Coronavirus can’t keep a drag queen down: The full “RuPaul’s Drag Race” TV franchise is currently in production in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed exclusively. The Emmy-winning flagship series wrapped its 13th season last week, and production is already underway on one of the franchise’s spin-off titles.
The “Drag Race” franchise usually shoots in the summer and fall for premiere dates in the first half of the following year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has raised obvious questions about how any production involving regular interpersonal interaction could operate safely.
To that end, World of Wonder, the company that produces “Drag Race” for VH1, approved back-to-work plans with all the appropriate unions, according to a source with knowledge of the production. And the show’s producers are following local, state and federal COVID-19 health and safety requirements.
All crew members are wearing masks. On-camera talent and any crew members interacting with talent are getting tested for COVID-19 three times per week. All other crew members are getting tested once a week.
In some ways, “Drag Race” was already set up to operate during a pandemic. The drag queens who compete on the show historically have been sequestered for the duration of their time on the series, and one of the bigger sticking points for COVID-safe production, hair and makeup application, is a non-issue, since the competing queens all do it themselves.
It’s unclear whether guest judges will still appear for Season 13. But the production has altered the main stage set in order to incorporate concerns over social distancing, expanding the judges’ table and placing glass panels between each judge.
VH1 officially renewed “RuPaul’s Drag Race” for a 13th season in late August, along with the sixth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” The companion after-show “Untucked” — in which the contestants kiki with cocktails while the judges deliberate over the week’s top and bottom contestants — was also renewed for both the mothership series and “All Stars.” Premiere dates haven’t been announced.
“Drag Race” is itself in the middle of a period of significant expansion, including international versions in the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands, with several more territories in development; a celebrity spinoff series; and the limited docuseries “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue” currently airing on VH1 about the live Las Vegas show that ran at the start of the year.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has already wrapped production, while production on other “Drag Race” spin-off series remains ongoing. An earlier version stated that Season 13 was still in production.