RuPaul’s cultural footprint—or should we say, heelprint—isn’t shrinking anytime soon. The legendary legend’s reality TV empire, RuPaul’s Drag Race, continues to generate new fans each season. With 14 franchises around the world, the series has turned hundreds of unknown drag performers into global superstars.
Drag Race has become is so popular that some have joked drag queens are “the new rockstars.” It might sound hyperbolic, but on Tuesday, July 26, the freshest crop of RuGirls are heading to the Riverside Theater—the same venue that’s played host to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Ringo Starr.
“Werq The World” is equal parts drag show, concert, and theatrical performance—and Drag Race alum Rosé knows what it’s like to participate in all of the above. Milwaukee Record spoke with the Season 13 finalist ahead of Tuesday night’s event about what fans can expect from the tour and how Drag Race has changed her life.
Milwaukee Record: By now, it’s no secret that being on RuPaul’s Drag Race can change lives. It can take a queen from performing in small clubs to performing in front of millions across the world. It’s been over a year since you made it to the top four during Season 13. How has your life changed since then?
Rosé: Drag Race is an incredible, enormous platform that can transform just about everything in your life. As a lifelong performer, I’ve always dreamed of having my art be visible to so many people. I’m so happy I pursued Drag Race and that I was given the opportunity to be on the show. It’s been an incredible catalyst for my dreams to come true.
MR: On the “Werq The World” tour, you’re working alongside queens who wrapped up Season 14 just a few months ago. Are you able to provide any guidance or advice on how to navigate newfound superstardom?
R: Oh, absolutely. I think your life changes the most in the months after you’re on TV every week. It’s so much to unpack and unfold. People have this idea of who you are—that may or may not sit well with you—but regardless, you have to figure out where you fit in.
Lady Camden is a very close friend of mine. We’ve known each other for a few years now. Before heading to Europe, she texted me asking [in a posh British accent], “So, I’ve got a couple of questions…” [laughs] I was eager to answer and provide some good advice because it’s a big adjustment. I can definitely supply some advice for the new girls.
MR: As a contestant on Drag Race, you’re subjected to whatever the producers or editors want to portray you as. I’m curious if the quote-unquote “edit” you received during your season has impacted the way fans treat you now that you’re off the show.
R: Well, there’s always a discussion surrounding “the edit” and how vindictive it can or can’t be. I happen to personally believe, from my own experience, that you say what you say and all of it is fair game. [Drag Race producers] have to highlight a specific piece of a storyline. You might watch it back and not recognize the entire experience, but it all happened.
Being a year out from the show, and having evolved and grown so much, it can be funny to meet fans. A fan came to a meet and greet in Europe and they said, “Rosé, your performance was so… sexy! I didn’t expect that. I thought you would do the same stuff you did on Drag Race.” I thought, what the hell? I wasn’t sexy? But I wasn’t! That’s a part of my drag I’ve begun to discover and play with a lot more since being on TV. On the show, I was cuter and more camp. What you do on reality TV has an everlasting imprint on peoples’ minds until they see something different.
MR: What are some of your favorite accomplishments since being on Drag Race?
R: Oh my gosh. I’ve done things I couldn’t even have dreamed of doing before getting into drag. I can’t believe I’m doing them at all—much less dressed as a woman. I’ve walked and taken photos on the red carpet. I’ve been on a sitcom. I’ve toured the world. I’ve released music. All sorts of stuff. I’ve received different awards, including a Critics Choice Award and an MTV Movie & TV Award. It’s kind of crazy how much stuff has been accessible to us because of the platform. I don’t know if I have a favorite! The entire experience is so fast and furious. I’m grateful for all of it.
MR: What are some of your career goals for the future? Is there anyone you’d love to work with, or a unique project you have in mind? Some queens have makeup lines, some have podcasts, and Trixie Mattel even has her own motel.
