Good Morning! Quick apologizes for not knocking out something new here at IAM as of late but things have been quite busy. Our gay popular culture is just buzzing today. It’s almost too much for one gay man to handle! I’ve actually sat back and enjoyed this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and haven’t blogged too much about the show other than publishing three fierce interviews with Top 5 Doll Coco Montrese, talented through her dancing toes Alyssa Edwards and darling Ladykin Jade Jolie. Again, thanks to her their generous team at All Starr Management for making all of that happen.
But we are at the grand finale so I had to comment more than just my “RuPaul ReCaps” on FaceSpace. Everyone has had their opinions and of course, if you didn’t care about mine you wouldn’t be reading this. Let’s spill all the Tea that’s worth the time to print (or type – in this instance.) I gotta get to work!
This fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has actually fallen week by week the way I saw it… for the most part, give or take a mini-challenge or two. It’s been very, very close a few times! Let’s face it. RuPaul, Logo TV and World of Wonder plus us viewers and fans have changed the course of how drag is perceived forever more and how the industry evolves (or not) with it. Some don’t feel it and stick to the old school belief system of paying dues almost scoffing at the thought of the sensationalism of it all. I sit atop a high fence because I see it from ALL angles.
Times change. It makes for great TV. No one can be mad at these queens because their lives have changed forever. They made it happen by their choice to send in an audition video and open their lives to a national audience. Do you want that for yourself? There are ways to make it real. Don’t be mad because they did. Be happy our people are getting their face time with America. There, I said it.
As far as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race goes. Only RuPaul knows. Even the girls still have to go into New York City and film the finale with three endings (from what I understand) in front of a live audience very soon. No Tea will be spilled by a shady mouth who can’t hold in the results no more. RuPaul took care of that! Hunty… Telephone – Telegraph – Tell a Queen. We now wait two weeks to see who becomes America’s Next Drag Superstar!
Will it be… [Most Improved] Alaska or [Most Original] Jinkx Monsoon or [Most Experienced] Roxxxy Andrews? Stay tuned… I know we will be. GOOD LUCK, DOLLS! And hey… there’s always RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars! Biyeeeeeeeeee.
Thanks to Ron Sanford Productions, Jungle Atlanta and everyone involved with putting this together to celebrate Ashley’s wonderful life. I’m hoping to see you there! I’ll be in Nashville at the same time and am planning on making the drive down south to see dear friends, visit my old stomping grounds and remember great times shared with Ashley Kruiz. Take care of yourselves. X
It’s amazing how life is one way one minute and very different the next. It’s so very unpredictable and incredibly precious. But when it’s taken away from us unexpectedly is the time we treasure it most. The following post is a heartfelt tribute to my dear sister Ashley Kruiz who sadly passed away very recently after battling incredible illness. There’s so much I’ve wanted to say but have waited until now. I wanted to give myself a few days to process it all. With the recent passing of another amazing legend Erica Andrews, it’s given me and many others time to pause to appreciate life and celebrate for those who may no longer.
It’s hard to remember when I first met Ashley Kruiz but I know it was in Atlanta circa early-90s. I made a cute living during these years choreographing everything and everyone from Mr. and Miss Hotlanta pageants to local male strippers to Atlanta’s finest female impersonators including Shawnna Brooks, Heather Daniels, Lauren LaMasters, Raven, Tweeka Weed and Atlanta’s Darling, Ashley Kruiz, among others fabulous drag entertainers around the south.
One of the first memories I have of Ashley is when she and I shared a backseat to Bob Taylor who was driving Arianna Dupree to enter a pageant in Valdosta at Club Paradise. Coincidentally, Ashley was stepping down from the title. I’m not sure if there was air-condition in the car because I remember it being very uncomfortable and humid outside. The saving grace was a stop by Dairy Queen and everyone shared memories of Monica Munro who also loves a good Dairy Queen drive-by. Arianna won the title while Bob and I danced back-up to a Grease medley. Well, I think I was in it but am seeing Bob doing the bigger part in my mind. Pun intended.
Another trip to Orlando found us all piled up in the famous room #101 at the Parliament House sitting on the beds having a marvelous KiKi with Ashley, myself, Kimbol Purkerson, Bob and Tiffany McCray and not sure who else. We sure were laughing a lot. Anytime with the Kruizmaster was a BIG TIME! God, I miss her. When Bob called to tell me that they were allowing final visits at the hospital all I could say between the painful tears was, “This one hurts.” He sadly agreed. All of my memories of Ashley are wonderful ones. She was family to those who knew her best and inspired legions of entertainers by her confident walk, pageant prep, incredible accomplishments and approachable demeanor.
I must share one more fun story of Ashley Kruiz and I. It actually ranks right up there with one of the most humiliating times I’ve personally ever spent on a stage. I’ll get to the point… Picture it. Mr. Hotlanta ’99. My dear friend/former roomie Christy Lee was producing the contest and I was up from Ft. Lauderdale in support and to party. Well, Chris needed another contestant and I agreed to compete knowing good and well there would be muscle gods in the pageant so not to expect much. I looked good but had a completely different image from the other guys. I’m optimistic but realistic about what’s what. No Tea.
Ashley and my dear Tony Curtis were on the judge’s panel so I thought that it wouldn’t be so bad. After applying the white paint to my teeth that Ashley always swore by and shimmied into my costumes I was ready to go, bright smile and all! When it came to the Fantasy Costume category I decided to do Zorro with the cape, mask and whole gig. I also made the clothes rip-away to give it all some drama. For some apparent reason I believed in a haste that a piece of electrical tape between my legs would hold down my shirt in place before the big reveal. I came out and saw their friendly faces I felt like nothing could go wrong.
The music started and I begin to gyrate giving the kids the business. Well, I rip the costume off and I believe it’s all come off without a hitch. Underneath I had on chaps with my bare ass and a leather harness, master cap, et al. I bent over showing my ass (literally!) and acting quite foolish for the conservative Atlanta crowd. I had been to L.A. and was feeling my moment I admit. The look of horror on Tony and Ashley’s faces was priceless as I strutted off. The guys backstage congratulated me which was nice but when I reached down to remove my chaps I noticed the piece of black electrical tape was hanging on sadly between my ass cheeks. Humiliation, down. Laughter, now. Memories, priceless.
When Ashley hired me to choreograph her “Beauty and the Beast” production we were outside on the balcony at Backstreet having a cocktail late one Saturday night overlooking the parking lot and long line forming to get inside downstairs. After we talked over logistics and what she wanted, it was a deal that continued on through a good number of pageants. She always knew what she wanted and had the support team and followers to make it happen. I loved working with her every time. I would worship to hear Ashley say once more in her organic southern tone, “Hey, What’s going on?” or “Horrible” which always came out as Harrrrrrrable.
I loved seeing Ashley Kruiz compete in future contests after we finished our work together and notice a bit of my choreography she took with her from routine to routine. It made me feel like she truly loved what I did for her. Ashley was a fierce competitor. Kruiz placed first runner-up at many of the top systems’ nationals including Miss Gay USofA Classic, Miss Continental, National Entertainer of the Year (twice, I believe) and Miss Continental Elite. She was deservedly crowned Miss Hotlanta International, Miss Gay National ’99, Miss Renaissance ’09, Miss Gay Orlando and I believe was the only queen to be crowned Miss Gay Georgia USA, Miss Georgia Continental, Miss Gay Georgia National AND Miss Gay Georgia America. Quite the legacy of a life lived in the loving spotlight.
I do remember one time in Dayton, Ohio at Miss Gay USA (in these days there was no “of” between US and A) when I choreographed Ginger Manchester, Maya Douglas tore the house down and won the punchbowl while Ashley didn’t make the final cut and stood backstage crying in a friends arms. I was so sad for her. She seemed devastated. Kruiz went on to greater things and made her mark everywhere else. Ashley and I were actually in the same group at Miss Gay USA ’92 when Tandi Andrews won and I most certainly did not. We shared tons of memories which will stay forever.
Oh, my dear sister Ashley Kruiz. We knew each other so well. Even though time and distance grew between us, each and every moment we reunited was as if time had stopped since the last one and we picked right up as true family does. I’ll miss our chance encounters and will see you again one day. In my heart and soul you stay forever while the memories of laughter, lashes and late night madness keep us near my dear love. Rest Beautiful. X
Thanks to my good friends at All Starr Management I was able to catch up and interview RuPaul’s Drag Race breakout star and Las Vegas celebrity headliner Coco Montrese for a few personal thoughts on her new level of superstardom, what filming reality television is really like and maybe a bit more insight about the brouhaha between her and fellow contender Alyssa Edwards. I’ve interviewed many of the most popular girls from the RDR here at iamstevenmichael.com and am grateful for each one for their time and trust in what I’m doing.
I know Coco on a personal level even though distance and scheduling is often not our friend. We’ve been to see her in Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas at The Quad Resort and Casino twice and had planned on connecting during Christmas but the weather was too chilly for a delicate showgirl like Coco. We quickly forgave and catch up via text every so often. I’m thrilled to see her on Logo TV and know this is just a hint of great things to come for Ms. Montrese! Look for her coming soon to a city near you for her amazing impersonations and lip-sync realness! For now, I present the diva of Las Vegas turned hot reality star Coco Montrese.
