Celebrities have security teams and bodyguards for lots of reasons. Some need safety from fans, others from stalkers, and some from other celebrities. Plus, everyone knows that walking around with a team of bodyguards makes you look pretty important. It definitely makes you look rich! While some celebs have bodyguards just for certain events, others are flanked at all times. Let’s take a look at the specially secured celebrities that are always with a bodyguard.
Understandably, mega star Lady Gaga needs security at all times. The popstar has millions of Little Monsters, and some people that are seriously obsessed with her. For this reason, Gaga is always seen with security when she’s out and about.
Some celebrity bodyguards end up with followings of their own. Pete van der Veen worked for Lady Gaga for years, and even featured on one of her tracks. The Dutch bodyguard is also a bodybuilder, and even once won a beauty contest.
Actors from major franchises are in particular need of extra security. Daniel Radcliffe played the boy who lived for over a decade, gaining him lots of fans all over the world. One of his bodyguards is named Sam (pictured) and he’s apparently “never more than an arm’s length away” from the star.
Sam has to plan out how he’ll get Daniel Radcliffe to the bathroom without screaming fans mobbing the actor. He has been described as like one of Radcliffe’s older brothers.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Apparently, when Blue Ivy Carter was dropped at preschool by a security motorcade and three bodyguards, the other parents complained. But what else would super stars Bey and Jay do? The couple have been attacked by fans several times, leading them to tighten up their operation.
Famously, one of the Carters’ bodyguards is Julius DeBoer (pictured). This bodyguard is one of the few people in the world that knows what went down in that elevator. DeBoer pulled Solange off Jay-Z in the well-publicized incident.
When Cardi B stepped out with her bodyguard, the internet collectively swiveled its head. The rather attractive looking bodyguard is named Price, and now has his own Instagram following. Multiple articles popped up discussing the suave looking security guard, with fans even telling rapper Offset to watch his back.
Apparently the fashionable bodyguard has a son, and has made supportive posts featuring Cardi and Kulture. The only thing is, we’re not sure this bodyguard would keep people away…
Look, rapper 50 Cent—or Curtis James Jackson III—has been shot nine times. If you had been shot nine times, wouldn’t you hire security to follow you at all times? We sure would. The star was attacked in 2000, allegedly by a man that had worked as Mike Tyson’s bodyguard. During the shooting, the star’s son and grandmother were present.
It took 50 Cent five months to recover from the attack. It’s thought that the shooting was revenge for the rapper’s song “Ghetto Qur’an.”
It’s no surprise that supermodel Bella Hadid hires her own security team. After all, a strange man picked up her sister Gigi at Milan Fashion Week—that would be enough to convince us to hire a bodyguard! Bella always travels with security, and one of her guards, Simon Newton has been praised for his fashion forward looks.
However, Bella has stepped in to reprimand her security. On one occasion, they pushed a female paparazzi, prompting the model to say, “Do not! Can you please? Don’t touch her.”
Famously, Kim Kardashian was held in an armed robbery in a hotel in Paris. At the time, the star’s bodyguard, Pascal Duvier (pictured), was in a club with Kar-Jenner siblings Kourtney and Kendall. Just days before, Duvier had stopped Vitalli Sediuk from assaulting Kim, and she tweeted calling him “a G.”
Pascal Duvier was in the German army, and first worked for Kanye West. The experienced bodyguard has also worked for the Black Eyed Peas, Nick Jonas and Frank Ocean. After the robbery, Kim stepped up security.
Famously, singer Whitney Houston starred in The Bodyguard, a movie about a superstar and her relationship with her bodyguard. Indeed, the film was partly based on Houston’s bodyguard, David Roberts, a Welsh former police officer.
Tragically, David Roberts worked for Whitney Houston between 1988-1995 but was fired for expressing concerns about her wellbeing. Since the singer’s passing, Roberts has commented that she might be alive if his concerns hadn’t been ignored. He has said, “It was part of my duty […] to protect them from themselves.”
Action star Tom Cruise only wants top level bodyguards around him. At one point, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise were protected by bodyguard Sean Ringgold. However, in 2009 Ringgold started his own successful acting career.
Tom Cruise has also been protected by Mark “Billy” Billingham, who now stars in UK military reality TV series SAS: Who Dares Wins. The former sniper and SWAT officer has also worked for Brangelina, Kate Moss, Hulk Hogan, Michael Caine, and Russell Crowe.
Drake’s entourage aren’t to be messed with. In fact, the rapper’s security team have been connected to several violent incidents. There are videos of the bodyguards yelling at people, and being physically aggressive. A former sever at a West Hollywood restaurant claims Drake’s bodyguards beat him up.
On another occasion, Drake and his entourage were involved in a massive fight with Chris Brown and his crew. Then, in 2017, the star’s team bullied drivers in Toronto so Drake’s motorcade could pass.
The Beckham Family
David Beckham has said that he would love to walk down the street with his family, but they’re simply too famous. Instead, Becks picks his kids up from school in a bulletproof Rolls Royce and two cars full of security guards. One of the Beckham’s longtime bodyguards is Bobby Rich (pictured).
