Eighty-sixed by Club 96; That’s the fate no one — not even Mama Ru, judging by her blank-faced stare on the runway — expected for RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 4 frontrunner Manila Luzon, whom Naomi Smalls shockingly sent packing Friday night in what’s sure to go down as, next to Shangela’s All-Stars 3 exit, one of the most unjust (and surprising) eliminations in Drag Race her-story.
To make matters worse, three-time challenge winner Manila (who previously competed on season 3 and All-Stars 1) wound up in the bottom two for the first time alongside her longtime friend Latrice Royale at the end of an episode themed around sisterly ties. But it was Manila’s performance in the Best Judy makeover challenge — which saw her drag-ifying her husband, Michael, with a lewk the judges ripped apart — that sent her into a downward spiral.
In the wake of her unexpected departure, read on for EW’s full interview with Manila, who discusses her true feelings on Naomi’s controversial decision, putting her husband in drag, releasing her upcoming album’s first music video “Go Fish” (featuring Naomi, Raja, and Carmen Carrera), and what it means to see the legacy of her late partner (and Drag Race alum) Sahara Davenport live on in the new crop of season 11 competitors. RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 4 continues Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET on VH1.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I feel like I should simultaneously say thank you for taking the time to talk with me while apologizing that it’s under these circumstances.
MANILA LUZON: Don’t worry! You’re not the only one who feels this way. But, don’t cry for me Argentina! The real adventure begins now.
A Star is Born 2 starring Manila Luzon as Ally. I love it.
Actually, I’m just going to play the role of the dead guy. Spoiler alert! A guy dies at the end of A Star is Born.
It’s been made four times. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s on you, girl!
Speaking of getting 86’d, you were 86’d by Club 96. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
I was choosing not to, but I was prepared for anything. I was prepared to go home the first episode, I was prepared to go home the second episode. Even when I was doing well I was prepared to be f—ing gooped and put in the bottom just for the f—ing sake of it. At any point I was never in a cocky moment. I never was thinking oh, I got this. I always expected that there was a chance to go home. But, what can you do at this point? Oh, I guess I can just slay the game after the game.
I hope! It’s strange that this challenge centered on friendship, and then they put you and your good friend Latrice in the bottom. As soon as you guys got there, you were both looking out for yourselves. How did it feel being forced into that dog-eat-dog mentality against Latrice on this episode of all episodes?
I just remember I didn’t feel like I wanted to campaign against my friend. Having been in the position where I was choosing who to go home several times, I actually spoke with every single queen in that room when they were in the bottom, so I knew kind of what the mindset of the person with the power has. So, I didn’t feel like I wanted to throw my friend under the bus to save myself because that’s not who I am. I love my friends and I’m loyal to my friends, and I don’t feel like campaigning against them is in me. Obviously, I wanted to save myself, but in that position, I feel like the girls have their minds made up. The whole sitting down and talking to the queens is more for the audience, maybe. I don’t know what I could have said…. the girls already knew I was doing the best. I hadn’t been in the bottom yet…. The girls had been talking about playing a fair game, and I don’t know what the thoughts of Naomi were because, up to that point, she hadn’t really been in the top, so I didn’t know which way she’d go. But now we know how she plays the game!
It’s narratively fitting in the universe of the show that Naomi sent you home because she was vocal about you being her idol. Do you think that there was a devilish satisfaction fueling her decision because she had the power to eliminate her idol?
Naomi is a sweet girl, but I don’t really know what she’s like. She’s very quiet, she doesn’t show that many emotions… I thought we all knew Naomi, and I guess I only knew her in context of the game. But if you want to watch more of Naomi, she’s featured in my new music video “Go Fish.” We’ll show the world there are no hard feelings. Naomi’s a sickening bitch. She’s an amazing performer, and she had every right to send whoever she wanted home. I’d prefer it wasn’t me, but it’s ok. I can slay the game outside of the game.
I speak to some queens who felt like it was their time to go because they screwed up, but I can’t imagine you feel the same way because you were doing so well. Does this format make you see the All-Stars title a little differently since it’s based on so many factors outside of gauging actual performance?
I love reality TV shows like Big Brother where it’s smart game to vote off the strong competitors, especially early on to give the other people a fighting chance. From a game stance, it’s totally acceptable. The All-Stars [queens] haven’t established how you play the game. Everyone is worried about playing it fair and playing it safe, but the rules are different. I was trying to see if I could form an alliance with Valentina back on episode 3 when she was in the bottom, but the girls were just not ready for that. And the way the game is evolving, it can be played any way. It’s also hard because we never know if there’s going to be a twist. On All-Stars 3 they brought the girls back as a surprise [jury]. You have to keep that in your mind…. it makes for fun TV to see all the gags. We didn’t know if we were going to have the eliminated queens come back and vote. You have to make sure that when you vote someone off, they left with a good taste in their mouth. I don’t know if the queens are going to come back now and exact their revenge…. It’s no longer the best queen wins or the best of the best; it’s the best of who’s left.