Steven Michael – Coco, this conversation has been a long time coming, my love. Let’s start our engines… I know you’re busting a move between Las Vegas, appearing as a Season 5 Doll on RuPaul’s Drag Race in various cities and we hope to find out where and what else. When you’re able, how do you relax and describe the moment.
Coco Montrese - “Sometimes home with my puppies and my husband just laying on the couch watching Netflix. (laughs) Or out with my friends at a movie or bowling, hitting the great lounges at the hotels on The Strip. I’m not really in clubs much because I work in them so I don’t visit them often when I’m off work.”
I always ask this but each response is different. What’s the biggest misconception about filming reality TV?
“That it’s scripted. I can truly say it’s not scripted. It’s real, in this case of RDR for sure.”
What did you find yourself doing in between filming? I understand you’re considerably sequestered alone away from life. How lonely did you become, if at all?
“Very lonely! You spend a lot of time alone and you have a lot of time to think about life and I think that makes your emotions heighten.”
I bet emotions do run high. Type-A personalities thrown together then separated to sort it all out alone. The back together. We are routing for a few of you Ladykins this season on RDR5. Who were you genuinely excited to see when you walked in?
“Roxxxy Andrews. We’ve been friends for years and had not seen each other in ages!”
Roxxxy is doing very well! Are you happy with how you’ve been portrayed on television? Girl, you are in your eyes!
“Yes!!! I am very happy so far. It’s me and I’m real. Some people aren’t going to like someone who is real and faces issues head on. I live my life by its motto, ‘Don’t do anything to someone you don’t want done to yourself.’ I have no problem with letting someone know if I have an issue with them. I will tell them before I go tell someone else about them. I just like to keep it honest and upfront.”
Girl, trust. Would love to get into the “Coco-Alyssa Brouhaha” but with it being earlier on in the season I assume you can’t allow much due to confidentiality clauses. But… Girl, tell us the Tea. Well, pour what you can.
“You’ll have to watch that all unfold on the show!”
And many of us caught that last episode! Girl, emotions. Can you share your experience becoming Miss Gay America? Had you entered a number of times paying dues beforehand or in other systems? And what advice could you give to queens wanting to become Miss Gay America?
“I entered Miss Gay America three times in a row before I was crowned. My advice to anyone who wants to become Miss Gay America is to make sure you know what it requires and be willing to complete those task given. It’s a great responsibility and just because you are a great competitor and can win the real question is, can you reign? To win feels so good but to reign successful is how you leave your mark on the pageant industry and the world.”
I love it! The question “Can you reign?” can be interpreted many ways. I appreciate that. It’s no secret that I worship Las Vegas. If we weren’t here in Palm Springs, we’d be there. Do you love truly Sin City and does it ever become too much? It’s such a late night scene there and there are always crowds! Can it be a tough environment to stay focused and on track?
“I absolutely love LAS VEGAS! I wish I had moved here much sooner but this worked out perfect in my career at this time. I love the night life here and the day life it’s all so exciting. There’s so many people from all over the world that you just can’t get enough of this town.”
What’s happening at the new Quad Resort and Casino, former home to Imperial Palace? Is it chaos with construction and are you getting a new showroom? I loved Imperial Palace as a child. The awe of the Oriental flair. Of course this was during the days of the fabulous Dunes, Caesar’s Palace blue illumination and you could walk from the corner of MGM Grand now Bally’s straight across the street to Caesar’s moving walkway. Pre-Mirage decade of grand facade.
“The Quad Resort is taking shape right before our very eyes and it is so cool to watch it happen. DIVAS is in the same showroom which is also going through many changes for the good and the show is going stronger than ever while performing to sold out audiences and presenting new characters nightly. You never know what celebrities you’re going to see at DIVAS on and off stage!”
Yes! Last trip we were there Manila Luzon almost ran me over coming out of the bathroom. It threw me because it was actually the men’s room. What is the biggest misconception about Frank Marino? And about being a showgirl on The Strip?
“Many don’t know that Frank Marino is a wonderful man to work for with a lot of history on the Las Vegas Strip celebrating 28 years on The Strip. Many don’t know that he is a down to earth person with just as many jokes backstage as he does on stage. Biggest misconception about being a showgirl on The Strip is that you are always a DIVA. I love my sweatpants, my baseball cap, the basketball court and gym. It’s not always feathers and boas and jewels!” (giggles)
Where on The Strip do you find yourself spending time off? Any secret hotspots or fabulous hangouts we should know about?
“The Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar, Grand Lux Palazzo and of course the Sugar Factory at Paris. My favorite spots! They know me by name at these establishments.”
Well, obviously Coco. You are a DIVA! We worship The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan. Missed ice skating there with you there at the resort last trip during Christmas. Do you have any advice to entertainers who want to submit their audition tape to RuPaul’s Drag Race? What did you do on your tape that caught the casting agents’ eyes?
“All I can say is be yourself. If you are trying to fit a mold of what someone else thinks you should be then you shouldn’t send in an audition tape. They are looking for YOU and if you can be just you then you got to find you first.”
Wisdom, gal. When are you the most comfortable, on stage in full drag under the spotlight with worshipers a’ plenty or out of gig around people who aren’t really affected by your superstardom?
“I’m kind of comfortable in both. I love life on stage and would probably die if I had to go without it. But I also enjoy my friends who don’t really even care to know the celebrity side of my life.”
I’ve tasted moments of the spotlight myself and continue to chase it in various capacities. I know where you come from. Describe the feeling when you see that Joel McHale has you featured on The Soup and strangers upload viral videos based on your time and performances on RuPaul’s Drag Race? It must be completely surreal…
“It was really weird, because I watch his show all the time and then to see yourself on it was one of those ‘fall out of your chair moments.’ Definitely created a smile from one end to the other for sure.”
How do you deal with the haters and have you come across many from being on the show? Always remember my love, “If there were no haters, there would be no lovers.”
“It’s national television and everyone isn’t gonna like you. So you’ll have haters and that’s totally OK. If you say my name anything you say after it is OK with me. You thought enough of me to say my name and that’s all I need in this wonderful world of social media!”
And finally, anything you want to say to your fans? Your precious “Marsh-Mellows.”
“Never give up on your dreams and know it’s OK to dream but it’s even better to work at making those dreams come true!”
Jade Jolie. Just seeing or saying the words conjures images of ultimate glamour and sheer grandness. I’ve had this wonderful interview with Jade sitting patiently in my MacBook but wanted to hold off until the season premiere of Drag Race to publish it at the request of her team. I just got the OK and here we are with my first interview from the season five Dolls of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Since she was in L.A. for the premiere party at The Abbey, I finally met Ms. Jolie at Micky’s in West Hollywood the evening before while she and cast mates from Logo TV smash series RDR entertained the mass crowds that packed the house.
I was in town working at Joe Blasco’s in Hollywood on my Creative Costume for Mr. All American Gent 2013 and decided to stay the evening at the Ramada WeHo since my bestie Bob Taylor was also in town with Latrice Royale and faithful crew representing All Star Management. Plus with a swing through the Fabric/Garment Districts my schedule was complete. The Ramada has redone their rooms and I was quite thankful because they needed some serious attention. So glad I stayed there since that’s where the group of queens were and it’s so convenient to everything. I even had a moment to get a great workout at the newly remodeled 24 Hour Fitness across the street which was fierce and ran into the dear Chi Chi LaRue at Starbucks early the next morning before I checked out. It had been a hot minute since I’d seen him and he looked great.
Jade Jolie is one of the fabulous new squirrels on the drag block and was just so charming in person. Quite a sweetheart. Like I mentioned, Micky’s was so packed we couldn’t even get to the stage to tip the girls so we hung towards the back with the likes of former RDR Dolls: Manila, Raja, Carmen and Mimi Imfurst. The energy was busting and bustling throughout the club. We had a great time! Anytime I spend precious moments with Bob is great for me regardless if we’re curled up in sweats on the couch or tittying to the hottest clubs dressed to the nines. I enjoyed seeing him in enjoying himself in his element. Everyone was having a great time.
The show moved along swiftly by the help of hostess emcee Raven and her harem of misfits including Morgan McMichaels, Alaska Thunderfuck, Latrice Royale, Coco Montrese, Alyssa Edwards, Jade and Honey Mahogany to mention a few. The crowd also found season five finalist Roxxxy Andrews and superstar Shangela mingling amongst their fans. Bob said that the next evening at the premiere party at The Abbey fans were coming up to Latrice and breaking into tears from joy. He mingled with Mike Ruiz, Michelle Visage, Camille Grammar and RuPaul himself while I drove Stella Stang back safely into the desert after a pass through Krispy Kreme at Ontario Mills. Honestly, one of the best times I’ve ever had in Los Angeles!
