Those who tuned in to watch the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 premiere last week are gagging over the cliffhanger where it was revealed that a returning queen would be joining the other 13 contestants on episode 2, with special guest star Lisa Kudrow. But who is coming back?
All signs seem to point to Cynthia Lee Fontaine, an Austin, Texas-based queen from last year’s Season 8 who went home early in the competition. It was later revealed that she was suffering from liver cancer at the time, which she later offered as an explanation for her disappointing performance on RuPaul’s Drag Race in an interview with The Austin Chronicle.
“During the show, I was experiencing some symptoms. As soon as I stopped filming, I came to Austin, Texas, and I got blood work. I got diagnosed with liver cancer, Stage 1. Maybe that was part of my GPS signal lost (on the show). I got just only one chemo treatment.”
Hardcore Drag Race lovers have known that RuPaul was planning to bring someone back since filming of Season 9 started last summer. NPR did a story on the set where there was a voice that sounded suspiciously like Cynthia in the background, effectively spoiling what was to come in the upcoming season. Furthermore, the voice is shouting “Que bonita!” in Fontaine’s native Spanish. If you don’t remember her that well from last season, refresh yourself by streaming her distinctive voice below.
Though the ready-made “returning queen triumphing over cancer” story line and the NPR clip has been enough to convince most people, it becomes abundantly clear that it’s going to be Cynthia on Drag Race live tonight with the teaser from last week. The queen was known for proudly speaking about her “Cu-cu,” a nickname for her butt or “culo” in Spanish. The VH1 cameras zoomed in on her “cu-cu” ominously, and other sleuths at Reddit have identified the wig and boots that we saw from behind as ones that have been worn by Ms. Fontaine on several occasions.
me tomorrow when Cynthia Lee Fontaine is revealed to be the 14th queen pic.twitter.com/7TCEIAs7tW
— Matty (@mattneyspears) March 31, 2017
No internet until I watch the next episode of drag race.
I don’t want to ruin the “surprise” of Cynthia Lee Fontaine being the 14th Queen
— Christopher James (@Chriskendle) March 31, 2017
To stream the episode live this evening, you can use VH1’s player. You must log in with your selected cable provider, but some, like Xfinity, don’t require a password. Easier access is welcome news for the rabid RuPaul’s Drag Race fan base, who has spent the last few seasons suffering through choppy live streams and waiting up until the wee hours of the morning for new episodes. The refresh buttons of thousands of future drag queens are, no doubt, breathing a sigh of relief.
Many will be tuning in to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race tonight because of its cult actress guest star, Lisa Kudrow. While many may know her for her role as Phoebe Buffay on the ’90s sitcom Friends, she’s perhaps more beloved in the gay community for her parts in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and the HBO show The Comeback. In fact, Romy and Michele has achieved such gay cult movie status that notorious San Francisco drag queen Peaches Christ even did it as one of her live shows in 2014.
Of course, The Comeback itself has also amassed a sizable gay following. The show took a nearly decade-long hiatus between its first and second season, when the ahead-of-its-time humiliation reality TV format was lost on most of the 2005 audience. In an interview with Pride Source during the show’s second season, Lisa Kudrow commented on why she thought her character Valerie Cherish had always connected with an LGBT audience.
“I was watching Will & Grace once and there was this hilarious episode where Karen’s at a theater and she throws her flask and it hits someone in the head, and there’s this joke that gay men wouldn’t care because, ‘Eh, all in a day.’… The other thing that I love about Valerie is, ‘All right, someone said something not nice, but you know what, can’t use that. Got this other thing I gotta do.’ She just ignores that that happened and keeps going.”
Even then, the idea of viewers getting to watch Drag Race with Lisa as a guest judge one day was being floated. RuPaul, after all, made a cameo in The Comeback‘s premiere episode. Kudrow was, however, a little nervous about how Valerie herself would behave if given the opportunity to be surrounded by drag queens.
“You know, I’ve been asked to, but I don’t know how Valerie works on a talk show or as a judge. I don’t know. I’m thinking about it. I’m trying to figure out how it works. I don’t wanna say no! But she could say all kinds of – I don’t know what we’re allowed to [say on Drag Race]. I mean, she’s indelicate and gets things wrong and, you know, I don’t know how offensive she’s gonna be.”
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]