RuPaul's Drag Race returns for Season 2

RuPaul's Drag Race returns for Season 2

1702TinyCover_510241084.jpgWhen Logo’s hit RuPaul’s Drag Race was renewed, drag queens from all corners put their pedals to the metal to secure a spot. Debuting Feb. 1 at 9 p.m., season two entails a fiercer competition with more contestants (12 up from 9), celeb guest judges—including Kathy Griffin, dance diva Martha Wash, Kathy Najimy, Debbie Reynolds, and punk icon Henry Rollins—hysterical challenges, and higher production values (yes, the White Diamonds-like hazy filter effect is gone!). Of course, the titular grand dame is back—RuPaul, aka RuPaul Andre Charles—playing both out-of-drag Tim Gunn-style mentor and glamazonian judge.

The diva herself spoke with us about the upcoming season as did Orlando-area contestant Tyra Sanchez (scroll down for her interview). 

Watermark: How do these contestants size up to the first season’s?
RuPaul: The kids this year had the luxury of having seen the first season, so we really got the players out this time. The people thinking, “You know what, I have what it takes. I am going to go in and audition and let these children have it.” A lot of them are younger and have an edgier angle and they’re also, shall I say, more ambitious (laughs).

New York’s well-known Hedda Lettuce aggressively campaigned to get on. Were you pleased or surprised by some of the queens who tried to get on?
No. I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years and you have to try every angle. Hedda I’ve known for 20 years probably.

What are the biggest differences between season one and two?
The production value is amazing, light years beyond the Vaseline on the lens in the first season. But it’s also the contestants. Their level of ambition and willingness to cut off each other at the knees is pretty amazing to me. The first year the kids were diplomats. They knew they were representing years of this genre being absent and were very cordial. Not so much the second season. First episode this season, these bitches have come out ready to cut. There will be blood.”

The first challenge is hysterical. As with season one, it’s a Mike Ruiz photo shoot, but this time you have airplane engine-caliber wind machines blowing on them so hard their false eyelashes are flapping and at least one wig flies off. What else is in store, and how do you come up with them?
“They always start from my own career and what I’ve done. We twist that around to make it work for TV. I did a photo shoot once with David LaChapelle where he had fans going and people blowing bubbles. It was for some Japanese catalog or something in 1990. It was pure hell on wheels. I couldn’t focus. He’s got music blasting. Where’s the camera? So all of them come from things I had to do myself. There’s a wedding challenge. [And] a sort of Golden Girls challenge where the girls have to make up their senior equivalent. Lots of really great stuff.”

Is there an Ongina moment this year? A big, emotional revelation?
There seems to be [huge revelations in] every single show. We are dealing with queens here so there is drama abound. We also have more queens and shows. The first season we had nine queens and this year we had 12. It just ups the ante that much more.”

Is there a bit of behind the scenes scoop that might enhance our viewing of season two?
When we’re doing our comments of the kids when they do their runway, I say tons of stuff and the things they choose to put in the show are what they decide are funny enough. My favorite from last season was when Rebecca Glasscock was doing her “executive realness” walk and took out a cell phone. I mouthed what I thought her conversation was—“Donald Trump, why you old geezer!” It became our tagline for everything. In fact, you’ll hear me in the second season every time I say Pandora Boxx’s name, I [say it in the same intonation]. It’s still a nod to the Donald Trump line!”

The day following season two’s premiere, Harper Collins publishes RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style. What can you tell us about this tome?
It’s a style guide, but the angle is style from the inside out. Finding your own voice and frequency and decorating that once you find that voice.

Sanchez_651012436.jpgAmongst the contestants in the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race is Gainesville-born, Orlando-based Tyra Sanchez, aka 21-year-old James Ross, who performs every Friday and Saturday night at Pulse nightclub.

Of Tyra, who works a Rihanna hairstyle and at least a touch of Akashia-esque attitude in the first episode, RuPaul says: “We had about three applicants who could play the ‘Tyra’ character. It’s like an ensemble cast. But this kid really punched. She won out because she’s got it. She’s gorgeous, smart, and brings the drama.”

Ross, who reveals that he has a son in his introduction clip online and in the first episode, gave a call to dish about his experience, RuPaul, being a father, and the Orlando drag scene.

So what made you decide to enter and how did you nail the audition?
Tyra Sanchez: I just was myself. I showed some of my performances and most of the outfits I have made. I introduced myself as a guy and a girl and introduced my son, also. All of my friends wanted me to do it. I had doubts, like they won’t choose anyone from here in Orlando. But a friend I was talking to at the time filled out the application for me and said you “have to do it.” So I did a tape and sent it in.

What was Ru like out of drag?
Out of drag, pretty much the same person. In and out, she liked to laugh and have fun.

But in drag, by virtue of being the head judge, she’s a de facto colder person than the male mentor.

How does Orlando fare in the drag department?
Orlando is good. It’s kind of behind because there aren’t a lot of drag shows here, and everything has to be upbeat numbers. You can’t do old school music. You have to stay up in the music and you have to be on top of your fashions and with the rest of the world. It’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s a bad thing because if you do a ballad or something you have to be cautious because the audience might not like it.

You mention your son quite a bit in the first episode, and how you want to win this for him, but you don’t really discuss how you came to be a father. Can you tell us more about that?
I was in 11th grade and I met his mother. By the end of our 11th grade year she was pregnant, and the first week of my senior year he was born. I stayed on my own. I was in a hotel for about 6 months, and then I finally got my own apartment. We were split up the last couple of months but we’re still friends now and work hard to help each other out.

What did his mother say when you got on the show?
She thought it was hot. She’s come to the club and seen some of my shows before. So she was OK with it. She liked last season.

Are you looking forward to the day your son can meet alter-ego Tyra?
I do one day, hopefully, want to tell him. I don’t think now will be a good time. Eventually he’s going to find out and I don’t want him to on his own—I want to tell him.”

So are the Orlando queens cheering you on?
The ones I work with are cheering me on. The ones I was friends with before have actually distanced themselves from me. They don’t talk to me as much. I guess it’s a good thing because it was negative. Whatever they said to me about the show was negative. Being away from them has actually been good.

Who was your favorite contestant from season one?
Rebecca Glasscock, because Rebecca was one of the pretty girls but also quiet and people took it as her being stuck-up or a bitch and I can relate to that. I’m always quiet and people take that as my being stuck-up or a bitch when I’m just being dedicated to my work.

What sort of drama went on behind the scenes this year? Did anyone faint or throw a tantrum?
You have to wait and watch the show to find out about that.

Did anything surprise you about the experience? 
The thing that surprised me the most was Ru. She was a regular person, a regular human being. Not at all [a big diva].

Who is this year’s villain or bitch?
I don’t know. I think everyone has their personalities and big ideas so I think everyone would be a villain and the bitch together.

Were any of the queens tired? 
I think everyone has a view on drag that is different. What I might think is right you might think is wrong. I didn’t have any ideas as to who was tired or shouldn’t be here.

What did you think of the judges?
I loved the judges. They did their job. They were there to critique us and give us pointers and we had to listen to what they gave us.

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