With the rise of reality shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and its spin-offs, drag culture has been thrust into the spotlight. The series has given a platform to many up-and-coming performers, helping them build up a following and make a living.
The wealthiest stars have used a combination of their wardrobes and a flamboyant approach to life to become celebrities. Their methods and bank accounts are definitely worth examining, so let’s take a glimpse into the world of rich drag queens and see how they made their money.
1. RuPaul – $60 million
To call RuPaul a drag queen, a transvestite or a female impersonator would do considerable justice to her power of celebrity. It might be better to describe him as a fashion icon and a reality show celebrity when you take a deeper dive into her unique history.
He’s also a pioneer. RuPaul began her journey by moving to Atlanta from San Diego to become a backup singer for Glen Meadow, and the breakthrough gig happened when she hosted The RuPaul Show, which was the first talk show hosted by a gay man.
The show paved the way for the likes of Ellen Degeneres, but RuPaul was just getting started. She hit her stride as the leader of RuPaul’s Drag Race, for which she reportedly earns $800,000 per episode playing ringmaster and head judge. Celebritynetworth reports that RuPaul is worth $60 million!
2. Trixie Mattel – $10 million
Mattel owes a good portion of her wealth to RuPaul. She won season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race and went on to make her own documentary and star in several TV shows.
The source of her ongoing wealth is a unique combination of her musical career, her makeup business, and a successful web-based series, and while she is in second place when it comes to career earnings, there’s no doubt that she’s a star in her own right.
3. Courtney Act – $5 million
An Australian native, Act made her name down under before an Australian version of Drag Race surfaced. She also wowed the audience of Australian Idol during an appearance early in her career, and she’s gone on to become a part of the American Apparel Ad Girls campaign that’s played to sold-out shows around the world.
Courtney also won Celebrity Big Brother UK and has had a gig hosting the UK’s first bisexual reality dating show, The Bi Life. Her diversity is both singular and admirable, and it sets her apart in the world of drag queens.
4. Bianca Del Rio – $4 million
Like Trixie Mattel, Del Rio is a former Drag Race winner, and she’s also an actor, comedian, and costume designer, with the last of these three being the biggest source of her wealth.
The exotic-looking Del Rio is also a legend in her native Louisiana, where she’s won the Big Easy Entertainment Awards a total of six times out of the thirteen times the contest has been held.
5. Alyssa Edwards – $3 million
When it comes to silver-tongue drag queens, Edwards is at the top of the pyramid, however sparse and underpopulated that pyramid may be.
In addition to her quips and catchphrases, she’s also a choreographer and a very savvy businessperson, and she made her debut in a documentary about the Miss Gay America contest that was held in 2004.
She’s also been in a Netflix doc, Dancing Queen, and she, too, has finished prominently in several seasons of both Drag Race and its all-star extension. Edwards has learned to use stardom as well as anyone in the business, to the point where some might consider her on the verge of being a household name.
6. Chad Michaels – $3 million
Michaels’ claim to fame is that he’s a dead ringer for Cher – when properly outfitted with the right wig and makeup, of course.
Chad won the first season of the all-star version of Drag Race, and her flamboyant impersonation of Cher even got him a slot in the Cher Tribute Concert at the Kennedy Center in DC back in 2018. We all have our destinies, and Michaels is definitely more unique than most.
7. Raven – $2 million
One look at Raven will reveal exactly why she’s so wealthy – as a makeup artist of Russian descent, her appearance is truly special, even in the world of drag queens, where uniqueness isn’t quite as singular as it is in other walks of life.
Not surprisingly, her work with makeup has given her a formidable bottom line, and she’s been prominently featured in several seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race
8. Katya Zamolodchikova – $1.1 million
Not many drag queens can lay claim to the title of Miss Congeniality, but Zamolodchikova copped that particular award in season two of the all-star version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
She’s also performed in Russia under the stage name Katya, and she’s been featured in various other television shows and films. She now holds a net worth of $1.1 according to Slice.ca.
9. Shangela Laquifa Wadley – $1 million
Wadley, too, has crossed over into the world of mainstream entertainment, having appeared in A Star is Born in addition to the usual array of awards on Drag Race.
Her TV credits also include X-Files, Glee, Bones and 2 Broke Girls, and one other aspect of her career that has made her truly special is the fact that she was actually a cheerleader back in high school in Texas.
10. Latrice Royale – $1 million
Royale is incredibly popular in the world of drag queens, and she also gleans part of her network from her other work as a recording artist and reality TV personality.
In 2019, she was ranked among the top drag race performers in New York Magazine, which may be the most competitive market for drag queens aside from LA and San Francisco.