“I just put on Madonna’s tracks and started dancing,” says Sims, who tells EW that, while preparing to thrust season 12’s cast of queens into the grueling song-and-dance challenge, he forewent classical modes of research and let the Holy Spirit of Madonna take over. “Whatever came out [I used].”
With a groovy schematic outlined almost entirely from Sims’ memories growing up watching Madonna on MTV, the 12-minute production (dubbed a “Rusical” in Ru’s queendom) still puts nine queens of varying skill levels — including Heidi N Closet, Jackie Cox, Jan, Gigi Goode, Jaida Essence Hall, Brita, Widow Von’Du, and Crystal Methyd — through an authentic wringer as they pitch-kick and slide through moves that immediately speak to some of the Material Girl’s most iconic body-talking stunts from the Blond Ambition Tour, the MDNA era, the “Papa Don’t Preach” music video, and more. And stuffing the Queen of Pop’s entire career into a bite-sized narrative was the easy part.
“I have an hour [to teach the queens] on camera, and then I have 45 minutes to an hour after, off-camera,” Sims admits. “Normally, something like this would require a week’s rehearsal. It’s intense.”
Below, just in time for Emmys voting, Sims breaks down how the epic Rusical came together in record time and shares exclusive, never-before-seen clips of the queens rehearsing their moves in the Drag Race studio after the main stage cameras switched off.