Some of the more memorable contestants from the latest season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will be in town to start Pride weekend with a bang, performing June 10 at Voyeur.
This season’s winner, Raja (aka makeup artist Sutan Amrull), who impressed the judges with her adventurous style, will be performing along with fellow contestants Carmen Carrera and Manila Luzon.
PGN caught up with Raja, currently the featured performer on The Drag Race Tour, to talk about her newfound fame and recognition.
PGN: Usually on “Drag Race” the queens with the edgier look go far but never win the season. Were you surprised that you won over more mainstream drag queens? R: I knew that I wanted to win. You have to go in there with a drive and ambition to win. I thought I was going to get kicked off about halfway. I thought maybe my ideas were too scary for people to absorb and understand. I just thought I might have been too progressive for television. I’m glad I made it to the end: I’m glad I won.
PGN: From watching the show to being on the show, did you have any misconceptions about “Drag Race” going into it? R: I don’t think people realize how difficult the process is. People think it’s just a bunch of queens sitting around joking and laughing. Yes, there is that part, but there’s a huge amount of stress. The stress is what makes the show work. You don’t want to see people too comfortable because then it’s boring. There’s a lot of stress involved and a lot of deprivation. You can’t talk to your family or your friends. That’s a difficult part of it. It’s different being on the other side of the television screen.
PGN: Now that you have won on the show and you’re representing the show on tour, does that put more pressure on you as a performer? R: I don’t think it’s pressure at all. For some reason, I’m easing into this quite easily. It feels natural. If you’ve always imagined having people adore you your entire life and you wished for a certain amount of stardom in your life and all of a sudden you’re getting a taste of it, it makes sense and it feels nice. I’m surrounded by love every night I’m out there. So I don’t really feel a lot of pressure. There’s still nerves and that’s a part of performance. Overall, it’s been great to meet people and have people really give all this attention and love. PGN: What can people expect when they come out to see the show? R: They get to see us finally perform. You don’t get to see a lot of performance on the show. It’s a show that involves a lot of creating and showing off. People don’t get to see us moving and doing an actual show. I’ve always been very proud of my styles of performance. I’m not a big dancer but I do love to slink around, model and be beautiful. I just want people to see my brand of drag and what it is I do that I find to be special.
PGN: Is the Drag Race Tour attracting people that normally wouldn’t go to a drag show? R: Absolutely. I’m getting a lot of straight people coming in. It’s a different audience this season. It’s not just a bunch of gay men watching it. It’s moms and grandmothers and kids. I get these tweets all the time saying, “I wish I was old enough but I’m only 13 years old, but I would like to see you. I admire you so much.” I think that it’s important. I think we reach all different levels and lifestyles. It’s a great moment for us as gay people and drag queens to be part of the mainstream.