Posted on 12 July 2012.
Shannon Jenkins, Associate Writer, Lifestyle & Culture
Despite all the makeup, padding and fake boobs, drag queens keep it real. And Latrice Royale is no exception. The tell-it-like-it-is diva quickly won my admiration as a fierce contestant on season four of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She didn’t bite her tongue when it came to expressing opinions. She remained honest and ladylike throughout the whole show, which I suspect helped her snag the title of Miss Congeniality during the season finale. And, when she sang out “Jesus is a biscuit,” she forever joined my list of favorite entertainers. I had the pleasure of speaking with Latrice about her blooming drag career, her connection with Atlanta and more.
Shannon: How did “Drag Race” change your life?
Latrice: Oh my god! Like wow! First of all, I go there to win $100,000 but I didn’t realize I had so much healing to do. It winded up being like a therapy session. I learned a lot about me. It really put me in a different position. Financially I’m more secure. I’m traveling. People love me, and I’m loving it.
Shannon: What did you enjoy most about the show?
Latrice: Making all these connections. It’s a whole new world, and it’s a whole new sisterhood. I have new friends for life. It’s definitely not for the average or the meek at heart. It’s stressful but it’s so worth it.
Shannon: What was the hardest aspect of the show?
Latrice: Honestly it was standing up in heels for deliberation for all those hours. It looked easy on TV but we were standing up there forever. Forever and ever! That was the hardest part. For real, for real. I can deal with the drama but the pain in the feet, in the knees, in the legs…whoooo! That was hard.
Shannon: What was your favorite challenge?
Latrice: It was the boat challenge. That one represented gay pride. It was just a really great opportunity for me to showcase what I love to do, which is being creative and out-of-the-box.
Shannon: Some of your fellow contestants worked your nerves during the Snatch Game. Why did their behavior upset you so much?
Latrice: That was what I was looking forward to the most. It was just a rumpus room fest. I understand you’re trying to be seen, boo boo. But you are stepping on people. You are stepping on me. You are stepping on Ru. You’re just out of control. We see it on TV for a few minutes but there were hours of that going on. I was so through and so checked out by that point. I was like, “I can’t do this.” I was over it.
Shannon: Any regrets?
Latrice: I wouldn’t change a thing. I was very happy with my outcome and how I placed. I was just glad I was able to represent and sustain and keep my integrity the whole time because it was very important I didn’t lose myself. I’m happy.
Shannon: Viewers voted you Miss Congeniality. How did that feel?
Latrice: That’s amazing. That’s the most amazing thing! That was voted on by the fans. It just goes to show people really are invested in you and really do love you. It made me feel good and it let me know I was doing something right. So I’m gonna keep on doing it.
Shannon: Tell us about “Drag U.”
Latrice: This is right up my alley—just helping people get through things. I have a lot of identifying moments with these women. The most important part for me is connecting with my “students.” The whole concept behind “Drag U” is about helping these women come to terms with their inner divas and realizing their self-worth. They kind of lost it with whatever trials they have been through. My whole thing is really digging in and getting them to understand what they’re worth. They’re beautiful. That’s what I love the most. It does make a difference in these women’s lives.
Shannon: How did “Drag Race” heal you?
Latrice: I knew I had baggage. I’m very good at suppressing things. I wasn’t prepared for them to bring it all up. A lot of the girls had things that stirred up emotions and it was things I had suppressed. So through talking it out with them it helped me. I got a lot more out of the contest than I had expected.
Shannon: What makes a great drag queen?
Latrice: A great drag queen knows who she is. She’s strong. She’s powerful. She’s diverse. She’s real. These are things that make great drag queens.
Shannon: I hear you have some Atlanta ties. What’s that all about?
Latrice: My brother and his family relocated to Atlanta. I went for a family wedding and I spent a week there. I fell in love with the city a little bit. If I decide to buy a home it might be in the South. It might be right there in Atlanta. I was loving it.
Shannon: What did you like about Atlanta?
Latrice: Obviously the Southern hospitality. Everybody is just sweet as sugar. It’s laid back. Not too pretentious. It was cool. I could get into that kind of vibe.
Shannon: Did you delve into the gay scene while you were here?
Latrice: I went to Jungle. I went Chaparral. I got around. It was cute.
Shannon: What kind of guys do you find attractive?
Latrice: I like cowboys.
Shannon: There’s a cowboy night at the Heretic.
Latrice: Oh yeah? I like cowboys. They’re sexy.
Shannon: How did you come up with your drag name?
Latrice: Well “Latrice” was my little childhood friend from elementary school. She was a beautiful little black girl, and her name just suited the way she looked. I always loved her name. As for “Royale,” my friend gave me that name as I was trying out for my first drag show. He said, “You’re chocolatey and fudgey like royale fudge.” So, there you have it. And here we are twenty years later.
Shannon: What can we expect from your show in July at Jungle?
Latrice: You know that is going to be all about me tearing down the house and bringing down high energy. If you’re not losing your mind and screaming and throwing me all your money then I’m not doing my job.
Shannon: I’ll be there and I’ll have my camera.
Latrice: Fabulous! Take lots of pictures. I’m really fast.
When: July 25, 9PM