We are so looking forward to seeing the new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race while rooting Jade on week after week. I’m expecting great things from this up and coming goddess, so learn who she is and what her Tea is all about. Here she is in her own words letting us take a glimpse at who Jade Jolie really is. This interview was a fun one! Luckily because I’m connected in the right places I’m paddling the media canoe delivering the hottest celebrity dish and detail before many others. Meet the bubbly effervescence of Jade Jolie…
Steven Michael – Hey Mamma! I know things are about to blow up for you so let me introduce you to your fans and followers in a few ways they maybe don’t know you already. It was fierce meeting you at Micky’s. I wish we had grabbed a snapshot. Where did you begin this crazy career in drag?
Jade Jolie – “I started at the Metro in Jacksonville, FL. I would religiously come back to perform or compete regardless if I won or loss every week when I lived just 1 1/2 hours away. I have to say I’ve never been as determined with anything as I have been with drag in my life!”
It shows! It really does. You’ve come along way, baby girl. What or who are your inspirations?
“My biggest inspiration growing up was the Spice Girls. They appealed to every side of my colorful personality! I lived for everything about them Their lives seemed so colorfully happy and drag fabulous!”
I do love them, too! I worship Spice World when Posh Beckham is asking about the “little black Gucci dress or the other little black Gucci dress.” So vapid and perfect. Do you consider yourself a drag queen or female impersonator and what’s the difference?
“To me they’ve seemed the same. I am a drag queen, female impersonator, part-time woman, beautiful clown, ladyboy, femme Manwich sandwich. (giggles) You choose.”
You made me laugh out loud. What’s the biggest misconception about shooting reality TV? And biggest misconception about Jade Jolie?
“I know you hear this all the time but until you actually go through the experience I don’t think spectators realize the work and hours that go into a day. It was exhausting but I wouldn’t have given up the experience for anything in the world. As far as myself I always seem to be underestimated. Maybe it’s this fishy face? But you never know what I can produce and will never stop trying to up my own game and continuing to grow as a entertainer and person.”
Are you nervous watching yourself on TV? Did you find yourself acting differently when the camera was filming you?
“It’s a mix of nerves and excitement! There were so many things to focus on as far as challenges and getting things done eventually the cameras faded away.”
I know you have very strict contract confidentiality clauses but anything you can share about the upcoming season?
“Drag Race is our Gay Olympics. I would never want to spoil the surprises to come! You just have to tune in and watch.” (giggles)
Bah-humbug! What do you think it was about your audition tape that attracted the casting agents to you? There must have been something you did that made it all pop for them because I bet they get a lot of tapes to sleuth through.
“I’m sure being a fishy and pretty queen didn’t hurt. (laughs) But honestly I tried to really let loose and just be myself in my tape as if I was kiki’ing in my house. I’m a lil’ off and I’ll be the first to admit it but I think it’s our differences which makes us shine. Luckily me being my vibrant self caught there eye!”
I worship. Who has been your favorite Doll from previous seasons?
“Jujubee – Hands down. I love her sense of humor and style. She also is one of the few RuPaul girls I had the privilege to actually meet before the show and she’s even more sweet, humble and genuine in person.”
When Jujubee was on during All Stars I really thought that she really came out guns blazing and did a great job! She shined more that round than during her first season, for me. It was a hard top group of Dolls to compete against during All Stars. Being on the show and given the fact you’re working more because of that has to really polish off the girls as seasoned performers. Being on RuPaul’s Drag Race is one hell of an opportunity for queens. As Latrice said, “It’s is life changing.” Are you ready for fame? To be recognized from TV? How will you stay grounded?
“It’s so surreal. I count my blessings everyday and although I’ve worked so hard to get here, it’s still a dream. I’m so thankful for RuPaul seeing something special in me. Fame is just a word. I will always be the same person and never forget what I’ve been through and who’s been with me on the way.” (smiles)
How important is a drag family? Describe yours…
“I never knew how special a drag family was honestly until the recent years past. The best way I can describe mine is loyal and honest, which is key to me to even be my friend let alone be family and mine truly has. Once people have a perception of you they tend to feed you what you want to hear and family will set you straight – Tough Love Style.” (laughs)
What did you find yourself doing on days off from filming and were you locked
away deep in Hollywood?
“Pure Hibernation. Sleep never seemed so special!” (giggles)
I can imagine! Jade Jolie. Where did your name come from?
“Jade originated from my still very active gamer side playing Mortal Kombat. Jade was a character that was particularly fabulous with the best bod and tits so I was like I have to be her. Jolie is from Angelina Jolie who to me is the Queens of all Queens.”
Yes she is. Love her Lara Croft movies. Mamma is badass! And finally, describe your “Dream Cast.” Who’s there and what’s the opening production?
“Hmm… Probably Jujubee, Coco Montrese, Jinkx Monsoon and Vivienne Pinay so we can all do the ‘Spice Up Your Life’ production at the end of the SpiceWorld.” (giggles continually)
Wasn’t she just delightful?! I want to spend more time with her and guess I will be every Monday night during RuPaul’s Drag Race 9/8c on Logo TV. And don’t forget Untucked afterwards which is ALWAYS where the real story and Tea is spilled. Trust, Hunty! Setting the DVR, faster.
Every once in a while I update what’s happening with my pageant run for Mr. All American Gent 2013 on the special place I created for that The Road to All American Gent 2013 Blog but the updates don’t make it here too often. I’ve been very wrapped up in the holidays and found myself working quietly here at the house while people buzz about making waves around town and beyond. My “drag closet” is busting at the seams with costumery projects that would give Project Runway squirrels a run for their reality.
It does overwhelm from time to time as a patient deep breath guides me through the perfected process of running for a national title such as Mr. All American Gent 2013. However, please don’t confuse an overwhelm of moment with weakness and despair. Oh, contrare. Things look really good. Again, if it wasn’t for my sponsors I wouldn’t be typing these words and heading to compete. THEY are the reason I’ll be there with my A Game, because Baby… This isn’t cheap! Trust me. Gagging.
As I discover E6000 glue worms around knuckles and a stranded 20ss A/B rhinestone in the distance I see finality of the process in the horizon while another deep breath comes over me. But for a different reason. I’ll be sad to see this end. I much more invested, literally, than I ever imagined I’d be. Win, lose or WIN! I’ll be richer because of the experience I have gone and will go through. I hope to be living and doing that as Mr. All American Gent while spreading Scott’s word and passion for the art of entertainment and illusion to listening ears and eyes. We’ll see on March 16.
And then comes the aftermath. If I don’t do as well as I’m seeing things now, congrats to the winners and continue my support naturally. No Tea, No Shade. I’m going to have a great time, regardless of what hands we are dealt. Everyone I know that is competing for Gent is either a former national title holder or quite the deal so we will ALL be fierce. It’s going to be great contest. Plus, the national All American Goddess at Large 2013 pageant is also happening alongside ours which means bigger crowds and more excitement for the weekend at Masque Nightclub in Dayton, Ohio.
The winner of Gent will have his first booking at the final night of AAG at Large which means even more drag and routine for him. This all comes into play for me since there’s a good chance that I may be staying to perform. I have to think this way or what would I be going to compete? The possibilities excite me considerably. Which reminds me… Off to the gym to train.
Dates of Mr. All American Gent 2013 – March 14-16, 2013. Hope to see you there! X
I love it when an established entertainer trusts me enough and respects what I’m doing here on my blog to offer some of their precious time and wisdom so I may in turn share the Tea your way. We all want to know the real deal, right?! I’ve had strong voices in the drag community speak to me here at my domain and my next guest is no different. Smart, accomplished, young, talented, trendsetting, approachable, professional, realistic, honest, poised. This is my time with the current reigning All American Goddess 2012 Asia T. O’Hara. The Tea is being poured. Grab a glass…
Steven Michael – Asia, I could Google the house about fishy dish, factoids and Tea about you but in your words tell me something that the average bio wouldn’t tell about you or that you’ve always wanted to be asked during an interview?
Asia T. O’Hara – “That is a very good question! I like to look at everything in retrospect. So something I have always wanted to be asked is what I would be doing with my life if I were not doing drag. And the answer is this… I would either STILL be in school or I would be a teacher. I am a huge nerd and I love to learn. So I would probably go to school as long as I could afford it or until they kicked me out for having the boys in the bathrooms. Then I would turn around and teach others. But since I didn’t take that route and I AM doing drag. I love to show and teach people little things I have learned along the way. I am always looking for ways to cut costs, and do things better and more efficiently. So when I learn something new, I love to call the other girls and tell them! So I guess maybe I am teaching in a way.”
Probably in more ways than you realize, girl. You won your first national title Miss Gay USofA 2007 at an early age. How did the old school entertainers handle Miss Youth coming through and really upsetting the folks? Describe your experience and your age. What do you believe set you apart from the others that year?
“I have been asked this a thousand times. I won the coveted title of Miss Gay USofA when I was 24 years old. I had only been doing drag for about four years. I believe Natasha Richards and myself are the youngest to capture the crown. Some of the old school entertainers were thrilled, and of course some were not so thrilled. That year was definitely life changing for me. I met so many old school entertainers that helped me along the way and taught me a lot. Of course, there were times when I would have to defend the fact that I won the contest from the moment I got off the plane, till the moment I got back home. But I think most entertainers go through that at some point.”
