Season 7 of RuPaul's Drag Race premiered this week, and the episode was one of the most fashionable yet. The fresh-faced coterie of new contestants were tasked to walk the catwalk Project Runway-style in a variety of couture. Afterward, they had to impress the judges by strutting the runway nude or, rather, presenting the illusion of nudity.
Tempest DuJour, a 47-year-old native of Arizona, was the first contestant to sashay away, but not before enduring some shady commentary on age and ability by fellow competitor Kandy Ho. The Advocate spoke with Tempest about ageism in the LGBT community, the perils of favoring style over substance in drag, and the pearls of wisdom that come from years of experience.
The Advocate: How did you prepare for RuPaul's Drag Race? Tempest DuJour: My years working as an educator and professional designer really helped, but also my experience as a father and husband. And, of course, my years as an entertainer. Mentally, it's a tough game, but I went in determined to represent myself honestly and truthfully as a person and fabulous queen.
Do you think the first challenge was an unfair test of style over substance? I knew what I was signing up for, so to say it was unfair would be untrue. Unfortunately, my strengths are in comedy and acting, so I'm massively disappointed that I didn't get to showcase that part of me. My looks were good, and I stand by them. I showed diversity, wit, and creativity. I should never have been in the bottom on that challenge.
Who is your favorite fashion designer, and why? I adore John Galliano, a true hero and artistic genius. His theatrical sensibility and sophistication are mind-blowing to me!
Who would you most like to see nude? I have an unhealthy obsession with Andy Cohen from Bravo. Is a bit of cuddle time too much to ask?
Recently, Madonna said of ageism, "It's still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody, and talk shit." Do you agree with her? Ageism is real, especially in the LGBT community. But fuck it. If my beautiful life, nice home, amazing family, 401(k), and professional career make me old, then send me off to Shady Acres! I've earned this life -- every moment of it. We were all young and stupid once, right? So talk your shit while I enjoy myself sitting by my pool.
Do you think ageism played a role in your elimination last night? Well, given the fact that RuPaul is older than me, I hope not. Honestly, I blame it on Kandy Ho. If she hadn't made her ageist comments, there wouldn't have been any conflict. Confict = Good TV. Kandy is a dancing queen perfectly suited for that song. Drag is so much more than lip-synching. Let's put a mike in our hands and see who wins.
What advantages does experience bring to the game? Life experience is a huge advantage for dealing with the drama and emotional pressure cooker that the show creates. Being a grown-up in that situation is helpful, to say the least. Ultimately, we are entertainers, so if you can't hold the attention of an audience, then you have no business being on the stage. Practical experience means a lot. Please take note, Generation Entitlement.
What are you most proud of, being a queen from your generation? I'm from the closet generation. We had to fight and risk our well-being to survive. It's a refining process to survive all that. I appreciate and honor the struggles and sacrifices that others have made, so that I can live out and proud. I held on through some horrible, dark times associated with guilt and religion. All of these experiences are unfortunately typical of my generation. So I'm a proud survivor, [though] the statistics were not in my favor.
Looking back on the episode, would you have done anything differently to avoid elimination? I gave it my all. I don't allow regret to own me because regret is fear. I should never have been in the bottom on that challenge, but those decisions weren't mine to make. I suspect that regardless of what I had done, I was going home. In the end, I am incredibly grateful to RuPaul for the experience and the chance to show Tempest to the world.
Who is your favorite among the remaining queens this season? It's difficult to pick a favorite, because these girls represent such diversity. It's like comparing fresh sea bass to canned tuna. But my standard has always been based on who I would pay to see perform. I'm a huge fan of the campy girls like Trixie and Ginger, and the genius comedy of Katya. The pretty girls are gorgeous, but you gotta give me more than that!
What first attracted you to drag? I've always loved campy and theatrical humor. Most drag queens are larger-than-life, brave souls, with boatloads of self-confidence. As an ultraconservative, closeted Mormon boy growing up, I found those qualities mesmerizing, and I longed for that kind of freedom.
What inspired your drag name? The name Tempest is an homage to my work as a theatrical designer where, I do a lot of Shakespeare. DuJour just felt dumb and campy.
What should a drag queen always keep in her purse? Her attitude, some powder, and cash for a cab.
What's next after RuPaul? World domination! Seriously, though, I hope to continue to work all over the world and share my act with the willing. As long as the audiences keep showing up, I'll be there! I want to keep producing video shorts like "Tempest DuJour's Very Bad Day," my official response to elimination on YouTube. And my life is an amazing reality show: professor by day, drag star by night, two adopted kids, a husband, and two coops full of show chickens -- are you listening, producers?
Why did the drag queen cross the road? She didn't. It would ruin her heels.
Thanks, Tempest! See the (NSFWish) video of "Tempest DuJour's Very Bad Day" below.