If Brooklyn Beckham pops out for ice-cream, you’ll see Bobby Rich somewhere beside him. The bodyguard represented Great Britain in judo and has a black belt in Brazilian ju-jitsu. He is also a personal trainer!
How absurd is this photograph of Justin Bieber on a date with his bodyguard? Though Biebs is undeniably mobbed by fans everywhere he goes, this seems a little excessive. However, we bet his date felt nice and protected.
Now, Justin Bieber’s head of security is Michael Arana, and he organizes the rest of the team. The Beliebers are organized when it comes to supporting their man, and fan page “Bieber Bodyguards” supports the star and “the men who keep him safe.”
After the Paris robbery on Kim Kardashian, both Kim and Kanye stepped up their security (as did the rest of the Kar-Jenner family). While Kanye West used to walk alone or with just one guard, now he’s surrounded at all times and travels in a bulletproof car.
One of Kanye’s bodyguards was former police officer turned exotic dancer Savage Steve. After the pair parted ways, the bodyguard claimed Kanye was the “neediest” celebrity he’d ever worked with. We buy that!
Socialite Paris Hilton has always played the role of rich girl well. Of course, she is actually a rich girl, but for years the heiress has played up the idea of herself as an out-of-touch blonde. As part of her ever-so-Paris persona, the star likes to surround herself with handsome bodyguards.
When Paris was proposed to by Chris Zylka, she hired 24/7 security to protect her and the 22 carat multi-million dollar ring. As it turns out, the relationship didn’t last, but we bet that ring stayed safe!
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Remember Mark “Billy” Billingham, the former sniper who protected Tom Cruise? Well here he is again. Mark Billingham worked for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, becoming very close with the family. Actually, Billingham has claimed that he basically “fathered” the couple’s six children.
Apparently Brangelina has fingerprint scanning locks at their homes and a cybersecurity team to monitor their kids online. Billingham was the couple’s head of security and has commented that “the military set me up perfectly for what I did with them.”
When the internet caught sight of Kylie Jenner’s bodyguard, they took to Twitter to show their support. Actually, some fans became so obsessed with Tim Chung (pictured) that they decided he was actually the father of the reality star’s baby, Stormi.
While he no longer works for the family, Tim Chung was the bodyguard for Kylie, Kourtney, Kim and Kanye too. Apparently, Chung is also in the LAPD, and works as a professional model. This guy is seriously well-rounded!
It’s now known that popstar Britney Spears has been under a controlling and abusive conservatorship for years. Because of her situation, it’s likely that Britney’s father hires her security guards.
Since Britney’s explosive testimony about her conservatorship, various former staff members have come forward. One of the star’s former bodyguards, Fernando Flores (pictured), has confirmed the singer’s testimony that Jamie Spears controls and abuses her. Reports used to claim that Spears was uncooperative with staff, but now that all makes much more sense.
Action star Bruce Willis has always had bodyguards, and often develops friendships with them. Willis met former bodyguard Michael Clarke Duncan when he was cast as Bear in Armageddon. The pair became friends and Willis influenced Duncan to land the role of John Coffey in The Green Mile.
Before that, Michael Clarke Duncan was a bodyguard for Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Notorious B.I.G. He had always wanted to act, and stopped being a bodyguard when Biggie was murdered.
If you were as a big a sitcom star as Jennifer Aniston, you’d never be caught without a bodyguard. Seriously—think of how many people must scream quotations and catchphrases at her every single day! “We were on a break!” “It’s a metaphor Daddy!” “I’m gonna’ go get one of those job things!”
Jen is usually seen with three male bodyguards at all time. With this level of security, the A-Lister can feel safe and secure while out and about.
Here’s another celebrity that’s been in an absolutely huge franchise. Though actress Kristen Stewart is known to be very private, she still needs to hire bodyguards to maintain her privacy. Twilight fans aren’t exactly lowkey…we’re just saying.
One of Kristen Stewart’s bodyguards ended up with his own following and became known as “The Original Hot Bodyguard.” This same handsome bodyguard also protected actresses Emilia Clarke and Nina Dobrev. According to Stewart, he was a good sport about all of the media attention he received.
Celebrities need bodyguards regardless of their own size and shape. Once you’re world famous, there’s no way of predicting the ways people might try to harm you. It’s grim, but it’s true.
English actor Tom Hardy is often seen with his bodyguard “Big John” (pictured). The star’s bodyguard has been spotted carrying a folding knife, and carries high power flashlights to shine in the eyes of potential attackers. With Big John involved, we don’t think anyone will bother targeting Tom Hardy.
There are lots of online pictures of popstar and billionaire Rihanna riding on the shoulders or backs of her bodyguards. In fact, when she’s at concerts and needs a better view, her security team come in very handy.