“As far as what set me apart that year, I think it was the fact that I was so eager and hungry for it. I was new to drag, but I was not new to competition or performance. I have five sisters that are all competitive dancers, cheerleaders, and gymnasts, and I had been teaching one of the top high school colorguard programs in the country for six years. On top of that, I toured as a performer in a professional drum and bugle corps for three years. So when I got to Miss Gay USofA, I just did what I had been doing my entire life. The only difference was, I was wearing a wig. LOL.”
I didn’t realize your incredible ties to the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps and would love to hear more about that over a spin, toss, catch sometime. I keep a flag around for an impromptu performance from time to time. How important is family within a drag community? Are there many out there and how does one get accepted into a new gay family?
“Family is very important in the drag community. So many people do not have the support of their biological family. Stepping into the gay community can be like being abandoned in a foreign country! Its essential to have a support system of people you can lean on and you can trust. ‘Gay families’ are also important because it’s a way to unite different parts of the LGBT community. A gay family can consist of drag queens, male entertainers, butch boys, regular ole sissies, lesbians, studs, transsexuals and much more. So it’s a way to connect many different types of people that possibly would not have met otherwise. There are many families out there but I like to think of it as one huge family with many different branches. I consider anyone who puts on a dress, my sister. Each family has different ways of being accepted in. I always tell people to just be themselves and right gay family will fall into their lap!”
Can you describe the feeling of rush that pours over you when you hit the stage and the applause begins? Are you a natural born performer?
“I definitely am a natural born performer. Nothing else makes me quite as happy. Unfortunately, it’s a feeling I can not describe. For those ten minutes that I am on stage, nothing else in the world matters. I often don’t even remember my performance when I get off stage. My friends will say they tipped me or I did this and that, and I have no recollection of it. It’s like being in a dream, you can’t remember exactly what you did or what happened. All you can remember is that feeling. Life becomes a blissful blur of music, love, and entertainment.”
I love performing. Being on stage is my dream. Have lived it many times on many stages. Miss it greatly. Madame O’Hara, answer me this… What’s Asia doing on her downtime, off the stage and without the diving board eyelashes and heavy paint? Do you have much time like this?
“Well, I like to stay busy as I bore easily. But drag is a full time endeavour for me because I do all of my own costumes and most of my own hair. I finish with my last show of the weekend on Sunday nights. I am normally at the fabric store Monday morning to start on new costumes for the weekend. My next 3-4 days include sketching, sewing, beading, rhinestoning, gluing, curling, building, and so on… I also do creative artistry for CHANEL so that keeps me very busy as well. When I am not working, I love going to the aquarium, the zoo, museums, movies, and things like that.”
We have to hang out, lady. More than we did back in Orlando for Bob Taylor’s Miss Florida USofA years ago. I bet we could have a serious time and like the Scissor Sisters croon Let’s Have A Kiki. Do you consider yourself a drag queen or female impersonator? What’s the difference?
“Well, I consider myself an entertainer. Although I don’t see much difference in the terms. For me, both titles are a little constricting. I do a lot of specialty numbers and a lot of characters that would not fit into the female impersonation category like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Cat in the Hat, Smurfette, The Predator and The Mad Hatter, to name a few.”
Ooh, I live. YouTubing now! How do you feel RuPaul’s Drag Race has changed the face of competitive drag and are you a fan?
“Ugh, I knew this was coming! LOL. RuPaul’s Drag Race has definitely had a large impact on competitive drag, and drag in general. I have only watched one season of it (Season 2, I think) so I dont know a lot about the show. However, I have had several close friends and family members that have been on the show. It used to be that the superstars of drag were Miss Gay America, Miss Gay USofA, Miss Continental, National EOY, and Miss Black Universe. But that is slowly changing. Competitive drag has been affected because entertainers now have a choice. You can spend thousands of dollars on costumes and gowns, stay up all night rehearsing with dancers and sewing costumes, and do a pageant with the hopes of winning. OR, you can pack a bag, go do an all expense paid TV show for 30 days, and make more money in a year than most entertainers ever will. Which would you choose?”
“I think the show is a good thing because it creates an avenue for girls that are not pageant girls. It’s no secret that most pageants are looking for a certain type of entertainer. So until now, girls that didnt fit that, or couldnt afford to do pageants, were being overlooked. RPDR has changed that, and I am grateful for it. I will just say this, I hope that the few members of the LGBT community that have the power and resources to make change, will help even the playing field where the ‘work’ and the ‘reward’ are equal.”
I love asking that question. Queens and passionate gay men definitely have an opinion about it. It was one of my main questions last year when I judged AAG at Large. On the subject, congrats on winning All American Goddess. It seemed like a tight race. I was glued to my iPhone for the results on Facebook laying in bed with one eye open. What is it about AAG that made you decide to compete? Can you describe your experience in Dayton for the finals?
“Thank you very much. I went to the pageant last year as a dresser and backup dancer, and to secretly scope it out. I liked how laid back, yet structured the contest was. I also loved that all the formers were so heavily involved. When I got home, I went onto the website and saw something that stuck out to me. Scott Gonyaw states that he started AAG because he felt like there was a group of girls that had not yet found their place in the pageant world. And that spoke to me. The next morning I picked a preliminary and the rest is history. My experience is Dayton was amazing. AAG is a very contestant friendly competition. The dressing space is great, the hotel is close to the venue, and the staff is friendly. It’s a weekend I will never forget.”
Yes! The one thing I noticed was the contestants were feeling like family even in their first year. Many had also come back to compete again. I see AAG as an opportunity. The formers are all over the board with types, styles and talents. Other systems have found a formula that works and one should either use it or not bother. I appreciate Scott’s respectful mission to true entertainment. Could you share your feelings on the differences between the systems Miss Gay USofA and AAG and what are they?
“Sure. For starters, AAG has a creative costume category and Q&A which USofA does not. But actually, I think the contests have more in common than different. Both are derived from a comparative scoring system, which takes a lot of the ‘guess work’ out for judges and contestants. And both have a “Let’s see who can put on the biggest show” feeling to them. Also, they both have a reputation for crowning whoever is the best girl that night. Miss Gay USofA has crowned more girls on their first try than any other pageant. Alyssa Edwards, Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington and Raquel Lord to name a few.”
“You will notice the same trend with AAG. I think the biggest difference would be that AAG grows, and evolves every day. Scott and the staff at AAG do a remarkable job of constantly doing whatever they can to make the pageant bigger and better. Miss Gay USofA on the other hand has a lot of prestige and tradition. They have branded an image for themselves in the community that has been steady and strong for over 20 years now.”
Well put! Is it hard to date as a successful traveling entertainer? I traveled for years performing but never worried about a man. I loved being on the road. Thoughts?
“YES LORD! It can be hard for entertainers to date because you are always away from home. It’s difficult to meet guys because you never want to go out when you are not working. But right now I am having an intense love affair with a box of peanut butter cookies and I could not be happier! But who knows I might trade these cookies in for a ‘BTT’ sandwich! LOL.”
Hmm. That’s too many things! Is it easy to get caught up in the drama of the industry because as we all know drag queens can be drama streams from time to time? How do you separate yourself?
“Yes it is easy to get caught up in it. But I have a philosophy. There is so much drama because we pour all of ourselves into the art form of female impersonation. When you are so emotionally invested in something, there is bound to be drama from time to time. I separate myself by doing one thing. Keeping my mouth shut when I know it could lead to drama.”
Biggest misconception about:
Asia T. O’Hara? “That I am rich. NOT TRUE HONEY! I just am very good about recycling feathers and rhinestones! LOL.”
Doing drag? “That all drag queens do drugs and are prostitutes. NOT TRUE HONEY!”
Being a national title holder? “That it’s all glitz and glamour. NOT TRUE HONEY! It’s a lot of hard work and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
On that note… What’s the biggest challenge of being a national title holder?
“The biggest challenge of being a national title holder? The entire thing! Ha-Ha. You have to go straight to the airport at the crack of dawn after doing a show in your home town and get on a plane. Then you land, try and eat, go to registration, greet all of the judges, staff and contestants. Then go paint up for the night and look like a million bucks all night long. Dance, twirl, flip your hair, do a toast, say hi to people, smile and wave, loan out bobby pins, shake hands, hug the girls, the whole nine yards. Then wash your face, head to the airport and do it all over again. Notice I never mentioned sleep. Not to mention you have to have try and cram 100 pounds of fabulous into one suitcase and one carry-on. We are not national titleholders, we are super heroes!!!”
WOW! Whurq it, Mamma! It takes a special individual to carry such an important task of responsibility and honor. Future plans, dreams, schedules?
“I do hope to compete again, and I have a lot of other things I want to accomplish in my personal life. But right now I am solely concentrated on having an amazing year as All American Goddess 2012.”
