RuPaul’s Drag Race has disqualified Season 12 contestant Sherry Pie after at least five aspiring young actors accused the drag queen of catfishing them.
Sherry Pie, whose legal name is Joey Gugliemelli, apologized shortly after BuzzFeed News reported that Gugliemelli had catfished the actors over several years via email, posing as a casting director who led them to submit embarrassing audition tapes of themselves saying and doing degrading things.
“In light of recent developments and Sherry Pie’s statement, Sherry Pie has been disqualified from RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a statement from VH1 reads. “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.”
One of the young men told the news outlet that he had agreed to masturbate on camera as part of the fake audition process.
Gugliemelli is alleged to have deceived his former classmates at SUNY Cortland in New York, as well as actors he worked within a Nebraska theater company.
“I just felt really stupid. I felt really dumb,” said David Newman, 26, a Cortland alum who filmed scenes in 2015 wearing a tank top and shorts for Gugliemelli for a fake musical version of A Nightmare Before Christmas that he was told Tim Burton was affiliated with.
“Everyone does bad stuff, but he never apologized,” Newman said. “He has a national audience watching him now and people have to know what he did. He did it to a lot of people.”
Gugliemelli took to Facebook shortly after Buzzfeed’s article, writing: “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,” the message continued. “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.”
— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 6, 2020
The accusations against Gugliemelli first surfaced online on Thursday following a viral Facebook status from 25-year-old actor Ben Shimkus describing his own experience with Gugliemelli.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News by phone, Shimkus “recalled how he came to communicate for several weeks via email in 2015 with a woman he believed to be called Allison Mossie, using the address [email protected], who was said to be casting for a new play at the prestigious Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Shimkus said he was referred to Mossie by another Cortland student who had been referred to her for a role in the supposed musical of A Nightmare Before Christmas by Gugliemelli. Neither ever met or spoke with her in person.”
Shimkus submitted audition videos of himself talking about enjoying the smell of sweaty armpits.
Another actor, 23-year-old Josh Lillyman, was led to believe Gugliemelli was an “auxiliary casting agent” for “Allison Mossie,” and met with him to film some audition footage, reports BuzzFeed.
Gugliemelli convinced the young actor to masturbate in the bathroom, and then on camera. He later found out that his friend Landon Summers had worked with Gugliemelli to audition for the same part.
“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,” Lillyman told BuzzFeed. “It took a lot for me to break that delusion. I was willingly doing all the things he was asking me to.”
“I just sort of buried it and said there’s nothing I can do about it,” Lillyman added of his experience with Gugliemelli. “It makes me almost tear up that this happened to so many people.”