Rucaps: Jojo Zaho talks RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under


jo jo zaho
Image: Matthew Heffernan (Stan)

After years of rampant speculation and anticipation, World of Wonder finally treated Australia to our very own version of Rupaul’s Drag Race Down Under. Michael James looks back over the first episode with Aussie queen Jojo Zaho.

Episode One: We’re not here to fuck spiders.

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Stan cautiously released Episode One into the wild and the beast is officially off the leash. The premiere episode dropped over the weekend. You could hear the collective sigh of gays across the nation as they whispered in unison ‘please don’t be shit’.

Thankfully their prayers were answered. Ru delivered.

Despite some mixed opinions on the sets, they looked fresh and new with a unique Aussie flavour.

Let’s be honest. If you’re watching this show for the quality of the wallpaper, we need to have words. 

Workroom entrances were on point. Art Simone proudly setting the tone.

“We’re not here to fuck spiders.”

I can safely declare no greater entrance line will follow in the history of the franchise — ever. 

Not to be outdone, however, Jo Jo Zaho takes the oneliner cake for the episode. We’re still recovering from #colonizetheircolons. 

Entrance outfits were on point, special mention to Etcetera Etcetera for dressing as a literal cockroach. With so much talent on show, it was down to the queens to serve personality and serve they did. Serving it right at Elektra Shock from start to finish. I mean that wig didn’t look thirsty so much as a small spark and a light breeze might ignite the next Aussie bushfire on her head. 

Quickly packing out the workroom it became apparent that many of the queens have existing relationships. None quite as strange as that of Kita Mean and Anita Wigl’it. The two business partners from New Zealand are both cast on the show along with their longtime employee Elektra Shock. Is there only one gay bar in New Zealand? 

Aussie accents fly thick and fast as the one-liners drop faster and harder than Ross Matthews in a dark room. As our final ten assemble it’s clear, the cast is live and this is anyone’s game. 

Enter Mama Ru… game on, moles!

The first mini-challenge is perplexing, let’s be real. The interaction with guest judge Taika Waititi seems stunted as he responds to the Queens giving their best over the top readings of a script on a green screen. We never end up seeing the end product, but we’re told it must be good. Elektra Shock brings home the first win shocking the cast more than her entrance look. It’s not a perfect challenge, but it puts the queens to the test and they deliver. An honourable mention to Maxi Shields orgasm, what a way to make your TV debut. 

Unveiling the theme for the maxi challenge Ru instructs the queens to prepare two looks for their first-ever ball, a naked illusion and their best hometown look. Unlike the infamous naked runway of season seven, the queens prepare to tackle this one from a number of different angles. Bodysuits, latex and sparkles, oh my!

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Consequently, we’re treated to a shrieking Scarlett Adams in a ripped latex bodysuit looking like a life-size cesarean doll and we’re living for it. 

Workroom preparations reveal a few things. The Aussie accent sounds so right for Drag Race. Our Aussie girls are crass as fuck and they have a whole lot of heart. It’s Jo Jo Zaho who steals literally everyone’s heart, from start to finish. Connection to culture, community, and family, Jo Jo is here to tell a story and she has us in the palm of her hands. Honourable mention to Anita Wigl’it, who seems to only have two settings, excited and really fucking excited. 

Two main stage debuts

Catching us all off guard, Mama Ru makes her standard runway appearance before introducing her third judge for the evening, boy Ru. Confused yet? So are we. 

The two Ru’s banter back and forth while Michelle and newcomer Rhys Nicholson take it all in before Mama Ru takes a seat off-screen. The real test begins tonight, will the new judging panel work? 

Rhys Nicholson has the answer and it’s a hard yes. With a series of perfectly aimed comments, quips and one-liners, coupled with some solid critiques it’s clear Rhys has done his homework, so much so, dare we say it, he may have outshined Michelle. Watch your back bitch!

The first runway of the season is generally full of hits and misses but overall our girls served it up. Naked illusions were never going to be an easy challenge to pull off and the girls certainly tackle it with gusto. Scarlett Adams recovered from her wardrobe malfunction. True to her name Art Simone delivered a flawlessly colourful half and half number. Coco Jumbo served some seafood basket realness. Jo Jo Zaho and Etcera Etcera arrived with something to say, serving a strong cultural look and a personal statement on gender respectively. 

Hometown realness

Hometown realness gave the perfect opportunity for the queens to put their hometowns on the international stage and the results were more than memorable. 

Featuring a crustacean, a sheep, a rugby dress and well, we’re not sure, our safe four queens managed to skate through unnoticed. Meanwhile Jo Jo Zaho, Coco Jumbo and Elektra Shock drew some unwanted attention. 

That’s not before Perth’s Scarlett Adams and her ‘dirty lake bird’ (Thank you Rhys Nicholson) and Art Simone with her two-in-one Melbourne laneway graffiti art jacket found themselves pipped at the post by Karen from Finance. There’s nothing we don’t like about a wasted white girl falling down at the races. Karen’s staggeringly brilliant concept landed her the win and three thousand dollars, that’s 10% of the prize money for those playing along at home. 

Karen may have won the challenge, but Jo Jo stole the show, flaws and all. Strutting away from the judges flipping her cape to reveal her hometown statement ‘Always Was, Always Will be.’ Iconic, we Stan Jo Jo. 

Jo Jo Always was always will be
Jojo says it was an honour to represent her indigenous background

After critiquing Coco Jumbo on her calamari earrings, Jojo Zaho for some attention to detail, and Elektra Shock for basically everything on her whimsical, rainbow, jumpsuit craft piece, Coco is safe and we have a showdown. 

No one wants Jojo to go home. 

Everyone expects Elektra to be a hot mess. 

Despite Jo Jo giving it her everything, Elektra turns. It. Out. 

It’s hard to remember a first boot that left such an impression and left so much of their heart on the stage. 

Want to hear more from Jojo? Find out who her favourite queen was. What it was like working with Rhys Nicholson.

…And the embarrassing main stage moment that never made it to air? Check out the full interview with Jojo Zaho below.

Jojo Zaho

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1 Comment

  1. Don (Fradge)
    7 May 2021
    Reply

    I absolutely loved the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag race Downunder.
    For me, the shining star was Maxi Shield.
    Amazing performer and an amazing person throughout. Glad to see the bigger girls making a big splash on TV.
    If there was anything to be said that was negative about the episode would be the swearing. Was a little bit over the top.
    But as they say in the real world.. take a tablespoon of cement, and harden the f****** queen.
    Go team Maxi…

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