RuPaul Speaks on the Origins of ‘Lip-sync For Your Life’

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RuPaul is a legend, which is why it’s surprising to learn he had originally steered away from reality television — that is, until destiny was so loud he couldn’t help but answer the call.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the creator of RuPaul’s Drag Race spoke about the evolution of the show as well as its famous puns and phrases, including “lip-sync for your life.” Apparently it came from a prior short-lived show called ¡Viva Hollywood!, which looked for America’s next big telenovela star.

“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. 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,” World of Wonder’s head of development Tom Campbell said. “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.’”

From that outrageous idea, Drag Race‘s ‘lip-sync for your life’ was born. Then, the pitching to Logo began.

“I could feel that it was something really, really phenomenal,” Ru said, “but you would never know it by that first day of shooting because if you saw the studio that we were in, you would be like, ‘What the f— is this?’”

Logo’s SVP of programming Pam Post added, “It was probably one-eighth of the size of what we shoot in now, and producers were on top of each other trying to not get in each others’ way. We did stuff across the street from where we were shooting. We really tried to utilize everything that was at our fingertips to make this show work.”

Read more at EW.

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