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DRUK’s Ginger, Michael & Tomara On Making One Of The Best Seasons In Drag Race Herstory

‘DRUK’s Ginger, Michael & Tomara On Making One Of The Best Seasons In ‘Drag Race’ Herstory

Michael Marouli, Ginger Johnson, Tomara Thomas
Courtesy of World of Wonder

PRIDE sat down with the season five finalists in the leadup to this week’s crowning to reflect on the season’s highlights, drama, and powerful friendship they’ve forged.

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This week is Drag Race UK’s season five finale and its outcome may very well be the toughest to predict yet. This is thanks to a trio of queens who, while serving different types of drag, are wildly talented and each deserving of the crown in their own way.

Ginger Johnson was long seen as the unbeatable front runner, quickly racking up a series of RuPeter badges, including wins for the coveted Rusical and Snatch Game — and never once even catching a whiff of the bottom. Another iconic winner comes to mind who also sewed all of her looks, served camp and comedy, and was the heart of her season: Bianca Del Rio.

Michael Marouli is another incredibly accomplished queen, who, before getting the call to the Drag Race big leagues, had found herself wondering if she was reaching the end of her drag career, only to quickly become seen as an absolute force and one to watch — in a season where the competition is frankly the most intense it has been. She showed her star quality in the Rusical and her incredible comedy chops in the Roast, which earned this powerhouse queen her third badge, evening things up track-record-wise with Ginger.

Michael Marouli in the Roast

Courtesy of World of Wonder

Then, of course, there’s the wildly charismatic Tomara Thomas, whose iconic laugh serves as a burst of serotonin in every confessional. Her confidence and star quality radiated no matter the challenge, but the girl group challenge proved just how bright a star she is. No wonder the judges are obsessed with her — and she would be the first to say it.

All of this is coming together to make for an exciting and unpredictable final episode. Frankly, no matter who takes the crown, the true winner is the viewing audience who’ve been treated to one of the best seasons of Drag Race ever.

While it may not have been exactly the top three that Tomara imagined when she first arrived in the Werkroom it didn’t take long for her to realize who her likely competition for the crown would ultimately be. “Definitely by week three, 1,000%,” she tells PRIDE, throwing a little bit of fun shade of course, “but not leading up to that no.”

Ginger, Tomara and Michael sit at at table in the Werkroom

Courtesy of World of Wonder

While it’s well known that Drag Race is not RuPaul’s Best Friend Race, you wouldn’t have guessed it by how much love there was between the top three Northern queens. “When we first arrived on the first day, I didn’t know any of the queens in the room at all... I felt overawed by everybody. And I felt myself shrinking a little bit truly. But just hearing these two’s voices, just hearing that sound of where we all come from, was immediate comfort,” Ginger tells PRIDE. “I honestly don’t think that the competition has gotten in the way of our friendship. We’re so close we are heading out on tour together, we all speak to each other all the time. I think that’s partly because we’re all so different from each other. I think we have similar hearts, but different arts. We’re all in the finale, we all got to show all our looks, do all our challenges, and give everything that we’ve got. And I think we’re all just really proud of each other.”

But this wasn’t the only sisterhood forged in the Werk Room. Looking back at the season, Ginger’s proudest moment wasn’t even her own, but rather Kate Butch’s, a testament to the friendship that they developed competing alongside one another. “I was so so excited to work with Kate because we’d formed a really, really close friendship on the show. And I was desperate for her to get a badge because I didn’t want her to leave, I wanted her to stick around, to have my friend around with me. So when she won the badge, I was the Mean Girls mum with the video camera in the back. I was just just so excited,” Ginger recalls.

PRIDE Interviews Drace Race UK Star Ginger Johnson About Their Proudest Moment

Both Michael and Tomara walked into the competition only to discover their close friends would be joining them on the journey, Vicki Vivacious and Cara Melle, respectively. Which led to some of the dramatic moments we adore so much.

For Tomara and Cara, that moment occurred during the design challenge in episode two. Tomara implied to RuPaul and guest judge (and Vogue fashion editor) Edward Enninful that she had never seen Cara design or make a look before — much to the queen’s chagrin. It’s a record that Cara says she set straight when the friends and roommates were back home again. “I fully went to my closet and pulled out one dress. I was like, ‘Remember this that you’ve seen before? I made that. Remember that? Or remember when I was sitting here and you were watching me sew that dress? Remember, I was sewing that dress,” Cara previously told PRIDE.

