Last Words With Drag Race's Coco Montrese

Coco Montrese

It was a dramatic premiere for RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race — the reality competition that features standout drag performers from past seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race. Perhaps the biggest change is a new rule: the winner of the main challenge selecting who goes home.

After each of the contestants showed off their skills in a talent show, there was a lip-synch between the top competitors: Roxxxy Andrews and Tatianna. Roxxxy won the day and sent her friend Coco Montrese packing.

The Advocate spoke with Coco about the elimination and discussed other issues like Black Lives Matter and how Drag Race has helped move the needle for LGBT rights.

The Advocate: How does it feel to be chosen as an All Star?
Coco Montrese: It is such an honor, really. RuPaul had 100 queens from all the Drag Race seasons, and he selected me as an All Star. It’s truly an honor.

What was running through your head when you saw your (former?) rival Alyssa Edwards?
Honestly, comfort. A lot of people won’t understand the relationship Alyssa and I have. There was a comfort in having her there. She pushes me to be better. And we’ve had that relationship for years, even in pageants. She’s so encouraging. It’s a healthy competition.

What was your reaction to RuPaul's twist that she would no longer be eliminating contestants?
I honestly thought, and I think we all thought, we were all safe and no one was going home all season. We would just work on our performances and showcase our strengths. Then when we found out we would be eliminating each other, we were all really caught off guard. I didn't feel like I was qualified to judge these girls, my sisters. I love them all. They are all stars in their own right. How could I possibly send any of them home?

Why did you choose dancing as your talent?  
I am a huge fan of So You Think You Can Dance. I think if you can tell a story through dance and have it connect with people, it’s a great talent. I know I’m known as the lip-synch queen forever, so I wanted to take this opportunity to showcase something different to my fans.

What story were you trying to tell with your choreography?
I was getting dressed and waiting to go out on the stage with the man of my dreams and he was just not showing up, so I was trying to stay positive I just waited and waited, and I had waited long enough, so I thought, You know what? I don’t need him! I can do this routine on my own!

What was your reaction when Roxxxy sent you home?
I knew she felt like she did what she needed to do. That’s why I gave her a hug. I know it was a hard decision for her to make. I don’t think it was done out of spite. That’s why I told her when I hugged her, “It’s OK.”

If you could dream up the most delicious revenge for Roxxy, what would it be?
Oh, gosh. For RuPaul to tell the girls they have to give their best Janet Jackson impersonations!

Do you think its fair to leave the power of elimination in the hands of the contestants? Why or why not?
I think Ginger [Minj] said it best — it kind of caught us off guard. It’s not what we signed up for. I could deal with RuPaul sending me home, it’s RuPaul. There’s no ulterior motive with RuPaul, but you never know with the other queens.

In the past, your makeup has been criticized for being too "orange." This episode, judge Michelle Visage compared your face to "soot." Do you think you've been unfairly singled out for your skin tones, especially considering you were the only black All Stars contestant?
Even after doing drag for 25 years, there is still this level of trying to evolve and change. There is a catch-22 to the whole makeup situation. One season she thought it was too orange; this season she thought it was too gray. I don’t think I was singled out; I think they needed to critique something and help me improve. You could be green, orange, purple, and be still be beautiful. Michelle and I actually discussed this on “The Final Lap: All Star Talent Show Extravaganza.”

Your age was also made fun of during the reading challenge. Do you think your age or race may have factored into your elimination?Not at all! I don't think that had anything to do with my elimination. There's strong competition — it's All Stars, after all!  

Looking back, would you have done anything differently to avoid elimination?
Not at all. I am a risk taker. I don’t want to be stagnant and do the same things over and over again.

Do you think it’s important that LGBT people support movements like Black Lives Matter? Why or why not?
I think it’s important the LGBTQ community support all movements that support all people and equality for all. If we don’t start shedding light on these things, younger generations won’t even recognize it. If you don’t bring up the past, you are doomed to repeat it. We’re all fighting for the same thing — they want to be seen as the same as everyone else — so yes, they should support that.

Drag Race was recently called its own movement by The Washington Post. In your opinion, how has the show moved the needle for LGBT equality?
I think its opened up for a broader audience now, and that helps the LGBTQ community. I have run into football jocks who know who I am and watch the show. So many people from different walks of life watch the show. I think it’s amazing.

Who are you rooting for among the remaining contestants?
I really like Alaska. I am a huge fan! I love all the girls, but I really love Alaska.

What's next for you?
Everything is next for me! There is so much coming up for Coco Montrese and many fun surprises for my fans! Stay tuned!

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