RuPaul and the contestants of season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrated the show’s Los Angeles premiere Monday at the Roosevelt Hotel. The historic Hollywood hotspot, which hosted the first Academy Awards, marked its own chapter in drag “herstory” with a screening of the season’s first episode, followed by drag performances from the fierce 14 competitors: Adore Delano, April Carrion, Ben De La Crème, Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, Darienne Lake, Gia Gunn, Joslyn Fox, Kelly Mantle, Magnolia Crawford, Milk, Trinity k. Bonet, Vivacious, and Laganga Estranja. They were cheered on by a host of celebrities who have appeared on the popular Logo show since its 2009 launch, including David Burtka, Lady Bunny, Bruce Vilanch, and Kelly Osbourne, who acted as host for the evening alongside Michelle Visage.
In order to size up the competition, The Advocate spoke to RuPaul and the queens about their first experiences in drag as well as their thoughts on the upcoming season six, which premieres February 24 on Logo. Read their responses — and their red carpet looks — below.
From left: Ben De La Crème, Trinity k. Bonet, Courtney Act, Milk
"I’ve been wrapping myself in bath towels since I was old enough to do so, but I remember my first time in drag was when I was in the second grade," says Ben De La Crème (left). "Who Framed Roger Rabbit came out in the early ‘90s, and it was in vogue to wear those big T-shirts — I would always pull my arms up through my shirts and pretend they were a strapless dress like the one Jessica Rabbit wore.”
“My very first show in drag I must have been about 14 or 15," adds Trinity k. Bonet, sporting a floor-length red and black lace gown. "It was at a Halloween party my mom threw for me just so I could perform in drag. She even had other drag queens in the community come to the party and perform that night as well. I remember I lip-synched to 'When I Close My Eyes' by Shanice and I had on a red sequin dress, blond wig, and gold shoes. I was absolutely horrible, but I was trying, and I’m so grateful my mom invested in me, because now I’m here.”
“The first time I ever dressed in drag was at a costume party during my childhood," says Courtney Act, wearing a gold ensemble that is literally painted on. "I went as Wonder Woman and my mom even took me to get the costume."
“My first time in drag I did not know what to do with my face," Milk says. "I was using CoverGirl, which does not cover boy. I had my big, bushy brows out too and I thought I was so pretty. If I could go back in time, I would tell that young queen to blend a bit more — among other things.”
From left: Matthew Anderson, Kelly Mantle, Joslyn Fox
“I think I’d say my first official time in drag was after I had seen Madonna on MTV rolling around on the stage singing 'Like a Virgin' in a wedding dress," Kelly Mantle says. "I remember going to my grandma’s house the weekend after and she had this nightgown that I thought looked like a wedding dress, so I put it on and rolled around her kitchen floor lip-synching to 'Like a Virgin.'"
“From the first time I put on my mother’s heels as a little boy it all fell into place and I knew I’d found the thing I was going to do for the rest of my life," Joslyn Fox says. "But the first time I actually performed in drag was to Rihanna’s ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ and I haven’t stopped yet.”
Before the premiere commenced, RuPaul thanked “the most important person who is a part of the Drag Race team … my hair and makeup man, Matthew Anderson,” who is pictured above.
From left: Magnolia Crawford, Vivacious, Laganga Estranja
“I don’t consider my style of drag old school, but it’s a reminder of the roots that started the gay history, the gay revolution, that allows every gay person to be here," Vivacious (center) says. "Because if it wasn’t for this look in New York City as the herald, we wouldn’t be moving forward all these years later. So I’m here to honor that memory.”
“My first time in drag I was 12 years old," Magnolia Crawford (left) adds. "I had water-balloon tits and I was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. But, if I could go back give myself advice, I’d say, ‘Maybe just a bit more contouring.’”
“It was August 3, 1990," Darienne Lake says after a feisty encounter with Courtney Act. "I made a fool of myself, but I had a great time and I’ve been scratching that drag itch ever since.”
“It’s so surreal. I can’t even believe I’m here," April Carrion says. "I can’t wait to share my talent, show what I’m all about, and share a different side of Puerto Rico — not just as a pageant queen, but something more fierce, something stronger.”
“I feel like I am one deep down inside, but I can’t compete with these queens," Kelly Osbourne says. "You’ve got to have more than respect for drag queens because they get up every single day, face a world where many people call them freaks, and they are still the beautiful women they were born to be. I love watching their bravery.”
“My very first time in drag I didn’t perform, I just did it to go out and have a wonderful time," Gia Gunn says. "I remember I felt fishy, I felt c*nt, and it just stuck.”
“Never rush anything," Gunn adds as advice to green drag queens. "With drag, it takes time, it takes practice, it takes dedication. So please take the time and dedication and save us all from the dreadfulness of you not doing your homework.”
“I didn’t realize until I came on Drag Race that it plays in 27 countries or the actual number of people who watch it," Bianca Del Rio says. "It’s fascinating to know we’re reaching so many people around the world.”
“I used to go to school in drag," Adore Delano says. "I lived my life as a girl from 14 to 16 years old. I was going to transition at 15, but after I went through puberty and experienced sexual feelings toward another boy I realized I liked my penis where it was.”
“The first time I was in drag, I actually did it as a joke," RuPaul says. "But I remember the power slipping into a pair of heels gave me. I’ll never forget it. I felt like Superman.”
“I’m so proud of you,” RuPaul told the contestants. “I’m so proud of this season. I’m so excited to see your star rise and rise and all the rap sheets and police pictures. And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen. Release the krakens: season 6!”