A contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has been disqualified for “cat-fishing” a number of young actors online.
Sherry Pie (whose non-drag name is Joey Gugliemelli) was exposed earlier this week on Facebook by an aspiring performer, Ben Shimkus, who posted what he called “a weird story” about the competitor on the popular reality show’s current season. Several other young male actors came forward soon afterward with similar tales, with Gugliemelli issuing an apology on Thursday.
Today, according to BuzzFeed, a spokesperson for VH1 and production company World of Wonder said in a statement:
“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.”
Shimkus had shared that he had been contacted by someone named Allison Mossey, who claimed to be interested in working with him and asked him to submit videos.
“I had to film scenes that felt particularly sexual and awkward, but the opportunity seemed too good to let the overt sexual nature or my inhibitions get in the way,” the young actor shared. “I simply told myself that my parents wouldn’t be allowed to see the show, but I wanted the professional experience and the bright and shiny object on my resume.”
After an email exchange lasting three weeks, Shimkus revealed, he “grew wearisome of the back and forth that seemed to be going nowhere” and, after checking with an organization with which “Mossey” had claimed to be associated, discovered that he had actually been corresponding with Gugliemelli.
Following Shimkus’ post, several other young male actors came forward to BuzzFeed News with similar stories about the “Drag Race” star. Each of them claimed they had been approached online by Gugliemelli, who had posed as a casting director in order to get them to send audition tapes of themselves saying and doing embarrassing, sometimes overtly sexual things – with one 23-year-old actor, Josh Lillyman, even claiming he had been pressured to masturbate on camera.
The young performer said, “I did everything he asked me to because at that point he had built up so much detail for the show that I was truly convinced it was real and associated with HBO. It took a lot for me to break that delusion. I was willingly doing all the things he was asking me to.”
On Thursday, Gugliemelli came forward on Facebook himself, issuing an apology for his behavior:
“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.”
Response to the apology was harshly critical, with one commenter calling out Gugliemelli by saying, “only sorry because you got caught. this is sexual harrassment, you disgusting pig.”