Drag queens and musical theater go together about as well as peanut butter and jelly, a fact that was proven yet again on the latest installment of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
On last week’s episode (aired Friday, March 17), the six remaining contestant got to perform in a fan-favorite challenge: the Rusical! Fighting for parts and learning their songs and choreo, the queens put on a show-stopping performance of Wigloose: The Rusical, telling the story of a small town trying to ban drag —which sounded pretty familiar to the audience at home.
With the judges struggling to find flaws in what was one of the best Rusical performances to date, they ultimately adored Anetra’s hilarious-yet-moving performance as the show’s supportive mother. Meanwhile, the panel split hairs and decided that Loosey LaDuca and Salina EsTitties didn’t wow them as much as the other girls on the runway, landing them both in the bottom.
Performing in a chilling lip-sync to Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” both queens did their best to showcase the inherent drama of the song. Ultimately, Loosey’s eerie performance earned her another week in the competition, bringing Salina’s competitive run to a close.
Billboard caught up with Salina following her elimination to talk about surviving three lip-syncs on the show, how timely Wigloose feels today, and the backstage drama that came from RuPaul’s infamous question, “who should go home tonight and why?”
You made it to the top six! How are you feeling about your Drag Race journey?
I feel amazing about it. Being there, it didn’t feel like it was that big of a deal, because I was like, “Yeah, I wanted to get to the top!” But after the fact, looking back, I was like, “Wait … top six out of 16 bitches? That’s great.”
With being in the top six, you also join a handful of Drag Race queens who have survived three or more lip syncs, like Jujubee, Coco Montrese and others. Was that something that you were consciously thinking about in the moment?
I mean, no, because we all know that third Beyoncé lip sync was supposed to be Mistress — we all saw that interview! [laughs] No, no, it’s fine, I got to give an iconic Beyoncé moment, I was fully ready, bitch. The thing with our season is it felt like anyone could have been in the bottom at any point. We’re all so talented and good at this, that if you put any one of the girls there, it would have been a fight regardless. It did feel good winning, obviously. But at the same time, it really felt like anyone could have been in my situation, which made it such a weird experience to live through. To be able to keep going felt amazing.
A lot of the girls were like, “Oh, I’m just here to have fun!” But I think, deep down, we were all really there to try and win and do our best.
Yes, girl, people are trying to win this season.
Oh, we see that with Miss Loosey, don’t we, honey? [laughs]
I’ve also love that you shouting the phrase “Free Willy” when Anetra leapt over Marcia in the episode prior has become a full-blown meme on Twitter.
I was so happy they kept that in. When we were watching that lip-sync, when she leapt over her, it was the most iconic lip sync situation we had seen all season. So the fact that they made me a part of it was just sickening. And Marcia had no clue that happened in the moment! The way everyone was screaming in the room, it was just insane.
Let’s get into this week and the Rusical episode. For the one trillionth time on this show, we get this moment where Loosey and Luxx are fighting over who gets to play the lead. You backed out quickly from that fight — do you think it’s really worth it to fight for the lead role in these challenges?
In a situation like this where you’re really vying for wins and you want to get noticed by the judges, in the lead role, you’re going to get noticed the most. Usually, the conversation quickly steers towards, “Oh, you could really mess up! You could do really bad!” But I think with musicals, and the fact that a lot of us drag queens are theater queens, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to showcase everything we can do — dance, sing, act, lip-sync — all at once. As a theater major myself, I wanted that lead role, too! But, I wasn’t gonna fight over it.
I think everyone was very struck by how unbelievably timely this Rusical was. Having a show about a small town trying to ban drag while that actual real thing is actively happening in Tennessee and on the precipice of happening in other states felt really wild.
It’s literally so insane. It’s fully like that thing with how The Simpsons kept predicting the future — now it’s Drag Race. At the time of filming, which was almost a year or so ago, Ru had just done an interview with Jimmy Fallon, I think, talking about acceptance and drag queen story hour, which was sort of the main issue at the time. But it’s still happening today, and now it’s even crazier. It’s actually wild how relevant it is today, and I’m really grateful that this is all lining up the way that it is, because what a great way to combat this and show that it’s really about love at the end of the day.
How have you been dealing with all of the news coming out of places like Tennessee lately?
It’s crazy. Our good sister Aura lives in Tennessee, and she has been a very vocal advocate, and she’s been using her platform to fight against it. We’ve all kind of been asking her, “What can we do to help?”
It’s interesting, too, now that I’m traveling to these smaller, rural towns where I’m thinking, “Wait … y’all don’t like us.” It’s very scary out here today.
Getting back to the Rusical, the judges weren’t kidding when they said that all of you killed this performance. When you were preparing for Wigloose, could you tell that this one felt like such a strong Rusical challenge?
The music is so good. We could not stop singing “Everybody’s going Wigloose” ever since we left the show. Like, we’ve all been talking about how we genuinely can’t wait for it to go on iTunes so we can actually listen to it. Leland is a literal genius, and he’s fast making all of this stuff while we’re there. It’s insane.
So, yes, we knew we were crushing it. When the critiques happened and there were no bad critiques, it felt correct. Like, “the show was perfect, let’s just read you guys for your looks.” So it was like, “Okay, cool, we did something iconic that’s going to go down in history.”
Speaking of critiques, this week the dreaded question comes up; “Who should go home tonight, and why?” I appreciate that you let the girls who said your name know exactly how you felt about being picked. What’s that experience like, having to answer, and being told that these girls want you gone?
Well, in that moment, I was truly like, “Well, it’s only two people out of five.” I had a feeling in my heart that they didn’t even necessarily believe that was true. Up until this point, I had been in the bottom for two design challenges and the one interview challenge, which no one thought I should have been in the bottom for to begin with. So, Loosey straight up told me, every design challenge, “You shouldn’t have been in the bottom.” So, in the moment, I was like, “If that’s the case, Loosey, your math about why I should go home just doesn’t add up.”
So I thought, “Let’s go out with a bang. If this is my last episode, I’m gonna go down with a fight.” And I was so mad that they weren’t pushing back at me during Untucked! Like, “fight with me, dammit!” And then Anetra comes in with, “Well, RuPaul was asking about who deserved to go,” and I was like, “Shut up, Anetra, I’m not even talking to you, I’m talking to Loosey!” [laughs]
We get to this lip sync — I just want to know what your approach was, knowing you had this chilling, emotional song to perform while wearing giant hot dog fingers?
Girl, it was giving Everything Everywhere All At Once. The whole point of EsTitties is that she’s an actress, she takes these serious beats, but the reality of who she is really is just chaos, insanity and camp. I knew it would look ridiculous, but as long as I played it so serious and heartfelt, it would make it even more hilarious that I had these massive hands.