Bebe Zahara Benet is the stage name of Nea Marshall Kudi Ngwa, a drag performer, and former male model. He is best known for being the first winner of Season 1 of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Bebe was known for her big booty, cute smile, polished runway presentations, and her stunning leotards which led her to snatch the crown of America's Next Drag Superstar.
Bebe was born and raised in the Central African country of Cameroon. Four years prior to Drag Race, Bebe moved to Paris, France. Later she moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to be closer to family. After winning Drag Race, Bebe eventually moved to New York City.
Kudi's first experience with drag was at a Paris fashion show, where he was asked to put on a costume to walk the runway as a female at the last second when a model didn't show up. Kudi describes his drag persona Bebe as "a strong and cunty character illusion created for entertaintment and the artistic expression of the feminine psyche".
Bebe got her start in drag not long after she moved to Minneapolis, inspired by the drag scene there. She later went in for an interview and was offered a part in the performance "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. Babe then took the part and stole the job as being a full drag queen.
RuPaul's Drag Race Stats
|Season Competed:||Season 1|
|Ranking:||1st Place (Winner)|
|Times as Team Captain:||0|
|Main Challenges Won:||2 (ep. 3, 6)|
|Times in Bottom Two:||1 (ep. 5)|
- Bebe is the very first season winner in series history.
- Bebe won two main challenges in Season 1.
- Bebe is the only contestant to win the $20,000 cash prize, the lowest cash prize in series history.
- As the winner of Season 1, Bebe was given a featured cameo in the music video for RuPaul's song "Cover Girl (Put The Bass In Your Walk)".
Drag Name Origin
She always loved the name BeBe, so BeBe Benet just came in her mind. The name is very French, fashion forward, and dynamic. She then wants something exotic which would tie her with her roots and flowed well. After going through names, she decided to go with Zahara.
2007 - "I'm The Shit"
2008 - "Cameroon"
2012 - "Dirty Drums"
- During the Show
- "I bring a lot of International influence, and right now I really feel like I'm ahead of the game."
- "I want to win this because, there is pride and dignity in what we do. Dressing up for a living, does not make us less of a man."
- "Right now I'm overwhelmed, because I can't believe it finally happened. Like a dream that you have been dreaming all the time, has finally come."
- Face, face, face, I give face, beauty face!
- Before Drag Race, Nea was modeling as a woman at the same time he was in school. It originally was not planned that way. Nea was supposed to be a male model, but the female models did not show up in the studio, so "Bebe" took over and posed as a woman. However, Nea did not perform as a woman, nor make money off of it.
- After winning RuPaul's Drag Race season 1, Babe can choose just about any place she wants to go, whether it's for a show or for hustling, as opposed to working 7 nights a week.
- After Drag Race, Bebe moved from Minneapolis to New York City.
- One of Bebe's most memorable performances was performing "Circle of Life" from the classic Disney cartoon, The Lion King.
- After Season 3 of RuPaul's Drag Race ended, Bebe was cast as a new professor for RuPaul's Drag U Season 2. Bebe was the only new Season 1 queen to enter the show, but was reunited with her fellow friends and contestants Shannel and Ongina.
- Bebe was signed a contract with Riverplate Global Local Flushing Records to record her single "I'm the Shit". Her music video is now released on YouTube and is available on Amazon.
|RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1|
Bebe Zahara Benet
Emanuel Palmer • Max "The Body" Philisaire