R: I’m driven by two things: food and money. I’d just like to make some money and eat some food. In all seriousness, as an artist, I’m always centered in the perspective of the actor. I’m an actor first, and I’d love to foray—in drag and out of drag!—into scripted film and television. I’ve already dipped my feet into that pool, but I’d love to do some more of that.
Speaking of makeup lines and merchandise goals, I would really love to go HAM on my own wine label. I’d love to have and sell my own rosé products. I don’t want to drop any major hints, but I could be thinking deeply about that for next year. We’ll have to just wait and see.
MR: Here in Milwaukee, Trixie Mattel also owns This Is It! The bar carries SERV Vodka, and I feel like the Rosé rosé would fit in very well with other drag queen liquors.
R: Totally. Just don’t mix them together unless you want to have a really fucked up night.
MR: Speaking of crazy nights, what can fans expect from this “Werq The World” tour? How might this tour compare to other drag shows they’ve seen in the past?
R: “Werq The World” is known around the globe as being the biggest and best drag show in the world. The level of production is unmatched, and every performer is so talented and unique in their own way. In this production, we’re able to accomplish a way of storytelling that drag doesn’t normally get to explore. In drag, we’re often making dresses out of paper and using flashlights for spotlights. That’s what we do. But with this level of production, we can create Broadway magic, which is really, really exciting when mixed with drag.
MR: During the pandemic, fans were treated to RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue, a short documentary series about RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! in Vegas. Do you think Drag Race LIVE! and “Werq The World” are comparable?
R: It’s a similar level of production for sure. I think where it differs is “Werq The World” always has a theme. This tour’s theme is time travel, so you’re going to see all sorts of costumes and historical references. The palette for this show is so big, and each number is a completely different chapter of a story. It’s a lot to take in as an audience member—in a good way.
MR: As you mentioned earlier, you’re performing in a Broadway-level show—you’re not just performing in bars anymore. I’m curious if having more money, more beautiful things, more time, and more resources have impacted Rosé and your style of drag.
R: Come on, more beautiful things! [laughs] But you’re right, I do have more beautiful things and the answer is yes. I’ve always approached my drag and performance work from a director’s standpoint. When I was a kid, I used to put on shows for my parents and choreograph dances for my siblings to learn. I’d cut up and tape curtains and use lamps as lighting. I’ve always thought bigger picture when it comes to the stage, beyond just my own body and what I’m doing. Having the resources and the budget really helps push drag up to a fun, explosive level. You’ll never hear applause like you do for “Werq The World.”
MR: When you get tired of touring, do you think you’d return to the Werkroom for Drag Race: All-Stars?
R: You know what, yeah. I would. I’m not sure when would the best time for me to do that would be, but I’m not sure if that’s something I get to decide. When RuPaul calls, you want to pick up and you want to say yes!
One thing I’ve always said post-Season 13 is if I were to return to All-Stars, I would need time to grow at my own pace and evolve into something else. I’d hate to go back and be the exact same thing and do the exact same thing. I’d want to have a new story to tell. I want to have new stuff to show and a new perspective.
MR: Well, now I have to ask…Who are you rooting for on this season of All-Stars? Who do you think should be the queen of all queens?
R: It’s no secret that Jinks Monsoon is just a natural. We’ve seen that she still can’t make a dress for shit, but that’s okay. I don’t even care because she’s so smart and so funny. It’s so nice to see a queen evolve and become something greater—and she was already great to begin with.
MR: This is kind of an obligatory question, but because we’re in Milwaukee, there are a lot of Jaida fans. I know you two have worked together quite a bit in the past. Can you tell me what it’s like working with our hometown hero?
R: Oh my God, it is a nightmare. [laughs] I love Jaida! We first worked together in close quarters last Halloween, and we became bosom buddies. Nobody can make me laugh the way Jaida Essence Hall makes me laugh. And what I love about Jaida is that she will let you have it whatever way she’s having it. Do you know what I mean? She’s usually in a pleasant mood, but when she’s not, she’ll talk about it and get over it. I think that’s really healthy—and really entertaining. I’m team Jaida forever.
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