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Find out how 20 RuPaul’s Drag Race queens picked their drag names

Written by gaytourism

How a drag queen comes up with their name are arguably always interesting stories.

Sometimes they just pop into their mind and sometimes there’s a whole story behind it.

So we’ve rounded up a list of 20 RuPaul queens and the stories behind their names.

Hey Bristol! | Photo: courtneyact Instagram

Courtney Act

Courtney Act started drag aged 18. Her name comes from a play on the words ‘caught in the act.’

Australians like word play!

BenDeLaCreme's name comes from the phrase 'Creme De La Creme'

Backstage at @rupaulbots catching up on @thelindywest’s incredible book #shrill – so brilliant, and so funny I keep having to put it down to belly laugh. | Photo: bendelacreme Instagram


BenDeLaCreme started off with a completely different drag name. She has previously performed under the name Teena Angst.

Eventually she changed it to BenDeLaCreme.

The name combines her real name Ben and a play on the phrase ‘Creme De La Creme,’ which means best of the best.

Trixie's name originated from a slur her stepdad used to reference her

Trixie and Katya Show returns January 24th! | Photo: trixiemattel Instagram

Trixie Mattel

Trixie had a rough relationship with her step dad when she was younger. When she would dress or act effeminately, he would call her a ‘Trixie’ as an insult.

At 18 years old she had to cover for someone in her schools production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This character just happened to be a drag queen called Trixie.

And so, she began performing as a drag queen under the name Trixie. She eventually adopted the last name Mattel as an homage to barbie, who everyone likened the look of her drag persona to.

Manila's name comes from her home country

Photo: manilaluzon Instagram

Manila Luzon

Most of the drag queens Manila knew back in her home state Minnesota were either black or white.

So, she chose the name Manila to honor her Filipino heritage. Manila is the capital of the Philippines.

Her last name, Luzon, is the name of the island that Manila is on.

Raja's name came from the Aladdin character

Hippy chic | Photo: sutanamrull Instagram


Raja’s friend helped with the choosing of her drag name. The friend was working at Disneyland at the time and the Disney movie Aladdin had come out.

The tiger in the movie is called Raja. This name in Indonesia means ‘king’ and she liked the irony of a drag queen named ‘king.’ Raja was also born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Raja also liked the idea of a singular name like Madonna or Cher.

Honey Mahogany's name came from the first two Revlon foundation shades that matched her skin

#tunafishtuesday | Photo: honeymahogany Instagram

Honey Mahogany

Honey Mahogany’s name comes from the first two Revlon foundation shades she found which matched her skin tone.

Milk came up with their name at The Cheesecake Factory

‘Get your roots done!’ – Ouiser Boudreaux | Photo: bigandmilky Instagram


Milk started off using a different drag name but knew she wanted something more unique.

She was brainstorming name options with friends while at The Cheesecake Factory, a popular US restaurant.

Someone playfully suggested the name Milk, referencing her pale skin. She immediately loved it.

Milk liked that the name was one word, it wasn’t a real girl’s name and there was plenty of opportunity for puns to be made.

Miss Fame wanted a name that made an impact

Bts shoot with the divine @mikaelschulz. | Photo: missfamenyc Instagram

Miss Fame

Miss Fame set her eyes on greatness and success. So, she wanted a name to mirror that. It had to be femme and powerful. Eventually, she settled on Fame Fatale.

Then Britney Spears released her album with the similar name, Femme Fatale. So, Miss Fame changed her to name to what we know her as now.

Alaska's name is from a strand of marijuana

See you tonight Atlantic City ! | Photo: theonlyalaska5000 Instagram

Alaska Thunderfuck

Alaska was smoking marijuana with friends in college. They had been discussed different strains they had tried during a trip to Amsterdam.

One friend mentioned a strand they had tried – Alaskan Thunderfuck.

Alaska loved the name immediately and adopted it as her drag name.

Show time! | Photo: phoenix_atl Instagram


A phoenix is a mythological bird that rises from the ashes and recreates itself.

Phoenix felt this perfectly represented the type of drag she does and felt it would be the perfect name for herself.

Goodnight Durham, NC! See ya tomorrow Indianapolis!!!! | Photo: phiphiohara Instagram

PhiPhi O’Hara

PhiPhi’s original drag name was Phoenix Mathews. This was inspired by the X-Men character Phoenix and Tersa Mathews.

This name then changed to Phoenix O’Hara to honor her drag mother, Asia O’Hara.

