Last week, RuPaul’s Drag Race took the somewhat unprecedented step of eliminating a contestant before ever appearing on the series.
New York City costume queen, Sherry Pie, the drag pseudonym of Joey Gugliemelli, was disqualified from the popular competition show before making her big debut amidst catfish allegations.
Gugliemelli is accused of contacting several young actors through the alias of Allison Mossey, a faux female casting director, and soliciting humiliating and objectifying audition videos.
Catfishing victim comes forward
“I have a weird story to tell about Sherry Pie,” actor Ben Shimkus began on a recent Facebook post. He went on to explain how much RuPaul’s Drag Race has meant to him and the entire LGBTQ community, before breaking the shocking news about the Season 12 hopeful.
It seems Shimkus and Gugliemelli went through the same music theatre program at Cortland State University, while also working and performing together at a small town theatre in Michigan.
Later, a friend gave Shimkus an email address for the alleged Allison Mossey, and the two exchanged several messages to discuss a new play at a prestigious New York City theatre.
In those emails, Shimkus was encouraged to audition for the play through emailed videos. In the videos, Gugliemelli (posing as Mossey) asked him to film scenes “that felt particularly sexual and awkward.”
“I eventually grew wearisome of the back and forth that seemed to be going nowhere and reached out to Playwright’s Horizons directly to ask about their relationship with Allison Mossey,” Shimkus said. “The person that I contacted notified me that nobody within the company had ever heard of her.”
Eventually, he and other actors figured out that Gugliemelli was behind the Allison Mossey persona. Six other people corroborated Shimkus’ story.
“What Sherry did to all of us was wrong,” Shimkus concluded. “Although Sherry’s drag may be admired by our community, I hope that our community also recognizes the impact of giving her a bigger stage to broadcast from. I hope Allison Mossey and other tactics of sexualizing people in our community without their consent is put to an end.”
Sherry Pie disqualified from Drag Race
Gugliemelli issued his own Facebook post, apologizing for his harassment and behavior. Despite the apology, VH1 and World of Wonder unequivocally disqualified Sherry Pie from the competition.
With one major caveat.
Because the series was filmed in 2019, she would still appear in each episode.
Before the past two episodes, VH1 and World of Wonder have released a statement via title card: “In light of recent developments and Sherry Pie’s statement, Sherry Pie has been disqualified from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
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.”
Although she will still appear on several episodes, it appears Sherry will be barred from the spring season finale that has yet to be filmed.
Fans call to cut Sherry Pie out completely
Though the competition format makes it difficult for Sherry to be edited out entirely, editors for the Emmy-winning reality series have kept Sherry’s appearance in each episode nominal. She does not appear in any confessional clips and has limited screen time.
Sherry Pie has won the last two weeks in a row, each time taking home a $5,000 cash tip, which has sparked some controversy.
One Twitter user posted: “It truly feels like we’re watching Sherry Pie’s Drag Race and it’s soooo cringeworthy. Hopefully the next episodes have a major edit of removing her confessionals/comments because this shit is UNCOMFORTABLE.”
Others have called for the season to be reshot or canceled completely. However, with some cast members already on tour or booked for other gigs, it would be a lengthy process and at huge financial cost to the cast, crew, and the production company.
Drag Race makes contribution to combat catfishing
In response to Sherry’s wins, the following statement appeared via title card after the third episode: “This episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race was filmed in 2019. In light of recent developments, VH1 and World of Wonder have donated $5,000 to The Trevor Project.”
The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that offers 24/7 support for LGBTQ youth experiencing crisis or thoughts of suicide, and are in need of services. It also offers educational resources for parents to increase awareness and inclusion.
Overall, the Sherry Pie scandal has put a damper on what appears to be a promising cast and season. Only time will tell how the show will play out.
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs Fridays 8/7c on VH1.