Oh, hypothetically… If I were to do drag again, what would I need to know to beat you? No Tea, No Shade…
“Unfortunately, your efforts would be futile…”
Well I guess she told me! I’ve seen Asia in action and she is force to be reckoned with! Interesting enough to note here, I realized that I had used an image of Asia years ago when I had pitch a reality show on competitive drag to my agent in L.A. Coming across these pictures brought all that to the forefront in my mind. I’m lucky I have a connection to these entertainers because I really feel their stories are worth being told and should be heard. I’m thrilled many of them take trust in the fact what I do always comes from a place of passion for the art and love for what they do. If you have an established professional someone in mind for a special featurette here on my website, drop me a line here or on Facebook and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for reading my interview with the fabulously accomplished All American Goddess 2012 Asia T. O’Hara.
With season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race arriving over the television landscape in the near future (rumor has it they are currently filming in L.A.) I was wondering how a few of our eliminated Dolls from last season were doing after seeing themselves on the show, how their careers have changed and what’s next for them. Florida-based Alisa Summers was the first Ladykin to depart last set of laps. As you will read here, her brief time on the show gave her priceless tools, strength, knowledge of how to tackle the world and succeed by using what she has been given. The show changes these entertainers lives regardless if they are on for ten minutes or ten weeks. Miss Summers is living proof! Follow along, Squirrels.
Steven Michael – Hey Alisa, girl! Let’s get into dishing the dish! What would you do differently during your too short stay on RuPaul’s Drag Race now looking back?
Alisa Summers – “Looking back, I would definitely let more of my own personality and personal style show. They were right when they said that I focused my costume around my new breast plate. I wanted to show them that I had found an alternative that was more convincing. It backfired on me. I think I would have been more happy with the result had I stayed true to myself and what I would normally present.”
Yeah, the great thing about the breast plates is that is does give queens an alternative from having work done or taking hormones to provide the illusion of actual breasts. However, like you said a once-great idea can often not pan out as well as hoped or planned. Valuable lesson, indeed. What character would you have been in Snatch Game?
“I was going to be Lil’ Kim. I had the lavender hair and the titty-out catsuit she wore at the VMAs years ago. I saw a funny video of a girl painting her face like Kim, but it was completely awful and hilarious. I was going to pull a similar stunt – very inappropriate.”
I could see you doing Gloria Estefan. Did you agree and appreciate how you were portrayed on TV? Was it rough to watch yourself?
“I liked how they portrayed me as Alex. As far as Alisa, I feel that I came off very shy, which is NOT true. And I wasn’t very happy about the lip-sync editing. I don’t just stand there. Honey – I dance too. But it made me realize that millions of people saw that. I set out to prove to millions that I actually can perform.”
Yes, that’s the unfortunate pitfall of reality TV. You are at the mercy of the editing bay and producers. When was the last time you really cut loose and let your hair down? What were you doing?
“Anytime that I am not at work and just hanging out around the house, my hair is down. I am a very laid-back and relaxed person. If you knock on my door, don’t be surprised if there is a full fridge and I am in my pajamas, cuz Mr. Alex likes to relax!”
Gal, I’m heading over because as Bob Taylor can attest I love to eat! As Shawnna Brooks from Atlanta would say, “Oh, Steven is coming over? Bolt the cabinets!” Did you agree with the outcome and winner of RDR? Thoughts?
“I love Sharon. Even in the first episode she had a different energy about her. I knew that she was different that what the judges were used to, so I wasn’t sure if she’d even make it that far. However, I think Latrice should have won that. Her personality and heart are gold, and she is FIERCE!”
Latrice was my pick, too! Wow, her life has truly changed! What did you think about Willam’s elimination. Was it really that big of a “surprise” as they led us to believe?
“Well I left in episode 1, so I wasn’t there to witness it. In my short time, I didn’t know anything about Willam having a gentlemen caller. However, when I got to L.A. for the premiere and we were all around each other, everyone was filled in on the highlights and drama.”
The reunion was quite fierce. A bit choppy in parts but the stage was glamorous and you Dolls looked sickening. How do you feel RuPaul’s Drag Race has either helped or hurt the true art of female impersonation?
“I feel that the show has helped female impersonation and drag move to a more mainstream audience. It’s crazy to me when I am out of drag and at a straight bar, and I get recognized from TV. I do, however, feel that at this point they can control the current fashion state of drag. I can’t tell you how many girls I saw start doing a spooky look once Sharon Needles started being one of the season 4 stars. Having that much influence could be both a good and a bad thing.”
Needles is quite unique. She was definitely one to watch. Do you consider yourself a drag queen or female impersonator? What is the difference if any?
“While I want to say female impersonator, I have to say drag queen. Mainly because I don’t really talk in a girly voice in drag, and there is no question that I am a QUEEN! Ha-Ha. But seriously though, the two go hand in hand with me. A drag queen must first look like a female and therefore is also a female impersonator. Simple as that.”
What do you think was (or is) the hardest part of being on reality TV?
“I think the hardest part is realizing that regardless of how they edited the show to make you look, you will carry that with you and people will remember you for it. Sometimes you just have no control over how they portray you.”
I heard that! Name your “Dream Cast” in the most perfect showbar and why you chose who you did?
“Baby, any cast that I am in is a dream to me. I am very fortunate to have worked with and seen many talented people in my short career, but I can’t bring myself to choosing a top-5 or -10. I love everyone for different reasons and it would be impossible for me to do that (especially in print, girl. Shadyyyyy! Ha-Ha!)”
Share your biggest inspirations:
Person – “My mom. She is a strong woman and has always been there when I needed her.“
Place – “On stage. Being on stage is surreal, it’s like once I step in front of the crowd, everything goes away and you are just having a good time!”
Performer – “Alexis Mateo — she’s a great big sister!“
Was it hard NOT spilling the Tea about the show while filming?
“Oh yes! You know queens like to talk. Or get you drunk and try to make you spill all the Tea. But I was very good about it. Because I was just finishing up a DUI, I lied to everyone and told them I went away for a required rehab. When I came back a week and a half later and went out drinking, I guess people thought it was fishy. But I lied my ass off all the way until they made the cast announcement in November or December.”
Future Plans + Contact Info?
“I plan on doing some more touring. I want to travel more. Keep up with me on the official Alisa Summers Fan Page on Facebook or contact ALL STARR MANAGEMENT at 678-383-9902. My immediate schedule is Thursdays: Hamburger Mary’s Tampa Talent Search 8:30 Fridays: Honey Pot Show 11:30 Saturdays: G-Bar Show 11:00 – Honey Pot Show 11:30.”
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Wishing you the very best. If you find yourself doing a pageant and need some advice or choreography, don’t hesitate to call! Stay in touch, Diva!
When I first met Latrice Royale in Ft. Lauderdale many moons ago I knew she was destined for great things. Our circle of friends intertwined during my living adventures in South Florida mid-90s and we casually hung out a few times before I moved away to L.A. She has always been outspoken and larger than life but I believe it was appearing on season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race that gave her a true voice that resonated with not only the gay community but legions of fans that tuned in every week to see the Royale Way. No matter straight, queer, young or golden, Latrice Royale has touched more lives than she’ll be able to realize and ever know. She is the 1 in one in a million.
Every week on RuPaul’s Drag Race it seemed to be Mamma Latrice who would steer the dramarama elsewhere and either support fellow(ette) contestants or set their asses straight for giving others the business. “Oh, the shade. The shade of it all!” We sat and witnessed challenge after challenge dominated by the Madame Royale while others struggled and sashay’d their way back home. When she was eliminated during the round of “lip-sync for your life” against front-runner Chad Michaels I felt virtual daggers nail my heart. I believe America cried with Royale as she stood and thanked RuPaul for “changing her life forever.” I’ve watched every episode of RDR and have never seen a queen pour out such emotion in appreciation for being on the show as Latrice “M*ther F*cking” Royale had.
I have many a confidant in the drag circuit and this round was the first of the previous where the winner and top spots stayed silent among the mouths who spout along the Internet. In past seasons the winner was either revealed online beforehand by the anxious or silly enough was told in confidence by the winner herself and exposed for breach of contract, so I hear. Oh, yes… allegedly. Again, the shade of it all! The girls on RDR are in a tight contract that prevents them from telling the Tea or sharing the results and goings-on while filming and immediately afterwards. I respect that and can honor them by not prying or sticking my blogger-nose where it doesn’t belong. But I do love when I’m aware of the true grease. Just because I don’t share it here doesn’t mean I don’t know. No Tea – No Shade.
My celebrity interview with the ever-popular Royale proves just how in demand these Dolls from the show can be in. The exposure for these privileged entertainers is priceless and prosperous. This interview with Latrice has been over a month in the making. If you follow her on Facebook or Twitter then you know she is one busy gal-on-the-go and I respect that, truly. I know that when life is turned upside down for these girls after the immediate success from being on the show they are being pulled in many directions. I’m part envious and at the same time thrilled that it’s happening to them because the opportunities are endless and life-changing.
Latrice has been one of the most popular stars of the series. With that comes not only the rise in exposure on the traveling drag performance circuit but also responsibility to become more than she was before the show by giving back. Few do this to heart while Latrice has shown many the way by doing something special charity wise in the cities she works in. Of all the entertainers I’ve known and loved before I must admit that Latrice Royale is true drag royalty. I’m thrilled she had time to share what she is able to and has done so here, and that RuPaul has given her such the platform to let people learn how special and inspirational queens can be when given the chance.
