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She is large and in charge, chunky yet funky. Yes, the one and only Latrice “Mother Fucking” Royale is coming to town. The drag diva – and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” favorite – will be hosting the King & Queens Ball at Chene Park on June 6.
The ball, part of Motor City Pride, is actually a concert starring disco divas Thelma Houston (“Don’t Leave Me This Way”), Cheryl Lynn (“Got To Be Real”), Maxine Nightingale (“Right Back Where We Started From”), Anita Ward (“Ring My Bell”) and A Taste of Honey (“Boogie Oogie Oogie”).
That’s right, Royale has branched out. Since becoming a breakout star on “Drag Race” – she appeared on the show’s fourth season, as well as “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” and the spin-off series “RuPaul’s Drag U” – Royale has bloomed. In May alone she crisscrossed the country to perform shows in Seattle, Houston, Los Angeles, Birmingham, Ala., and a few points in between. She’s also performed internationally, appeared in a documentary (“South Beach on Heels”), released a few dance tracks (including the smash hit “Weight” in 2014) and even become an ordained minister and begun officiating at wedding ceremonies.
Yes, chile, Ms. Royale does it all. But she’s never too busy for her fans and graciously took time out to speak to Between The Lines from Los Angeles, where she was attending RuPaul’s DragCon, billed as the first-ever drag convention in HERstory.
But let’s start at the beginning. Born in California, Royale grew up in the mean streets of Compton.
“It was very tough,” Royale recalls. “It was very hard and I endured a lot of things that no kid should have to endure. But I got through it the best way I knew how, and I kept moving. ”
After being unexpectedly outed to his family by his brother, Royale moved east. He stopped first in Eau Claire, Wisc., where he studied dance and color guard, before moving on to Florida.
Drag was a natural extension of Royale’s love of performing. Her career as a female impersonator, however, got off to a rocky start. Royale entered her first drag contest, which took place at the Copa in Ft. Lauderdale, as a dare. Needless to say, she wasn’t among the winners at the end of the night.
“They gave me a fashion citation and a drink ticket,” says Royale with a laugh. “It was horrible. Horrible!”
But it ignited a spark in Royale, and she didn’t let her early disappointment discourage her from pressing on and perfecting her craft. Fast forward 15 years and Royale had become so successful she landed herself a spot on a television show.
“Going on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ was a whim,” Royale says. “I just sent them an email talking shit and I got a response. I wrote them on a Tuesday and got a call on Thursday and they wanted my video in by Monday. So I did it. I made it happen and I got picked the first go ’round.”
Royale had been a fan of the show. But soon enough she found out how different being on the show was from simply viewing it.
“Watching it, you don’t get the whole story,” Royale explains. “You get a slice-and-dice version of what we actually go through and endure. So it looks very effortless on television when you’re sitting at home. But in reality, oh my god, it was the most stressful, mentally challenging and exhausting experience that I’ve ever gone through.
“No one can prepare you for what you’re going to go through,” Royale continues. “There’s a lot of soul-searching that goes on because you have nobody there but yourself to rely on. So if you go in there scared, it’s going to chew you up and spit you out. And it’s going to show up on camera. Everybody’s going to see it. But if you’re confident and you know who you are and you’re strong, that’s also going to show. So it’s up to you how it’s going to play out.”
Despite the challenges and stress of the show, including those vicious critiques by the judges, Royale began to hit her stride.
“I understood what the purpose was, and what my purpose was, and I was able to share my story, and everything that I had gone through in my life basically all made sense,” says Royale. “I had that ‘A-Ha!’ moment when you realize you’re in the right place at the right time and this is what your purpose is: to inspire and to let people know what you’ve gone through, and to hopefully help somebody. So once I got my head around that I was really ready to go. I was ready to fly.”
After her run on the show – Royale made the top four – an opportunity arose for the entertainer to cash in on her newly found fame. And Royale wasted no time in seizing it.
“I’ve always been a business woman first and foremost,” she says. “I’ve always been business-minded when it came to my career. I just knew that I needed a platform because I already had a plan … and ‘RuPauls’s Drag Race’ was that platform.”
Still, not all the contestants who appear on the show manage to morph their exposure into a successful career.
“It really is all on you to find out what you’re going to do,” says Royale. “Some girls flourish and others fall by the wayside. You have to have a big picture in mind in order to be successful. If you don’t have a bigger picture and goals then you’re just going to fly by the seat of your pants. You always have to be ahead of yourself, because that’s the only way you’re going to stay relevant.”
And you best believe, Royale plans to stay relevant. Her motto? “Diversity is the key to capturing an audience.”
“If you don’t have something different and fresh you can take something old and give it a new spin,” Royale said. “But you’ve got to change up the gig to fit into any situation given. I can go from the White House to the whore house, baby, but either way you’re going to be fully entertained and you’re going to get a professional. So that really is the key, to change it up and keep people interested in what you’re going to do next.”