At one stage, one of the Barbadian singer’s bodyguards was involved in a physical altercation outside a club in London. Apparently, the bodyguard punched a photographer who wouldn’t move back from the star’s vehicle. On another occasion, a bodyguard slammed the car door in Rihanna’s face!
When actress Katie Holmes was married to action star Tom Cruise, the couple shared a security team. It’s no surprise that the rather intense Cruise wanted to make sure his wife and daughter were safe at all times.
However, after the couple broke up, Katie Holmes had other reasons to need her own security detail. The actress was scared of her ex’s Scientology links, and her father ended up firing every staffer with a connection to Cruise. Now, the star is always flanked by guards.
You’d be right to notice that this picture doesn’t really look like the others on this list (except perhaps for the snap of Bruce Willis and Michael Clarke Duncan). Here we have actor Ezra Miller with his bodyguard, Gu Rubee.
Gu Rubee is a flamboyant dresser and describes himself on Facebook as a “Yogi, Martial Artist, Trainer, Spiritual Advisor, Bodyguard & MUCH MORE!” Personally, we’d like to hang out with Ezra Miller and Gu Rubee—they look like they’d have a good time.
Jennifer Lawrence’s bodyguard Greg Lenz (pictured) is another person that ended up going viral. The handsome former model was snapped carrying J Law’s chihuahua, and that’s basically enough for the internet to make 1000 fan pages. Apperently Greg Lenz worked for the actress for some time, and can be spotted in the background of photos from the Hunger Games sets.
Greg Lenz isn’t the only handsome bodyguard to spotted with J Law. Justin Riblet also went viral when he was seen with the star at LAX.
Shakira knows that when it comes to keeping herself safe, there’s nothing like a big brother. That’s why, in addition to various guards, the pint-sized singer has also enlisted the help of her older half-brother, Tonino Mebarak.
While Mebarak is now based in Miami, Florida, he is often spotted next to his pop star sister. The former watch dealer has often been photographed guarding his younger sister when paparazzi or fans get too close.
Jennifer Lopez is not known for her subtlety – whether it’s her designer wardrobe or pricey jewels, the pop diva and actress knows how to travel in style. Her most important accessory?
The throng of bodyguards and assistants that seem to accompany the star wherever she goes. In September of 2021, Lopez was faced with an overly aggressive fan. While her boyfriend, Ben Affleck, was able to hold the fan off, her team of bodyguards soon stepped in to help.
Just like the pop star herself, Madonna’s bodyguards seem to make the news also. In the early 90s, the star dated James Albright, her former bodyguard.
In 2013, it was revealed that she sent her bodyguard to chaperone one of her daughter Lourdes’ dates with actor Timothée Chalamet. Given that Madonna is one of the biggest stars on the planet, it’s no surprise that she has an unusually close relationship with the people she hires to protect her.
Cheryl Cole may not be familiar to most Americans, but she is one of the biggest pop stars in the U.K. Cole is known for being a member of the band Girls Aloud, and for being a judge on the U.K. version of The X-Factor.
Cole also made headlines when it emerged that she skipped out on paying her security guard, Craig Balkam, when she starred on the American version of The X-Factor. These days, the pop princess is being protected by Irish bodyguard, Patrick O’Brien.
Even though Christina Aguilera is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, she is actually quite tiny. The singer is only slightly over five feet tall and looks even smaller when compared to her massive bodyguards.
In 2003, the “Genie in a Bottle” singer made headlines when her bodyguard was involved in a physical altercation with a paparazzi photographer in Los Angeles. These days, the singer and her bodyguards have chosen to keep a low profile.
Johnny Depp is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but lately, his personal life has been gaining more attention than his acting. The actor has frequently been in the headlines for his tumultuous relationship with ex-wife Amber Heard.
Even the actor’s bodyguards were dragged into his legal battles. The actor also made the news when in 2018, it emerged that the actor was being sued by two former bodyguards for unpaid wages and for “unsafe” working conditions.
Being a celebrity bodyguard can come with many perks including a relationship with a supermodel! In 2012, model Heidi Klum began dating her South African bodyguard Martin Kirsten.
While Kirsten had worked with the supermodel for several years, their relationship didn’t become romantic until after she separated from the singer Seal. The two dated for over a year, and it was reported that the model frequently gave the security guard money and even a house in his home country of South Africa.
Former Black Eyed Peas member and singer, Fergie, decided to turn to celebrity bodyguard Pascal Duvier for all of her security needs. The bodyguard to the stars became famous when it was reported that Kim Kardashian had fired him after her infamous Paris robbery scare.
While Duvier’s bodyguard skills weren’t enough for the reality star, Fergie seemed pleased to have the towering bodyguard around. Duvier has been spotted alongside the star as she travels the world.
Celebrity bodyguards are usually the background characters in their celebrity clients’ lives. That said, some bodyguards often get more attention than the stars they work for. Katy Perry’s bodyguard gained attention when fans began noticing his similarity to actor Hugh Jackman.
With his toned physique and brown eyes, it’s hard not to see a resemblance to the Australian actor. The still-unnamed bodyguard has attracted a following on social media and has appeared on several lists of most attractive bodyguards.
