SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you haven’t watched the season finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 14 came to an end on Friday night, and Willow Pill was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar. Willow Pill, a fan favorite from the beginning, beat out Lady Camden in a lip sync for the crown to Cher’s cover of ABBA’s “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.”
While the grande finale Ru-vealed itself over 90 minutes, the filming took place a few weeks ago at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, home to the “RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!” show, and it came in at just under the five-hour mark.
This left room for plenty of fun gags that didn’t make the cut, and Variety was in the room where it happens for the uncut, unedited version.
MC Michelle Visage
A woman of many talents, Michelle Visage served as the audience’s MC. The finale filmed in bits and pieces, and audience members needed to move around. For each interview, the contestants’ family members were rotated to the front row. In other moments, the stage needed to be set up for the next sequence.
Visage took time to answer audience questions as the stage reset. A fan asked who she would save, RuPaul or “Wendy Williams Show” co-host Leah Remini. Visage answered, “I’d take myself out of the equation and let them fight it out.” Is there a Visage-Remini talk show in the future? An enquiring fan wanted to know, to which she cryptically replied, “Watch this space.”
And in between all of that, Visage also warmed up the audience, getting the crowd to practice their “Ooooohs,” “Ahhhs” and rousing applause. But when the show started, the reactions came from the heart and the enthusiasm was truly energetic.
Not only did Visage present RuPaul with the key to the city, declaring April 22 as RuPaul Day in Las Vegas, but the show’s main judge also spent much of the timing bantering with the audience, which featured past queens (like Gigi Goode, Eureka O’ Hara) and queens from the Vegas show (like Kameron Michaels and Jaida Essence Hall).
The magic of editing — a note to always thank your editors. RuPaul’s dazzling Vegas show entrance, where she descended from the ceiling with a chocolate-bar fan, was taped mid-way through the finale. Before that, the showgirl showdown numbers were recorded, and so was the “Losing Is the New Winning” number which is featured in the Vegas live show.
RuPaul also took a moment to film the TV spots leading up to the finale. All of Ru’s segments were done in a single take, minus a pause here or there and a change to a word or two on the teleprompter.
Alternate Ending: “And America’s Next Drag Superstar is… Lady Camden”
There is a world in which Lady Camden was crowned the winner. During any taping of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” finale, the production always shoots the other queen being crowned to avoid leaks and spoilers. But, despite Visage pleading with audience members not to spoil what they had seen, you better believe Twitter and Reddit were alight with spoilers from what had happened.
Lady Camden’s crowning moment was shot first. Her winning speech was an inspiring moment as she said, “Whether you’re a lady or a queen, never give up on your dream.”