When PhiPhi joined RuPaul’s Drag Race, there had already been a Phoenix on the show and she was asked about another nickname.

When she moved to Chicago, PhiPhi said DiDa Ritz used to call her ‘Phi Phi’ all the time. And so the feminine name stuff and PhiPhi O’Hara was born.

Christmas Queens 3 debuts tonight in NOLA.. | Photo: sharonneedlespgh Instagram

Sharon Needles

Sharon would move from city to city growing up. Every time she would change her name to something different like Penelope Pumpkin, Pixie Stix, Franky Freeclinic, Randy Retarded and Nixon Cuts.

She loved names that were a play on words. Sharon would spend evenings with her brother toying with new name options and seeing how offensive they could go.

At a new city, the new name was a toss-up between Crystal Meth and Sharon Needles. Sharon is a very boring and unglamorous name, like a mom’s name. Combined with Needles, ‘it’s funny and has a ring to it.’

So, Sharon Needles won.

Thank you for a great night New Orleans!!! #christmasqueens official tour. #jigglycaliente . See you soon Honolulu!!! | Photo: jigglycalienteofficial Instagram

Jiggly Caliente

Jiggly’s original drag name was Victoria, because she loved Victoria Beckham.

Another drag queen suggested she change the name to something more memorable. Jiggly Puff was suggested, as she was cute and round, similar to the Pokémon character.

They decided to change the name to make it suit her more. They changed the last work to ‘Caliente’ for hot in Spanish instead.

Having a blast on #christmasqueens tour! | Photo: gingerminj Instagram

Ginger Minj

Ginger needed to raise money for her very first pageant. Her boss at Sleuths Mystery Dinner offered to sponsor her, but she had to use the name Ginger Minj as a nod to the company.

Sleuths Mystery Dinner is a restaurant where audiences enjoy dinner while watching and interacting with actors from a live show.

In Sleuth’s legend, an actor playing old Scottish character Simon from the show Squires Inn went out to mingle with the crowd before the show.

He went up to a red-headed woman and yelled to a co-actor ‘Hey Nigel, do you think that one’s got a ginger minge?’

The woman he was referencing knew that ‘minge’ was British slang for vagina. So, she punched him in front of the entire audience.

My @trinitythetuck pose……. (minus the nose job) 💕💕💕😂 HERE WE GO BRAZIL! | Photo: thebiancadelrio Instagram

Bianca Del Rio

Bianco had only just started doing drag. She was in a bar drunk with a friend when they were discussing her name.

Her friend said Bianca reminded her of a friend, called Bianca. The last name ‘Del Rio’ was suggested and Bianca liked it immediately. She felt it fit her well because she is Latino.

Here we go #FargoPride!!!! | Photo: theonlydetox Instagram


Detox originally began as Dita, because she loved Madonna’s Erotica phase and her alter ego Mistress Dita.

But then Detox would regularly get drunk in clubs and her friends would call her Detox because she was always on a detox.

And so, her name was born.

Beyond obsessed with @sugarpill’s Little Twin Star collaboration with @sanrio! The shadows and lipsticks are seriously so fun, colorful and pigmented! | Photo: kimchi_chic Instagram

Kim Chi

Kimchi is a Korean dish. The dish consists of fermented vegetables, usually cabbage.

Kim Chi adopted the name to honor her Asian heritage.

Feeling like a woman™ tonight | Photo: farrahrized Instagram

Farrah Moan

Farrah Moan comes from a play on the word ‘pheromone.’

Inspiration for the use of ‘Farrah’ also came from actress Farrah Fawcett.

I call this look “smoldering temptress” Or “I just sat in something wet” | Photo: pandoraboxx Instagram

Pandora Boxx

Like many of us, Pandora finds Greek mythology extremely interesting.

She took her name from the tale of Pandora. She was the first woman created and opened a forbidden box, which let evil out into the world. The extra ‘x’ on Boxx is for added ‘X Factor.’

Her drag middle name is Olivia in honor of Olivia Newton-John making her initials P.O. Boxx.

Ready for Monterrey, Mexico tonite! | Photo: itsshangela Instagram


Shangela’s name actually came from an angry phone call her friend Brad had.

He worked in telemarketing. He really struggled with one caller’s name.

In rage, she shouted down the phone ‘Let me tell you something, my name is Shangela Laquifa Wadley and don’t you forget it!’

… And Shangela was born.

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