Manila, you were the twist of the season when you and Latrice Royale came back for another All Stars season when you came in as the final two contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 this year. What was it like coming back in for another crack at the All Stars crown and how did this experience differ with your All Stars 1 experience?
It should be no surprise to any of us that Manila Luzon (along with fellow All Stars 1contestant and Latrila teammate Latrice Royale) is the first contestant to appear on two cycles of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars; she has been taking her stiletto and kicking down barriers as long as she has been in the game.
After coming in second on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Manila is one of the first queens to take the platform she was given and craft an entire career. She has released music videos, toured significantly. and has designed a template for future Drag Race sisters to follow when the are looking to truly make it happen for themselves. After being looked at as the front runner on this season of All Stars, many were shocked and disappointed to see Manila eliminated this week. I caught up with her and we talked about what it was like coming back into the competition after such a long time away from the workroom, what advice she has for the new crop of Drag Race contestants, and why being a trailblazer is so important to her.
For All Stars 1, it was definitely a sense of “what are we getting ourselves into”? Then at the same time, we also had the team twist, where we were each teamed up with other competitors, and it was like “okay, I guess this is how we are playing the game now”. At that point, it was like I was going in blind. Now coming into All Stars 4, I figured out how to navigate it for myself. Being able to showcase my fabulous drag, people able to be a crazy kooky character and to also get under the skin of some of these bitches (laughs)!
When you came in this season handcuffed to fellow All Stars 1 contestant Latrice Royale, who were you surprised not to see when you finally got a look at the whole cast?
You know, there are definitely some queens that I would love to see on a season of All Stars. Laganja Estranja would be great on the show, I would love to see Delta Work also; I know she is doing RuPaul’s hair right now, but I would love to see her on the show. I thought Ivy Winters may make an appearance, she is such an interesting queen . There are so many queens that are really good, I am sure we will have many more seasons of All Starsand many many more queens. Since they are bringing back queens, maybe they can bring back Adore Delano, they could even bring back me, I don’t know.
You are both a RuPaul’s Drag Race and a drag trailblazer. How do you think Drag Racehas changed and reshaped how we all look at drag?
You know I saw firsthand on Season Three how people all of a sudden started to understand the people that do drag and what drag was. I know that many times people have their own ideas of what drag queens were, and got it confused with cross dressing or being trans or whatever, but I feel like now, people understand that it is a form of entertainment, it is an art form, it is a career for people, it is a hobby. it is something that anyone and everyone is welcome to participate in and in any aspect. I think that the fact that an entire industry has been built up around drag, from companies that are making rainbow lace front wigs to makeup companies to places that sell shoes in a size that is bigger than a size ten. It is all over the place; drag is mainstream than ever, yet still keeping it’s punk rock attitude. I think it’s really cool to see how big it has gotten, how much it has changed, and how much more it is accepted by the population.
What was it like coming back with Latrice as the twist of the season. It as Latrila 2.0 for sure. Ironically, you got to come into the competition together and also were up for elimination against each other. Talk about a full circle moment!
The cool thing about being on All Stars 1 and having to be forced into teams was that I was able to create such a strong bond with Latrice because were were suddenly paired up together and we were fighting for each other and with each other against the other queens. We became really close. The fact that we were able to come back and do it separately, but still know that that person was right there next to you that you did such an amazing job with before, it was comforting. It was comforting to come back with Latrice, and it was familiar for us. We knew that we were going to be a threat, having been on All Stars 1 already. Now it was nice because it was two of us; its not just one bitch who was a threat, it was the two of us. The girls were shaking in their boots and I thought it was pretty damn funny watching the girls gagging. They all thought for a quick second that they were going to be paired into teams and they were like “no...”; that was a fun little gag!
You were looked at as a front runner to win the competition, so you are the person to ask; who do you think could snag the crown and win All Stars 4?
Well, unless Shangela shows up in the last episode in a box, I think I am putting my money on Trinity the Tuck. She has been a fierce competitor, she has the best track record now, her drag is beautifully done, she has a great attitude. She is shady as fuck when she has to be, but she is also a lovable person. She has stayed true to herself the whole time also. I am rooting for her. And of course, Latrice, that is my ride or die.
The Season 11 cast has been announced and you and Honey Davenport have a special relationship as she has mentioned you as a great mentor to her drag career and aesthetic. What advice can you give them from your own experience and perspective?
My advice to the new girls is to just be confident in yourself. Know who you are and do not let the outside influence how you see yourselves. The best way to do this is to obviously, if you are getting upset at what the fans are saying about you, take it as a critique. If it upsets you, you deal with it on your own personal level rather than lashing out at other people. For example, if someone calls you out for having a shitty hairline, don’t get mad at the person who criticized you; fix your hairline (laughs). You know what I mean?
From “Hot Couture” to “Helen Keller” with Cazwell, your music is some of the most popular and polished music to come from Drag Race girls, and you were one of the first to really put out some truly professional musical productions. Tell us there is new music on the way!…
Yes girl, you know I would not go on All Stars and not have music coming out! You have to check out my new album Rules, its on pre-order right now and it will be on sale in a couple weeks. I dropped my new music video "Go Fish" after the elimination. It was really exciting! I love making music, it is another way of me expressing my creativity.
I love making music videos because as a drag queen, I usually make one costume and then go out onto a blank stage. With my one costume, I create for the audience this whole fantasy. Everyone uses their imagination and they are in the castle with me. With a music video, I can create that whole fantasy and all of the people that live in it. It isareally fun experience for me to expand my little drag fantasy for everyone, and the music is a soundtrack. I had a really great team working on the music with me, so I am really excited to release the album.
What keeps inspiring you as a performer after being I the game for so long?
I take inspiration from everywhere. I actually have a song titled “Inspire Me” on the album, which lists off all of the things that inspire me. It is on going and ongoing really. What has been really inspiring to me recently are the drag queens that have been showing up everywhere. I love it; they have so many cool ideas, and they now have all the resources and the knowledge to do drag really well. As a queen who helped pioneer some of the ways of a RuPaul’s Drag Race queen, I now get to look at some of these younger queens and let them inspire me so that I can keep doing what I do.
During your season, you were in a relationship with Sahara Davenport, who was a contestant on Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. While Sahara may no longer with us, what do you think she would be saying right now about your journey if she was with us?
If Sahara was here right now, she would be os proud of me. If Sahara was with me right now, she would probably be on All Stars winning right now. Sahara was an amazing person and our love for drag was probably one of the things that really made us close as partners. She as really influential in how I do my drag. If she was here, she would be very proud and probably be slaying right next to me.
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Manila Luzon “Rules” is available for pre-order on iTunes