Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson will be joining the hotly anticipated Stan Original Series RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under in the prestigious third judge’s seat. Nicholson in true 2020/21 style via Zoom from his hotel room in Auckland, whilst in lockdown, spoke with Star Observer on Wednesday morning. Nicholson said he was “just so happy to be able to talk about if finally. It’s been like holding a little diamond in my chest for so long and having to lie to people’s faces about it”.
The award-winning comedian will join host RuPaul and the forever iconic Michelle Visage on the main judging panel for the highly anticipated local version of the series. Taking us back to when he found out he landed his dream gig, Nicholson tells us, “I had gotten a call that there was a list going around, and my agent was like ‘this would be nice but let’s not hold our breath’ and I was like, ‘ok thanks for the support’. Then it just left my mind for a bit…” pausing for a brief second, Nicholson adds that “you dream of that kind of thing.”
“But then I got a call on a Sunday morning before 9 am from my agent, which usually means bad news. If you get a call at that time, it’s usually ‘we are not doing this anymore’ but she called me to tell me they had offered me the job, and that Ru was aware of me somehow, and picked me off that list.”
“The first time I met him properly, was on the mainstage when he said, ‘welcome to the family’ and I was very aware that there were cameras on me, but then I just got to sit next to him for hours every day.”
It’s me, Rhys.
Apologies but you’ll have to be dealing with these nasal tones for a while.
I’m absolutely beside myself to finally say out loud I’m joining @RuPaul , @michellevisage and the whole bloody Drag Race family on #DragRaceDownUnder.
Only On @StanAustralia bby. 🥲🥲🥲 pic.twitter.com/2I41hLD0j0
— Rhys Nicholson (@rhysnicholson) March 2, 2021
Nicholson, himself a huge fan of the show has also been going to drag shows around Sydney and Melbourne for years and said of him filling the coveted third judge’s seat on the show that “let’s be honest, there are other people who could have gotten it as well, but I think its maybe because I do a specific type of comedy that matches the show in a way.”
“I’m silly, and that’s not what people talk about with Ru Paul very much, that he is very fun. There are moments you will see in the season where he says, ‘we are doing drag guys, just have fun’. Comedians also have a strange connection to drag, because very similar to drag no comedian has become a comedian because everything has gone to plan.
“I think there’s something that makes you want to be a comedian, in the same way there’s something that makes you wanna be a drag queen. A similar kind of idea that I have something to say, and this is the way I’m going to put my views forward.”
With the announcement everyone is waiting for- that is which queens will be appearing on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under to be officially revealed at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade this Saturday night, we asked Nicholson what he thought set Australian drag apart, and made our local scene so unique, to which he replied without missing a beat.
“We do a very special thing here and that is that we don’t take ourselves very seriously and I think that’s why Ru and Michelle are obsessed with it. This is a broad generalisation, but I feel like a lot of American drag can be skewed towards female impersonation, whereas our club scene here is bonkers.
“You can go to a drag show anywhere in this country and it’s not just going to be lip-syncing it’s going to be a full show, and it is maybe closer to stand up even, we have a rich tapestry here.”
“I have seen some of the most bonkers, hand on heart, bawling my eyes out moments watching drag in clubs, probably because I was also pretty drunk, but I will say, without giving anything away, that things happened this series, there are some huge moments in this series, beautiful moments, where I will be tearing up on the runway.”
We conclude our interview by reflecting on the year that has been, and what hopes Nicholson has for the future.
“We all watched drag shows on Zoom and we all did stand up shows on Zoom, but I cannot wait to be standing in a gay bar with a watered-down drink watching a drag queen at 2 o’clock in the morning, drunk and deciding if I should go home. But at the same time, I think drag is now more important than ever because aside from the escapism, it does provide a commentary on what’s been going on, it’s like a light-hearted reminder of how absolutely fucked things have been.”
You can catch the live Queen ru-veal at the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Saturday 6 March at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under to premiere 2021, only on Stan.