Naturally, Tomara has a slightly different recollection. “Well, I can’t remember coming and seeing a closet of hers so this is all news to me again! This is crazy again!” she says with her signature laugh. “But you know what I actually do remember her flicking through her old photos and being like, ‘I sewed that back in the day.’ and I was like, ‘Oh right,’ but on the show, I didn’t know she’d done that. So maybe she’s had these outfits that she’s maybe done herself but she’s never informed me that she’d sewn them herself. So, you can see where the confusion lies there, babe.”

PRIDE Interviews Drag Race UK Star Tomara Thomas About Drama In The Werkroom

Michael and Vicki, for their part, never kicked off any drama between one another, but the former did recall seeing the latter facing off with DeeDeeLicious in the penultimate episode, over an argument between DeeDee and Alexis in the premiere. “I was enjoying my cocktail,” joked Michael. “That whole situation between Alexis and DD, I was on the opposite side of the room getting ready. So when Vicki’s telling this whole story I couldn’t have an opinion because I hadn’t bore witness to any of it. I was just like, ‘ooooooh!’ I think I drank that drink at about 30 seconds flat.”

While there was plenty of drama and shade, this season it never turned too dark. That’s in part because whenever a pile-on felt like it may be building up, Ginger was quick to call it out and shut it down. “When I was growing up, especially when I was trying to hide my queer identity from the world, I think sometimes I found it hard to clap back at people, even if it was in good humor, or if there was some malice behind it, I would find it hard in the moment to find the strength to do that,” she recalls. “It’s part of my character that if ever I see somebody else who looks to me like maybe they just need a moment to get their stuff together, so they can clap back, I will fill that time. I’ll step in and fill the dead air for a minute while you work out how you feel about it. I think that’s me honoring the frightened me of the past who maybe wasn’t as liberated as I am or wasn’t as confident as I am and throwing them a bone and saying, ‘look, take your time... and speak your truth.’”

Ginger Johnson sticks up for DeeDeeLicious in Untucked

Courtesy of World of Wonder

While there were plenty of laughs and shady moments — and some seriously gorgeous looks from all our finalists — that gave the audience everything they wanted and more, it was an even deeper experience for the trio who walked away with a stronger connection to their queer community.

One of the most powerful moments in the season was watching Michael interact with her makeover partner, Peter, who opened up about his life as a gay man growing up in the U.K. through the AIDS crisis and beyond. It was a moving reminder to cherish our gay elders who have been through so much and have so much to teach us — and who are far too rare. That was all very clear in the way that Micheal treated him throughout the challenge and the mark it has left on the queen since. “[More than anything I’ll remember] the joy and Peter’s eyes when he was transformed, and he came into drag,” recalls Michael. “He’d suppressed this feminine energy for 65 years, and to give him that moment. I remember saying to him, off camera, ‘I want you to have this. No matter what we do today. It’s all about you. I want to give you a little moment of happiness, just to be a fabulous self.’ That is something I’ll remember forever.”

PRIDE Interviews Drace Race UK Star Michael Marouli About Their Life-Changing Makeover Challenge

For Michael, Tomara, and Ginger, the experience of being on a stage as big as Drag Race also proved to be a kind of mirror for them as well; each couldn’t help but see a new side of themselves as the show aired.

For Tomara, that revelation is charmingly on brand. “I just found myself hilarious. After everything I said in the confessionals, I was howling. Who knew that I found myself so bloody funny?” she said — followed, of course, with a laugh.

Ginger is contemplative and a touch self-effacing about who she sees reflected on screen. “I don’t think of myself as someone that gets involved in drama. And yet, there was every week sticking my little arm in,” she says laughing. “I may be worried a little bit about coming across as being bossy. But it turns out, I am bossy and I’m gonna own that so that it’s absolutely fine. I’ve only ever got good intentions behind it and people don’t have to listen to me if they don’t want to. So I’ve learned to accept that but myself, I am a bossy woman.”

PRIDE Interviews Drag Race UK Finalists Ginger Johnson, Michael Marouli & Tomara About What Learned About Themselves

Michael similarly was caught off guard by how hilarious and silly she could be in her (oh-so-charming) confessionals. “I don’t even remember saying that,” she laughs “I’m chatting away about DeeDee being a demon sucking everyone’s essence out and she was gonna grow heads and legs. I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Crazy. It was just wild to watch it all back. ”

Ultimately, Michaels’s final assessment of the season is as accurate as they come: “Incredible. What a ride.”

We couldn’t agree more.

This week a queen will be crowned and we will have our next Drag Superstar — but truthfully, we already have three.

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.