RuPaul's Drag Race has crowned a new America's Next Drag Superstar. And the winner is...
Below, Rosé discusses the finale, her journey from "Porkchop Girl" to the Top Four, the future of drag, perfectionism, and that now-infamous "weaponizing their BFAs" tweet.
This interview was conducted just prior to the Drag Race finale.
The Advocate: So you're the last member of the "Porkchop Girls" still standing. What does it mean to you to go through that and then progress all the way to the finale?
Rosé: Being allotted to that group in the beginning really shook me up and made me have to rethink and restrategize what I was there to do and really, who I am. I never, ever lost sight of my goal, of standing here today, and the fact that I would be Top Four. I just had to figure out how to show the judges and the other competitors that I was truly worthy of it.
I'm really proud to represent those girls because they're so talented. They are brilliant artists. And I'm glad that we do have one of us in the final four. But again, I came to Drag Race for me, to tell my story, and show what I do. I just never lost sight of it. I think being a Porkchop Girl made me work a little harder and differently to get there. But aside from that, it was just another episode.
I imagine it really galvanizes you. I feel like if that happened to me, I would just buckle down twice as hard.
It was crazy.
There's no doubt that you slayed this season, but I think it's interesting seeing the critiques about you being too perfect, whatever that means. How you would respond to those people?
It's been really interesting. It was interesting when we filmed on the show as well because the entire thing was a learning experience, and I was being given critiques that might be laughable by my audience in New York. I'm not somebody who really lives in that idea that everything needs to be perfect. I'm definitely a perfectionist, but I think outside of the largest drag competition in the world and the stakes of my most incredible dream perhaps coming true, in the midst of that, I focused in a little too hard and just really didn't want to fuck up. As opposed to in normal life, I can get everything to a standard that I think everything should be in a performance, the way something sounds, the way something looks, and then just let it go and let what happens happen.
But Drag Race was just different, and it was really weird to hear that criticism. But it reminded me of who I've always been. I've been somebody who's attentive to detail and who really cares about the product that they are working on and putting out there. Listen, Drag Race, she'll get you, gal. You'll revisit your saboteur for sure.
Besides that, how has the fan reaction been for you, specifically the positive feedback, and was it different than you expected?
You know, it has been different. Everything is different when it plays back, and we have no experience being thrust so quickly in the public eye like this prior to the show. I kind of knew, because of my trajectory, what would essentially happen as far as the fan base goes, and I was right, but it's different. When we filmed, I left that Top Four episode and felt like I was on top of the world. I had really triumphed and persevered, and I was so proud and I felt so powerful.
When the season started airing, I had to revisit and be the person that people were seeing on-screen that was the person who failed at the beginning and who was stumbling and had to try and get out of their head.
So it's interesting; the fans are a powerful bunch and it's interesting how it can affect you. But gratefully in the last few months of the second half of the season, the fans, the outpouring of love and support has been really tremendous and intense, and it's been so worth it. It's been really nice.
Lawrence Chaney just won Drag Race UK, so if you won, it'd be the reign of the Scots. How would that feel for you?
Wouldn't that be amazing? Oh, my God. Like just fucking all over the world, Scottish queens reigning supreme. And she's got a purple reign, I have a pink reign. I think it would be incredible. I'm a huge fan of Lawrence's work. I've never met Lawrence, I've spoken to Lawrence a few times, just via messaging and stuff, but Lawrence is an incredible queen, and I think it would be so fun if we both won. Once it's a bit safer and normal to travel overseas, I think it'd be really, really fun to go back to Scotland and do a show with Lawrence.
What do you think is the future of drag?
Drag is always changing, it's always evolving. I think at this point, we are living in the future of drag. Because in a year where so many things stood still, drag and Drag Race continued, and continued to blossom and evolve. I feel like we're already living in it.
A lot of the people who are beginning drag journeys now are like me. It's so widely accepted that it's easier and more accessible to have a truly stable and lucrative and successful career in drag. And so people like me, who have been practicing their whole lives, performing onstage, I think we're going to see a lot more drag on scripted television. I think we're going to see a lot more drag on Broadway, on the bigger stages. Drag is really, really informing and participating in fashion.
Drag is just becoming so normal, which is ferocious for queer people. Speaking of the U.K., you look at Bimini over there, Bimini's fully in photo shoots every day, tons of magazines spreads. Bimini's fully become like a supermodel, and that season just wrapped.
That's what so cool about drag, it's this very queer part of our culture that was on the fringes and now it's become this huge, massive, mainstream thing. It's so wild to see.
Totally. I think what my contribution, what my biggest dream and achievement would be, is to do similar to what Ru has done, just bring drag further into television, into music. And, again, I would love to be on Broadway. That's a real thing now. There are queens from the show who have been on Broadway, performed in the West End, billed as their drag names. So the sky's the limit.
Last question. A tweet went viral a few months ago that accused a few queens on this season of "weaponizing their BFA’s in musical theatre as a last-ditch grab at fame." It seemed to be aimed at you and Denali. Did y'all discuss it all?
When that tweet happened and began to get around and go viral on Twitter, I was like, "What is everyone talking about? What is this?" And when I read it, I was like, "Well, I'm not going to say anything."
But then Denali and I were talking about it. We were both like, "Whatever, fuck them." But people were getting really riled up. I don't know if you saw or not, but we were like, "You know what? Let's fucking own this. And let's profit off of it. And with that, let's raise money for a charity."
So we actually, that night, created merchandise and we started the next morning selling personally weaponized BFAs to anyone who wanted to hang that on their wall. And it was very glorious.
That is so funny.
If something negative like that happens, you have to just fucking smile and own it, and turn it around.