As a hardcore fan of the Drag Race franchise you can imagine what I felt when I was told that I have the opportunity to meet and interview Rosé, a finalist of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13. Rosé (who was not in drag when we met so I just called him by his boy name, Ross) is actually the very first “Ru-girl” who visited Hungary, to do an unforgettable show at the Triton Sunset Beach Party on Lupa Beach. But, before that she had some secrets to share about Drag Race, world fame and future plans.
You had a very adventurous upbringing. You were born in Scotland, but your family moved to Texas when you were ten. Later you decided to leave Austin and moved to New York City. Why did you go to the Big Apple?
Indeed, I was born in Glasgow, lived in many corners of Scotland and in some other countries of Europe too but spent most of my childhood in Texas. I moved to New York City because wanted to be an actor and wanted to be on Broadway. I always dreamt of moving there and it was the first thing I wanted to do after school.
Did New York City meet your expectations?
It did and it didn’t. I love New York, I have been living there for almost ten years. I worked a lot as singer and actor, but I became disenchanted with the theatre industry because I felt like it was more fun and interesting to tell my own story than to play a character that someone else wrote.
What drew you to drag?
I discovered drag while I was in college, always loved it and had been a huge fan of it. I started to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, of course… It has always been appealing to me to dress up as a woman. It has been something I loved to do since I was a little kid. I don’t know if there was an urge that I felt to try it in adulthood in a more professional setting, but I just found an opportunity to do it and I happened to be good at it and people loved it and I had so much fun too! So I never stopped.
What is your favourite part of doing drag?
Getting out of drag! (both laughing) No, I am joking! However, it is so nice when you can finally take it all off. But seriously, some kind of power comes with it, which is hard to even speak about. It comes very naturally but it is almost supernatural because it is something I cannot very easily tap into out of drag. I always say that I love Rosé because Rosé can get away with whatever she wants, she can say anything, she can do anything, and people will find it funny or it will make them smile, or make them feel more comfortable with themselves. I love the power it gives me.
What can we expect when we come to your show?
A lot of sweat. (laughing) Before RuPaul’s Drag Race what I was known for is that if you go to a Rosé show you are going to have a good time and you are going to laugh.
And since RuPaul’s Drag Race?
The same, I guess! It is weird though. The Triton Sunset Beach Party is the first occasion in quite a long time that I do a full-length show just by myself. During COVID I wasn’t performing as much, but I think I remained the same.
What did you feel when you learned that you have this show by Triton Events in Hungary?
Oh my god, I was so excited! I was amazed that I can come to Budapest. Even before RuPaul’s Drag Race I travelled all over the world to preform but this is somewhere I have never been before, and this is my first international trip I have taken since RuPaul’s Drag Race. I have my United Kingdom tour next month, but that is a different story.
How many gigs will you have there?
12 or 14 in one month. It is going to be fun, and it will be with Gottmik. But I am so familiar with the United Kingdom, so it is fun, but it is also something I have seen before and done before quite a few times. But I have never been this far to the East in Europe, so this trip and the Triton Sunset Beach Party is exciting for me.
Your boy name is Ross and your drag name is Rosé. The answer to my following question seems obvious, but why did you choose Rosé as drag name?
Because I can remember it! It is short and easy. No, seriously, I wanted something that is one syllable and one word. Once I saw a rosé ad online and I was so inspired by it because I love the colour pink and it sounds similar to my boy name. Plus, a lot of the women in my family are named Rose.
And there is something cute about it! It is such a dainty, feminine word and it is a beverage associated a lot with women, and it is also about summertime and being silly… And you know, I am not very feminine in drag… It felt like a good mix for me.
Season 13 was your second time auditioning to RuPaul’s Drag Race. When you sent your tape you were doing drag for around three years. Don’t you feel like you auditioned too soon?
Yes, I auditioned first for season 12. I felt ready, but I was so not, so I am glad I wasn’t picked. I always had the intention to audit, because I always wanted to do big things with my life. I always had big dreams and goals since I was a little kid and I always felt like I will be going to be able to do all that stuff but drag was the key. So, when I found drag, I was like go, go, go! And I am still like that. I never stop working towards the next big thing, trying to get better, trying to top myself.
As a viewer I felt like you have such a huge self-awareness and confidence throughout the whole season. I didn’t feel like you had any breakdown while the other contestants all hit the bottom at one point or another. Did you feel the same during the shooting?
Yes and no. Until this point shooting RuPaul’s Drag Race is the hardest, emotionally and physically most demanding thing I have done in my entire life and there is no way to describe it. You must experience it. I have friends who have done it and told me their experience and I saw how it changed them. But ultimately, nothing can prepare you to do it well except going in it and aiming for it.
My confidence didn’t separate me from the other girls, but I think one of the reasons I seemed more self-aware and confident is that I have been performing and doing a lot of the things a drag queen is required to do since I was a little kid. The only new thing for me when I started drag four years ago was the physical stuff – the make up, the appearance, the heels. That is a huge part of drag and I work very hard to be better at it quickly but everything else, like talking on the mic, singing, dancing, acting, comedy – I have been doing since I was little.
