GayCities was delighted to catch up with RuPaul’s Drag Race star Raja Gemini as she graced the shores of Miami’s 12th Street Gay Beach, fresh from a much-anticipated performance in Fort Lauderdale. She dished on her style, working the reality circuit, and heading to SF to MC Saturday’s LGBT Center Gala: Soiree 9 and Joshua J’s Big Top.
What’s up, Raja?
I just want to apologize in advance! You caught me right as I am pulling up to the beach and I’m SO hung over!
That’s great, darling! We wouldn’t have you any other way. What beach are you at, and where did this damage occur?
I am in Miami now pulling up to 12th St., and I’m absolutely wrecked after performing last night at The Living Room in Fort Lauderdale. It was such a blast, but now I just want to roast all day! The water is turquoise–it’s unbelievable.
Have you been traveling like crazy since this season of drag race started?
Yes, I am back and forth all the time. It’s just insane.
But you must be used to traveling. So many viewers already know you as the brilliant make-up artist from America’s Next Top Model, where you’ve gone around the world. Which has been a more intense experience, working with a room full of screeching queens or working on Drag Race?
Ha! Working on Drag Race has been much more intense. At Top Model, I do my thing and I get to go home at the end of the day. Whereas on Drag Race, there’s no escaping the intensity. I worked with those queens around the clock, and it was almost as if I finally understood what the girls on Top Model are going through. It felt like it was my turn.
When did you get your start in the drag scene?
I started doing drag at 16 in Los Angeles, and developed my character at raves in the early 90’s all over LA and New York. I was there with the club kids, and we would make outfits out of saran wrap, whatever we had really, as long as we looked fierce! At the time, it felt like less of a gay scene and more about just self-expression. The drugs were colorful, and the outfits where even more colorful, and it was legendary.
Was it drag that got you into makeup work or was it the other way around?
I got into all of it, really, because I love fashion. I only do drag because I love fashion, there is no other reason,. The clothes, the form, the perception of beauty–it is all part of who I am. It was totally inevitable that I would be a part of that industry, and the rest is just how it fell into place.
I can’t wait to be in SF. I am based in LA, so I have great friends there. I think San Francisco has the best Gay Pride Weekend in the world, hands down. Coming there to perform is exciting, but I just think overall that with the great food, great faggots and great friends, what’s not to love?
Well, I’m not telling what I am going to wear because I refuse to ruin a surprise, but I will say that Raja is, once again this season, rummaging a vintage shop or thrift emporium near you. They are the best place to find exactly what you are looking for, no matter what that might be.
If our readers wanted to run into you in LA, where would you recommend they start looking?
During the day the safest bet would be to hit Santee Alley & the downtown garment district. I am always there pulling chola gear, sourcing fabrics for my next piece, or picking up baubles in between.
You can always find me at the Palms Bar on Mondays and Fridays for Club Illusions. It’s dirty and seedy and known for vulgarity, all of which I live for. On Tuesdays, I am always at Rage for the Dream Queens Review. So many of my favorite girls, like Morgan McMichaels, Delta Work and Raven from the show, all perform there and it’s like family. We build on each other’s creativity.
Finally, at any given point really, but normally closer to 4am, you can find me scarfing down tacos at Los Tacos on Santa Monica Blvd. I mean, they are open 24 hours and the foods amazeballs!