instagram Live or YouTube, and nothing can stop [them] from giving performances,” Velour told Women’s Wear Daily earlier this month.
With “NightGowns,” Velour is doing her part to drag her own eclectic extravaganza into the virtual age, telling WWD, “I want to be as hopeful as drag is supposed to be in these times.”
“I Like to Watch”
Available on the Netflix YouTube channel
What queen doesn’t like to dish?
The dynamic drag duo of Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova settle into a plush, white sofa on the pink-washed set of “I Like to Watch” and hilariously deconstruct original Netflix content like “The Crown” (“Helena Bohnam Carter is kind of serving it”), “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings,” (“heavy-handed metaphors”), “The Knight Before Christmas” (“He’s jousting her!”), “The Circle” (“Did he say he’s a ‘hood spiritualist hustler?’ He’s assistant manager at Crabtree & Evelyn.”) and more.
Think of it as “Mystery Science Theater 3000” but with better hair and makeup, plus random chatter about whether women send the male equivalent of d - - k pics and what nickname to give a habitual biter in the series “Spinning Out.” (“Should we call her ‘Nibbles’?”)
Shade will be thrown.