It might seem strange that someone with Jason Momoa’s build would need a bodyguard, but sometimes Hollywood can be a strange place. The Game of Thrones star was spotted with several bodyguards prompting fans to ask, “what’s the point?”
The picture of the Aquaman star, and his considerably smaller bodyguards, inspired countless memes and hilarious comments. While there must have been a reason why these bodyguards were hired, it’s still quite a funny sight to see.
Though he has passed away, Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld was often spotted with his longtime confidant and bodyguard Sébastien Jondeau. Jondeau met the designer when he was still a teenager, but quickly began working for Lagerfeld and even appearing in his fashion campaigns.
Jondeau has said that his relationship with Lagerfeld was more like a father-son bond despite being employed by him. In early 2021, the former bodyguard and personal assistant released a tell-all book about his close relationship with the late fashion designer.
Few people know that pop star Taylor Swift has had several dangerously close encounters with stalkers in the past. The singer has admitted that she even keeps an emergency kit in her house in the event that something happens to her, including military-grade bandages.
Following several events involving stalkers, the singer has often been seen with her security entourage which includes a former police officer. The singer’s bodyguards are apparently in such demand that they accompanied Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their recent trip to New York City.
Walking the red carpet can be a great way for celebrities to meet and greet their fans. Unfortunately, getting so close to the public can also become a dangerous situation if a fan decides to get a bit too aggressive or pushy.
For this reason, stars can often be seen next to a throng of security guards in order to protect them from any overzealous fans. This picture of Amy Adams’ security guard had the internet commenting on how attractive the bodyguard was, with the unnamed guard making Yahoo’s list of “Celebrities With Super Hot Bodyguards”.
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds
She might be married to The Hitman’s Bodyguard star Ryan Reynolds, but actress Blake Lively still occasionally needs the help of professional bodyguards.
Filming the teen drama, Gossip Girl, often meant spending hours on the streets of New York City where the show takes place. Lively was often seen next to her bodyguards in between takes. Despite the professional help, Reynolds still jokes that his wife would make a better bodyguard than him!
Being an in-demand model can sometimes mean needing extra protection. Model and actress Cara Delevingne must have been happy to have her security around when, in 2013, she and best friend Rihanna were attacked by a man in a London nightclub.
While the bodyguard and singer were slightly injured, things could have been far worse. These days, the model can be frequently seen shopping and clubbing, all under the close supervision of her bodyguards.
While Halle Berry wasn’t always known for having a large security entourage, having a child changed everything. Following the birth of her daughter, Nahla, Berry began receiving disturbing threats. She immediately hired bodyguards to watch over her daughter.
Those guards also came in handy when her ex and Nahla’s father, Gabriel Aubry, got into a physical altercation with her boyfriend at the time, Olivier Martinez. We’re sure the Oscar-winning actress isn’t taking chances and still keeps her bodyguards around, just in case.
Actress Scarlett Johansson might play a superhero on the big screen, but that doesn’t mean she’s above hiring professional bodyguards on occasion. The Black Widow star has often been seen hitting the red carpet with her security team in tow.
When she’s not on the red carpet, however, the actress prefers to keep a lower profile. Considering how much training she did for her role as the superhero, we think she’ll stick to protecting herself in the future.
Being one of the most well-known pop icons, the need for professional bodyguards would be obvious. Yet, to Cher, the need only arose after a particularly violent episode early in her career when a man physically assaulted her.
While her manager was finally able to pull the man off, she realized she needed bodyguards. For many years, she employed Michael Francis as her personal bodyguard. Though he was hired after the star received death threats, their relationship turned into a friendship with Francis calling her “a sister.”
He may play a super-strong and immortal vampire in the Twilight series, but even Robert Pattinson sometimes needs to hire professional bodyguards. The actor is frequently spotted next to an entourage of security guards following his meteoric rise to fame as the teen vampire, Edward Cullen.
It seemed that for many years, the actor couldn’t leave his home without being swarmed by crowds of screaming fans. While “Twilight-Mania” may have faded, the actor will probably be back in the spotlight with his upcoming role in the new Batman movie.
Popstar Billie Eilish may not seem like the type to be surrounded by an entire entourage of minders, but the singer decided to hire professional help after a particularly scary incident.
In 2019, the singer hired a bodyguard to sleep in her living room after her address was made public and several fans entered her home. Eilish has also had to have security protect her from overzealous fans at her concerts after several got a bit too rough with her.
Following her role in the Transformers films, actress Megan Fox became one of the most popular women in Hollywood. With her fame, came the need to hire professional bodyguards.
These security experts came in handy when, in 2021, a violent altercation broke out between the actress’ boyfriend Machine Gun Kelly, and UFC star Conor McGregor. For a short period of time, the actress was caught in between the two men, only to be saved when security intervened.
Having been in the spotlight since she was a child, fame is nothing new for actress-turned-singer Miley Cyrus. That said, Cyrus began beefing up her security after an overly aggressive fan tried to kiss her in 2019.