Steven Michael – You made it to the final 4. Amazing, Mamma! It seemed that during your final UnTucked that you were almost predicting you were going home by saying a few optimistic goodbyes. Did you feel that way while they were doing their judging that it could be your time to depart? Can you share the feelings you were experiencing during those last few minutes on the show?
Latrice Royale – “I actually did feel it was my time to go… After Phi Phi didn’t win the challenge, I knew what was about to go down. I was okay with it. I had exceeded my goal, broke boundaries, set new standards and made Drag Race Herstory!! It was very emotional for me, just coming to the realization of all that I had achieved.”
You were a strong contender from the beginning. Everyone seemed to evolve and grow through the season. What was the hardest challenge while filming the show? Some of them were crazy…
“I’d say that The Snatch Game was without a doubt the most difficult time I had while filming. I was trying to hold myself from poppin’ completely off on that front row. LOL.”
Yes, those girls were being very immature and amateurish. The camera caught your angst and disgust. Thanks from the audience for reading them backstage about it afterwards. What are you feeling right now about you soaring popularity? How is it possible to handle in real-time? Everything has happened rather fast!
“This whole new life has completely surpassed any and all expectations that I had in my mind. I really and truly just wanted to share my story in hopes that it might inspire and motivate people. I had NO clue the effect that I would have on so many peoples lives.”
First we were thrilled to see you cast and then the way you opened your heart and soul to the cameras impressed everyone in my circle here in Palm Springs. The show is our around-the-espresso-machine talk topic at work. Can’t wait to see you on Drag U. Do you enjoy the traveling aspect of this or would you rather be staying close to home, so to speak? And those baggage fees! ACK!
“LOL!!! NO, no! I love it!!! This has been my dream to travel the world! I am so glad I’m touring my great country first before traveling abroad. I definitely am looking forward to traveling to lands far and distant.”
I admit that I love traveling, too! It is a production but I’ve done it enough to know how to make the most out of it. Tell us the biggest misconceptions about the following:
RuPaul’s Drag Race:
“People seem to think that it’s easier than what it actually is. It looks effortless on TV, however, there is so much more than meets the eye.”
“Well, before the show, people thought that I was yet another ‘FAT, SLOPPY, NON-TALENTED’ QUEEN! During the meet the queens pre-show days, the kids were letting me have it. Based on my video, I could understand that you may have not gotten the true essence of who I am and what I’m all about. This is why I wasn’t really bothered by it, cause I knew the ‘Haters’ would have to turn around and EAT IT!!!”
Trust, Mamma! Tell it. Biggest misconception about doing drag as a living:
“That it’s all glitter and rhinestones!!! LOL. No, baby! It is a job that you must invest in or you will NOT go far. And by invest I mean emotionally, physically, mentally and most of all FINANCIALLY!!”
Your fellow LadyBoy contestants …
“That we actually really and truly love and care about one another. Some girls took their character to the extreme. However, Phi Phi is a sweetheart and so much fun to be around. LOL.”
Precisely. It makes for great television! Who is/are your inspiration(s) and who started you in all of this in the beginning of your career?
“My biggest influence in my drag career has been Tiffany Arieagus. My first drag show was at the Copa Ft. Lauderdale in her weekly Drag Wars contest.”
That’s when we first met. You were just starting out. It’s been fun to live this vicariously through you and I know others would admit to that, too! We just love you! What would you tell up and coming little Latrices who want to grow up and be just like you?
“Pride yourself on being the best person you can be. Don’t get caught up in the shady aspects of drag. Know who you are as a person and accept everything there is about you: Good, Bad, Indifferent!”
What do you think it was about your audition tape that the producers and RuPaul saw that made them cast Latrice Royale and want you in season 4?
“My tape was completely stripped down. Not over produced and super edited. It was me raw and to the point. Funny and witty, cause that is just a part of who I am, and I think they loved it.”
Well, Miss Congeniality. They weren’t the only ones! Your Royale Court is a’plenty and a proud strong faithful bunch. Hope they are scooping up those fabulous t-shirts and bling on your website LatriceRoyale.com! I worship the rhinestone crown pendants on the chain. Just saying. Any last thoughts you’d like to share with your fans and followers?
“I’ve lived a very interesting life. I come from a very humble background, and I have some life experiences that I am not very proud of. However, be that it may, I wouldn’t trade them in for all the money in the world. God only puts on you as much as you can bare and my mother instilled strength and perseverance in me. No regrets! All this would not have been possible if I didn’t have my testimony of life. Dreams really do come true!”
You are really living the dreams of gay-boy-wanna-be-showgirls and many of your peers in the community. What’s in store for Latrice “M*ther F*cking” Royale? Immediate plans for the future? Sex Change? Beginning your transition into female? Anything you can share?
“Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!! Are you kiddin’ me?? Child, please!!! I love that I’m all MAN! I am definitely working on other projects so this not the last you will hear of Latrice. Just stay tuned!”
I’m thrilled the way the interview turned out and thankful to Latrice for taking precious moments from her hectic schedule to share even more of herself so selflessly. Catch Latrice Royale on Drag U starting June 18 with sisters Raven, Alexis Mateo, Raja, Manila Luzon, Willam, Mariah, Shannel and Pandora Boxx just to name a few of the professors teaching the rules of drag queendom to hopeless women.
I first met Delores T. Van Cartier in January of 2011 as I was in Tampa judging my best friend Bob Taylor’s Miss Gay Florida USofA pageant at the Honey Pot. I had heard of DTVC and her reputation as being someone who was a strong competitor and a good friend to many. So it was no surprise when Delores confidently walked into Interview, smile blazing and pulled her chair up closer to talk to we judges including reality royalty Tabatha Coffey, former Miss America Ericka Dunlap and the current reigning Miss Continental Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington. I was a fan of Miss Van Cartier from the minute GO.
Delores channeled the lady Patti Labelle during her talent like I had also heard that she does so brilliantly. Mamma walked her beaded evening gown to perfection and her drag was stunning. And in one fair swoop deservedly won the pageant and headed off to Miss Gay USofA where she placed in the Top 5. I loved being there for Bob’s last Miss Gay Florida USofA preliminary, judging the girls and being part of something so magical. The evening was Spectacular! Spectacular!
As far as pageant promoters go in the drag industry, my BFF Bob Taylor made his mark and set the bar so high that jealous people pathetically have had to resort to tragic shadiness in order to barely reach his respected standards. He left them all in the dust. Although retired for now from that promotional aspect of competitive drag, Bob continues to make great strides for entertainers and enriches people’s lives by being in them. The “T” in Delores T. Van Cartier stands for Taylor because Daddy Bob’s family of fierce drag hellions is a supportive clan – strong and wide. They ALL have a unique voice being heard in the circuit today.
In the past year, Miss Van Cartier and I have become very good friends. I even had the joy of judging her at Scott Gonyaw’s All American Goddess at Large pageant in Dayton, Ohio. She was amazing but so were many other girls. It was a very close contest and I was thrilled to be part of it watching her stand among the Top 5. I love judging because I have the best seat in the house! Delores was fierce and gained tons of exposure and experience that then led her to winning two national titles back to back, Miss Gay United States at Large 2012 and Miss Large and Lovely 2012. That a girl! Can’t settle for just one gorgeous punchbowl? Fine, take two! She well deserved it for missed opportunities of the past. So damn proud.
One of the things I love about Delores is that she usually flies solo which is how a true superstar rolls. Entourages are cute but when a performer and title holder can travel alone and win doing a solo talent without a desperate series of “death-drops” with eight dancers crowding her then she’s the one to have around. Delores is real, approachable and honest. You know how she feels about you without the hesitation of quandary. Of the many transsexuals I know and love, DTVC is all woman and a true lady. And I’ve known a few in my day.
Enjoy this banter between the two of us through texting, emails and the ole’ fashion telephone about her life right now, plans for the future, how she can’t stand RuPaul’s Drag Race and advice to little drag queens in training.
Steven Michael - It’s truly been your year. High placement at two national pageants and then winning two national pageants. How are you feeling and is this everything you ever wanted?
Delores T. Van Cartier – Well quite honestly, I really don’t know how I’m feeling. (smiles) There is a mixture of feelings: overjoyed, numb, shocked, sedate, excited, challenged, eager… just to name a few; but definitely a feeling of humbleness and gratitude over all. For those types of entertainers who are pageant girls the ultimate prize is national recognition and then beyond so this is a start of everything I’ve ever dreamed of yes.
I can imagine! Unbelievable but imaginable consequences for jobs well done! When you do your walk as a national title holder at the other systems’ pageants, which crown will you be wearing? Is it hard to choose?
The choice is not hard at all. I will wear the newest crown that I received which is Miss Gay United States at Large. However, I will hold the other in my hand which is Miss Large and Lovely. I feel that because it is very uncommon to be able to hold two national titles at the same time in one year it is very important to represent both in a manner that is respectful to both systems while not being disrespectful to the other and not intertwining the two. I’m extremely proud of both and will represent both when asked to walk.
