RuPaul’s Drag Race is back for Season 15 and the show is bigger than ever. Seriously — the season kicks off is the biggest cast (16 queens) competing for the biggest cash prize ($200,000) in the super-sized, two-part premiere on a brand new network (MTV). What else does RuPaul have in store for us? Howsabout the return of the one, the only Ariana Grande — and she’s back, back, back, back, back again via an iconic entrance. SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t seen the Season 15 premiere yet!
You know Drag Race ain’t gonna just have Ariana Grande walk in through the Werk Room door and say, “Hello, hello, hello.” There has to be a stunt and a reference involved, and this entrances checks both of those boxes. After the eighth queen entered the Werk Room, a surprise ninth queen appeared at the entrance wearing a very familiar and singular look: that’s Vivacious’ club kid entrance look from the Season 6 premiere — complete with Ornacia (a.k.a.the dazzling styrofoam head sitting atop those heightened shoulders). Is Vivacious back in the competition? Why is a queen copying her look? The queens are confused AF — and then they get shook AF when the outfit unzips to reveal none other than Ariana Grande herself.
Ariana Grande’s entrance next to Vivacious’Photos: MTV, Paramount+
Of course the queens were gagged beyond belief, especially Marcia Marcia Marcia. She cited Grande as an influence within seconds of her TV debut, and — as she told Grande — she did so while wearing a full face of the pop star’s makeup.
After all the excitement died down a skosh, Grande took a moment to praise the queens. “I think drag is the most infectious and joyous art form that there is,” said Grande to the gathered queens. “Thank you guys for bringing so much joy to the lives of the Drag Race fans and to everyone.”
“And thank you for giving us ‘Break Free,’” replied Luxx Noir London, speaking on behalf of the entire gay community.
This is far from the first time that Drag Race has put a pop star in a drag disguise in order to punk the queens. This tradition started in Season 9 when Lady Gaga walked into the Werk Room as if she was a competitor. Season 10 had Christina Aguilera hit the runway, posing like her lookalike Farrah Moan. Season 11 put Miley Cyrus in crew member drag and let her wander around the room until she was spotted by Silky Nugmeg Ganache. Season 12’s two-part premiere featured guest judges Nicki Minaj and Robyn, and Season 14’s had Lizzo and Alicia Keys stop by the Werk Room.
This also isn’t Grande’s first time on Drag Race. She previously appeared as a guest judge on Season 7, way back in spring 2015. “I had just come to the set from shooting the ‘Bang Bang’ video the night before,” said Grande of her first time on the show. Before leaving, Grande gave the queens some advice to keep in mind while their collective stars begin to rise: “Remember to take care of yourself and be present.”
Oh — and of course RuPaul let Grande tell the queens “good luck — and don’t fuck it up.”
It should be noted that, due to the nature of the season’s split premiere, Grande’s appearance was only seen by half of the cast. The other eight queens still had a visitor strut through the entrance: it was Vivacious herself (and Ornacia). The entire cast will get to perform for more musicians, though; Janelle Monáe, Maren Morris, Hayley Kiyoko, and Orville Peck are all slated to appear on the judges panel this season.
New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race premiere on MTV on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET.