March 22, 2023

EP. 310 — How Have You Changed Reality TV As We Know It? with Fenton Bailey

Ninety-five years ago, the world’s first television station launched in upstate New York. And this week, we’re celebrating the small screen with a TV legend: World of Wonder’s Fenton Bailey! Fenton is one of the creative forces behind RuPaul’s Drag Race and other groundbreaking TV shows and films.


Fenton and Jonathan discuss how infomercials, public access stations, televangelist sermons, and unscripted TV have shaped our reality. Plus, hear all about Fenton’s decades-long creative partnership with RuPaul; his work with cultural icons like Britney Spears, Tammy Faye, and Monica Lewinsky; and what happened when his career landed him in North Korea.


Fenton Bailey is the co-founder of World of Wonder, the production company behind the Emmy Award-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Million Dollar Listing” LA & NY franchises, as well as award-winning subversive documentaries.


His new non-fiction book ScreenAge: How TV shaped our reality, from Tammy Faye to RuPaul’s Drag Race is out in the US on March 28, and you can order a copy now!


Follow Fenton on Instagram @fentonjbailey and on Twitter @fbailey.


Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation.


Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.


Transcripts for each episode are available at


Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our editor is Andrew Carson. Production support from Julie Carrillo, Chris McClure, and Erin McKeon.


Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to


Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Fenton Bailey  JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. Today’s episode is really exciting. They’re all really exciting. But this guest, he’s an absolute leg, as my husband would say. He’s a legend of the unscripted TV industry. He is someone who I’ve had the pleasure of working with before. Someone who I look up to and they have a new book and they are just someone who I’m so excited to have on Getting Curious. And we can kind of go on, like, a fun, lighter exploration of things that make me curious, honey. So welcome to the show, Fenton Bailey of World of Wonder, where we get to ask him: How did you change reality TV as we know it?  If you’ve ever enjoyed an episode of Drag Race, you have this week’s guest to thank. As one of the co-

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