All Hail Queen of Queens, Raja

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Published April 26, 2011

PHOTO BY CHRISTOS KATSIAOUNI

While England eagerly awaits its royal wedding, last night America had a coronation on its hands. Warning “this will not be an easy decision,” Rupaul and her trusted team (Michelle Visage, Santino) announced Raja the winner of Drag Race: Season 3.

A season-long frontrunner with a couture look and the courage to dump synthetic blood on her head when a challenge demanded it, Raja fended off the better-every-episode Manila Luzon and the irrepressible Alexis Mateo in a nail-biter. We caught up with Raja (who looked practically demure in six-inch rhinestone heels) before the finale aired, to ask about her influences and the secret to a good lip-synch.

See more photos of Raja and other Drag Race contestents HERE.

 

GILLIAN MOHNEY: You had so many different looks throughout the season; what are some of your influences when you put together a look?

RAJA: I have so many influences, I’m a big follower of fashion. I love fashion, because designers really find different reference points and really study up on different cultures.

MOHNEY: Your African look was one of my favorites of the season.

RAJA: Thank you, that was a challenging one, because it was the first time we could pick out our looks. I was really battling it in my head—I was like, “Is this too much? Is this going to scare people?” But that’s what I do. I scare people a little bit, so why not? That’s what we do as drag queens. We’re supposed to be a little intimidating!MOHNEY: You worked on a reality television show [as a make-up artist for America’s Next Top Model]; what was most surprising about actually being a contestant?

RAJA: I feel like I had a little more insight, but you never really prepare for it. There’s a camera on you constantly, and there’s producers that help to build up the tension. It was very frustrating. But overall, after watching the season, I love the drama we put in it. Overall, it’s been a spicy and spectacular season, and I’m glad to have been a part of it. I’m going to pat myself on the back.

MOHNEY: What’s the key to a good lip-synch?

RAJA: I’ve always been a lazy lip-syncher. But what’s always worked for me is to break things down. I’m a visual learner, so I need to see it.

MOHNEY: I heard you got to go to a teen LGBT center today; what was that like, to realize you’re at a stage where you’re affecting others?

RAJA: It was phenomenal, it was great to reach out to kids, who are young enough to be my kids now. It feels nice, because I’ve always felt my role in life was to be a mentor. If I can do that with a younger generation, that’s my goal.

MOHNEY: What is your plan now that the show’s over?

RAJA: One of the great things about the show is the amount of exposure from it. I just want to keep feeding people and letting them have little tidbits. I’m not sure what that is exactly, but I have a lot of great ideas. I just move organically in my life, and it’s always worked. I never thought I would be doing the things I’ve been doing in the last few years. I’m ecstatic; I’m happy to be at the place that I am.

MOHNEY: The one question everyone wanted me to ask—is the backstage “Interior Illusions” lounge [where they film the companion show RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked] as intense as it looks on TV?

RAJA: I think it is. It is intense. There are people who sit in the room, and they want us to bring up discussions, and sometimes we’re exhausted. That’s how it happens. I love RuPaul’s Drag Race, but Untucked is my favorite thing to watch. All those fights! To me it doesn’t look like real life… it’s like watching a soap opera.