Major spoilers for the April 21 episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” is known as much for its twists as it is for showing off the intricacies of drag, so the fact that there was an elimination twist on Friday night’s episode isn’t a shock. It’s the content of it, though, that made it one of the saddest twists in the show’s her-story.
Instead of either of the two bottom queens having to sashay away, host RuPaul Charles called up contestant Eureka O’Hara — the southern belle from Tennessee — and said she would have to go home.
It wasn’t an easy decision. For the first time on “Drag Race,” a queen would have to go home for medical reasons.
“When she called my name I was like ‘Oh, God.’ You never know the twist,” Eureka, who’s real name is David Huggard, said in a phone interview with TheWrap.
After a lip-syncing challenge that had the queens act out a Kardashian-themed musical, contestants Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Farrah Moan ended up in the bottom two and lip-synced for their lives (the challenge that helps RuPaul decide who’s going home) in a duel too close to call from an audience standpoint.
As the two stood at the front of the stage waiting to see who would be eliminated, a producer approached host RuPaul and the famous drag queen left for a moment. Confusion swept the faces of the other judges, along with the two queens who were left on stage to find out their fates.
RuPaul came back with a somber look on their face and called Eureka — who was safe after the challenge — to the front of the stage. RuPaul had made a decision and Eureka would have to go home, despite deciding she was going to push through despite her injury.
Eureka hurt her knee in episode two during the physical cheerleading challenge. She described it as hearing her knee pop, but she continued anyway. The audience didn’t hear a follow-up until this week, when we saw the contestant hobbling around on crutches.
“I wasn’t going to let my body give in on me. I was going to fight for it,” she said.
Her knee continued to bother her, so sometime during the filming of the episode that aired this week — she couldn’t stand or rehearse dance moves with the other contestants — she saw a doctor and got an MRI. The results came in during deliberation, and not even Eureka knew what would happen.
“She calls me up and then once she calls me up she explains she spoke to the doctor about my knee,” Eureka said. “I had torn my ACL completely and the only way to fix it was with immediate surgery.”
Eureka was unsure about her status throughout the episode, but when she was safe after the challenge, she assumed the show would let her continue despite her injury.
“You wouldn’t have made this decision on your own, so we had to make it for you,” the director said, according to Eureka.
Eureka had the immediate surgery, but couldn’t work for four or five months. She’s on the path to recovery and started traveling again when the contestants for Season 9 were announced.
“I felt very defeated it and it made me very depressed,” she said.
However, she explained that the love from the other contestants and from the crew kept her going.
“I’m on a path that only I’m on to discover, and I have to respect these opportunities and God’s plan.”
As she left the show, RuPaul extended an invitation: if she was well enough, she could come back for Season 10. Eureka is hoping she’s cleared to compete. She’s still in physical therapy, but has plenty of looks to show off, including a gown with a hoop skirt that would pay tribute to her namesake, Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind.”
“I’m having great experiences with the show, so I’m looking forward to competing again,” she said of her potential return. “I love the industry. It feels like home to me. I felt like that’s where I belonged… I don’t know how to describe it. I felt high.”