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Rhys Nicholson spills on 'crazy night' with RuPaul while filming Drag Race

EXCLUSIVE: Rhys Nicholson opens up about the craziest night of their life.

Unlike Merle Ginsberg and Santino Rice on the American franchise, it appears Rhys Nicholson won’t be leaving their spot on the RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under judging panel anytime soon.

The comedian has returned for their third season of the Stan Original Series alongside RuPaul and Michelle Visage, and tells Yahoo Lifestyle they and their fellow judges spent plenty of quality time together while filming the reality show.

Michelle Visage, RuPaul and Rhys Nicholson on RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under.
Rhys Nicholson has returned as a judge for RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’s third season. Photo: Stan

“We had this crazy night where me, Michelle, and a few of the producers and Ru went to see the Backstreet Boys in Auckland, and it was the craziest night of my life,” they reveal.

“Because AJ [McLean] from the Backstreet Boys had come to visit the set one day - spoiler alert he does not appear on the show, he came to just visit the show and see Ru because he was on Secret Celebrity Drag Race - and he just kind of casually said like, ‘I’ll get you guys tickets, you should come to the show!’. And so we all went and Ru went completely anonymous [wearing a] tracksuit.”

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Rhys adds that in case anyone still has doubts over whether or not RuPaul actually films the show in New Zealand, they have plenty of evidence from the concert that proves she does.

“I have photos on my phone of RuPaul standing up and singing Backstreet Boys songs at Auckland Spark Arena,” they say. “It was wild, the Backstreet Boys was wild, I had a really fun time.

“And watching someone like Ru and Michelle interact with a concert like that when they’re part of that kind of echelon of entertainment […] I’ve never sat next to a proper megastar while they’re watching mega stars. Very strange.”

Rhys Nicholson's memoir Dish.
RuPaul supplied an endorsement quote for Rhys’ upcoming memoir ‘Dish’. Photo: Instagram/rhysnicholson

'I couldn't believe it'

While Rhys insists they and RuPaul aren’t close enough friends to text each other in the middle of the night, the legendary performer and TV host did supply a glowing endorsement quote for their upcoming memoir Dish.

“My very nice publisher at Penguin Random House had been like, ‘Do you think you could ask?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I mean, I guess?’,” they recall. “And I sent an email and it was way longer than it needed to be, just trying to right click synonym different ways to say, ‘Totally fine if not!’. And I got a reply that was just like, ‘Yeah sure, I'll get something to you in a couple of weeks’.

“I'll be honest, she's not read the whole book, but she's read some parts of it. I'm so appreciative and excited about it and it was so lovely for her and I couldn't believe it. And it's kind of a funny quote like, ‘This dish is delicious and honest and funny’ - it’s almost as if someone had said to ChatGPT, ‘Give me a RuPaul quote for Rhys Nicholson’s book called Dish’.

“I'm terrified that I’ll see her when we do something together again and I'll be like, ‘Thank you for the book quote’, and she’ll be like ‘Hmm?’ and I’ll say, ‘Never mind!’.”

RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under season 3 cast.
Rhys says it’s ‘really great’ that this year’s season of Drag Race doesn’t feature too many ‘huge names’. Photo: Stan

'Quite refreshing'

Speaking about RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, which streams every Friday on Stan, Rhys says the most exciting thing about the new season is that the cast doesn’t include too many “huge names”.

“I think that's really great because it means that we're not going in there just for the drama of like, ‘Oh they had a flame war two years ago and now they're on the show together’,” they share.

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"There are varying ages of queens, all with varying ages of how long they've been doing it and how accomplished they are. So it's less about drama this year and it's more about these queens doing drag, and I think that's quite refreshing and fun.

“I mean, of course, there's still drama, it’s a competition reality program made by gay people, but what was really fun to be on the show this year is it wasn't about putting these two together and seeing what can happen.”

RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under is streaming now on Stan

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