While there’s a lot to love about RuPaul’s Drag Race, there’s no doubt that one of the most entertaining parts of the show is the final lip sync for your life between the bottom two queens. It’s thrilling, nerve-wracking and when done well, makes for amazing TV.
After nine seasons, it feels as integral to the show’s identity as RuPaul himself. And now, fans are finally getting to hear all about how this elimination ceremony came to be.
According to Drag Race executive producer Tom Campbell, the idea for the lip sync for your life challenge was inspired by the short-lived World of Wonder reality show ¡Viva Hollywood!.
“The innovation on ¡Viva Hollywood! was that the bottom two contestants of the week had to speak to the judges and plead for their lives, and then we’d take them away and they would both shoot a telenovela death scene in Spanish,” he explained to Entertainment Weekly.
“They would be fighting, they’d hit each other at the top of the stairs, and then they would both roll down the stairs and they would both be dead, with the camera above their heads… and then one would gasp and come alive. That’s how the audience found out who was safe or not safe,” Campbell recalled. “And as for the other contestant, we’d zoom in on their dead body, and they’d be watching in another room and Maria would say, ’I’m sorry, my dear, it’s muerte.'”
Though the show was a flop, Campbell and World of Wonder founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato liked the final challenge and wanted to figure out how to use it in the newly forming RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“In the room with Ru, we said it needed an ending like ¡Viva Hollywood! And what do drag queens do? They lip-sync. And we gasped and said, ’They don’t just lip-synch. They lip-synch for their lives.’ And it was just crazy from there.”
RuPaul stunned Drag Race fans last week when he announced at the end of the Season 9 reunion that for the first time in Drag Race herstory, the grand finale would feature a lip sync to determine this year’s winner.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 finale this Friday at 8/7c on VH1.