Serving and slaying in isolation
As EW's latest digital cover queens prove, nothing can keep the drag industry down. So, we gathered the cast of RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars 5 (Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on VH1) to show off their might amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated nightlife spaces and forced the closure of other performance venues where their industry used to thrive. Ahead, see the results of Drag Race icons Shea Couleé, Derrick Barry, Miz Cracker, Jujubee, Alexis Mateo, Blair St. Clair, Mayhem Miller, India Ferrah, Ongina, and Mariah Balenciaga photographing, styling, and serving the house down (literally, from the comfort of their own homes) with their self-shot images for EW's latest digital cover.
Shea Couleé (season 9)
"I auditioned for Drag Race five times before I got on, and I remember, in my application, they [asked], ‘What excites you the most about being on RuPaul’s Drag Race?’ I’m trying not to get choked up, but it came from such a pure part of the little boy inside of me: I remember writing on that line, ‘I just want to belong to this family.’ All I ever wanted as a little kid was to feel like I belonged somewhere, and I feel like that’s what chosen families provide for so many people that don’t get that."
Miz Cracker (season 10)
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that Drag Race came and saved the world of drag... But it did create an economy of expectation so that girls could say, ‘Hey, I’m worth something as a drag queen. Whether or not I’ve been on a show, I deserve that X amount of money.’ That wasn’t there before.”
Ongina (season 1)
"I want it to disrupt the entertainment industry and the movie industry in less of a joking manner. I want to see us portrayed as true drag artists. I don’t want to be ‘Murdered Drag Queen Extra 1.’ I don’t want us to be on the sidelines. I want roles specifically made for drag queens, for serious and realistic movies and television, because we’re in reality shows, we’re on social media, but now let’s talk about [going] bigger, and I think [going] bigger is disrupting that industry [that's] uncomfortable with us sharing the light."
Derrick Barry (season 8)
"We don’t go to college and major in drag. You can go to school and major in theater or music…. if you want to be on SNL, you go through Groundlings or Second City, you don’t just pop up on SNL and there you are, but with drag, you can. Anyone right now can be creating their drag career, and they can come out of quarantine as the most famous drag pop star, because it’s that easy to create your own persona. We have to rely on ourselves. We’re self-taught, and we learn from each other…. Nobody taught us how to do anything in school when it comes to drag and branding yourself.”
Jujubee (season 2, All-Stars 1)
"We were all really horny [during filming], weren’t we? Let me tell you something: RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 5 prepared me for this damn pandemic because I am alone, I’m living in solitude, and I live for it. This is, honestly the weirdest thing. I’m sitting in my room all by myself, lit up, talking to y'all, and I know ya’ll are doing the same damn thing. Isn’t this weird and cool?"
Blair St. Clair (season 10)
“I want to see drag disrupt publications and magazines [as] working models. We use so many cosmetics…. We’ve influenced designers from a fashion standpoint. I’d love to see us have space in publications versus ‘Oh, I got an idea from a queen, but I’m going to put it on a working model versus a drag queen.’”
Mariah Balenciaga (season 3)
“Before Drag Race, the pageant girls were top tier in the pay scale.... When we came along, we didn’t know what our market value was or what our worth was. We didn’t know how much the clubs were bringing in based off of our names being on a reality show.... [Now] I’ll walk into a bar or club, and I have a general idea of what their price point is, I see how many tables are full… I know better because I know [how much money] the night is bringing in.”
Mayhem Miller (season 10)
“We’ve always been able to come together, unite, rise, and thrive to the occasion…. Once this is over, everyone is going to get back to work, and it’s going to be just as fierce, if not even better, because everyone has had time to reevaluate what’s important. Everyone will come together as a community knowing we have to get back to work supporting each other, going to our bars and our clubs, and making sure we’re all taken care of. That’s the next step.”
Alexis Mateo (season 3)
"I've experienced the switch to the generation of Instagram. When I was on season 3 with India and Mariah, we didn’t have Instagram. So, I’ve [been told] ‘you're worth as much as how many followers you have.' I’ve faced ‘you don’t have enough followers to pay you enough.’ It’s disrespectful because of my art and dedication and love for this, but it’s also something that has been created by a social standard…. I don’t consider that fair. A lot of us have faced this, the popularity contest of the girls, and sometimes I look at the girls like, ‘that show was not worth that much money, but, I guess she’s got followers!’ I find myself giving excuses because of the popularity of the girl and not the quality of the performance."
India Ferrah (season 3)
"Instead of doing it for someone else, like my drag family or friends, I did it for me, now... Every show I went to [after my first season], it was, ‘What did you think when Mimi picked you up? Do you hate her? Do you still talk to her?’ It was always about Mimi Imfurst, it was never about what I was bringing to the show. That can f— with you, mentally…. Luckily, All-Stars 5 gave me [redemption], and I can show my growth and show India 2.0.”