Two episodes into RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12, and the competition show hasn’t sent a single queen home yet. However, one queen has been disqualified from her chance at the crown. Hours before she made her debut on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12, VH1 announced contestant Sherry Pie had been DQed over disturbing catfishing allegations.
Buzzfeed reports the campy Broadway queen (28-year-old Joey Gugliemelli) has allegedly posed as a casting director named Allison Mossie to trick young men into video auditions of a sexual nature. Two days before Gugliemelli’s Drag Race debut, 25-year-old actor Ben Shimkus came forward, using Facebook to share his experience.
Shimkus and Gugliemelli met in Cortland State University’s Musical Theatre program. After Gugliemelli graduated, Shimkus believes the future Drag Race star manipulated him into sexual scenarios by pretending to be a casting director named Allison Mossie. Shimkus exchanged over 150 messages with “Mossie” about a potential play, discussing details like pay, lodging, rehearsals, etc. To secure the role, Mossie requested Shimkus send a video audition. That is pretty standard in the industry. However, what Mossie requested was not.
“I had to film scenes that felt particularly sexual and awkward,” Shimkus wrote, “but the opportunity seemed too good to let the overt sexual nature or my inhibitions get in the way. I simply told myself that my parents wouldn’t be allowed to see the show, but I wanted the professional experience and the bright and shiny object on my resume.”
Then, Mossie’s e-mails dropped off. Shimkus shared this with friends and learned others had similar experiences. Buzzfeed found five actors who believe they were catfished by Gugliemelli. 23-year-old Australian-born actor Josh Lillyman says Gugliemelli groomed him, introducing him to Mossie through e-mail then helping him prepare for the video audition for a supposed HBO project called Bulk. Gugliemelli even offered to film the audition for Lilyman to send to Mossie. According to Lillyman, that was when Gugliemelli suggested he masturbate on camera.
“I did everything he asked me to,” Lillyman told Buzzfeed, “Because at that point he had built up so much detail for the show that I was truly convinced it was real and associated with HBO. It took a lot for me to break that delusion.”
Here’s the text:
This is Joey, I want to start by saying how sorry I am that I caused such trauma and pain and how horribly embarrassed and disgusted I am with myself. I know that the pain and hurt that I have caused will never go away and I know that what I did was wrong and truly cruel. Until being on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I never really understood how much my mental health and taking care of things meant. I learned on that show how important “loving yourself” is and I don’t think I have ever loved myself. I have been seeking help and receiving treatment since coming back to NYC. I truly apologize to everyone I have hurt with my actions. I also want to say how sorry I am to my sisters of season 12 and honestly the whole network and production company. All I can do is change the behavior and that starts with me and doing that work.
Gugliemelli apologizes and appears to admit to the Mossie scam. So, what does this mean for her future on RuPaul’s Drag Race? Most of Season 12 was shot last year and it’s already airing. It’s too late to cut Sherry Pie from the cast or the show. However, ahead of the part-two of the season opener, on which Sherry Pie makes her grand entrance, the production company behind the show, World of Wonder, gave a statement to EW that made clear this queen cannot win the crown:
“In light of recent developments and Sherry Pie’s statement, Sherry Pie has been disqualified from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Out of respect for the hard work of the other queens, VH1 will air the season as planned. Sherry will not appear in the grand finale scheduled to be filmed later this spring.”
Sherry Pie will not be a part of the finale celebration, which is a big opportunity for every Ru Girl. Unclear is whether Season 12 will do a reunion ep, and if she’d be invited to that, perhaps solely to address this scandal and the hurt she’s caused. Very unlikely is that Sherry Pie will be invited back for any All-Stars or cameos. In the meantime, fans of the show are wondering if the already in-the-can season will be recut to cut down on Sherry’s camera time. The unaltered episode two had fans gagging over her appearance, and not in the good way.
Watching Drag Race knowing about Sherry Pie is like pic.twitter.com/4fu4jzbcfv— Pete☠ (@PetePilgrim) March 7, 2020
Gays should run the country. We had Sherry Pie tried and canceled in less than 48 hours but we can’t impeach a criminal president. #DragRace— Bret Gallatin (@BretG) March 7, 2020
As for Shimkus, the brave young man ended his Facebook post with this message to how he hopes Gugliemelli and the gay community can grow from this:
“I have heard rumors that Sherry does well on drag race. I’m not particularly surprised. Sherry is normally the most hilarious and creative person in the room. Sherry’s outfit construction and makeup have advanced bounds since I last worked with her. Sherry has a lot of traits that are reminiscent of the people who have done well on the show in the past.
Sherry will be a blast to watch on the show. I hope that the success she will undoubtedly have allows her to break free from using internet personas to objectifying other gay men. However, I realize the opposite is also possible. Sherry’s success will bring her more opportunities to victimize other people. What Sherry did to all of us was wrong. Although Sherry’s drag may be admired by our community, I hope that our community also recognizes the impact of giving her a bigger stage to broadcast from. I hope Allison Mossey and other tactics of sexualizing people in our community without their consent is put to an end.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs Friday nights on VH1.
Header Image Source: VH1