Drag entertainer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alumnus Shangela made history Monday night on the popular competition show “Dancing With the Stars.”
During the show’s 31st season premiere, Shangela, whose real name is DJ Pierce, became the first drag queen to compete in the US version of the international franchise.
“My heart was pounding like crazy, but when the announcer started the intro, my mind completely went into Beyoncé in Super Bowl mode,” Pierce wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “I wanted to give you a moment worthy of all your love and support, as well as show people who might not be familiar with or love drag queens that we belong, and we know how to run the party! Keep cheering, watching and voting because hopefully we’re all in this together until the finals!”
Pierce and his dance partner, Russian-American dancer and choreographer Gleb Savchenko, received a standing ovation after their dazzling salsa performance on the Pussycat Dolls song “When I Grow Up.” The duo earned sevens from all four judges, the fourth highest score of the 16 dance partners who performed.
“We’ve never had anyone like Shangela,” Savchenko, who has been on the show since season 16, said in a statement. interview with E! News. “So it’s going to be extra, extra, extra special.”
Savchenko and Pierce — who act as Shangela but identify as male and use pronouns — also make history as the first male couple to join the US franchise, which will now stream live Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Disney+.
The international franchise “Dancing With the Stars” is no stranger to bending gender norms. Last season, dancer and pop star JoJo Siwa made history as the first contestant in 30 seasons of the American show to compete with a same-sex person. And in 2018, gay fashion designer Giovanni Ciacci and his dance partner, Raimondo Todaro, made history with the Italian version of “Dancing With the Stars” as the first male couple to compete regularly throughout the season.
The new season of the American show premiered Monday as a full two-hour program featuring performances by 16 couples, judged by four renowned ballroom experts and presented by Tyra Banks and Alfonso Ribeiro. Dancers can earn up to 40 points from the combined judges’ scores. Those points are combined with viewer votes to determine who stays on the show and who gets eliminated.