A contestant from the 12th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has been disqualified after being accused of catfishing.
Drag queen Sherry Pie, whose real name is Joey Gugliemelli, made his debut on the reality TV show in the second part of the current season’s premiere, however he will not be allowed to appear in the grand finale, which is yet to be filmed.
The disqualification comes after at least five men accused Gugliemelli of catfishing them. The drag queen is said to have deceived his former university classmates at SUNY Cortland in New York, as well as actors he worked with in a Nebraska theatre company, by posing as a casting director.
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One of the alleged victims, 26-year-old David Newman, spoke to Buzzfeed News about Gugliemelli, claiming he filmed scenes for the drag queen in 2015 wearing a tank top and shorts for a fake musical version of A Nightmare Before Christmas that he was told Tim Burton was affiliated with.
I just felt really stupid. I felt really dumb.
Everyone does bad stuff, but he never apologized. He has a national audience watching him now and people have to know what he did. He did it to a lot of people.
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Another man said he had agreed to masturbate on camera as part of an audition process after being tricked by Gugliemelli.
After the allegations about Gugliemelli were published online, the reality TV contestant took to Facebook to issue a statement apologising to those he had hurt, and to the cast and crew of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
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On Thursday, March 5, he wrote:
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.
Following the release of Gugliemelli’s statement, TV network VH1 and production company World of Wonder announced it was axing the contestant from the show.
The companies released a statement on Friday, reading:
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.
The allegations against Gugliemelli first surfaced on Thursday after a man named Ben Shimkus posted a lengthy Facebook status describing how he was asked to film scenes that were ‘particularly sexual and awkward’ for an audition for a woman named Allison Mossey, who it later turned out wasn’t real.
Shimkus claimed Mossey appeared to be closely affiliated with Gugliemelli, writing: ‘Wherever Sherry seemed to go, Allison would follow. Since being open about my experience, six people have corroborated stories with me.’
I hope that Sherry has learned that Allison is not a persona that she can hide behind if she wants to objectify other gay men.
Shimkus has since told BuzzFeed News he was glad to hear of Gugliemelli’s disqualification from Drag Race, explaining he hoped it would ‘aid [the victims’] healing process’.
In his Facebook post, Gugliemelli made clear he is seeking help and looking to take care of his mental health.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.