You’ve got to be ambitious to call yourself Miss Fame, and it seems to be paying off for this self-proclaimed one-woman brand. I spoke to the season seven queen about music, RuPaul’s Drag Race, fashion and internet haters.
You built up a following through social media: how do you think that’s changed being in the public eye?
We live in a modern world where people are becoming successful from the internet, who don’t even necessarily have to leave their homes to have a following.
You can be a vlogger, a YouTuber and will have the opportunity to reach millions and millions of people. You can make an audience and a career [from] internet success, so you don’t even have to be on reality television to have a sustainable income or to be attached to brands that are interested in what you have to offer.
I started noticing when I posted on Instagram my very first time which was about three years back. I remember people responding to the make up I did and asking me, ‘How did you do that?’
So I kept posting pictures with make up on my own face. Miss Fame was evolving at the same time, and there was a huge gravitation towards her and I just went with it.
When I wrote [my last single] ‘Instafame’, it was basically looking at how I became successful, and the pros and cons of becoming famous on the internet. You’re going to get a lot of haters, people that don’t think that you’re worth it: ‘You being famous from YouTube – how does that validate your success?’ I felt almost like a digital copy of [myself] – I wasn’t human to people because they saw me through the internet.
Did you feel a lot of pressure going into Drag Race because you had this following?
I felt a lot of pressure because I had high expectations for myself. I’m a perfectionist, and being a performing artist in life is different from doing your internet show.
I knew I had areas which needed a lot of attention, and going into the show I didn’t want to let anybody down. I felt like, my fans are watching me and I do not want them to think, ‘Oh we had so much faith in her and she’s a disappointment.’
When you went out, you said it had been a lot harder than you expected – what was it about the show that took you by surprise?
This is such a predictable show, it’s almost disorienting. You don’t sleep normally, you get these major scripts and tonnes of information and you have to memorise, and go with the flow, and be happy and joyous and crazy all at the same time.
When you have an emotional breakdown on a reality show, they’re filming that, and if you have a block, or fear gets in the way, that happens and you’re doing it in front of RuPaul. It’s very unfortunate when it happens, and it happened to all of us!
You’d be given an iPod nano, and you’d have every RuPaul album that’s ever been created and all of the lip sync music, [but they changed] the music on the spot, like, ‘Oh you thought you were doing that lip sync tomorrow – you’re going to be doing that one’.
It was definitely set against you, because why would they make a reality show where it’s easy for all contestants?
It was the hardest thing I’d done to that point in my career, but now working as Miss Fame so many nights a week the challenges are different because of the volume that we work. It’s physically tolling, your toes go numb, you’re corseted, you’re tucking.
I want to look good so I sacrifice my physical body so that I can create looks. I might have nerve damage in my feet and my hair’s falling out – but I look gorgeous.
What else is coming up for you?
If I had it my way, I’d be walking for Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier – changing the dynamic of what beauty is. Beauty has no boundaries: just because I’m a man that dresses as a woman, doesn’t mean it’s not possible to use that in the pages of Vogue.
Originally published in Vada Magazine. Republished with permission.