Brilliant! I was so excited about getting these answers back because I knew they would be well thought through and trailblazing for other entertainers that can learn from you, gal! Are you a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and how do you feel about the fact there’s never been a transsexual on cast? How has Ru changed/hurt/helped the face of drag?
I absolutely am not a fan of Drag Race, at all. First of all in today’s gay community there is so much prejudice against one another and I’m not talking about black and white. In some cases, one group of people can’t party or don’t party with the other because at some functions they are not socially accepted. For example, a club that has mostly men don’t really pay too much mind to drag queens or transsexuals or at a show bar some transsexuals treat the boy queens like they are not worthy to perform with them because they made the choice to not get breasts and stay a boy. Believe it or not these prejudices exist. Drag Race in my opinion only exacerbates this issue by not allowing a certain group (transsexuals) on cast.
I’ve been in the presence of RuPaul. I’ve worked with her and performed on the same stage as her. Her views are very clear; once you alter your body then it’s not drag anymore. Well what is it? What I’m doing is no different from a boy queen, in fact not so long ago I was one. Just because I decided to change a few things for [me] doesn’t change what I do on stage. Her influence in being able to break or bridge the gap and open new doors for the gay community as a whole is remarkable. However, it’s what you do with that window of opportunity is what counts. I think Drag Race portrays a negative side that outweighs the good things about entertainers. Someone not knowing about this lifestyle can watch Drag Race and think that’s how we all are: drama queens, nasty, cut throat, mean and ready to fight at the drop of a dime.
Where are the girls who perform who never start fights, who have everyday jobs, who are well off, who have family members who completely approve of them and what they do? Too much bad not enough good. But I will say this, I have plenty of friends who have been on there and who aspire to get on there. I support them 100% and hope that they will make a positive difference. But unfortunately positive and good don’t always make for good television.
WOW! Testify, Mamma! Speak. In the voice from the mother of Carrie, ”Say it!” I agree with much of what you said. I wish the show would explore the performance aspect of drag careers and move away from the silly challenges. And they most definitely need a gorgeous group of transsexuals on cast but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Hey, fair is fair. How long have you been living as Delores and have you always felt like you should have been born a girl?
I have been performing for 18 years and living as Delores for 15 of those. Odd thing is I never wanted to be a girl. Never wanted to put on make-up or cut my eyebrows. This is just how I felt more comfortable if that makes sense. I think because I was such a shy person growing up with tons of personal issues that I was too afraid to talk about it. When the opportunity of “being gay” came about I took it and ran with it. But I was a whimp, LOL. I tried to go out every night and wear the tiny clothes and be that gay boy but it just didn’t work for me because I never thought I was attractive.
When it came to performing, I saw the chance to be someone else. I always wanted to be an actor so drag was perfect. Then long story short I met and married a “straight” man who I later broke up with because he wasn’t ready to deal with the program the way it was. But I did ultimately live as a woman for him but later in life I altered my body for me and that’s the most important part. I know Im happy with the changes I have made because I was ready.
You’re a true woman in my eyes, sister. Pure goddess. What’s the biggest misconception about transsexualism? … About competing in pageants? … And about Delores, herself?
The biggest misconception is that all of us are “working girls” or in “customer service.” That really bothers me to the point of sadness. I don’t knock people for what they do, but I have always believed in doing things different for me. As far as pageants go… They are all not fixed. Just because you don’t win doesn’t mean it was set up for the other girl. Just bring a better package, that’s all. About me? I’m not as head strong as people think I am. I have my moments of weakness too; I cry and I’m human. I don’t sit in my room at night with a knife at my wrist screaming TAKE ME NOW! (laughing) But I get sad too. I just tend not to show it to the public. That’s what keeps me humble is knowing that I am not perfect.
None of us are, my dear. As long as we have others convinced we are… How do you hold strong against peer pressure to be out in the clubs at all hours considering many are “out for the night” so to speak.
Well I never really was a “partier” so to speak. I don’t feel pressure at all because I have always been my own person for the most part and things like that if I don’t want to do it then I don’t. My persona is very reserved and relaxed. After the show is over, there is life after the stage so I don’t feel a need to be out all night. However, I am human and I will enjoy the occasional cocktail or two while dancing and having a good time. But I like my quiet life and who I am outside of public eyes.
I’m glad I know that side of you. If you had a little drag queen run up to you after you stepped off stage and asked for advice saying “I wanna be just like you when I grow up,” what advice would you give them?
(Grin) This has happened several times and one particular person has said this to me just recently. I told her she didn’t want to be me because she probably wouldn’t want the taxes, LOL. I encourage everyone to find their own voice. If you waste your time trying to be someone else then you’re going to miss out on the blessings that are meant for you. I can tell you what has worked for me or I can tell you what I might do in a situation but I can’t tell Susie how to be Susie. Just be you, because [you] are beautiful.
As are you, lovely. Love your answer! I asked that question at All American Goddess at Large and no one gave me that answer which is what I was looking for. What or who has been your biggest inspiration personally? … Professionally? …
My parents have been my biggest inspiration. Both of them have had different types of pretty aggressive Cancer; my mom longer than my dad. But both of them went through it and came out Cancer free. If you know someone who battled it then you know how very hard it is to watch and wonder. I’m so blessed that they came out stronger than ever and are living and well. That tells me that no matter what life throws never give up and always have faith. Professionally to me it’s all the same; knowing that if I love better and live better then I will be better and can accomplish anything.
What has been your biggest disappointment and how did you overcome the moment to move onward and upward?
Years ago when I was in the 7th grade I was offered an acting scholarship to go to one of the top acting schools in Chicago with a chance to one day have a career on film. A producer saw me at an Oratory contest I was in representing my school that I ended up winning and offered this opportunity to me. Well instead of going to my classes I made excuses to miss those classes to go home and watch a TV show called Dangerous Woman. Later I was dropped from the program and missed a once in a life time opportunity to work in real television and actually star in a series called Family Matters. That was the biggest mistake of my life, however, it taught me responsibility and sacrifice. Now when opportunities knock I open the door wide and let them in!
Ouch! Yes, grab that brass ring. You really channel Patti LaBelle when you perform. What is your connect to her and how/where do you do to get into character besides the hair, nails and shoes that perfectly fly off?
Well, funny thing is when I first started I didn’t want to do Patti LaBelle. I really wanted to do Tina Turner. I had the legs; I could dance; and I love big hair. It was when someone told me I looked like her is when I started to study her more. I have a remarkable gift that I am able to immolate virtually anyone with just watching them. Patti and I have a connection like none other. I have made people cry because they were touched by my performance and I have even cried. It’s hard to explain, but when the hair is on and the mic is in my hand, Delores disappears and here Patti comes! I am her. Sometimes so much so I forget I’m performing.
When I perform I see her; I mean I really see her. From videos I’ve watched, shows I studied; I see her and that’s how I am able to do what she does or what she will do. I know when she rolls in a song and kick off those shoes. I didn’t always have “shoe control” however. There have been times when those shoes flew in someones drink or got caught in the rafters in the celing and even hit someone in the face. Those times aren’t always fun, LOL. But I will say out of all the characters I perform, Patti LaBelle is effortless; and that’s because of the gift God has given me.
Well, from my seat and eye, it does look effortless! Flawless, in fact. Future plans professionally? … Personally? …
Well as far as my professional plans are I would love to have a home bar. On cast somewhere like when I was back home in Chicago. That’s just really hard to accomplish in Florida. Personally; hopefully meet Dean Monroe, Phillip Aubrey, Rafael Alencar and of course Adrian Long. He tweeted me he likes pancakes and I told him I want to make him some, LOL.
As Patti would sing, “Stir it Up!” What is something that other queens do either on or offstage that makes you cringe? What mistakes do others make that could be quickly justified and corrected?
“Hate” is such a strong word but very appropriate when I think about how the new entertainers are treated by someone who has it together a little bit more. People tend to forget that they too had to start somewhere. Instead of picking on these children and talking about them, why not share your experiences and expertise with them to help them along in this ever changing business? I think if we as “mothers” don’t help them then we are adding to the problem and being bully’s. If we just take one person and say this is how it’s done, then I truly feel that there wouldn’t be a separation of entertainers. One of the BIGGEST mistakes is simply being nasty to people or mean for no reason. Why? What’s the point? You don’t have to like everyone but respect goes a long way. This is an easy lesson to learn and execute because you never know who is on the other side of the judges table.
You’ve recently worked for an airlines and now are traveling considerably as national titleholders. Do enjoy the travel or does it get to be too much?
Well during my airline career I was on the ground then as a flight attendant so flying is my life. The only part that gets to be too much is the airport process. Some airports are smaller and it’s easy but some are larger and takes more time. But I won’t ever get tired of traveling. It’s in my blood!
I love traveling, too! How important to do you feel it is to have a strong family unit in place for queens and entertainers? Is that common or a privilege?
