RuPaul’s Drag Race has left one of its season 12 contestants in the dust over a major controversy!
Contestant Sherry Pie (real name Joey Gugliemelli) has been axed from the reality competition series after facing multiple catfishing claims that Joey eventually admitted to and apologized for in a statement.
According to BuzzFeed News, at least five aspiring young actors say Gugliemelli catfished them over several years over email, pretending to be a casting director who coerced them into submitting audition tapes of themselves doing degrading and embarrassing things.
The drag performer is accused of deceiving his former classmates at SUNY Cortland in New York, as well as actors he worked with in a Nebraska theater company. One of the young men said he even agreed to masturbate for Gugliemelli on camera as part of the “audition process”!
The scandal broke after actor Ben Shimkus shared a Facebook post detailing his experiences with Gugliemelli. Speaking to the outlet, the 25-year-old said that in 2015 he was referred to Allison Mossie, who was said to be casting for a new play at the prestigious Playwrights Horizons in New York City, by another Cortland student who had been referred to her for a role in the supposed musical of A Nightmare Before Christmas by Gugliemelli.
Over the course of their email conversation, Shimkus was repeatedly assured producers were interested in him and that he would be paid $900 per week and put up in housing in New York City if he landed the part. He was encouraged to send in videos of himself reading excerpts from a script, pretending to take steroids, and speak of enjoying the smell of his sweaty armpits.
Eventually, the communication stopped. Shimkus called Playwrights Horizons and asked for Allison Mossie — only to be told that no one by that name had ever worked there. He said he came forward with his claims after discovering that Gugliemelli was on the new season of Drag Race.
David Newman told the outlet he filmed scenes in 2015 wearing a tank top and shorts for Gugliemelli for a fake musical version of A Nightmare Before Christmas that he was told Tim Burton was affiliated with. He said:
“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.”
On Thursday evening, Gugliemelli took to Facebook to admit the accusations were true, writing:
“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.”
VH1 responded to the drama on Friday, announcing that Gugliemelli had been disqualified from the current 12th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A rep said:
“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.”
Bye, Sherry Pie!
[Image via VH1]