The singer continues to rely on her security personnel to protect her from crowds of unpredictable fans. One video, which recently made headlines, showed the singer and her bodyguards fighting off a crowd of fans outside of her New York City hotel.
While some celebrities have regular bodyguards, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather has his own “Money Team”. Mayweather gave his entourage the name due to the fact that they handle the large sums of cash that Mayweather frequently has on him.
Sporting “TMT” shirts, the security team is so loyal to the boxer that one even took a bullet for Mayweather in 2018. Mayweather is usually seen with anywhere from four to eight members of his TMT security detail.
Being part of one of the biggest boy bands in history can sometimes mean dealing with large crowds of adoring fans. While these fans are usually harmless, things can take a dangerous turn at any moment.
In February of 2020, the former One Direction band member was robbed at knifepoint in London. The incident left the singer shaken up, and prompted him to increase his security team with the addition of a particularly tall bodyguard – much to the internet’s delight! Countless memes and comments were made about how small Styles looked next to the bodyguard.
Fame can have many downsides including having to deal with aggressive paparazzi. These camera-wielding men and women will often provoke or harass celebrities in order to get the best shot. For actress Nicole Kidman, handling overly aggressive photographers has been part of her life since becoming famous.
After several close encounters, the Australian actress has decided to entrust her safety and the safety of her family to professional bodyguards. Kidman is often photographed close to her security team and even travels worldwide with them.
Celebrity bodyguards are trained to be able to handle some of the most extreme situations that may arise. This training was put to use when Demi Lovato’s bodyguard, Max Lea, found the singer unconscious after a bad reaction to an illicit substance.
Lea jumped into action and helped lift the singer in order to help her breathe. His heroic action is believed to have saved the pop star while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
For some celebrities, bodyguards are more than just people that provide protection, they’re practically family! When Gwen Stefani was just starting her career as a member of the band No Doubt, she became close with the band’s security guard, Curtis Garrett.
Unfortunately for Stefani and the other members of No Doubt, Garrett passed away in 2021. Fans of the band took to social media to express their sadness and send their condolences as many remember Garrett being a fixture at the band’s concerts.
Selena Gomez understands the importance of having a bodyguard nearby. After several frightening experiences including a home invasion and dealing with a stalker, the singer prefers to be safe than sorry.
The petite pop star is usually seen near her significantly larger bodyguards. Whether they’re by her side at the airport, or on the red carpet, her security team is always ready to leap into action to protect the star.
As the daughter of Stephen Baldwin, the world of celebrities and bodyguards is nothing new to Hailey Bieber. Despite being accustomed to fame, the model couldn’t imagine how much more exposure she would get when she married pop star Justin Bieber.
Since her marriage, the model has had to amp up her security after being targeted by some aggressive paparazzi. While her superstar husband is rarely seen without bodyguards, his wife has also had to follow suit.
Megan Thee Stallion
It’s rare that a celebrity’s bodyguard will become more famous than the celebrity themselves. For rapper Megan Thee Stallion, the media focus shifted to her bodyguard after it was revealed that the rapper was shot.
Fans of the artist immediately took to social media, demanding to know why bodyguard Justin Edison didn’t help Megan. Edison eventually calmed fans by reassuring them that he would always be there in the future. At 6’4, the former college football player is someone you would want by your side.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar and his bodyguard also went viral, but not for the same reasons as some others on this list. When a picture circulated of the pint sized rapper walking behind his extremely tall bodyguard, many memes were made. In particular, people compared the pair to Game of Thrones characters Bran Stark and Hodor (hilarious).
The “King Kunta” rapper is very low key and avoids being seen in public. Like The Carters, the star rarely gives interviews or appears on magazine covers.
Remember Lady Gaga’s former bodybuilder bodyguard that opened this list? Well here he is again! Dutch bodyguard Peter Van der Veen has also worked for English singer Adele. Specifically, he guarded her during the press tour for her third studio album 25, released in 2015.
As they had done before, internet fans swooned for Peter Van der Veen, complimenting his striking eyes and smart casual ensembles. It must be strange for these otherwise private men to suddenly find themselves the center of attention!
There’s something about a tiny celebrity and a large bodyguard—it just makes for a good photo. Here we have Australian popstar Kylie Minogue with one of her bodyguards. Like some other security teams on this list, Kylie’s team have been involved in some physical altercations.
Back in 2009, Kylie Minogue arrived at Los Angeles international airport to a group of paparazzi and fans. While trying to get into their vehicle, one of Kylie’s guards ended up pushing a female paparazzi. The incident ended up on TMZ.
If you’re the richest African American of the 20th century, it’s probably best you don’t go anywhere without some protection. Oprah Winfrey is always seen with security, because no one is getting close to the Queen of Media’s billions.
Like several others on this list, one of Oprah Winfrey’s bodyguards ended up having a successful acting career. Michael Jai White is a martial artist in eight different styles, and went on to become the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major movie.
