It’s official: The latest winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race is a West Chester native.
In Thursday’s 90-minute season 10 finale, Aquaria beat out fellow competitors Eureka, Asia O’Hara, and Kameron Michaels to be declared the next drag superstar. Her grand prize includes $100,000, a year supply of cosmetics, and a scepter and crown.
“Sometimes in life,” Aquaria, 22, said during Thursday’s finale, “you’re not always given a second chance, but if you do, take advantage of it and go out with a bang.”
The episode featured Aquaria squaring off against Michaels and Eureka in a lip-synch battle – the first time in the show’s history that three queens competed for the crown. Asia, meanwhile, was eliminated after a butterfly malfunction during a performance in the episode.
For the final rouns, Aquaria, Michaels, and Eureka lip-synched to Jessie J.’s “Bang Bang” featuring Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.
Aquaria, known offstage as Giovanni Paladrani, has been a favorite to win for most of this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as a fierce competitor. Of all the contestants in season 10, Aquaria is the lone contestant to win three of the show’s challenges — including the beloved “Snatch Game,” in which Aquaria dressed as Melania Trump. Asia and Eureka won two challenges each, while Michaels won one challenge.
Aside from her performance on the show, Aquaria also has an established following in the drag world. Prior to appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she already had some 100,000 followers on Instagram. That number has since swelled to more than 830,000 followers.
As Aquaria recently told LGBTQ magazine Them, she became interested in dance as a child, and trained professionally for four years. At the same time, he became interested in YouTube makeup tutorials from the likes of Gigi Gorgeous, and eventually started pursuing drag in high school.
Her win this season makes Aquaria the first drag queen from the Philadelphia area to win RuPaul’s Drag Race. Across the show’s 10 seasons, just two local queens — Mimi Imfurst and Willam Belli — competed on the show, neither of whom won.
Imfurst appeared on the show back in 2011 for its third season, but ended up being the third competitor sent home that year. These days, Imfurst, also known as Braden Chapman, stars in a revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Ruba Club in Northern Liberties. Last month, Chapman was accused of sexual harassment by two male drag artists who told Philadelphia magazine that he had engaged in unwanted sexual conversation with them online. Chapman has since apologized, saying that he has “made great mistakes” that he is “humbled by.”
Belli appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2012. Belli notoriously vomited on the runway prior to leaving the show, and has since claimed that RuPaul’s Drag Race creates a toxic environment for competitors.
“Now prance,” RuPaul told Aquaria after she was announced as the winner on Thursday. “Prance, my queen.”