If you keep up with RuPaul's Drag Race's Shangela on social media, you know that she has been on the mend after a bad injury that occurred on stage last October. But just because Shangela hasn't been able to perform, doesn't mean she has been resting on her laurels. Quite the contrary, Shangela has been working on projects and new business ventures, the first of which was introduced this past Tuesday. Shangela announced via a YouTube message that she has formed Say What Entertainment, a LGBT entertainment management group that already boasts an impressive roster of five of Drag Race's stars: Alyssa Edwards, Vivienne Pinay, Laganja Estranja, Gia Gunn and Shangela. I interviewed D.J. Pierce, the man behind the drag persona of Shangela, via phone, and it was an informative and hilarious chat. Check it out!
Justin Hernandez:What was the motivation to start up your own LGBT entertainment management group?
D.J. Pierce: I honestly felt like there was a need for it. RuPaul has done such a great job with RuPaul's Drag Race and unleashing 70 creative, talented drag queens in the world who have fans that want to see them in different places. There is a great demand for touring drag queens. I've been doing this for the last three years ... on tour consistently, and I just felt that there was an opportunity there for a fair and new, dedicated management group. And then also, my select group of queens could benefit from the kind of experience from someone who's walked a mile or two in their pumps! I just wanted to share my experiences, and in addition to that, bring some new opportunities to a lot of the queens who we'll be representing.
JH:I know there is a family connection between you, Alyssa and Laganja...
DJP: Yes, darling! We are the Haus of Edwards!
JH: Yes, the Haus of Edwards is represented! So I'm sure it was a no-brainer to put them on Say What Entertainment's roster, but what made you approach Vivienne Pinay and Gia Gunn?
DJP: Well, Gia stood out to me in the new cast of season six of Drag Race. She is a Midwesterner, she's from Chicago, she's talented ... her stage performance is very high energy, and I love all that! You know I think I'm the Beyoncé of any drag performances in the drag world, so I love anything high energy and she definitely is a performer that stood out to me. Then, Vivienne Pinay -- she is also honorary Haus of Edwards. Just watching Vivienne blossom as a drag entertainer, and also as a personality, over the last year has been really cool to watch. I like Vivienne, and I like to work with people that I like. She's very talented and very professional. And those two things stand out to me for the queens of Say What Entertainment.
JH: Any plans to expand the roster in the near future?
DJP: Definitely! The management group is an LGBT entertainment management group. In 2014, I'd like to expand to include not only RuPaul's Drag Race queens, but also other very talented drag queens that deserve to have their talent displayed on a national platform. I think there are lots of different LGBT entertainers, and there are opportunities that I have come across in traveling that our senior booking managers have sought out. There are needs for LGBT entertainers and models, and all that.
We're starting out smoothly -- I don't want to say slowly because we're definitely hitting the ground running, but starting very smoothly. So we're taking these select five that we have at Say What Entertainment, and ensuring that we're able to produce the opportunities to have these girls booked and working. Because working clients are happy clients. Halleloo! I want to make sure that our girls get all the opportunities possible, and then I'd like to expand.
JH: Now, can we talk about your injury that happened while you were performing on stage. There is some misconception that your broken leg was a result of doing the death drop. Can you set the record straight about that?
DJP: I was performing on stage at the Halloween event in New York City at Providence Nightclub. I was in the middle of a number, I did do a death drop, and I came down the wrong way -- my leg didn't go in the direction that it usually goes for the death drop. I don't know if my heel had gotten caught on the carpet of the stage or how that worked out, but anyhow, needless to say, it did break two bones in my lower right leg, the tibia and the fibula. They basically just snapped right there on stage. I've been doing the death drop for the last three years. I don't think it was the death drop itself that broke my leg. It was a death drop gone wrong that broke the leg.
JH: How are you doing with your physical therapy and rehab?
DJP: I'm really fortunate to be working with some fantastic physical therapists. I had great doctors at the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, and I've had great physical therapists here at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas, where I've been doing my recovery. You have to stay committed to it. It's new to me because I've never broken a bone before. I've never had this kind of surgery or recovery process, but it's definitely showing me my own strength. I'm excited to get back out there and go on tour. My first show back is on February 21 at Syracuse University. I'm so ready for that, and I've pushed myself harder than the therapists do. I spend an extra half hour on the elliptical machines and treadmills. I'm just trying to get in as much as I can. Sometimes I push myself a little too hard, but I'm taking it day by day and learning a lot about myself, as well as my ability to bounce back.
I tell them all the time, they can take my leg, but they can't take my spirit. And I am the comeback queen! C'mon now! I came back on Drag Race twice. Y'all think I wasn't going to come back from a broken leg?
JH: So you already have your return date to the stage. I was wondering if you were going to keep it a secret and pull a Beyoncé and surprise us?
DJP: Oh yes, the comeback tour of the spring, baby! Get ready! I'm doing universities, nightclubs, Prides ... I'm coming! And you know Alyssa and I are releasing a new song at the end of February called "Turn the Party." We're excited about that!
JH: One last question: What are your thoughts about the upcoming season of RuPaul's Drag Race?
DJP: I'm excited! I live for watching Drag Race because it is really entertaining. Take it from somebody who has been sitting on my ass for the past two months. There is some real horrible stuff on television. So I love Drag Race, and I cannot wait for it to come back. I cannot wait for these season six queens! I love Courtney Act and Laganja Estranja. Those are two of my fave front-runners. There are a lot of the girls that I know and like, but I know them the best out of the whole group. I'm rooting for them. I've always loved working with Courtney. She's hilarious. I think she's so talented and such a great singer. And then Laganja, she just turns the party for me because she's just very Shangie. She reminds me of myself in how young she is in drag, but she's on fire when she's on stage. I love that! She'll break a neck trying to give y'all everything. I broke a leg for y'all, so I know she's going to break something! She's fantastic -- a great stage performer.
For more information about Say What Entertainment, visit www.saywhatentertainment.com.
This interview originally appeared on justinhernandez.net.
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