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'Painted with Raven' promises 'just as much drama' as 'Drag Race'

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'Painted with Raven' promises 'just as much drama' as 'Drag Race'
Raven, the "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 2 runner-up and RuPaul's personal make-up artist since Season 9, said it "felt like the right time" for her to host her own show, "Painted with Raven." Photo courtesy of World of Wonder

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Raven, the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 2 runner-up and RuPaul's makeup artist, is sashaying into her own series, Painted with Raven, and the drag performer promised the show will have "just as much drama," despite its virtual format.

Raven, real name David Petruschin, 42, took home an Emmy in 2020 for her work as RuPaul's makeup artist, a position she has held since Season 9, and she said the win was part of what inspired her to go forward with her own series.

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"This being with World of Wonder, Ru being executive producer, coming off an Emmy win, this was like, 'this sounds good, it sounds right, this is right where I should be,'" Raven told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

Raven said she previously has been offered hosting positions and other starring opportunities by various networks and streaming services, but none of them felt quite right.

"I think it's good to sometimes just sit back and go, 'Let me just wait this one out,'" she said. "So this felt like the right time."

Raven said there was one other obstacle: "I didn't really want to host something, I just wanted to kind of pop in and say 'Hey, I'm here!'"

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Painted with Raven offers the perfect medium, Raven said, with the contestants being present virtually, rather than in person. Still, Raven was initially skeptical of the COVID-19-inspired virtual format when it was first discussed.

"When they said, 'We want to do this show, but we're going to do it all through basically a Zoom call.' I said, 'You guys are nuts, this sounds crazy.' ... Then as it unfolded and we talked about it more. I said, 'I actually really love this idea, and I think it is a lot of fun.'"

Raven said the more she considered the concept, the more it made sense for a makeup-based reality competition show.

"What are most people doing? They're staying at home," Raven said. "But even before that, [make-up artists] were at home creating content for Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube -- and a lot of people are consumers of beauty and makeup."

She said the show's format is unlikely to switch from virtual to in-person for future seasons, even once the pandemic has passed.

"I think that helps keep it its own thing, it's own different type of competition," Raven said. "Plus, it wouldn't be fair to the first season, saying 'OK, so we're no longer going to be doing this virtually, we're going to be in a studio.'"

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Drama

Raven said fans who tune in to reality competition shows for the interpersonal drama shouldn't be worried that Painted with Raven's virtual format will stifle any egos.

"There is still drama. When you're in a group, whether it be Zoom or in a physical meeting, there's always going to be a difference of opinion or banter," she said.

Raven said drama becomes all but inevitable when you gather a group of people who are all under the impression that they deserve to win.

"When the chips start to fall the way they do -- or the cookie crumbles, as they say -- you start to see, slowly, people's emotions, and sometimes it gets the better of them," she said.

"I know it's happened for me, and I've seen it happen to plenty of other people. There's still just as much drama. It's just that there's no likelihood of it becoming a physical altercation."

Raven said the electronic barriers between them do seem to make some of the competitors "a little less inhibited."

"A lot of people do get online, and their bravado is 110%, and people do and feel and say things in a different way when they're at a keyboard than they do when they're in person," Raven said, clarifying that the competitors "didn't take it to a place where you disliked them or thought, 'Oh, gosh, I hope they get eliminated.'"

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Like any competition show, Raven said, "there are people who you're rooting for, and people who you're kind of going, 'Eh, I don't know about that.'"

Celebrity judges

The first season of Painted with Raven features a revolving door of celebrity guest judges -- but their identities are being kept secret.

Raven said each judge was selected carefully for a specific episode.

"I really wanted to make sure the guest judges spoke the language of makeup, but also the challenge at hand. Where it wasn't just someone coming in and going, 'Well, I'm here to talk about this, but I don't know what I'm talking about," Raven said.

The judges for Season 1 exceeded expectations, she said.

"There was no one that I thought, 'Gosh, I wish you could just give a little more input. I wish you would say more,'" she said.

"Sometimes, you see guest judges on shows and you think, 'Why are they there?' But every single one of them was spot on with their critiques. They were invested in the artists and their presentation, and they all did an amazing job."

Raven said she has one guest judge on her wish list that she wasn't able to get for Season 1: British makeup artist Pat McGrath.

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"My very first pick for season one was Pat McGrath. But that's going to be hard because Pat is in the U.K. and we're filming here. Pat, if you're reading, if you've heard about this, please, please come hang out with me for a day next time we do this," Raven said.

Future

She said branching out into her own show won't get in the way of her work as RuPaul's personal make-up artist for RuPaul's Drag Race and spin-off show Drag Race U.K.

"I am honestly very content with where I am, I love working with Ru. He just turned 61, and he was saying, 'I hope I can do this until I'm 71, I hope I'm doing this until I'm 81,' and I will be there every step of the way. I also hope that I'm still doing drag as I get older, because I still have a love for it," Raven said.

She said she considered releasing her own line of makeup, but the scope of such an undertaking makes it unlikely anytime soon.

"I would want it to be done a certain way, and I would want my hands to be in it and my stamp to be on it. I just wouldn't have the time right now," she said. "We'll see, because that's a big venture."

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Raven said one project she would be sure to make time for if the opportunity arose would be to do makeup for one of her favorite celebrities: Cher.

"I would love to do Cher's makeup. She is just a beauty that is ageless, literally. I've been a fan of hers since I was a little boy, I remember watching her and thinking, 'Oh my gosh,'" Raven said.

"She always looks so amazing and so beautiful, and most of the time she does her makeup herself, so I'm not saying that I feel like I need to help her out. I would just love to do it."

Painted with Raven starts streaming Thursday on WOW Presents Plus.

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