Shannel, the first drag queen to ever grace the werkroom in RuPaul’s Drag Race, feels honored to be back 15 years later.

The Las Vegas legend, whom RuPaul called one of her “firstborn” RuGirls in the most recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 9, said to Blavity’s Shadow and Act that she feels the time she’s put into her craft has allowed her to maintain her spot as one of the most iconic RuGirls in the pantheon of Drag Race queens.

“I think [its] an honor, you know, I mean, there’s essentially hundreds of queens at this point. And I think the fact that I keep getting asked to come back kind of shows and proves to me, as an entertainer, my worth,” she said. “Although it doesn’t define my worth, it is a blessing and a great thing to feel that you are still a part of it, to be seen and acknowledged for what you do and what you have done for the queer communities. And I mean, I’m nearly 30 years in the industry now. And aside from COVID when the world shut down, I’ve never, ever not worked. And I have maintained, fortunately an incredible work ethic and I’ve headlined in Vegas for over 20 years now. So I’m very blessed.”

She talked about her laser focus when it comes to crafting looks and routines. As she explains her workflow, it becomes apparent that it pays to be strictly organized.

“I’m always of the mindset [that] you have a clean workspace and you have clean surroundings, [and] essentially, then you can see clearly. And so I am an extremely, extremely organized person and I’m a very detail oriented person. And so implementing all of those dynamics into what I do is important to me,” she said. “I label everything. I have a set of nails for every single outfit. I have a set of jewelry for every single outfit. So, everything is labeled and it’s detailed. And I pride myself on that because part of putting on a great presentation and a great performance, I think is keeping yourself organized. And that’s both mentally as well as visually.”

While Shannel is someone the other contestants were scared to compete against, she herself was facing apprehension about some of the challenges that didn’t exist during her season, such as the Snatch Game. As we saw a few weeks ago, both Shannel and Nina West portrayed Las Vegas icon and pianist Liberace. Shannel described preparing for the Snatch Game “nerve-wracking.”

“You know, it’s like you watch this show year after year, season after season. And it’s one thing as someone sitting in your living room, watching the show and you kind of look at things and you go, ‘Oh, that doesn’t look that difficult,’ or, ‘Oh, they could have done a better job on that’ or blah, blah, blah.” she said. “But the reality of it is is that the show is very challenging and the challenges themselves are made to be difficult. They may not appear to a viewer to be as difficult and challenging as they are, but they are. And when you have cameramen, and you have producers, and you have lighting, and you have other queens, and you have the pressure of everything on you at one time, it’s a lot.”

“Something like the Snatch Gam, that we know is always on every season, it is one of the biggest challenges [and] one of the biggest episodes of every single season– and it really kind of separates the big boys from the big girls per se. And you know, I’d never done it before and everybody else on the season had done it and in some instances more than once,” she continued. “So I wanted to just be able to bring something that a character that had not been done, which in itself was very challenging to figure out someone that hadn’t been done. But more importantly, I just wanted to be able to bring a sense of Vegas and [a] true Vegas legend, and that’s what I did. You know, to do at the end of the day– he’s a drag queen himself.”

“I wanted to do him justice by creating a look that I felt was very iconically Liberace, but in the same token, give a fun flair to it. I was more actual concerned about wanting to be more realistically Liberace than [broadly] sort of Liberace,” she continued. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me as far as winning the challenge, but at the end of the day, I’m very happy with the way it turned out because the response that I have received online from from the viewers has been really, really wonderful. So I’m, I’m very thankful for it.”

Even though she didn’t win the challenge, Shannel addressed how the fans have, overall, shown her more love for her biopic-esque portrayal of Liberace over West’s more broad portrayal. She said that fans’ love for her performance has been “quite honestly the consensus.”

“I would be lying if I said I’ve not received probably hundreds of messages from people and they all were like, ‘We actually preferred yours because we felt like you were doing Liberace and Nina was more like a Paul Lynde sort of character.’ But again, you know, it’s open for interpretation,” she said. “I love Nina and I love what she did; it’s just seeing it in a different way, in a different light. And at the end of the day, the judges select what’s funnier for the competition, [and] it’s meant to be crazy and over the top, and I did not take it there, which is why I didn’t win. And that’s OK.. I’m good with that. I’m happy with what I did and I’m happy with the photos and the videos.”

Shannel’s charity, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, is very near to her heart as someone who has anxiety.

“Well, I think it’s profound and I think it’s important. Unfortunately, I think that a huge vast amount of people experience anxiety and depression either together or separately throughout life, and a lot of times they don’t understand what they’re going through and they don’t know how to sort of put a voice and an explanation to it,” she said. “As for me, I’m not a sufferer of depression, but I am a sufferer of anxiety and very specifically health anxiety. I’m a hypochondriac. And it’s something that I have dealt with my entire life. It comes and goes in spurts. There are times where it’s really bad. Like during COVID, it was just absolutely on a level a hundred out of a one to 10. And the, there are times where it just sits at bay and it doesn’t really affect me at all. But I always sort of felt alone in that nobody else understands or feels the way that I do.”

“Finding the Anxiety and Depression Association of America is a beautiful thing because it gives the tools and the resources and the information that you need to find the help that you need. I think that it is something that is so important and that so many people experience, but just don’t necessarily know what it is,” she continued. “And it doesn’t have to be health anxiety. It’s it’s any type of an anxiety. Unfortunately for me, what was happening is that when I was experiencing this, I would just go to my regular doctor and they kind of want to push it aside and they just want to give you a pill and send you on your way and band aids don’t always help the wound. So to me, I think it’s about digging deeper and finding the root of the cause and then getting the real assets in order to help to fix the problem. That’s what I did, and that’s what worked for me. And so, representing being a representative for that organization on the show was important, because it’s a very small organization–it’s actually only built of five people and they are sufferers themselves. Who better to understand you than someone that already experiences these things themselves?”

While helping the Anxiety and Depression Association of America brings Shannel joy, another aspect of her life that sparks joy is her over-the-top Christmas decoration hobby. She said it’s a goal to eventually create her own line of Christmas products.

“I would love to be able to come up with my own line. Santa’s Helper’s Design is my company. Fortunately throughout the show, my Christmas Instagram has grown to, like, 4, 000 people already, which is a great thing,” she said. “I’m getting a lot of messages from people wanting me to help and decorate for them. But basically, what I do is very high end, very over the top Christmas designing and installation and it means the world to me because Christmas is the one thing–sort of like taxes, like death, like drinking water– that there’s always going to be, it’s never going to go away, and it’s tradition, it’s values, it’s family. It’s a season, to me, where everybody just comes together and people are nicer during the holiday season and I love the joy that it brings out, I love the decor.”

“I’m a designer, so I love interior design as well. And growing up as a kid who my parents decorated very highly for Christmas, it just has become an extension of that,” she continued. “And I’ve been able to make a business out of it. I am able to take the beauty and the art form of what I do in drag and the transformation and I incorporate that into Christmas and designing and what I do.”

Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars Season 9 each Friday on Paramount+.