Big changes are in play for the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which begins Friday night, including a new network and a new lead-in by way of talk show maven Wendy Williams.
The boisterous former radio queen-turned morning TV personality, 52, was recently tapped to co-host VH1’s live Fierce Fridays pre-show with occasional Drag Race judge Ross Mathews, as Out notes, as a way to get audiences riled up for the “charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent” of the former Logo-owned competition series (both Logo and VH1 are housed beneath the Viacom Entertainment banner).
“The special event will get kicked off for Drag Race‘s season nine premiere on Friday, March 24, 2017,” VH1 explains further, “and will feature Williams, Mathews, and special guests live in New York City as they pre-game, leading into new episode of the drag competition.”
Incidentally, while Mathews’ inclusion makes perfect sense, the addition of Williams, who has never once appeared on Drag Race, brings up understandable confusion for the majority of the show’s audience for the aforementioned reason, as well as her propensity for making ignorant comments regarding the LGBTQ community.
— Wendy Williams (@WendyWilliams) March 24, 2017
For example, as the Inquisitr relayed just this week, Wendy was called to task for alluding that singer Louis Tomlinson of One Direction “looked gay” after he defended his off again, on again female love interest, Eleanor Calder, from a forceful paparazzo at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) earlier this month.
“Which one’s the girlfriend,” Williams nonsensically inquired her audience as they studied an on-screen image of Tomlinson and Calder together at a fashion show.
“Just study the picture,” she continued, before affecting a pose that was meant to mock Tomlinson’s stature in the visual.
“I’m not saying anything, but…”
While she didn’t reveal the remainder of her thought that time around, Williams was incredibly vocal about what she felt about Caitlyn Jenner’s transition from male to female in October 2014, when the ex-I Am Cait star was still preparing to make the announcement publicly.
“Thank God he waited for his kids to grow up before making this transition or whatever it is he’s going through,” Wendy stated, as the Huffington Post transcribed.
“Can you imagine how awful it would be for those kids if he showed up with a blowout, a shaved Adam’s apple, pink nail polish and smoking a cigarette at a PTA meeting? Could you imagine?”
One year later, in April 2015, Williams once again harshly criticized Jenner in a rant on her morning show, ultimately referring to him as “Belinda” as a makeshift female translation of “Bruce” (Caitlyn would go on to reveal her actual name one month after Wendy’s tongue-lashing in a lauded Vanity Fair profile).
“If this wasn’t an obligation due to my career, I wouldn’t watch [Jenner’s Diane Sawyer interview],” Wendy spouted, as Just Jared reported.
“Bruce has bigger fish to fry than turning into Belinda. He should have thought about [transitioning] before he had all the kids. Belinda, shame on you!”
To date, Williams has never offered an apology to Caitlyn for her controversial remarks.
Even stranger regarding her newly-implemented attachment to Drag Race, one of Williams’ earliest controversies from her weekday Wendy Williams Show directly connects to the realm of drag entertainment by way of Erickatoure Aviance, a performer who boasts a friendship with musician and online personality Jonny McGovern, host of Hey Qween!, a YouTube series funded and produced through World of Wonder, which is also the main production company behind RuPaul’s Drag Race.
A post shared by Erickatoure Aviance (@erickatoure) on
As written in a 2009 Queerty article, Aviance, who obtained tickets with McGovern to see Williams’ show live that year, was harassed by a handful of show producers for failing to adhere to a so-called “no costumes” policy.
“A [female intern] took my name down [while I was waiting on-line], so we thought we were about to get VIP treatment,” Aviance recalled of that day.
“After another hour, we got to the door, and there [was] this little white man standing there giving us the eyeball. He gets in our way to prevent us from going in, and he says, ‘You’re in violation of our no-costumes dress code. We usually don’t do this, but we know you’ve been waiting out there for a while, so we’re going to let you in, but you can’t appear on camera, and if you get up for Hot Topics or try to ask Wendy a question, you’ll be removed from the building.'”
Once inside the studio, things allegedly went from bad to worse as Erickatoure, then a huge fan of The Wendy Williams Show, was treated like a leper and forced to sit behind more “normal” audience members.
“[After Aviance and McGovern were] seated,” the Queerty report continues, “another [Wendy Williams] staffer approached them to rearrange the seating so that Aviance was moved away from the aisle and against the perimeter of the seating area. In the row ahead, a short woman and a tall man were then asked to switch seats,” as the tall man’s frame could better block Aviance from appearing on-camera.
McGovern ultimately took the matter to his public Facebook page, and within hours, reps for Debmar-Murray, the syndication company behind The Wendy Williams Show, issued an apology of sorts.
“Producers at The Wendy Williams Show never intended to offend Aviance,” the statement read, “but the fact of the matter is that the show does request that audience members dress appropriately, not in costume-like attire. We certainly support the LGBTQ community and believe that personal style is a form of self-expression, but in this case, our staff was concerned that Erickaroure’s attire was over-the-top and would be distracting to fans at home.”
The Queerty post also made mention of the “distracting” apparel Ms. Aviance wore that morning: a black dress and light make-up.
Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and its Wendy Williams/Ross Matthews-Fierce Fridays intro starts tonight at 8 p.m./7 c. on VH1.
[Featured Image by Santiago Felipe/Stringer/Getty Images]