December 08, 2023
Philadelphians will be cheering in front of their television screens for someone other than Jalen Hurts or Joel Embiid come January. Joining the cast of the 16th season of reality competition show "RuPaul's Drag Race" is Sapphira Cristál, a Philly-based performer with an impressive resume.
MTV released the full line-up of contestants for the popular program this week, along with short bios for each competitor. Sapphira Cristál's blurb proclaims her to be "Philadelphia's crown jewel" and mentions her six-octave vocal range and extensive education in opera and music composition.
According to Cristál's official website, she has taught master classes about drag makeup and performance at Emerson College in Boston, along with classes at the Philadelphia Burlesque Academy and other dance studios. She was also a headlining artist at this year's Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
In her "Meet the Queens" segment promoting the next season's "Drag Race" contestants, Cristál expanded on her background. "I do drag because it was the only area where I could do every single thing that I'm good at," Cristál said. "I can sing, act, dance, I'm funny, and I'm good at being an overall eleganza."
Cristál also revealed that her drag name is a combination of her birthstone and one of her favorite champagnes. She auditioned for "Drag Race" 11 times before finally winning a spot on the show, and she has won 16 pageants in her drag career, one being the annual Miss'd America pageant held in Atlantic City.
Cristál isn't the first Philly drag queen to appear on "Drag Race." Season 11 contestant Honey Davenport is originally from West Philly, although they only lasted in the competition until the third episode. Outside of "RuPaul's Drag Race," Philadelphia recently had representation in another drag competition show.
Local drag queen Onyx Ondyx competed in the fifth season of "Dragula," a competition show that streams on Shudder and offers a more macabre take on the "Drag Race" formula. Unfortunately for her fans, she was eliminated from the show in the second episode, which streamed last month.
In the meantime, "Drag Race" fans are already expressing excitement online for Sapphira Cristál's upcoming appearance. Cristál will grace television screens on "RuPaul's Drag Race" when its 16th season begins on Friday, Jan. 5.