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by Sarah Barry
From RuPaul’s Drag Race to Buffalo: Latrice Royale headlines Buffalo’s Pride Festival
Latrice Royale has been a female impersonator for over 20 years. Her career began as a dare that led to her appearance on the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a competition to become America’s next drag superstar. Self-proclaimed as “large and in charge,” “chunky yet funky,” Latrice has a great attitude and an even greater laugh. We had to pleasure of talking to her before her performance at the Buffalo Pride Festival, this Sunday at Canalside, where she’ll be headlining alongside singer and songwriter Neon Hitch.
AV: What were some of your influences as a performer?
Latrice Royale: I grew up loving Tina Turner, Patti Labelle—you know, the divas. There’s something about how when they’re on stage, they just give their entire being away to the audience. They don’t care about sweat, how they look. It’s about giving their heart and taking people on a journey.
I started out singing in church choir and musical theater, I have that kind of background. So when I started doing drag all that stuff tied together into who I developed myself to be.
AV: How would you describe Latrice Royale to someone who hasn’t seen her yet?
LR: [Huge laugh] Well, for one thing, she is a big bitch. She is going to take you on an adventure that you are not going to believe, just wait for it.
AV: Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race made me realize how much time is spent perfecting your look. Do you have any tips for new performers? Any staple products or items they shouldn’t go with out?
LR: You definitely need to have the right color foundation with good highlighters and powder—it’s essential. You don’t want to look like chalk, so do your research. You have to blend all that stuff down and make it look natural. You don’t want to look like your head’s on someone else’s body; that’s not cute.
AV: When I watch the show I continuously find myself cracking up. Do you think comedy is an overlooked part of drag performances? Do you prepare your jokes and wing them?
LR: Comedy is a big part of drag and it always has been. Pageantry was the art form of getting on the road and being able to travel and see the country. That’s about being pristine and perfect—there’s nothing funny about that part. For the longest time, comedy has been a lost part of drag. RuPaul’s Drag Race teaches you that you can’t take yourself too seriously all the time. You’ve got to really relax and let it go and laugh at yourself—because, bitch, that’s how you take the power away from the haters. If you can laugh at yourself, then no one can laugh at you. You’ve got to be quick-witted in our industry; you don’t want to be outdone by somebody else. If you can’t keep up, you’ll get eaten alive.
AV: On the show you seem vibrant and confident, but you reveal some rough details from your past. Has performing helped you overcome these obstacles?
LR: Performance, it’s like therapy. I feel a lot of emotions and feelings through performing. I’m doing it from both perspectives, a male and a female side, but at the end of the day it’s really just a human thing. Performing helps me overcome a lot because I truly believe in what I do and what I’m singing about.
AV: What were the best and worst parts of competing with the cameras rolling? Was it ever stressful?
LR: For me, I kind of forgot the cameras were rolling. You get used to them. You definitely think about what you say and how you’re going to look sometimes. I’ve always been one to choose my words wisely. I don’t just pop off at the mouth. That’ll make you look like an idiot.
AV: What was it like working with RuPaul?
LR: It was amazing, but during the show we don’t get very much time to spend with him. When he does his walk-around, that’s about as much time as we get, besides on the runway. During my stint on Drag U, we were in a different situation that was noncompetitive. We were working together. It was absolutely amazing, he’s so brilliant at what he does. People don’t really know what goes into it behind the scenes and how much work there really is.
That man, I learned so much from him. He’s inspired me to try to progress into the television world. We’re working on that, and I have him to thank.
AV: Did you enjoy working with other drag performers?
LR: I do. I always love learning other people’s pasts and seeing how they do it, how they put it together, and what their thought process is. That’s how you get influenced and inspired. When you have that many artistic juices flowing in one room, it tends to get a little overwhelming. You have to be on your game and know who you are. It puts you to the test. It can be good and bad, but I’d have to say good overall, at least for me.
AV: What’s your favorite song to perform?
LR: Too many. It depends on what genre were talking. If I am going to be in the club, “You Make Me Feel Good” is my favorite song to perform. If I’m going to take you to church, I’m going to take you there with Aretha Franklin.
AV: Do you have anything big planned for your visit during Buffalo’s Pride Festival? What should we expect?
LR: Well, the big thing that I have planned is me, and I’m going to be turning it out to take you on a little journey. Just get ready for the whole experience. I haven’t been to Buffalo yet, so it’s going to be great.blog comments powered by Disqus
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