BeBe Zahara Benet

Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa (born March 20, 1981) better known by his stage name BeBe Zahara Benet,[1] is a Cameroonian-American drag performer, television personality, and musician best known for winning the first season of the reality-television drag competition RuPaul's Drag Race in 2009. In 2018, he returned as a surprise contestant for the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, placing in the top four.

Bebe Zahara Benet
Bebe Zahara Benet at NUBIA 2020.jpg
Benet at NUBIA NYC in 2020
Born
Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa

(1981-03-20) March 20, 1981 (age 39)
Occupation
Years activec. 2001-present
Known forRuPaul's Drag Race (season 1) winner and RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars contestant
SuccessorTyra Sanchez

As of 2019, he stars in the TLC transformational makeover television series Dragnificent, as the event planning expert.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Benet was born and raised in Cameroon.[3] His family later moved to France where Benet lived until he settled in Minneapolis to complete his college studies and to be closer to family.[4][5]

CareerEdit

Benet's first experience with drag was at a Paris fashion show, where he was asked to put on a dress to walk the runway as a female as a last-minute replacement for an absent model.[6] His first drag performance was alongside Cyndi Lauper in The Gay 90s bar after moving to Minneapolis in 2000.[7][8]

RuPaul's Drag Race and other televisionEdit

In early 2009, Kudi Nwga, after a suggestion from RuPaul herself after seeing him perform to Circle of Life at Minneapolis Pride, auditioned for the first season of Logo's reality-TV drag-queen competition RuPaul's Drag Race.[9] She eventually became one of nine queens cast in the season,[10] having been selected out of thousands of applicants.[8] He was the inaugural winner of the series, having won two challenges during the competition. Bebe's win would inspire many soon-to-be drag queens to pursue the art of drag, including eventual Drag Race season 8 winner Bob The Drag Queen.[11]

A lot of drag artists do exactly what — or even more than what — mainstream artists do. What we do in terms of our transformation, our music, our comedy, it's just legit artistry

—Kudi Nwga, in a 2018 interview[8]

In 2011, Benet appeared in two episodes of RuPaul's Drag U, serving as a "drag professor".[12]

Benet was revealed as the surprise 10th contestant on the third season premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars.[13], becoming the first-ever winner in the show's history to return for an All-Stars season. He reached the season finale, having won two challenges, but was not chosen to advance to the final two by a jury of previously eliminated queens and subsequently finished in joint third place with Shangela.

Benet appeared with Jujubee, Thorgy Thor, and Alexis Michelle in the TLC television special Drag Me Down the Aisle which aired on March 9, 2019, and was later picked up as a series and re-titled Dragnificent.[2]

MusicEdit

Benet's first dance single, "I'm the Sh*t", has been remixed by Felix Baumgartner, Ralphi Rosario and Mark Picchiotti.[14] He released his second single, "Cameroon" in July 2010. Benet made a cameo appearance in the music video for Erasure's re-release of their song A Little Respect, in December 2010 (which was a fundraiser for students of the Harvey Milk Institute in San Francisco).[15] He released his third single "Dirty Drums" on April 17, 2012 via iTunes.[16] His fourth single, "Face," was released on March 3, 2014.

Benet recorded a cover of "Little Drummer Boy" for the Drag Race Christmas Queens 4 album.[17]

Other ventures and toursEdit

In November 2017, Kudi Nwga was a featured performer in Queens United, a benefit show created by Phi Phi O'Hara in an effort to raise money to people affected by Hurricane Maria.[18] In 2018, Kudi Nwga created "Roar", a monthly show featuring interacting dancing.[8]

In 2020, they co-created, produced, and headlined the Nubia tour, a live Drag Show celebrating Black drag queens through original music, group choreography, video installations, live vocals, lip syncs, and narrative-driven performance art. On opening night, Vulture.com praised the cast, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum; Bob The Drag Queen, Peppermint, Shea Couleé, The Vixen, and Monique Heart, noting the “touching sincerity” and “joyous” celebration of black culture featured in the show.

