RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15 Premieres with Seattle Queen Irene Dubois

Watch Seattle’s "debilitatingly competitive" alien drag queen on the January 6 premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race season 15.

By Zoe Sayler January 6, 2023

Watch Drag Race Fridays at 8pm on MTV. 

On the last morning of a hand-wringing Ocean Shores vacation, Seattle drag queen Irene Dubois rolled out of bed to a phone call informing her that she’d been cast in season 15 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her first thought: “Am I even awake right now? Like, am I still in my dream world?”

It was her fifth time auditioning for the show—and though Irene had been a faithful fan since season 2 first introduced her to the world of drag back in high school, she'd started to doubt whether she knew what the producers were looking for. But when friends and fellow members of the Seattle drag community (including season 14 finalist and Irene’s drag sister, Bosco) heard the good news, “a lot of people just say, like, ‘Bout time.”

Drag Race sort of launched my trajectory as an artist,” Irene says. Contestants had to design their own outfits? Irene learned how to sew. Contestants had to perfect their own hairstyles? Irene got to work on some wigs. "The show’s focus on being a well-rounded artist certainly became part of my ethos as well," she says.


Image: Courtesy MTV

But standout queens like Raja (season 3) and Sasha Velour (season 9) also taught her the importance of developing a style all her own. “I think a lot of times we can look at what other people are doing to succeed and think, Oh, that must be what I need to do to succeed,” she says. You “have to trust that what sets you apart is your strength, and not look at the things that make you different as things that need to be hidden.”

Seattle drag queens have historically played off Drag Race’s more mainstream contestants with quirkier looks and an emphasis on comedy. But Irene sees herself as part of a new, even more experimental tradition of local drag stars. “I kind of felt like Drag Race,” through queens like BenDeLaCreme and season five winner Jinkx Monsoon, “had curated a perception of Seattle drag, that it was all about theatricality and burlesque,” she says. In her experience, Seattle's drag scene focuses "on breaking rules, being outside the box. And so to develop here is to basically find and forge your own path.”

For Irene, that path's somewhere between Tatooine and Texas. The ffirst to arrive in the Werk Room, Irene wears contact lenses with mismatched pupils, a sparkly bodysuit covered in party-hat-like cones, big pink boots, and giant pointy ear prosthetics. She tells producers that she takes inspiration from Star Wars characters and wants “to look like I rule some kind of alien kingdom.” (By way of comparison, one of Jinkx Monsoon’s most famous performances was as Grey Gardens’ Little Edie in the show’s beloved celebrity impersonation challenge, Snatch Game.) 


Image: Courtesy MTV

Visuals aren’t the only thing that set Irene apart from her Seattle predecessors, though. Based on the season 15 teaser, Irene's probably no “terminally delightful" BenDeLaCreme (season six's Miss Congeniality), nor will we hear her chanting “water off a duck’s back,” like the terminally misunderstood Jinkx Monsoon; within the first five minutes, she starts an argument with another contestant and jokingly (?) threatens to rip the place to shreds. “Irene said 'Oh y’all wanted an ACTUAL villain this season?'" one YouTube comment reads. “Hold my eye shadow.”

Perhaps that’s just one more indication that Irene is a true student of Drag Race, where sewing, lip-syncing, and impersonating may be equally important—but reading, a sort of especially incisive roast, is fundamental. 

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