The Mainstage is one of the most iconic parts of the Drag Race set, with the runways, critiques, lip syncs, and even challenges taking place on it.
In the U.S Version, The Mainstage was originally much smaller on Season 1. This was due to a low budget. For the remaining 12 regular seasons, the overall design of the stage hasn’t been replaced, with only modifications being put in.
In front of the stage was the judges’ panel, which could hold a maximum of 5 individuals. This was the only time out of the entire show where the panel faced directly towards the catwalk. A notable addition to the stage was a grand entrance at the centre of the runway, used specifically for RuPaul‘s “Covergirl” runway entrance. The only other queen to use this entrance was Tammie Brown. (Albeit, on accident).
On the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the stage design was heavily revamped, thanks to a higher budget and production compared to the previous season.
One major notable difference between the two stages was the size. Although Season 1’s stage was quite minimal, Season 2’s stage seemed to go an opposite direction. The red-orange color palette was replaced with a more Pink-colored palette. The red catwalk was replaced with a much larger Black-And-White checkered catwalk, accompanied by small lightbulbs dotting the perimeter of the stage. The grey curtains at the entryway were also replaced by a massive lightbulb backdrop.
The lighting of the stage was also notably darker compared to the first season.
The lightbulb backdrop was changed to a spotlight backdrop with 20 lights and rows of hanging crystal beads.
Starting Season 5 the judges panel got a new backdrop, going from purple sequin curtains, to a blue neon wall with a pink neon wall in front with hexagonal cutouts. The backdrop can change color.
The runway got new black platforms just behind the front of the runway which the lightbulb perimeter now go around.
The spotlight backdrop got more lights (going from 20 to 36). In Season 12, during Ru's runway entrance, the lights spell out "R-u-P-A-U-L".
The perimeter of the runway got changed from lightbulbs on a gold border, to LED strips which can change colour. The backdrop also got 16 LED strips.
The judges panel got a new table with plexiglass dividers (due to COVID-19 restrictions during the time of filming).More lights were added to this version of the runway, notably in the panels at the back of the runway, the "pillars" to the sides of the runway, and more spotlights on the ground and ceiling overall, making the runway much brighter and easier to see.