TV & Movies

A RuPaul's Drag Race Contestant Has Been Disqualified for Sexual Misconduct and Catfishing

The series is no stranger to controversy, but season 12 is proving to really take the cake (or should we say pie?)

Season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race may have just begun, but the VH1 series is already rife with controversy after a contestant was disqualified amid accusations of sexual misconduct and catfishing.

VH1 announced Friday that Sherry Pie (real name: Joey Gugliemelli) has been ousted from season 12 of Drag Race after five men alleged they were deceived by the performer when he posed as a casting director and coerced them into doing “degrading” things on camera for roles that did not exist. The announcement came ahead of the airing of episode two (which was taped last year), in which Gugliemelli was set to make his debut. “In light of recent developments and Sherry Pie’s statement, Sherry Pie has been disqualified from RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the show posted on its Twitter account.

At least seven men were tricked by Gugliemelli into auditioning for fake roles

According to Buzzfeed, seven men so far have come forward to accuse Gugliemelli of posing as a casting director named Allison Mossey and asking them to perform sexually suggestive acts on camera for potential roles. One of the men told the publication that he even agreed to masturbate on camera as part of the audition process, while another sent his body measurements and shirtless photos.

An actor named Ben Shimkus was the first person to publicly accuse the 28-year-old Drag Race star in a lengthy Facebook post, which detailed his history with Gugliemelli, with whom he attended a musical-theatre course at SUNY Cortland in New York. Shimkus explained that a close friend encouraged him to reach out to Mossey to discuss a role in a new play at Playwright’s Horizons in New York City. His initial interaction with Mossey was about rehearsals, but things became uncomfortable for him when Mossey asked him to audition via video for the role. “I had to film scenes that felt particularly sexual and awkward, but the opportunity seemed too good to let the overtly sexual nature or my inhibitions get in the way,” Shimkus wrote on Facebook, adding that he even considered dropping out of school for the opportunity.

I have a weird story to tell about Sherry PieRuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 started last week. It is an exciting time in…

Posted by Ben Shimkus on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Shimkus eventually learned that Mossey was not affiliated with the theatre company she said she worked for and that it was Gugliemelli whom he was corresponding with. “It was a tough pill to swallow, knowing that I hadn’t listened to my gut instinct about how uncomfortable I was. That I had sent suggestive videos of myself, and I didn’t know what the videos were being used for,” Shimkus wrote in his Facebook post, saying he experienced “massive emotional trauma” due to Gugliemelli’s actions.

To add to the disturbing details, a YouTube video by Not Another Drama Channel notes that comments on Shimkus’ Facebook post suggest that the Drag Race contestant was still posing as Mossey as recently as December 2019, after filming for Drag Race season 12 wrapped.

Gugliemelli has since issued an apology for the “trauma and pain” he caused

Following Shimkus’s allegations, Gugliemelli took to Sherry Pie’s Facebook page to issue an apology, saying he was sorry that he had “caused such trauma and pain.”

“This is Joey, I want to start by saying how sorry I am that I caused such trauma and pain and how horribly embarrassed and disgusted I am with myself,” he wrote. “I know that the pain and hurt that I have caused will never go away and I know that what I did was wrong and truly cruel.”

This is Joey, I want to start by saying how sorry I am that I caused such trauma and pain and how horribly embarrassed…

Posted by Sherry Pie on Thursday, March 5, 2020

Gugliemelli also disclosed that he has been “seeking help and receiving treatment” since returning to New York City. “Until being on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I never really understood how much my mental health and taking care of things meant,” he wrote. “I truly apologize to everyone I have hurt with my actions. I also want to say how sorry I am to my sisters of season 12 and honestly the whole network and production company.”

Sherry Pie isn’t the only contestant facing sexual-assault accusations on this season of Drag Race

To add to the drama, Sherry Pie isn’t the only Drag Race contestant this season facing sexual-assault allegations. Brita Filter (real name: Jesse Havea) was reportedly accused of assault in 2018, but the allegations re-emerged on social media following her debut on the show. In the resurfaced post, Havea was accused by his “drag daughter” of assaulting an anonymous man while he slept. At first, Havea posted on Facebook that he would “need to consult a lawyer before making a public statement,” adding that he “completely refute(s)” the accuser’s claim. Later, he readdressed the allegations, writing in a new statement, “I need to re-address the false allegations raised against me in 2018. I reiterate that the claims made against me are untrue. As someone who cares very deeply about the importance of consent (from first-hand experience), I always actively attempt to bring that to the forefront of any sexual encounter I have.”

Posted by Jesse Havea on Thursday, March 5, 2020

As of publication time, Havea is still on the show and Drag Race hasn’t commented on the 2018 allegation. Having two contestants in one season facing some serious allegations seems like a major misstep on VH1 and Drag Race‘s part in terms of vetting contestants; however, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season four winner Trinity the Tuck insisted on Twitter that the screening process for the show is quite “rigorous.”

“This is something that the network could not have foreseen,” tweeted Trinity, later disclosing that a friend of hers was declined a spot on the show and was sent 60 pages of information of “things they need to clean up in order to be considered another year.”

Drag Race season 12 will still go on as planned, but Sherry Pie will be omitted from the finale

While announcing Sherry Pie’s disqualification from the show, VH1 said it will air season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race as planned. “Out of respect for the hard work of the other queens, VH1 will air the season as planned. Sherry will not appear in the grand finale scheduled to be filmed later this spring,” read a statement by a VH1 spokesperson on Drag Race‘s official Twitter account.

As Vox notes, the season has already been filmed and edited, and the competition has wrapped. However, many are speculating that Sherry Pie earned a spot in the finale as one of the top four contestants, as she had to be “disqualified.” (Typically, queens on Drag Race are voted off week by week until the grand finale.) Decider notes that if Sherry did, indeed, make it to the top four, then this disqualification either means only three finalists will compete in a live lip sync in the finale or perhaps the fifth-place queen will now take her spot.

But let’s not forget that only two episodes have aired so far, meaning that Drag Race fans will most likely be seeing much more of Sherry Pie throughout the season, making for some awkward viewing, to say the least.

And, of course, Drag Race alumni have a lot of *thoughts* about the scandals

Naturally, former contestants of RuPauls Drag Race have been weighing in on the controversy, mostly condemning Sherry Pie for her actions.

Season eight winner Bob the Drag Queen tweeted out “Disqualify her” following reports of Sherry Pie’s misconduct, while season 9 and All Stars season 4 contestant Farrah Moan tweeted “ARREST her!”

Meanwhile, season 10 winner Aquaria alluded to editing Sherry Pie out of the season altogether.

“Wondering if we should start a GoFundMe for @LeeDawsonPT to create an edit without [Sherry Pie] though because these queens don’t deserve to be brought down with that,” she tweeted, later adding, “An apology should not include lies, to say the least. @sherrypienyc you are walking on very thin ice. Choose your words wisely because my community is not the one to fuck with.”

Season 11 winner Yvie Oddly, however, warned the Twitterverse, particularly her Drag Race sisters, against adding “more fuel to the fire.”

It will be interesting to see how this entire scandal plays out, especially if Sherry Pie does, indeed, end up in the top four. However, we hope her victims find some peace of mind in VH1’s decision to disqualify her from the show.