I knew that and it gave me confidence, but I am also – aside from Tina Burner and Tamisha Iman who were the two oldest – quite old in comparison with the other queens. I am 32 and the top four ranged from 24 to 26. They are all quite a few years younger than I am. It gave me confidence, because the older you get the more experience you have.
When you watched the season back, wasn’t it strange that what happened with you in two days was summarized in only 60 minutes, plus 20 minutes Untucked?
Obviously, the editors must crunch it down, but they focus on the bulks of what happened. It is funny because there are so many of us and all the girls are going through something. There were weeks when I was expecting that something I said or did will have great impact or magnitude and at the end, it was just a passing moment. Or, I was nervous to watch back something because in my head I thought I did or spoke too much, said something wrong. And then I watched it back and realized that no, I was right, and it wasn’t a big deal.
Following the announcement of the cast of your season, the number of your followers in social media skyrocketed. How do you handle it? Do you check the comments, your inbox?
You have to learn how to handle it. I think I am really good at it. I love social media but it can be a really toxic place. You will never live in a world where everybody likes you. My power is in drag. And for some reason so many people find power in a dark room with a keyboard, writing unfair and horrible things. It does hurt to see that stuff. You get used to it and you learn how to turn it off. I really try not to read comments.
RuPaul says that even the stuff that is good has nothing to do with me, since it is someone else’s opinion. And I have never gotten anywhere in my life based on what other people thought. I have done what I felt was good or the right choice. I trust my instincts. I am in my fucking thirties bitch, so I know what I am talking about (laughing).
RuPaul’s Drag Race is special also because you bring and spend all that money, passion, fear and hope into the biggest opportunity you ever had. No one knocks everything out of the park, no one is perfect. It is one thing to experience it in one room with the judges and a totally different one watched and talked by millions of viewers.
I am sure that most people ask you which was your favourite episode. So, my question is… which was the most challenging for you?
Tough question… I know that towards the end I had more ease. I really grew at the end. The first episode was the hardest, because it was so shattering, complete opposite of what I thought was going to happen. I pride myself on being a good lip-syncer. But when you are under pressure, without audience, especially that day when we showed up and all of a sudden, we were in front of RuPaul… It was nuts and I was so afraid that I was going home… That was really hard and really affected my entire season.
Going into RuPaul’s Drag Race I thought that even if I land in the bottom two, I can save myself as a lip-syncer. So, to fail at that on the first day I was like, I cannot fail. Because now I don’t know if I can win if I get to the bottom. It was very scary.
And you were never in the bottom two the entire season!
Yes, and I am really proud of that. I was really, really prepared for the challenge aspect going into Drag Race. I am proud to say that I did well in every challenge they threw at us which is kind of cool.
Did you meet RuPaul for the first time during the shooting?
Yes! I met Michelle Visage before, but with RuPaul, it was the first time.
It is such a silly question, but I promised to my friends that I will ask. How does RuPaul smell?
Can I be honest? I have no idea! Because of COVID we had to be far away all the time. But I am sure that RuPaul smells amazing. There is no doubt in my mind. RuPaul looks like the most delicious smelling, cleanest person I have ever seen in my life.
Rosé, what are your plans for the future? And when I ask this, a quote immediately comes to my mind, probably from Trixie Mattel: the actual race starts after Drag Race. Do you feel the pressure of it?
Yes and no. Many people, including contestants, producers say that the real race starts now. But when I was making my audition tape, people would say, this is when the real race starts. When I got the call that I am going and I was preparing, people were saying that the real race starts now. At the actual shooting people said, the real race starts now.
Honestly, it is one big race for sure. I don’t know when the real race actually starts, but I do know that it does not end. But this is how I live. I live in a race, in a competitive environment and I am just glad that now I can race with myself and top myself.
Once the season finished, I kind of felt, okay, rivalry starts now. Who is getting the most gigs, who is getting the most pride campaigns, who gets this and who gets that? I don’t know when the race starts, I just know that I am still racing. And so is Symone. You know, even if you win, you still have to work, you still have to keep your pussy up.
How far can you plan in the current, COVID-affected environment?
I mentioned the tour in the UK with Gottmik, but requests continuously come in, so I am pretty much booked until the end of next year. I will have a tour in Australia and also join the Werq The World Tour in 2022.
Has anyone recognized you since you arrived in Budapest?
I was walking around Gellért Hill and a girl came up to me. She was so excited! She mentioned that she wanted to watch me at the party but she is only 17 so she cannot come but can’t wait to see me at the Werq The World Tour next year in Vienna!
People do recognise me and I love that. It is really cute when they come and say hi, but at the moment it is a bit strange for me since this is the first time it happens in a foreign country. Actually, this is the first time I am in a foreign country since the show happened.
How does your boyfriend and you two as a couple cope with world fame?
We have done a really good job. We have both grown and handled it well. It is a year later from when we filmed, like a year ago I was still doing the show. The whole experience changed my life and his life as well because he has been so involved in it. But we really allowed ourselves to grow and change, and still celebrate each other and do what the other person need to succeed and be happy. But fame is a beast, that’s for sure.
And I am glad that he could join me here in Hungary, he has his birthday this weekend!