Out of the galaxy of 'All Stars' that returned for the current season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 6, Serena Cha Cha was one of the dolls being looked at the closest.
After leaving Season 6, she emerged as one of the most prominent wig designers in the industry, and her return showed a more confident and self-assured Ms. Cha Cha. While her elimination was swift, so was her impact on her fellow queens and the audience. I sat down with this consistently energetic queen to chat about her return to the Drag Race stage, what she has learned in the eight years away, and what we might see from her in her next chapter.
Michael Cook: Your talent show performance on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 6 truly showed your evolution as a performer and a person.
Serena Cha Cha: After all of these years, I want to brag. I was a little kid who put all his heart and soul into pursuing a dance career when he was younger and I think that I executed it flawlessly. But it's political (laughs).
MC: After being gone for so many years from the Drag Race stage, what was it like when you were asked to return for All Stars 6?
SCC: Yes, it was a dream. I felt like I deserved it, I was worth it, and it was the best feeling in the world, regardless of what happened. I get to enjoy that now. Before, there is a little space where it can be a little traumatizing, I'm not gonna lie.
MC: You were an ingenue during your own season, and you entered the Season 6 workroom with true titans of Drag Race, like Alyssa Edwards and Detox, among others. How do you look back on that season all these years later?
SCC: I am so proud that I am a part of that group definitely. I did not understand who those people were in the drag world at that time either. Looking back, I was part of a group that has gone on to do wonderful things in the drag world, yes. To be a part of that, it makes me super proud. I may not be the one snatching the crown, but I was there with the strongest group.
MC: What do you think you have learned the most since your original season? You have gone on to be one of the most talented wig makers in the game today.
SCC: I have learned that performance can really be anything. I had to stop doing bar shows because first of all, they are underpaid. Secondly. I was too busy with orders. I am a compulsive "maker" and if I am not creating, I cannot breathe. Queens know that feeling, and this is a message to queens all over the world; that bar show that you are trying so hard to get into and people are putting all of these politics into? Screw that-go home, put on your phones, start on your life, and make up your own stuff. Your performance does not have to always be on a stage with people watching. Now due to the pandemic, we have virtual drag since the pandemic. There are many other ways to perform other than that. What I think the future of drag is what Jan is delivering actually; that is my take on it. I perform every day with the mannequins over here; I have Taquita, Luz, and Viola watching and here I am performing! With how much drag takes, simply putting on the drag, it is all performing.
MC: As one of the premier wig makers in the game, you are seeing your creations be a large part of many performers' major career moments and achievements. That must be incredibly rewarding.
SCC: It is like having a baby. When someone is happy about their work, it really does not have to be the biggest name either. For me, the simplest work in my eyes, may not take the most amount of time, but the impact that it can have one someone's overall drag, what you see on social media and in those tags, that is the most rewarding feeling. If I could experience that over and over, I will. That is why I will always stay in the drag business, because it is so rewarding.
There is though, a catch-22, because my name is attached to it. If it goes sideways, everyone knows. No one is perfect, and anyone who is a real business person knows that it is all relative. One's person' opinion may not be the next person's opinion, but the majority does have an influence and I think I put in the work. I thank all the queens, when. the pandemic happened, my makeup job closed because we could not travel and no one could perform. I went online because I had wigs that could be sold, and I had a really cheap rate and we continued. I had to start my life; I cannot produce as many wigs as I know that I can sell. It is a blessing sent from heaven.
MC: With All Stars 6 in the rearview mirror, what do you think is your next step?
SCC: Well I gotta be realistic, I gotta fulfill a lot of orders. Some of these queens, I could not tell them what I was doing (when I filmed) so now I have to take care of some of the people who have been. in line waiting. Running something hand crafted does not come from a machine, I put my hands in every single wig that leaves my house, it does not leave unless I have touched it. So first, it is fulfilling orders for people who have been waiting. Second, it is making sure Serena is more present. Hopefully, the fact that I left early will make people want to see me out there more. When you come back eight years later, there is still no room for error. I put all of my life's savings into this; I studied, I took acting classes, dance lessons, and I prepared to win this. It did not happen, but you know something else is out there. Maybe it is a comeback in the future, who knows? Maybe it is just a comeback to the drag world as Serena Cha Cha. Now I am doing two things, I have to do Serena and the wigs, and I am more than capable of doing two things. I am so proud of myself though.
MC: What do you think you learned the most about yourself as a performer and a person during the last 15 months?
SCC: That I need to be more present in my business. I think that I can get away with being the makeup model, the hair model, the lip sync artist, all those things. It is pretty leveraging what I have; I have built to produce anything out of my studio. My backdrop is ready, lights on, lets get on camera. All of the skills that I had out there that I used in different jobs, to be able to do them from the studio, is what I really learned. All of my skills together is an empire in itself, I just dont have enough people. I have to be doing ten things at once, if not I am not happy.