Finally, we close with this rather amusing picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot and her security team. When this picture—and a similar one with Gadot’s DC co-star Jason Momoa circulated, fans commented that the stars looked like they were the bodyguards.
Really, this makes total sense, considering Jason Momoa plays Aquaman and Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman. While these bodyguards mightn’t be larger than their celebrity client, we bet they can hold their own in a scuffle.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has been thrilling crowds for 13 seasons now — with wild costumes, unforgettable lip sync battles, and funny one-liners. Even the most ardent viewers, however, might be unaware of what goes on behind the scenes…
Something you may have not known about Rupaul’s Drag Race is the fact that the queens need to actually walk the runway twice — once with music and once with the judges’ commentary over it. There have also been rumors about the challenges that take place on the main stage, in that these scenes are also shot repeatedly.
179 Drag Queens So Far
Since the show’s start in 2009, 179 contestants have competed, resulting in 13 winners. A Louisiana native, Roy Haylock — better known by the stage name, Bianca Del Rio — has been the most successful drag queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Not only has she hosted several international tours but she’s also dabbled in stand-up comedy and even published her own book entitled Blame it on Bianca Del Rio: The Expert on Nothing With an Opinion on Everything. In 2019, she was even named ‘one of the most powerful drag queens in America’ by New York magazine. Not too shabby, Bianca!
The First Trans Man
Kade Gottlieb — also known by the stage name, Gottmikk — was the first transgender man to compete in Drag Race. Described as someone transmasculine who does high femme drag by Out magazine, Gottlieb uses she/her pronouns when portraying Gottmik.
Kade is a make-up artist by trade and has worked with several celebrities including Paris Hilton, Tinashe, and Cindy Crawford. During a Halloween festival, he transformed Lil Nas X into Nicki Minaj.
Ginger Minj is not an ‘Old Lady’
Joshua Allen Eads — known by the stage name, Ginger Minj — is a drag queen, actor, comedian, singer-songwriter, and reality television personality. The Florida native is best known for placing as the runner-up on the seventh season of the reality television competition.
During her time on the show, Ginger Minj was part of is an alliance/clique called the “Bitter Old Lady Brigade.” So, it may come as a surprise to some viewers that she was actually only 29 years old when the season began.
Drama, Drama, Drama
Willam Belli, simply known as Willam, is an American drag queen, recording artist, and critically acclaimed actor. Willam rose to prominence as a contestant on the fourth season, during which he became the first person to get disqualified from the show. During a post-season interview with RuPaul, it was confirmed that Willam was removed from the show after he repeatedly met with his spouse in his hotel room, which is a breach of contract as contestants aren’t allowed to reveal their involvement with the show until the cast is announced.
However, Willam — along with our sources — contested that the details of his disqualification were fabricated by the producers. Although the details differ between accounts, it’s known that Willam had been cast in an LA-based theater production called The Jersey Shoresical. If Willam had continued his time on Drag Race, he wouldn’t have been able to appear in the musical. And so, he began committing a series of violations in order to get fired from the show.
The Youngest Contestant to Ever Compete
Alex Cubb, widely known as Scaredy Kat, is a British drag queen who competed on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. The queen, who placed ninth, was actually only 19 years old when she became a contestant on the show — making her the youngest queen to compete in a RuPaul’s Drag Race season, and second youngest in the Drag Race franchise overall.
Scaredy Kat considers herself to be a “bedroom queen,” a queen who only does drag in privacy rather than a live performer. Alex, however, spends much of his time working in comedy.
The Inevitable Album
Believe it or not but when the RPDR contestants aren’t competing in a lip-sync battle, some of them are recording songs — or, even album(s)! Season five winner Jinkx Monsoon released a debut studio album called The Inevitable Album in 2014.
Inspired by Bette Midler’s debut studio album, the tracks on the album “come across as both a homogenous and eclectic blend of music,” according to David Clarke of the theater news website, Broadway World.
It’s no secret that the Rupaul’s Drag Race grand prize has changed quite a bit throughout the years. The first season’s prizes included $20,000 courtesy of the V&S Group, top billing on Logo TV’s Drag Race Tour, an appearance in an advertising campaign for L.A. Eyeworks, a photo spread in Paper magazine, and a crown from Fierce Drag Jewels.
Today, however, contestants compete for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar”, a one-year supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics, and a cash prize of $100,000.
Rupaul’s Brick Race
Considering the number of spin-offs that came from the original RuPaul’s Drag Race reality show, we’re not at all surprised about this next fact. Thanks to the success of the franchise, LEGO even launched an ideas project at one point that was inspired by the long-running television series.
The set was supposed to include a cast of fan favorites, along with a panel of judges and more. And although we still haven’t spotted that set, we did find minifigurines versions of Mama Ru in both feminine and masculine attire.
Youngest Winners of Drag Race
When Tyra Sanchez won season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she became the youngest contestant in the show’s history to do so, at just 22 years old. It wasn’t until the 10th season in 2018 that Giovanni Palandrani — better known by the stage name, Aquaria — gave Tyra a run for her money when she was crowned the winner at the same age of 22.