It should be common but unfortunately it is not. Support is always needed because this life is so tough not only being gay. But as a transgendered woman you have to deal with so much more than the rest. I am blessed to have the family that I have. I have never been mistreated for my choices by my family and I have the best mother anyone can possibly ask for. My mom is everyone’s mom. She opens her heart to the girls who have been disowned or discredited by their own parents. She just feels that regardless of who we are we all need to be loved. We all come from God and she can’t imagine not loving her child, so she gives everyone she meets a little piece of her heart. All in all this is why we have drag mothers and fathers and sisters and such for that reason. To belong to a group that has unconditional love when there is no place else to go.
When they are announcing the top placements at a pageant and you’re standing there with the other few contestants, do you quickly scan down the line and size the girls up so to speak in real time? What goes through your mind during this cliffhanging moment?
Ha-Ha, this is such a funny question because I think every girl who has been called last has scan the stage to see who is left. That happened to me at USofA and at AAG. It’s like you’re standing there and your heart stops. The longer it takes the more stressful it is because you know you should be there and you want this so much and to not be called is sometimes a punch in the gut. And those two times for me I was on my game and had a chance to win; I didn’t and that’s OK because someone else was cleaner and that’s alright. But when they’ve called me during the announcements of the top spots, I yelled “Oh shit!!!” and took a deep breath of relief and started hugging everyone before I picked my number. I was just so happy. But that is the worse part of a pageant; waiting to hear results.
We love watching the faces of the the girls standing there during the crowning. Especially when it’s a tight race. Is it easy to date or are others too impressed/intimidated by your glamour and success to find genuine choices for love?
It’s easier to date if you are a boy, or a boy queen than it is for the transgendered community for several reasons. One being that we are too feminine for gay men and missing equipment for a straight man; and the bi-sexual men want their cake and eat it too and can’t decide what they want so they can’t be faithful. On occasion you find entertainers with relationships only because of their celebrity and the groupies will do anything to be in the spotlight with you. And of course the person who “thinks” they like you in spite of looks and changes even going as far as intimacy or first base but then decides one day it was just a thought is heart wrenching. But what really happened was a boy came along and the attraction for you faded and they decide they just want to be your friend. Very rarely, will you find a man with no hang ups, only have eyes for you and wants to be committed and serious regardless of what is there and what is not; he only sees you. I haven’t found that guy yet and I wonder if he even exists.
I’m pitching a new reality show to my agent tomorrow: Delores Does Romance. Do you enjoy the judging aspect of pageants and how do you judge good friends? Are you tough on them or would you prefer not to have to give them scores?
I love judging because I love helping and mentoring. I’ve judged my friends before and I’m sure I will judge them again. People who know me know that I am a very fair person. There is no need for wicked comments because that doesn’t help. For every truth on my score sheets there is a compliment of encouragement. Why tear someone down for no reason? How would that help me in the long run? It won’t and there is no purpose for it. If people were more honest, I guarantee the entertainment value would be better. Again, help someone succeed not help tear them down.
You are a TRUE inspiration to many, I swear. What do you want to accomplish that you haven’t already?
I want to be the national title holder who people remember not only for my Patti Labelle, but for my work in the community and generosity and time spent mentoring those who want to succeed in this business. A wonderful man by the name of Bob Taylor nicked named me “Momma Florida” because mothering and mentoring comes naturally for me and he was shocked to see someone from my generation do the things that I have done. When someone asks for help I help them, I don’t charge for advice. I take them under my wig and teach them what I know. They are all my babies; sometimes older sometimes younger but they are my babies and he saw this in me and that’s where the nickname came from. I challenge anyone to name any national title holder that volunteers her time to pick up trash in the neighbor or go to the soup kitchen and feed the homeless or put on a show and cook food for the children’s hospital patients and their parents all free of charge. That is what being national means; not just performing. Use that status for the good and not just the popularity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying just because everyone hasn’t or doesn’t do these things they are a bad person. Not saying that at all! I’m just saying it’s time give back because it’s needed.
I do wish more would give back especially to the communities that help build them! If you weren’t doing what you’re doing right now, what would you be interested in being a part of?
I’ve always wanted to be an actor, that has always been my first love. Next to that would be a world class chef because I can cook a meal that will make you slap yo’ momma and she won’t hit you back cause she ate it too and understands! Then being a part of the legislature. We need to do something and be a voice about this gay marriage thing.
National Ambassador Delores T. Van Cartier, I presume. Name your Top 5 – in NO particular order – for Ultimate Drag Icon Superstar Entertainer of the Universe. Just for fun… No Tea – No Shade.
Amalia Black, Tasha Long, Tiffani T. Middlesexx, Lawanda Jackson and Candi Stratton… These woman all represent beauty, diligence and knowledge that I continue to learn from and in one way or another have a very positive impact on my life.
Delores encourages everyone to find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter! She is one of a kind. You’ll be happy that you know her. She’s the true Tea. Trust.
Getting right into it, I thought the stage from last evening’s Ru-union of RuPaul’s Drag Race was quite grand. I wish the show itself would have lived up to the grandeur. As many of us know, Madame RuPaul herself dragged us right up until the very end of the final season’s episode announcing that the winner would be revealed at the reunion show the following week on Logo TV. It was actually at that point I basically lost interest in the season, ready to move on to season 5. No Tea – No Shade. But I thought it was a tired ploy to get people to watch the reunion. We would have anyway but I get what they did it and why.
I enjoyed the opening production of season 4 Ladykins, seeing former Dolls from previous seasons in the audience and scattered celebrities among the theatre. With the fact that all of the girls were there in New York for the finale, one would figure that the show should have been two hours with ample time to speak with each girl instead of a brief flash of each. Only Madame LaQueer was able to get out a read towards Jiggly Calienté when RuPaul quickly opened the “Library for Throwing Shade.” The show felt quite forced during these parts. Rushed, in fact.
Then we had Willam come out kicking and screaming (so to speak) by the brute of the delicious Pit Crew for a solo chat with RuPaul. Willam did look good with her sheer latex dress and mega layers of blonde hair, I admit. Of course, everyone wanted to know why she was eliminated from the competition. Well, she says she was forthcoming with the producers that she was breaking the rules regarding the fact her partner was coming to visit for conjugal moments between the two. Love is love… But was it worth it for the prize of $100K?!?!
Well, guess what, I blogged the Tea that she was having her boyfriend coming to visit over a month ago. Sources told me and I shared with my readers. All on the ssh-ssh. Willam, of course, rebutted with a comment on my website saying that “the scoop I had was more like a scoop-on” (like a coupon, I assume.) Hmm, I may not have mentioned the romantic part but guess what… I got Willam’s attention and more Internet traffic because of it. People want to know about her! I was thrilled she replied with a read. I showered her with compliments about her career and we moved on. Regardless of what exactly went down it made for great entertainment. Of course, now Willam has come forward saying on the blog Reality Blurred that the reason she gave on the Ru-union was “false” and is looking for a deal with Logo TV for what I’m assuming will be her own show. You better work, Bitch.
Next up was Latrice “Mother F!%king” Royale. Standing ovation! The only one of the evening from my seat. Royale sat with RuPaul and expressed her feelings of overwhelming love and support she has felt from fans and new friends. Latrice was my winner for America’s Next Drag Superstar. She spoke of not being ashamed of her mistakes like some unfortunate time in prison and how she is treating each moment of her life like it’s gold. When she was eliminated I felt a sharp dagger in my heart for her. Like she said to RuPaul upon elimination, her “life has been changed forever.” All of their lives have. And conDRAGulations on a well deserved Miss Congeniality. Boom-Shaka-Laka-Boom!
The final three were brought out and poised for the crown. The ruthless youth of Phi Phi O’Hara, goth-spook inventive Sharon Needles and professionally polished Chad Michaels sat ready for the big finish while sister contestants shared thoughts and emotions about them, especially about O’Hara. She wasn’t the most popular contestant ever to sashay away from RDR. This is the truth. She defended herself, apologized to some but stood her determined ground. Willam had the quote to the night when she said that she had “no Ru-pologies” for what she had done. No she obviously doesn’t. And Sharon offered that when you’re being boo’d while on stage it’s actually applause from ghosts. The shade, the shade of it all.
In the end, Sharon Needles was awarded the tiny tiara and seemed fairly complacent while the punchbowl crown sat quietly beside the the three. If the story comes to me correctly, RuPaul filmed three endings which explains the strange energy level of the show’s end and lack of excitement. Since shady queens couldn’t keep their mouths shut about last season’s winner, RuPaul refused the spill. I heard Sharon say that she’s “been humbled by it all” and I really hope that she stays humble through the fame. These girls have people coming at them now, more so than ever. Their performance fees jump considerably because of the show and popularity soars. But we should realize the reality of being a reality star. Enjoy the glory, girls! You deserve it all, every single one of you!
Signing up for classes at Drag Unow. Professor Latrice Royale, please. Teach me tonight.
I consider myself a true connoisseur of everything fierce happening in Gay Pop Culture News and LGBT Trends. Living in Palm Springs provides me generous exposure to what's happening in Hollywood and L.A. through trusted industry insiders. My opinions form here through my published works.
During travel adventures to Las Vegas and beyond I develop stories about what trends are hot and what celebrities are not in Entertainment, Travel, Fashion, Gay Dance Music and Reality TV.