It’s like RuPaul’s Drag Race season 3 all over again– because fans are obsessed with Raja. The season 3 winner has not only found new fans with All Stars 7, but she’s also one of the top fan favorites of the season in the eyes of the fandom.
In a recent chat with Shadow and Act Unscripted, Raja says that she had never ruled out coming back, and throughout all the years of rumors of an all-winners season, she knew she’d be approached to get in the ring.
“It had been spoken about so much…I would see it constantly in comment sections and these random little Reddit conversations and articles and things of people talking about it,” she told us of the all-winner season. “The possibility was always in the back of my head and it was just a waiting game at that point for somebody from World of Wonder to call and say, ‘Hey, now’s the time.’ I love being on TV. I always have, I have worked in television for many, many years, including time before Drag Race. So I love it. It’s the ultimate audience. And as drag queens and performers, we love being in front of the camera and we love being visible. So always in the back of my mind, [I was] ready for it, but I don’t think I was actually ready for it because I forgot how much work goes into being on Drag Race. How much money it entails is ridiculous, 11 years later. But I was ready for it. I wanted it.”
She continued, “I knew that if they were ever going to have this season, I would probably be one of the chosen. I knew it because I had already worked so closely with World of Wonder. So when the conversation came and the phone call came to me, I was thrilled. I was like, ‘Oh my God, yes.’ I didn’t doubt it at all. There was no way around it. Was I terrified? Yes. Was I prepared? No. But you just rise to the challenge and I’m a Gemini.”
Not only does drag look different to some extent, but a ton of more folks make full-time careers out of being drag performers now– and they spend a lot of money.
“The audience now is intense and immense,” she said. “When I was on Drag Race, it was in the most primitive and early stages of this TV show. So the audience was quite a bit smaller, but all I can say is that I’m pleased with where it’s come. I would have never guessed that drag would be my full-time career ever. As I was starting out early in my various careers, I never thought that drag would be one of them. I think people don’t realize how intense and expensive it costs now. When I was on Drag Race, we really just grabbed everything in our closet and went on a TV show. Now, there are designers, everything has to be covered in rhinestones, there’s human hair wigs at $2,000 a piece. When hen I was on Drag Race, I think a few of my wigs were $30 and that’s it. So it’s a different expectation of what you’re supposed to provide as the performer and as the cast member and that part is the part that I don’t think that audiences really see. You have to mine money from out of the air, to make it happen, so it’s definitely not easy in that sense.”
Raja is also back on Drag Race in a new era where the show has produced queens who have grown up with the show and have literally become drag queens because of it.
“Drag Race has now created an industry of drag– and I don’t like to complain about that,” she explained. “If people are getting their careers through Drag Race, then that’s just the way it is. I don’t want to be that person as I age and as I become more and more mature to be spiteful and angry at the youth because of what they get to do and that I didn’t get to do when I was their age. So I’m happy to be one of the people who laid the foundation for it. I’m ecstatic for the children who get to be famous and get to be loved and get to be appreciated and revered. And I’m happy to be one of the people to help them do that. I’m a big fan of Joan Rivers and I remember seeing her in her documentary and she never complained about being on Twitter or having social media handles or anything like that. You move with the times and you keep youth around you and you inspire each other and it goes back and forth. I’m not upset by that and I’m happy to have been one of the people to help make that happen.”
One of Raja’s standout moments for the season–not for herself but overall– was her dual Snatch Game performance as Madame and Diana Vreeland. Raja says she didn’t think that it would be a hit as much as it was and that she was just educating the children!
“I didn’t know if I was going to be a hit at it, but I did go into it feeling really confident because 11 years ago, no one really got to see what a stupid ham I am,” she said. “I think in season 3, I was so intense and so competitive that I forgot how to be the silly part of myself. I knew that this new audience would never have seen this part of me before. So I wanted to have a really good time. and also wanted to be very responsible about educating the audience. I knew that the demographics of people who watch Drag Race now are really quite young. So it was my responsibility to teach about Wayland Flowers and Madame. It was important for me to teach people about Diana Vreeland in particular, because everyone refers to Anna Wintour as that scary fashion editor. Well, before any of those b*****s ever came about, Diana Vreeland was the first. Diana Vreeland allowed every single one of us to wear fucking blue jeans. Before that, blue jeans were a workers’ pant. So historically, in fashion and in entertainment, I felt like it was my responsibility. And these are two characters that I loved, and characters that I understood and quite often emulated.”
And to be loved and defended by a rabid fandom is something that the superstar doesn’t take lightly– even as they defend her again Fashion Photo Ruview boots from Violet Chachki and Gottmik.
“I couldn’t be more pleased. I am so thankful,” she said of the fan love. “And [I’m] so ecstatic and just really, I know it sounds corny, but I am humbled by it. I’m like, ‘Wow, I did something good. I did something that people like, I did something that people enjoy and everyone is on my side right now.’ I feel like I’m of the moment right now. I am the moment. And I’m enjoying it. Even with the toot and boot with Gottmik, I actually texted Mik myself and said, ‘Whatever, I’m not watching toot and boot, but whatever the f**k you guys are doing right now is right on, please keep going. I am trending on Twitter. I don’t even know what that means, but somebody told me I was two notches below Beyoncé on Twitter, so it was fantastic. It’s been really wonderful. And I’m so happy to get to introduce myself and love an entirely new fan base that doesn’t even remember me from season 3. So the universe is on my side right now, it feels.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 drops new episodes each Friday on Paramount+.