Five down, four to go.
In a shocking twist that somehow seemed inevitable at the episode’s start for discerning super-fans, the patron saint of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars season four, Manila Luzon, has somehow gotten the chop — with not so much a bottom two to her name before this week.
In this week’s maxi challenge which saw the queens making over their “good Judy’s,” Manila (and her husband Michael) presented a runway and performance that simply wasn’t up to snuff for the judges. “This is a little costume shop for me,” Carson Kressley said of their looks.
“And also no family resemblance; it’s like distance cousins,” judge Michelle Visage told them.
In the winner’s lip sync, Naomi Smalls edged out Monet X Change to gain her first challenge win of the season. For those keeping track, the win put the leggy queen well behind Monet, Trinity, and Manila who are tied with three wins a piece. In the bottom sat All Stars season one’s Latrilla.
“If this is my last day here in Drag Race … ever … I know that I still have my life that goes on and I have a great life and I’m blessed,” Manila told Naomi through tears. It was almost a pre-emptive goodbye speech, as minutes later, Luzon (not her season 1 partner Latrice Royale) was sent packing.
Here, we talk to her about the elimination, her Barbra Streisand impersonation being accused of anti-semitism and what’s next for her career.
In the episode you said, “I’m really hurt that Michael has to experience this and I just don’t want him to blame himself.” What was that moment like for you, having your husband and your best Judy by your side amidst such a high stakes situation?
I’m really excited that I was able to share this experience with my husband because Michael has been a fan of me and the show for a long time. In fact, he had been watching the show and then we met later on so it was a cool, full-circle moment to have him get to be on the show with me. It was a little heartbreaking for me because his experience on the show is him getting kicked off first so I feel bad. I just don’t want him to blame himself because really it has nothing to do with his performance or my makeup skills.
This is your first time having to deal with the lip sync for your legacy. What was it like taking on the role of RuPaul and having to eliminate your fellow queens?
It was tough. I mean, honestly, I only had one opportunity to actually eliminate a queen because I didn’t win the other lip sync and RuPaul decided to suspend the rules right as I was about to pull out my lipstick and send a bitch packin’. There was a lot of responsibility on me at the time, especially because it was early on in the competition. It was tough to decide what was best for my game, what was best for the competition, what was the reaction of the other girls going to be. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I love taking on responsibilities. I’m a grown ass businessman, okay?
This season has had so many iconic moments that will live on as GIFs and memes. Do you have a favorite that comes to mind?
All I know is that Farrah Moan’s dancing will always be burned into my brain. That’s the one that comes to mind first.
How has social media transformed the show since the time you were on it — and how has that impacted the fandom?
I can’t really speak for the fans necessarily. I mean, I’m a fan of the show but social media has become such an integral part of what we do. We go on RuPaul’s Drag Race and we’re just showing up in people’s living rooms every Friday. And it’s a compressed version of what people see. So social media is a great way to expand on the universe, interact with the fans, and it’s a great way for us to keep ourselves out there when the show is no longer … well, the show is still going … just not with me on it. Wah wah. But I love it. It also forces you to take responsibility of what you say in public, that’s for damn sure.
You were one of the first queens to release music after appearing on the show; “Hot Couture” still remains on heavy rotation for me. What are your thoughts on the amount of queens releasing music these days?
I love it! If the fans are going to be tipping us money for performing someone else’s music, they might as well listen to our own music. It’s our own point of view, it’s our own creation, it’s our art. I think it’s cool that a lot of the queens are getting into because it’s a logical next step.
You mentioned how much Michael helped you through in mourning the loss of Sahara Davenport in the episode. Without asking you to relive any trauma, I was wondering if you might share one of your favorite memories of Queen Sahara.
Sahara is still my ultimate diva. I feel bad that the world doesn’t get to see her in all of her glory like I got to see her, being together and witnessing her talent and the joy in entertaining she had. And the bitch could dance! I mean, you think some of these girls [doing dips] is fantastic but Sahara was the bitch to jump off the stage, hang from the ceiling and the jump into the splits. Everything was graceful with her. She was such an amazing, beautiful dancer and performer and I will miss that so much. But I’m really happy that I get to carry on her story, re-tell her story and remind people of Sahara. That’s one of the things I’m really proud of being on the show.
An article on an online publication, Alma, accused your Barbra Streisand impersonation of being anti-semitic, which I found to be quite the reach. I know you’re a huge Barbra fan, and this read to me as loving homage. Did you see this article and if so did you have any reaction to it?
Yeah, I did see some of the responses from a few people and honestly I feel that in this day and age there’s a lot of uncertainty and sometimes we feel like we’re not in control of things that are going around. And so sometimes we feel like we can make a difference by nitpicking on smaller details as opposed to the bigger issues at hand [cough, cough] like the government right now. So I understand why people will get offended by something and campaign or whatever. I actually did a live video on my Instagram and tried to explain myself.
My Barbra Streisand impersonation came from a place of love, respect, she is an icon, I love the fact that she has a huge nose and the fact that she says that she will never touch it; never get plastic surgery on her nose. And I love that idea because as a man who wants to get dressed up in drag, I don’t really feel like I need to change who I am to what other people’s version of what they think I should be is. Barbra Streisand is an amazing performer and she has a significantly striking look that she used to her advantage and if I’m going to pay homage to her, I have to do it in the biggest, silliest way possible. And, to add a button to that, on my upcoming album, I have a song tributed to Barbra titled, “Barbra, Can You Hear Me?” so there will be more Barbra Streisand and Manila Luzon in everyone’s lives.
Who are you rooting for now that you’re eliminated? And does it rhyme with Fructis?
You know I’m still team Latrice, you know what I mean? That’s my girl. I’m really rooting for her and am excited that she’s back. I’m happy that if I had to go, Latrice is still there another week. She deserves it. I’m also really rooting for Trinity. She is an amazing player at this game. Her drag is sickening. And we became really close. She’s the toughest competitor at this point, I think.
What’s next for Manila Luzon?
Well! I am releasing my new music video, “Go Fish,” so everyone please go and check it out. I have an album that’s on pre-order right now that will be dropping in a few weeks called, Rules, you know, because I rule like a fucking queen. It’s campy. It’s cheesy. It’s catchy. And my voice is really shrill so we’ve got a lot of auto-tune on top of her. And also I have a new line of fashion dolls. The Manilla Doll is now available and she’s going to be wearing all of my fabulous, iconic lewks starting with the spaghetti dress. She’s very, very fabulous. And cross-eyed.