The 10 Most Influential Drag Queens In Pop Culture History

Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fiercest of them all?

-By Breana Burek

Get your pumps ready and your wigs on, because RuPaul’s Drag Race kicks off its 8th season TONIGHT with an extra-fierce extravaganza to celebrate 100 episodes! This new round promises to feature more glitz, more glamour and more cries of “Lip sync for your life!”

As we gear up for the fun and fashion, we thought it was appropriate to pay tribute to the numerous queens who have impacted the LGBT movement and paved the road for future individuals to work it loud and proud. Through determination and persistence, they have made their mark on history. Let’s take a strut down memory lane with these influential queens. And don’t forget to watch the season premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race tonight at 9/8c on Logo!

  • 1 Chad Michaels
    Getty Images
    Originally known as Brigitte Love, Chad was the winner of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race. As one of the top Cher impersonators as Cher for two decades, she is currently in RuPaul’s Drag Race Hall of Fame. It’s only fitting for “The Queen of all Queens.”

  • 2 Jinkx Monsoon
    Getty Images
    Jinkx won the 5th season of the Drag Race. The name Jinkx came from a nickname given while she attended the Portland gay outreach center. If you haven’t heard her sing, you absolutely should right now.

  • 3 Bianca del Rio
    Getty Images
    Bianca is best known for being a drag queen, actor, comedian and costume designer. Famous for making crowds cry-laugh, the New York Times named her the “Joan Rivers of the Drag World.” She won season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

  • 4 Detox
    Getty Images
    One of the fiercest of them all, Detox graduated from the 5th season of Drag Race to appear in music videos for Rihanna and Kesha. She continues to record music and is currently touring.

  • 5 Dame Edna Everage
    Getty Images
    Hey possums! The Grand Dame penned an autobiography titled My Gorgeous Life, in which she dished about her life in film and television. She is arguably the top queen to originate from Australia.

  • 6 Divine
    Pink Flamingo
    Divine was one of the first queens to break into mainstream culture, notably in the films of director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, anyone?). Her fearless and uncompromising manner influenced others to be badass b-tch like herself. Tragically, she died of heart failure in 1988 at the age of 42.

  • 7 Pepper LaBeija
    Pinterest
    Known as “the last remaining queen of the Harlem drag balls”, LaBeija had a successful career as a fashion designer. She ruled the drag scene of the ’70s and ’80s with her wild persona alongside queens Angie Xtravaganza, Dorian Corey and Avis Pendavis. She passed away in 2003 at the age of 53.

  • 8 Mother Flawless Sabrina
    Pinterest
    The flawless one challenged LGBT issues on the east coast and led in rallies against New York businesses that refused to serve gay Americans. She was arrested more than 100 times during her fight to normalize cross-dressing.

  • 9 Jose Julio Sarria
    Sarria (A.K.A. The Grand Mere, Absolute Empress I de San Francisco) was the first openly gay candidate to run for public office in the United States, paving the way for other gay politicians to follow. From the west coast, she was an activist for gay rights during the 1960s. Sarria also founded the International Court System of the United States with helps aid LGBT issues. Sarria died in 2013 at age 90.

  • 10 RuPaul
    RuPaul Official Website
    The one and only RuPaul is best known for being an actor, drag queen, author, model and recording artist. She lives in New York City where she does many appearances and continues to make music. Also, she’s on a little show called Drag Race—perhaps you’ve heard of it?

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