The tour began its run with sold-out shows in New York City, and has plans to visit Los Angeles, as well as other major cities across the United States.[19][20][21]

Personal lifeEdit

Kudi Nwga doesn't consider himself a drag queen, and prefers to be called a "drag artist" or "drag performer".[8]

He has named Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, and Alphadi as personal fashion icons.[22]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2020 Nubia: Amplified Themself OutTV original
TBA Being Bebe Themself Documentary about Bebe's life

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
2009 RuPaul's Drag Race Themself Contestant (Winner) [10]
2011 RuPaul's Drag U Themself [12]
2018 RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars Themself Contestant (3rd/4th place) [13]
2019 Vice Live Themself Guest [23]
2019–present Dragnificent Themself Also known as Drag Me Down the Aisle [2]
2019 The Rachel Ray Show Themself Guest [24]
2020 Infinity Train Sashay Episode: "The Parasite Car" [25]

Web seriesEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2014 WOW Shopping Network Themself Guest [26]
2014 Transformations Themself Guest [27]
2015 Drag Queens React Themself Guest [28]
2018 Whatcha Packin' Themself Guest [29]
2018 Hey Qween Themself Guest [30]
2019 Follow Me Themself Episode: "Pangina Heals" [31]
2020 Bobbin' Around Themself Episode: "Nubia" [32]

Music VideosEdit

Year Title Artist Ref.
2009 "Cover Girl" RuPaul ft. Bebe Zahara Benet
2009 "I'm The Shit" Themself
2010 "A Little Respect" (HMI Redux) Erasure [33]
2010 "Cameroon" Themself
2014 "Face" Themself
2017 "Fun Tonite" Themself
2018 "Jungle Kitty" Themself [34]
2018 "Jolene" Dolly Parton [35]
2018 "Little Drummer Boy" Themself [17]
2020 "Banjo" Themself [36]
2020 "Body on Me" Themself [37]

DiscographyEdit

Extended playsEdit

Title Details
Kisses & Feathers
  • Release date: November 17, 2017
  • Label: Savannah Street Music
  • Formats: Digital download
Broken English[38]

SinglesEdit

As lead artistEdit

Title Year Album
"I'm The Shit" 2009 I'm The Shit
"Cameroon" 2010 Cameroon
"Dirty Drums" 2012 Non-album single
"Face" 2014 Face
"Get Fierce (Lose Yourself)" 2017 Kisses & Feathers
"Fun Tonite"
"Starting A Fire"
"Dirty Drums/Cameroon (All Stars Mix)" 2018 Non-album singles
"Jungle Kitty"
"Little Drummer Boy" Christmas Queens 4
"Banjo" 2020 Broken English

Featured singlesEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US Elec.
[39]
"CoverGirl (Remix)"
(RuPaul featuring BeBe Zahara Benet, Nina Flowers, & Rebecca Glasscock)
2009 Non-Album Single
"Drag Up Your Life"
(RuPaul featuring Trixie Mattel, Kennedy Davenport, BenDeLaCreme, Shangela, & BeBe Zahara Benet)
2018
"Kitty Girl (All Stars Version)"
(RuPaul featuring Kennedy Davenport, Shangela, BeBe Zahara Benet, & Trixie Mattel)
18

