RuPaul’s Drag Race star Pearl sparks outrage from fellow queens after dressing in blackface

Drag Race stars The Vixen and Silky Nutmeg Ganache have lambasted season seven finalist Pearl for posting a series of photos using blackface.

Caucasian Drag Race runner-up Pearl Liaison, whose real name is Matthew James Lent, has added yet another controversy to her list since first appearing on the drag reality competition series in 2015.

On Thursday (10 August), the queen sparked a backlash for sharing now-deleted photos of herself with skin darkened by brown foundation, inflated lips and long press-on nails. The look was completed with a hot-pink top, colourful tie-dye shorts and the caption: “Skipper’s all grown up now.”

Among the critics was Drag Race season 10 star, The Vixen, who tweeted her “private hurt” at Pearl’s behaviour.

“When people carelessly play with blackface, the public outrage overshadows the private hurt that we go through. These daily reminders that this world isn’t safe, welcoming or sensitive to our feelings is overwhelming,” she wrote.

White people paint their skin the shade of people who have to defend their skin shade and their surprised they have to defend their choice

— The Vixen (@TheVixensworld) August 10, 2023

Season 11 queen Ganache reposted the controversial photo, saying: “RuPaul should’ve just talked to her off camera ’cause now she mocking Ru in her younger years.”

Ganache was referring to an incident between Pearl and RuPaul in the werk room during season seven filming where the Drag Race judge told the contestant: “Nothing you say matters unless that camera is rolling.” Pearl has not been invited back for an All Stars season.

On Thursday, Pearl posted a statement to her Instagram story explaining that the character was “not meant to resemble any background other than my own”.

She added: “She’s platinum blonde/blue eyes & meant to have 2000’s Britney-esque tan. I certainly didn’t mean to hurt anyone and will refrain from using any kind of tan at all when creating characters in the future. I’ve removed the post [so] as to not continue to offend people.”

Pearl’s official Instagram story statement. (Instagram/@pearlliasion)

However, fans across social media have shared their dismay at her behaviour and lack of awareness.

So, y’all just gonna stay silent while Pearl from RuPaul’s Drag Race posts photos of themself in Blackface, all the while other non-Black queens were hyping it up like it wasn’t clearly blackface?

Where’s my damn folding chair!?

— Raffy Regulus #NYCGaymers (@raffyregulus) August 10, 2023

Okay let’s run with what Pearl said about this not being blackface but rather it’s meant to just be a woman with a bad tan. I think white people need to be more conscious of how things like this come off regardless of intent

— EssenceofDrag (@EssenceofDrag) August 10, 2023

This is absolutely racist. I’ve never been a Pearl fan (never understood the appeal of her on Drag Race, but could respect those that did). Any shred of respect I have from her is GONE.

— Beth (@AugustaWind11) August 10, 2023

It’s not the first time a Drag Race star has come under fire for blackface.

In 2021, Scarlet Adams was held to account by Mama Ru herself after Aboriginal drag queen Felicia Foxx unearthed historic photos of the Drag Race Down Under contestant wearing culturally inappropriate costumes.

Adams made an apology, calling herself a “a dumb, ignorant teenager” who “regrets those decisions”.

And last year, Canada’s Drag Race contestant Rita Baga had to apologise for after claims resurfaced that she did blackface as Amber Riley from Glee.

Other Drag Race contestants who have faced similar criticism include Icesis Couture, Charlie Hides, Brooke Lynn Hytes and Karen from Finance.

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