She could turn a look like no other and has a poise and confidence that's practically unmatched. Still, that sadly wasn't enough to take her all the way in RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 5. Yes, we're talking about Mariah Paris Balenciaga.
After pulling out all the high-fashion stops on the runway, Balenciaga's time on the race was cut short last week after she was voted — by committee — to go home. It was a decision that absolutely came too early but this is the hand we were dealt. Here, we talk to the ballroom staple about what she hoped to bring in her return, all that fashion, and what it's like seeing the ballroom scene now at the forefront of culture.
What were you hoping to show on All Stars this season? What was it about for you?
Coming into All Stars this go-round was about having fun for myself and just showing my growth as an entertainer. Pretty much it was about just having a good time, and allowing myself to enjoy the moment, all while displaying my growth and some fashion.
Let's talk about the fashion and what you wore on the show as well as one thing you didn't get to wear that you were excited about.
There was one outfit that I didn't get to wear that I had. It was this beautiful yellow gown that I shipped into Atlanta to get stoned — that one was going to be sicking. I really wish I would have made it long enough to wear that gown, but you never know you might see it somewhere else soon.
With the Skin You're In evening gown was made for me by Thomas Ogden. He's from the San Francisco Bay Area and he made about six or seven pieces for me. I loved it. It was multi-layered and textured, and there were about three different shades of my nudes layered on top of each other. It just felt like to me I think being for me being in the skin you're in and loving is the ultimate luxury and I just wanted to feel like absolutely regal. I wanted to feel luxurious and opulent; I wanted to just float. I think that that is the feeling that most people who are comfortable in their skin and content with who they are, that's ultimately the feeling. That gown was a visual interpretation of just feeling content with who you are and loving it.
In over a decade of seasons, you still are the only Drag Race competitor who has really made a name in the ballroom scene. On the show you sort of mentioned how it was coming in the first time having not done the pageant and club circuit, what was it like on All Stars?
Well coming into All Stars, I had started performing and traveling and doing the clubs this go-round. So, coming into it I had another, a newer set of tools. So if I had to lip sync or perform or just be more comfortable performing, it definitely gave me the extra advantage I didn't have during season three.
Given Legendary and everything else, what is it like to see ballroom at the forefront of culture?
Well, I am glad that the world can finally see where a lot of people get their creative inspiration or just are stealing ideas from. I think it's been high time for the ballroom culture to get their just due credit for generating a lot of the styles that you see, a lot of the terminology that you hear, and a lot of the dance moves that you see in some of your favorite music videos. Designers, choreographers, stylist they come to the balls and they've gotten inspiration or stolen ideas from ballroom culture for years. I think it's great now that ballroom was the spotlight because those are the people who actually deserve it and earned it.
You walk the face category which is about having face but is definitely is also about selling it. Do you think that experience helped you on Drag Race?
Absolutely. When you go up there it's all about your presence, your attitude, being able to strategize and anticipate who might be competing, and how they compete and anticipating their moves. You do all of this while making it look effortless and being confident and self-assured. That all that alone is not an easy task, you know that that's a mouthful. To do that and to have the poise and the confidence in the presence. Definitely, the ballroom gave me that.
Do you have any particular thoughts about Legendary?
I just hope that the people who are profiting from Legendary are the people who should be profiting from it. I hope that the ballroom children involved are getting properly compensated. That's with any of these mainstream productions that involve ballroom and ballroom personalities or theme; I hope they are paying them accordingly.
What do you want your legacy on Drag Race to have been?
Not being afraid to show who you are and not being afraid to speak up about issues that are hard to discuss. It's just being yourself and being confident and comfortable and happy with who you are, whether it's masculine or feminine. Just being comfortable with who you are, it's no easy task. It sounds so much easier said than done, but it really is about being and enjoying who you are and knowing your worth and your value, and what you have to contribute and bring to the table.
What's next on your plate?
I'd love to do just more production work. I want to do more tv projects or even like do some movie stuff. I just want to be more involved with production and challenge myself.
When you say production, do you mean in front of or behind the camera?
Honestly, either way! I think the whole process is amazing. And it's mentally stimulating for me.