She may not have snatched the crown, but Raven's deliciously wicked demeanor and fabulous transformations won her a worldwide following during the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Since then, she's made several tv appearances and hosts a variety of drag events. On Monday, June 20th, Raven returns for a second season of RuPaul's Drag U to school biological women about confidence and fierceness in her own brand of "tough" love.
JG: What is the most important lesson a woman can learn from a drag queen?
Raven: That depends on the queen! I do believe confidence is THE best lesson I have to teach! Make up, hair and costume are secondary to me! Without confidence -- you look like shit!
JG: What is the most important lesson a drag queen can learn from a woman?
Raven: Again, that would depend on the woman! Poise and elegance is something I've always taken from women, especially my mom. There are other women that have taught me how to be a real whore and trash it up! They will remain nameless.
JG: What is the most challenging part of teaching at RuPaul's Drag U?
Raven: I have found that teaching someone that they do have confidence in them is the hardest! Some of my students don't believe they have it. Once you find that, you can do just about anything. Confidence is sexy!
JG: Not to say you're not tough on your girls, but you've let a bit of a softer spot show on RuPaul's Drag U. Has working with these women influenced you in any way?
Raven: I am actually a very sweet and soft person when you get to know me. When I meet someone who is down on themselves it breaks my heart! I am willing to help someone who wants to help themselves. This definitely pushes the professors limits as well as the students. It easier to teach someone with tough love instead of rough love. That's a different show tough.
JG: Your mom enrolls in Drag U this season. Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Raven: TEARS! My mom became a drag queen before my very eyes while she watches RuPaul's Drag Race. She loves the glamour. I did find out a few things that upset me a little, but, I wish I could put my mom in drag everyday. It was such a wonderful experience. She has a new found respect for what I do and I have ALWAYS respected my mom for who she is. I love my mom.
JG: When and how did you start doing drag?
Raven: I started in 2002. I wanted to enter my friend's amateur show just to do it once. I ended up winning and realized I had so much fun conceptualizing a performance that I decided to do it a few more times. Here I am 9 years later. I have no plans on quitting anytime soon! I enjoy it as a creative outlet.
JG: Were you immediately fierce?
Raven: Well, at the time I was doing things no one else was and pushing limits. I think I helped other queens, and people for that matter, think outside the box. THAT'S FIERCE! I was a little jagged around the edges though. I have since created a persona that can be dark and mysterious, glamazonious (that's a word I just came up with), edgy or downright raunchy.
JG: What is your favorite part of doing drag?
Raven: The transformation. You can be anything you want! I love being a chameleon! One of Santino's critiques to me on RuPaul's Drag Race was that I looked completely different every time I came onto the main stage. DUH! I have all these wigs, make up and costumes at my finger tips. Why would I constantly want to look the same? I'm a DRAG QUEEN. I love Santino though!
JG: Least favorite?
Raven: TUCKING!!! UGH!!!
JG: I'm addicted to the ShowgirlsWeho youtube channel. You're an awesome hostess and I wish I was close enough to come to all the shows. I saw you and Raja both rock very similar African-inspired looks (which she famously rocked on Drag Race) while performing Kelis' "Acapella." OK spill it, who did that first?
Raven: Well, thank you. I would say I like hosting a tad bit more than lip-synching! Raja and I have ALWAYS been compared to each other. When we do shows together, she is one of the only queens I have to call and ask what's she's doing for the night. We've shown up with the same songs or looks at the same shows! She had the look first, I believe, BUT ... I did the song with the look first.
JG: Where does that charming and oh-so-flawlessly "I don't give a fuck" Raven attitude come from?
Raven: (laughs) I would say it's been years of putting up with bullshit. There comes a point when you say "ya know what? I don't give a fuck!" I am not one to go to sleep at night worried if someone doesn't like me. If they don't -- they obviously don't know me! I don't give expectations anymore! That goes for everything!
JG: What women inspire you?
Raven: My mom first and foremost! I am inspired by women who go for what they want. They may not always get it, but still keep going for it. Women who fight and are passionate for what they believe in. Women who are compassionate and love and allow to be loved! Women who push the envelope and "take it there." Women who have vaginas!
RuPaul's Drag U season 2 premiers Monday June 20th at 9/8c.
Stay tuned for weekly interviews with the Drag U faculty!