In a fate that seemed to prophesize itself two weeks earlier, Valentina replaced Latrice as the fourth eliminated queen on RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars season 4. Episode two proved to be Valentina's highest note, picking up her only challenge win of the season, but her other six weeks in the competition found the Miss Congeniality/fan favorite consistently in the bottom, a reality that finally caught up with her in week seven.
"It put the dagger in my heart because I know how much you love what you do," Latrice Royale, who alongside Trinity the Tuck won the maxi-challenge, told Valentina backstage. And despite her saying she was holding back tears (twice), the Latinx queen's disposition remained unbothered.
"This is really wild but all I can say is that no matter what we're still in our heels," she dead-panned to her maxi challenge sister Naomi Smalls, who too ended up in the bottom.
But like Gia Gunn, Valentina's contribution to the season was less about competition wins as much as it was about good reality television, the latter of which Valentina delivered on week to week without flaw.
Here, we talk to her about the elimination, her upcoming appearance in RENT and what's next for her career.
I want to begin by talking about your workroom entrances, and I pluralize that on purpose because unlike most queens who make a big to-do of their initial entrance, you chose to do this every week, much to the chagrin of some of your cast members. What were you wanting out of those moments?
Well, you know the thing is is like ... I've always been that person. I don't like to be a pedestrian, y'know? I like to be the one. And there's something about entering a room and breaking the energy. And there's a star power behind that that I've always lived by. And if you have a fabulous outfit you might as well show it. I learned a trick or two from being on the season with Alexis Michelle: how to be a producer of this film within a film or show within a show. And I just wanted to give you the fashion show, honey.
You could call it kismet that the week of your elimination is timed to the week of your debut as Angel in the RENT. What has this last week been like for you in the lead-up to these two moments?
This week has been so incredibly intense. It's been an emotional rollercoaster. I'm living something so magical and so pure and so alive and every day is full of so many challenges with being presently at Fox in rehearsals with RENT and with partly being on television with VH1 with Drag Race. I'm so incredibly grateful to be so busy and represent what I get to represent. I'm just so happy right now in this moment.
It could be argued that your track record compared to Naomi's was better. Do you think Latrice's decision was fair?
Do I think Latrice's decision was fair? Yes.
Can you say more?
You brought some iconic one-liners to this season: "So you think I could go home tonight?" and "ladies, I am boiling," to name a few. How aware were you of the kind of television you seemed to be self-producing?
[Laughs] Well, you see I think I'm very aware and I know that the cameras are there. But I think I am authentically a very extra, telenovela kind of person. And there's a level of star power to me that loves to live in my fantasy. Other people get to witness how much I believe the fantasy. Those moments were all real. People might think that things are scripted or whatever but I am just such a silly, complex character and I hope people enjoy it, but it's all real to me.
It became hard to understand yours and Trinity's relationship. Early on, she seemed to have your back at all costs and then weeks later she was throwing your name around to go home. Was it all just a game or where their real emotions wrapped up in what we saw?
Well, I think that question is for Trinity, not for me. I can't speak for her. But I do believe that it is a competition, we know it's a competition. I don't have anything against Trinity, my friend, my sister. I think we all are there to play the game. It's a competition and outside of the competition we're great friends and we see each other and love each other and give each other hugs and talk about things other than Drag Race. We have such a close bond. For me, I don't see it as a betrayal.
This was a triumphant season for you when it came to your runway looks. Which look are you most proud of?
I really love my entrance look. I think it was the look that I had the most time to put thought into and refine and had multiple fittings. But all my other looks... I truly love them all. I really have a huge amount of love for my polarizing look for the padded to the Gods runway. That look really embodies the process of drag to me and how much I love fashion and shaping and undergarments. For me it was really about showing you vulnerability, not having to be pretty but just being raw and more conceptual.
Let's talk about RENT for a moment. The part of Angel is so important for so many people because of who Angel represents and in many senses the embodiment of a generation that we lost. Who is Angel to you?
Angel to me is the heart and soul of the story. Angel is the most selfless, the most giving, caring person that you'll ever meet and is a hustler, is a fabulous drag queen, a beautiful soul. I'm so lucky and privileged to get to say that through this character I'm inspired to be a better person.
Who are you rooting for now that you're gone?
I mean, I have a special place in my heart for Trinity, that is my friend, I love her so much and we're so close, but I'm so close with all of the girls and I'm so excited for all the fans to continue to tune in and watch and really go based off of their own judgement of who they think should win. But I'm rooting for them all.
What's next for Valentina?
I am so, so, so, excited to continue on this quest of exploring myself artistically. I have so many goals that I want to achieve in the long term. And in the short term I would like to continue exploring television, music and exploring myself as an artistic vocally. I'm going to be going on a tour soon with my one-woman show. And I have other things that I can't talk about yet, things that aren't set in stone just yet, but fun surprises are to come from me, Valentina, and I'm trying really hard to make the best of this life and make all of my dreams come true. It's a humbling experience that I get to be interviewed by people like you, to continue to do things that I love. Because afterAll Stars who knows what's to come of this Drag Race franchise that I hope that I hope that all of my fans will continue to join me on this journey.