So, with that, we think it’s safe to say that these ladies are tied for the youngest contestant to have won the reality competition show.
Bought During the First Pitch Meeting
All fans of RPDR know that the show premiered in 2009 but what many of you probably don’t know is that “RuPaul’s Drag Race was bought during my first pitch meeting,” according to Ru himself, which ain’t no easy feat in Hollywood!
Now, considering the success of the show — 13 seasons, a 14th season on the way, and several spin-offs — we’d say that the television producers made the right choice in trust Ru and buying the pitch.
While some people have never connected the two before, RuPaul believes that Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Sync Battle — featured on his talk show — is a ripoff of RPDR.
During a sit-down interview with Vulture, the drag queen stated that “regular, straight pop culture has liberally lifted things from gay culture as long as I can remember. And that’s fine, because guess what? We have so much more where that comes from. Take it!”
While viewers spend time every week tuning in to watch the competition series, we can bet that they have no idea how much time actually goes into the filming process. It turns out that the finale is usually filmed three separate times, with each finalist filming their winning moment.
The true winner, however, isn’t revealed until the show airs. This is done to prevent the results from being leaked to the public.
The UK Version
Jonathan Ross — an English television and radio presenter, film critic, actor, and comedian — announced in 2014 that he was developing a British version of Drag Race. While there had been attempts to sell the format in the United Kingdom in the past, Drag Race judge Michelle Visage claims that those attempts were unsuccessful because British channels considered it to be too “niche.”
And while that may have been the case for quite some time, Ross finally convinced the right people. Today, there’s already a season of the UK version and another two in the making!
Tons of Spin-Offs
If you just can’t get enough of Drag Race, don’t fret — there are tons of spin-offs to keep you entertained. The series’ companion aftershow, Untucked, airs after each new episode and frequently includes never-before-seen footage.
You can also watch Whatcha Packin’, a web series hosted by panel judge Michelle Visage in which she interviews contestants who have just been eliminated. If you’re looking for a quick recap, look no further. After each episode, The Pit Stop airs on YouTube, where former contestants discuss the most recent events of the show. Plus, there’s also RuPaul’s Drag U, RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race.
Not as Real as You Think
As fans know, the Werk Room is a room on Drag Race where contestants perform mini-challenges, and prepare for or work on main challenges and runway presentations. This also happens to be the room in which contestants create costumes, apply wigs and make-up, and prepare for the day’s main challenges.
What not many know, though, is that the bricks in this room are completely fake. In fact, those bricks are really just printed vinyl. At certain points during the show, you may even see the walls move if an object or contestant gets too close and causes an air current.
How the Queens Prepare
Speaking of the Werk Room, you can often see the queens listening to music in this room. But, it’s not just any song or tune that they’re jamming out to.
In reality, the queens are given iPods that are filled with all of the lip-sync songs that could be used. A night or two before the main stage, the contestants are told which song will actually be used. And so, the rehearsals begin!
Believe it or not, people, but there’s a reason contestants wear the same outfit during all their confessionals. From season six and on, contestants are required to wear the same outfit or two during all their confessionals, the reason being that it makes it easier to edit clips together from two different sound bites — known as “frankenbites.”
Before this rule came about, it was often evidently clear when various testimonials were spliced together, as contestants’ outfits would suddenly change even when the audio never cut out.
Throughout the show’s run, there have been some questions and theories as to whether or not RuPaul’s witty commentary is scripted — although it’s presented as off-the-cuff on air.
Season one contestant Tammie Brown even publicly slammed the host in the past, contending that all of RuPaul’s clever lines are actually fed to him through an earpiece. Hmmm, plausible but not proven. What do you RPDR fans believe?
Phi Phi’s Run-In With the Law
Phi Phi O’Hara rose to prominence and gained international attention as a runner-up on the fourth season of Rupaul’s Drag Race. She was then supposed to return to the series for the first season of All-Stars. Unfortunately, though, she couldn’t compete due to her arrest.
According to her interview with Vulture, “I got arrested for some stuff that was on my background, stuff that I didn’t take care of, so that was the reason I couldn’t do the first season — because my background check came up dirty.” Phi Phi did, however, make her comeback for season two of All-Stars!
Is RPDR Rigged?
Right, so, we’ve already covered the fact that Ru has been accused of scripting all of his witty remarks and commentary, but get this.
In 2015, a Reddit user claiming to have inside information on Drag Race attested that lip-sync battles are edited in favor of the contestants that the production team prefers, and that the order of elimination is used to create more intriguing storylines. And while we don’t have hard proof, past contestants and fans have made similar accusations in the past.
Michelle and Ru’s Friendship
RuPaul and Michelle Visage first crossed paths in ’87 or ’88, and from that point on, they knew they were destined to be close. According to Michelle herself, she “was voguing with my kids… I was the first biological female to vogue in the ballroom scene and compete.”
