BeBe Zahara Benet still gets a familiar nickname wherever she goes. Just a few days ago, the drag queen and inaugural winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race was at the airport when she heard it again, bellowed from across the room.

“I was going to catch my connecting flight and somebody just screams ‘Cameroon!’ ” she tells Vanity Fair with a laugh. “It’s almost like they don’t even know my name anymore.”

Benet (real name: Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa) was born and raised in Cameroon. Her home country quickly became something of a title for her during the show’s first season, back in 2009. The series would soon become a reality-TV phenomenon, one that has brought drag culture to the mainstream and catapulted the careers of 100 drag queens. Its ninth season premiere is set to air this Friday, with an apex guest appearance from Lady Gaga.

Read the rest of the Vanity Fair feature here.

Photo: Idris+Tony


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