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Giving Body Category Work Results Ref.
2020 WOWIE Awards Outstanding Music Video "Banjo" Pending [40]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Desta, Yohana. "Catching Up with BeBe Zahara Benet, the Very First Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race". HWD. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  2. ^ a b c "'Drag Me Down The Aisle' Is The New Drag Queen Wedding Show We All Need". Scary Mommy. Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  3. ^ Peloquin, Jahna (February 2018). "RuPaul's Drag Race's BeBe Zahara Benet Talks About Her Style Evolution". Minnesota Monthly. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  4. ^ "How Bebe Zahara Benet starred not one but twice on 'Drag Race'". Queerty. 2018-05-15. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  5. ^ Juergens, Brian (2009-03-25). "Interview with the next drag superstar BeBe Zahara Benet". AfterElton.com. Archived from the original on 2009-04-30. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  6. ^ "Absolut Dirty Martini - BeBe Zahara Bennet". Logo TV. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  7. ^ "RuPaul's Drag Race's BeBe Zahara Benet Talks About Her Style Evolution". Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  8. ^ a b c d e Nesterak, Max (March 30, 2018). "From Cameroon to Mpls. to international drag star: BeBe Zahara Benet serves face". MPR News. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  9. ^ Katz, Evan (August 14, 2019). "Revisiting RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1, The 'Lost Season'". Paper Magazine. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Sabancontact, Stephen (March 31, 2009). "Let the Prizes Begin!". World of Wonder. Archived from the original on 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  11. ^ Desta, Yohana (March 23, 2017). "Catching Up with BeBe Zahara Benet, the Very First Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Fernandez, Maria (2010-02-26). "'RuPaul's Drag Race' spinoff: Class is in session". LATimesBlogs. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  13. ^ a b Koch, Drew (2018-01-25). "Bebe Is The 10th Queen On 'RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3' & The Other Queens Should Be Shaking In Their Stilettos". Bustle.com. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  14. ^ "Bebe Zahara Benet - I'm The Sh*t (Incl. Felix Baumgartner & Ralphi Rosario Mixes)". Traxsource.com. Archived from the original on 2010-08-22. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
  15. ^ "Gay Iconography: 'A Little Respect' For Erasure's Andy Bell - Towleroad". Towleroad. 2014-01-31. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ a b Grant, David (2018-12-13). "WATCH: BeBe Zahara Benet's 'Little Drummer Boy' is the only version that's necessary now". queerty. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  18. ^ Armbruster, Jessica (October 5, 2017). "Flip Phone and Phi Phi O'Hara team up for a Puerto Rico benefit loaded with 'RuPaul's Drag Race' alumni". City Pages. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  19. ^ Street, Mikelle (January 29, 2020). "Peppermint, Bob the Drag Queen, Shea Coulee Announce New Show". Out.com. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  20. ^ McDonald, Soraya (March 5, 2020). "'Nubia' revels in the richness of black drag". TheUndefeated.com. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  21. ^ Lindsay, Benjamin (March 9, 2020). "Nubia Proclaims 'Black Queens Matter' in Drag Race and Beyond". Vulture.com. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Peloquin, Jahna (February 1, 2018). "RuPaul's Drag Race's BeBe Zahara Benet Talks About Her Style Evolution". Minnesota Monthly. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  23. ^ STAFF, Vice (2019-03-07). "'VICE LIVE' Meets Drag Queens BeBe Zahara Benet and Alexis Michelle". Vice.com. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  24. ^ Soren, Tracy (2019-06-21). "A Drag Queen's Guide To Getting Fuller, Luscious Lips With Makeup In Minutes". RachelRayShow.com. Retrieved 2019-12-03.
  25. ^ Cao, Caroline (2020-01-17). "'Infinity Train' Season 2 Review: A Delightful Blend of Science Fiction and Whimsy". SlashFilm.com. Retrieved 2020-01-19.
  26. ^ BeBe Zahara Benet on WOW Shopping Network. YouTube. April 18, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  27. ^ James St. James and BeBe Zahara Benet: Transformations. YouTube. April 22, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  28. ^ Part 3 | Drag Queens Reading Mean Comments w/ Jinkx, Bebe, Raja, Raven, Chad, Tyra, Sharon, Violet. YouTube. August 25, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  29. ^ Whatcha Packin: BeBe Zahara Benet | Season 3 Episode 8 | RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars. YouTube. March 19, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  30. ^ Hey Qween with Bebe Zahara Benet, Jonny McGovern, & Lady Red Couture at DragCon LA 2018. WOWPresents. June 18, 2018. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  31. ^ FOLLOW ME: Pangina Heals. YouTube. May 20, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  32. ^ Bobbin' Around!-Nubia. YouTube. March 8, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  33. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle (2019-05-03). "How RuPaul's Drag Race Queens Became the Hottest Music Video Accessory". WMagazine.com. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  34. ^ Damshenas, Sam (May 29, 2018). "Bebe Zahara Benet revives Jungle Kitty for her gag-worthy new video". GayTimes.com. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  35. ^ Freeman, Jon (December 12, 2018). "Watch 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Stars Perform Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  36. ^ Samanga, Rufaro (April 2, 2020). "Watch Cameroonian Drag Artist Bebe Zahara Benet's New Music Video for 'Banjo'". Okayafrica.com. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  37. ^ Daw, Stephen (April 24, 2020). "First Out: New Music From Mxmtoon, Billy Porter, Shea Diamond & More". Billboard. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  38. ^ Samanga, Rufaro (April 24, 2020). "Listen to BeBe Zahara Benet's New EP 'Broken English'". Okayafrica.com. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  39. ^ "RuPaul Chart History – Hot Dance/Electronic Songs". Billboard. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  40. ^ Niemetz, Spencer (November 9, 2020). "World of Wonder's 2020 WOWIE Awards: Cast Your Votes Now!". Worldofwonder.net. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.

External linksEdit