That’s when nightlife personality and host Susanne Bartsch noticed and asked Michelle to vogue at her parties. Naturally, Ru was working at these parties and instantly knew that Michelle would be an absolute superstar — and the rest is history!
Taped Into Their Hotel Rooms
As ridiculous as it might sound, during the production of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the contestants are essentially cut off from the outside world.
Everyone is kept in separate hotel rooms, and after the Willam debacle — in which he snuck his husband into the hotel room on multiple occasions — producers now put tape on the contestants’ hotel room doors in order to see if they’ve left their rooms or not.
The Most-Viewed Episode
Since its premiere in 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race has only gotten more popular with each episode and season. If you’re wondering what the most-viewed episode is, well, the Season 13 finale — “Henny, I Shrunk The Drag Queens!” — is the clear winner to date.
This episode, which aired on April 2nd, 2021, drew in 772,000 total viewers, making it the most-watched episode of the award-winning competition reality show since the Season 10 finale in 2018!
Who Are They Up Against?
Although there have been claims that the show is rigged or scripted, it turns out that the contestants actually have no idea who they’re up against and what other queens are competing — not until the moment they walk through the Werk Room doors.
They’re not even permitted to open the blinds in their hotel rooms in case they see another queen. What this means is that the reactions you see onscreen are completely authentic.
As we mentioned before, while filming RPDR, contestants can’t really interact with the outside world or have any contact with people that aren’t competing.
This means that those competing have to adjust to life without their phones, and pretty quickly at that, as all cellular devices — and any other internet gadgets — are strictly prohibited while on the show. These drastic measures are taken to ensure secrecy during the filming of the show. Unsurprisingly, though, there are contestants that have broken the rules.
Mimi Imfurst appeared on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars, and was a founding member of the girl group, Xelle. On December 31st, 2016, she became the first American drag queen to perform in Cuba.
An exciting moment, Mimi lip-synced to Madonna’s “Express Yourself” with a team of local dancers. Due to an embargo on American culture in Cuba, this was the first time they had ever heard the 1989 hit single — 27 years after it was first released!
There’s no denying that the queens look absolutely fabulous when they get all glammed up. According to Drag Race judge Ross Matthews, though, these incredible looks actually take hours.
RuPaul, for instance, takes six hours to get ready, although Ru admitted to the fact that he really could get it done in an hour. “But we like to take six hours. Mathu [Anderson] and I, we get back there, we start at six in the morning, we have tea, we eat, we dance…we look at the outfits, we just get into it.”
An Award-Winning Series
Since RuPaul’s Drag Race first aired, it has only grown in popularity — and it has even become an international sensation! The show has earned RuPaul five consecutive Emmys (2016 to 2020) for Outstanding Host of a Reality or Reality-Competition Program.
The show itself has been nominated for 39 Emmys, 19 of which the show won. It has also been nominated for nine Reality Television Awards, winning three. Plus, the show has won three of the six NewNowNext Awards it has been nominated for.
The Vaseline Filter
Even some of the most ardent Drag Race fans haven’t seen the first season of Drag Race — which actually might for the best. Season one had some seriously questionable production value, even though it was only eight episodes long.
It’s probably best known for its use of the “Vaseline filter,” which was applied to all of the footage and gave it a slightly blurry appearance. RuPaul has mocked the freshman season, claiming that it’s more of a pilot than a legitimate season.
A Strange Connection to Charles Manson
So, what does RuPaul’s Drag Race have in common with Charles Manson? While most of you wouldn’t even attempt to connect the two, it turns out that the show is actually filmed on a soundstage in Simi Valley — in the same area that was home to the Manson family, as well as several other notable events.
RuPaul has even acknowledged the sketchy history of the show’s setting, revealing to Vanity Fair that “we’ve come to cleanse the whole area of its checkered past.”
Have any of you RPDR fans ever wondered how the contestants know what to bring to the competition? Well, the truth is, the queens receive a lengthy list of possible themes and outfits to prepare for challenges and the runway.
Still, this list is fairly vague and doesn’t give very many specifics — plus, not all of the themes are actually used during the competition. But, at least the queens are adequately prepared for when they arrive on set.
As many of you fans know, Drag Race has featured a variety of notable celebrity guest judges, including Christina Aguilera and Nicki Minaj among many other known celebs. Minaj was an extremely memorable judge on the show, strictly based on the enthusiasm and excitement she had about being there.
Not only did the queens have to rap for her, but she also ended up freestyling for everyone. And naturally, when it came to Aguilera’s appearance on the show, the queens were pleasantly surprised because, well, it’s Christina Aguilera.
Ru’s Favorite Moment
In a sit-down interview with Vulture — “Real Talk With RuPaul” — Ru was asked what some of his favorite moments are from the show.
He recalled one in particular, revealing that “because the kids are so courageous and their stories are so rich, they bring such a unique story every single time. I always think about Roxxxy’s story when she revealed she was abandoned at a bus stop as a four-year-old. It’s usually their stories that surprise me of how resilient and strong they are.”