Last Words With RuPaul's Drag Race's Darienne Lake

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2014 5:26 PM ET

It is official. RuPaul has chosen his final three contestants for RuPaul's Drag Race season 6: Adore Delano, Bianca Del Rio, and Courtney Act. Coincidentally, the respective first initials of each of these drag queens are A, B, and C. And this week viewers said goodbye to D, or Darienne Lake, who was asked to sashay away.

The Advocate spoke with Darienne Lake about this week's challenge, which asked the top four to film a dramatic scene and also create a music video for RuPaul's song "Sissy That Walk." Lake also revealed his favorite among the remaining contenders (he was "the best in bed," Lake jokes) and talked about the challenges that can come with being the "big girl" of the season.

The Advocate: You sent BenDeLaCreme home — technically, twice! What was going through your head during last week’s heated lip-synch to make the top four?
Darienne Lake: I have to lip-synch to a hot dance track in a gown. Fuck me. But I'm not going down without a fight. I'd take all 14 if I had to.

How did you prepare for this week’s acting challenge?
By tapping into all that I have experienced in my life and by paying homage to some of my favorite, over-the-top inspirations: from Faye Dunaway to Edith Massey, Divine to Carol Burnett.

Did you have a muse  actor or film  in mind, particularly during the dramatic scene?
When Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest tells Greg, "I'm not acting. I'm. Not. Acting." 

Looking back on the episode, would you have done anything differently to avoid elimination?
It wasn't just based on that episode. I think it was based on my entire experience and how well I could represent RuPaul as America's Next Drag Superstar. I still have work to do.

If you could do it all over again, would you have changed your strategy throughout the season?
Knowing what I know now, yes. But in the moment, you don't get the time to stop and think. I'm someone whose creative process takes at least a night's sleep. I eventually got one, five weeks in.

In Untucked you said, “It is not our success that makes us better, but our failures.” How has Drag Race made you better?
I'm more in tune to who I am and how I come across. I compare it to the tone of a sentence in text. “I'm OK” and “I'm OK” sound completely different.

Do you think you were edited in a certain way to make you appear “meaner” than you really are?
People who meet me can tell in 20 seconds my intentions and understand my humor. Editing does heighten the situations or shade, but it also gave me a chance to see it from the other side. I'm even more mindful now when making a joke. Even RuPaul's Drag Race [can] see for themselves how jokes can be taken the wrong way, [such as the] “she-male” controversy.

How did you respond to Logo TV’s apology for airing the controversial “Female or She-male” challenge?
I know there was never any malice in using those terms, but I can understand why they deleted it. Even though “she-mail” and “she-male” are spelled differently, I compare it to the n word that ends with an "a" or "er." It is not a big deal for me to delete unnecessary words from my vocabulary.  

You spoke about the challenges of being a “big girl” on Drag Race. Do you feel like you were the target of weightism on the show?
I never felt like there was an issue with my weight. I was always treated with respect and never allowed to get a free pass or privilege because it was physically harder on someone of size. I would have gladly jumped into a pit of foam. I am aware of my size and never let it tell me I can't do something.

The only other large queen to make it to the top four was Latrice Royale. Is there a glass ceiling for big girls? Do you think there could be one who could win in the near future?
Anything is possible. When it happens, she will be able to hold herself high and be proud. Who knows, Latrice, Delta, myself, or any of the big girls might get a second crack at it. All-Stars 2?

Is there an overall message about a person’s size and shape that you would like to send to the world?
Fat is an adjective, not an insult. We are not all created equal, but we all get the right to our space on this earth. Things will be tough, seats will be small, things may cost more, but when you pay for it, you are entitled to it. Keep trying to achieve your goals. Timing is everything.

Who is your favorite among the remaining queens this season?
I love the warmth and encouragement from Courtney Act. She helped me see life in a new perspective. Adore inspired me, and Bianca astounded me with her brilliance. But Courtney was the best in bed, so I'll go with her.

How did you prepare for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
With almost 24 years of performing, lip-synching, comedy, hosting, glue-gunning, wig-teasing, trial and error. I also brought a notebook to remind me of the things I have accomplished.

What was most challenging part of your Drag Race experience?
The toll it physically takes on your body — the long, sleepless hours, limited choices, and strong personalities. It prepares you for the life of a drag performer.

The most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing part is being able to expand your horizons as a performer, break boundaries, and learn new things.

What first attracted you to drag, and what inspired your drag name?
I loved the transformation from man to gorgeous female creature. Like Wonder Woman or Superman, they lead a double life and help [make] the world a better place to live in. My drag name was inspired by an amusement park called Darien Lake. I'm quite the thrill ride myself. Two tons of fun. Twisted steel and sex appeal.

What should a drag queen always keep in her purse?
Her phone. You don't want to miss the opportunity to make some fabulous new friends. Or call a cab when you're too drunk to drive. 

Who is your role model?
RuPaul wasn't always my role model, but over the last few years, she has been. Her wisdom and knowledge has inspired and taught me invaluable lessons. I love listening to her podcast with Michelle Visage.

What’s next after RuPaul?
Getting to cross off things and places on my bucket list: traveling the world and learning more, meeting friends, making friends, and developing my brand.

Why did the drag queen cross the road?
To experience the view from both sides.

Thanks, Darienne! RuPaul's Drag Race airs Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern on Logo. And watch Lake's lip-synch cover of RuPaul's "Lick It Lollipop" below.