Drag queen Sherry Pie has been disqualified from the current, 12th season of RuPaul's Drag Race, TV executives announced Friday, one day after BuzzFeed News reported allegations from five men that they had been catfished by the performer, who was posing as a casting director.
Joey Gugliemelli, better known by his drag persona Sherry Pie, is alleged to have deceived 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 on camera as part of the audition process.
“In light of recent developments and Sherry Pie’s statement, Sherry Pie has been disqualified from RuPaul’s Drag Race," a spokesperson for VH1 and production company World of Wonder said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
"Out of respect for the hard work of the other queens, VH1 will air the season as planned," the spokesperson said. "Sherry will not appear in the grand finale scheduled to be filmed later this spring."
In a statement on Facebook on Thursday night, Gugliemelli said he was sorry that he "caused such trauma and pain."
"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," he said.
Gugliemelli also said he was “seeking help and receiving treatment.”
“I truly apologize to everyone I have hurt with my actions,” he wrote. “I also want to say how sorry I am to my sisters of season 12 and honestly the whole network and production company.”
Gugliemelli did not respond to a request for comment Friday, nor to multiple requests for comment Thursday.
Ben Shimkus, the man whose original Facebook post Wednesday about Gugliemelli prompted others to come forward, told BuzzFeed News he was glad to hear of the disqualification. “For the victims, I hope this small victory aids in our healing process,” he said.
Since BuzzFeed News published a story Thursday night containing allegations from five men, two more have come forward to say that they, too, were deceived by Gugliemelli's online con involving a fake casting director called Allison Mossie.
One 27-year-old actor, who asked to remain anonymous, shared dozens of emails he traded between 2016 and 2017 with the person he thought to be Mossie, in which she said she was considering him for roles in a musical version of A Nightmare Before Christmas and in a supposed play called Bulk that was said to be about a man who became larger and larger by taking steroids.
The actor, who said he was referred to Mossie by Gugliemelli after they worked together at a haunted-house attraction, also said he submitted video auditions of himself for the Bulk project in which he said disturbing things. “The subject matter of the videos was very vocally stressing upon what does it feel like and what does it smell like [for the character to be that muscular],” he said. “Like, talking about the slime underneath ... his pits.”
“It was a discussion of, ‘How do you think — when he smells, does that feel like a climax to him? When he ejaculates?’” the actor recalled.
“Being hungry and young and wanting to get a break, I continued to do whatever was needed for this casting,” he said.
The actor even paid $63 for a bus trip to New York City in 2016 after Mossie told him to come in for an audition, before ignoring his emails until the day he was due in town. “I just spent a lot of money on this and it wasn’t easy,” he said. “Her persona decided to rip me off.”
The actor said he eventually deduced that Gugliemelli was behind the catfishing when the drag performer mentioned details from an email between him and Mossie. The actor cut off his friendship with Gugliemelli but never confronted him about the deception, he said. “I felt so embarrassed at that point, and I didn’t want to confront him,” he said. “I felt so betrayed and lied to at that point.”
Daniel Lynn Evans, a 35-year-old performer who owns the Broadway Barber, told BuzzFeed News that he met Sherry Pie in 2017 when they were asked to work together on a show for a drag bar that fell through.
“About a week later, I got an Instagram message from her seemingly trying to make up for my missed job opportunity, trying to help me get cast in something that wanted ‘big’ guys,” he said. “I was still a little sour about what had happened, but a job is a job, so, like, whatever — just tell me what I need to do.”
Evans provided BuzzFeed News with a screenshot of a Facebook exchange between him and Sherry Pie.
“The rest of the message is basically her trying to convince me that I need to ‘get bigger and quick...but don’t worry, they’ll pay for it,’ without ever actually using the word ‘steroids,’” he said. “After a few messages back and forth, I think she finally caught on that I wasn’t gonna take the bait and stopped messaging. I never heard from her after that.”
Evans said he was glad Sherry Pie had been disqualified from Drag Race. “I think it was the right thing to do. As much as I want to say that our personal lives shouldn’t affect our professional, this is different,” he said. “This was premeditated predatory behavior, and we can’t let any of the LGBTQI youth that’s out there watching think that this is OK in any capacity.”