NZ queens want Drag Race Down Under filmed in Australia too

RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under judges Michelle Visage, RuPaul and Rhys Nicholson
Image: Stan

Some New Zealand drag performers are just as underwhelmed by RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under as Aussies are, and also think the production should move to Sydney.

Production company World of Wonder announced last week casting was open for season four. Applications close on November 24.

All three previous seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under shot in Auckland, New Zealand with a mix of Aussie and Kiwi queens. But each year, Drag Race fans have pleaded for Australia to get a shot at the production instead.

And in a brutally honest op-ed last week, an anonymous Auckland drag queen – who hasn’t been on the show – has claimed she’s heard the same from some Kiwi drag sisters.

“I watched many of the girls around me, rush to create their audition tapes,” the drag queen wrote for LGBTQIA+ outlet Express.

“The girls who did get in were shocked when they headed to a tiny studio in Grey Lynn that seemed to be held together with little more than gaffer tape.”

The queen went on to declare season one, filmed during the pandemic, “a mess,” but acknowledged last year’s season two was an improvement.

“Spankie Jackson was an eruption of charisma and charm and beat out a top three that felt like anyone could win,” the queen wrote.

‘Worst Snatch Game in herstory’

The queen went on, “When season three began I was pleasantly surprised by the slick feel of episode one.

“Perhaps producers had learned how to really make Drag Race. Sadly it went downhill from there with each episode diminishing in quality.

“Episode four [featured] the worst Snatch Game in Drag Race herstory.

“The great runway theme of A Night of a Thousand Kylies was ruined. Four of the seven queens chose almost identical looks.

“The bottom two queens lip-synced to a Kylie song [1990’s Secret] that even hardcore fans haven’t heard of.

“This is not the queens’ fault… These poor production decisions are not good enough.”

‘Doing our queens a disservice on the world stage’

The New Zealand queen explained on her trips to Australia, she’d personally seen the best of Aussie drag. That makes Drag Race Down Under‘s “sub-par showcase” all the more frustrating, the queen said.

Drag Race France ran concurrently to Down Under. [France] made headlines for delivering some of the best episodes of Drag Race ever,” the queen wrote.

“Other than Drag Race UK, Down Under is the only international franchise with RuPaul and Michelle Visage as judges.

“[This brings] far more eyeballs to it and sadly doing our queens a disservice on the world stage.

“It’s hard to believe that if an Australian production company took over for season four, things wouldn’t improve.

“To quote [a friend], ‘Imagine if Drag Race was filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney!’ It would be a spectacle.”

The anonymous New Zealand queen acknowledged moving the show across the ditch was a big call.

But she said Kiwi drag would ultimately benefit in the long run from “a slick, more creative, and glamorous production of Down Under.”

“The golden opportunity the show provides our queens is the chance to tour internationally,” she wrote.

“But they are only going to be booked if the production showcases their talents to an international standard.”

Isis Avis Loren won RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season 3

Back in September, drag queen Isis Avis Loren (below) was crowned the winner of Down Under season three. She was the first Australian queen to win the series, following two Kiwi winners.

Aussie judge Rhys Nicholson and season two winner Spankie Jackzon crowned Isis at the finale party at nightclub Universal Sydney.

Ballarat queen Gabriella Labucci was runner-up in the third season finale.

The other queens on season three were Amyl, Ashley Madison, Bumpa Love, Flor, Hollywould Star, Ivanna Drink, Ivory Glaze and Rita Menu.

RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under streams in Australia on Stan. Drag Race‘s other international spinoffs are streaming in Australia on Stan and Wow Presents Plus.

Read next: People think this Drag Race Down Under queen is on All Stars

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia


  1. Grant
    30 October 2023

    Interesting in the WOW Post, the name Rupaul has been removed from the Franchise’s Title. Could this mean that RuPaul is no longer the main judge & host for next years season? Who knows!

  2. Warren
    1 November 2023

    I agree, something needs to give. The production isn’t anywhere near the standard of other international competitions. The glam and wit just isn’t there. The Producers need to dial it up and create more glam and polish and select Queens who can not only use a sewing machine but have the wit and character to make great viewing. Also, I can’t see why if it’s called “Dowbunder” both countries couldn’t share the hosting.

  3. Peter Turner
    1 November 2023

    Sorrybut I lost interest in Drag Race when it became obvious it had gone the way of most reality television.
    All about enriching the bank balance of the owners of the franchise.

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