The idea of fairness in All-Stars is interesting because it hasn’t been established how fairness fits into the competition. You were being such a sportsman. You even gave Naomi her challenge-winning mustache!
I had that mustache because I was going to wear it for my S&M bunny look, but then I decided to go against it because I thought there was enough s— on my face. I probably shouldn’t have lent it to her now that I’m thinking about it.
There’s such a weird All-Stars dynamic of people being eliminated or saved after lending things to other queens. Aja helped Bebe in All-Stars 3, Alaska’s tank top drama in All-Stars 2…
If you look at it that way, I completed Naomi’s winning look! And she owes me a mustache.
Yes, a small little part of you won this week’s challenge.
There are no hard feelings. Naomi’s great and whatever… f—ing bitch! [Laughs]…. It was all a f—ing blur. I just remember being there with my husband and that being a lot of fun.
Has he done drag since? He seemed to enjoy that makeover.
Of course he enjoyed that makeover. If you’re going to get in drag for the first time and you had all those girls to pick from to do your makeup, I think you’d probably want me to do your makeup…. I don’t know what your size is, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t fit into anything Naomi had. I don’t know what color your skin tone is, but I’m pretty sure I could probably match it better than Monét could have. The reads are just coming, bitch!
Has your husband done drag since this episode?
I’m on a gig right now in Chicago, but I didn’t lock my drag room, so maybe he’s in there dabbling in my drag. I don’t know what he does when I’m gone. He loves to get dressed up. I put him in sort of drag for Halloween, but not full drag because I’m like, baby, I’m not going to put you in high-heeled shoes. We have to be comfortable. I know he’s well-endowed and it’s going to end up hurting him at the end of the night. It’s a lot of fun playing dress-up…. But let’s not get it twisted; I’m the queen of the household.
I love that you mentioned Sahara in this episode and that you feel like Sahara sent your husband to you after her death. A lot of the new season 11 queens are in Sahara’s drag family and have spoken about her being an influence. How does that make you feel knowing that Sahara is still so present in the community?
I mean, Sahara is my drag diva. She always will be. She was so instrumental in how I do my drag today. She’s an amazing performer, dancer, and a sweet person. She was shady and witty when she needed to be. I don’t think was able to have the chance to showcase how much further she could have gone and how much brighter of a star she could’ve shined because she passed away so soon. It’s lovely I get to come on the show and share her story and how she influenced me. With season 11 coming along and having the Davenport family [compete], it’s exciting because there’s a sense of family, community, and togetherness we have through drag, and it’s cool we’re getting to showcase that to the audience. Sahara’s spirit lives on.
Finally, how do you feel about the tastefulness of Trinity’s old woman outfit that was allowed on the runway last week?
Trinity’s gimmicks are so fun and silly. It was really cringey to watch in person. It’s funny to see the contrast of what we expect from Trinity…. and for her to uglify herself with a hunchback and dangling titties, unafraid to make herself look busted, it was fun. It made me uncomfortable. But that’s really cool; It’s punk rock. It’s drag. Drag isn’t always about expensive rhinestone gowns; it’s about what’s entertaining. Sometimes a busted queen is more entertaining than a polished queen. It didn’t win her $10,000, but I thought it was fun. I could’ve done without the poop stain. I don’t think they showed her behind on the final edit.
I didn’t know that was a thing.
There was a big old brown s— stain on her butt, girl. We got to see it because we were standing in the back, so all we saw was a f—ing s— stain while trying to hold vomit in our mouths.
I think you know what I’m referencing when I talk about the tastefulness, though. I wish we could’ve seen other looks you had planned….
Mhmm, yeah. To be honest, there’s a responsibility we all have when we go out there. There’s a difference between being a drag queen on TV where the masses can tune in and watch, and then at a nightclub where you have to be a certain age to get in. There’s a different decorum. We’re all trying to push boundaries, but also trying to stay in our lane. I’m appreciative of the opportunity of being on RuPaul’s Drag Race and I love the platform we’ve been given, and from that platform I now have my own platform where I can showcase whatever the f— I want. If you want to see my nudes, follow me on Instagram!
You better follow through. I’m printing that.
I am the trade of All-Stars 4. I’m a married man, but it’s ok to look and drool.
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