Thursday, December 8

RPDR’s Rosé talks activism, the power of drag & prepping to hit the stages of Ohio [INTERVIEW]

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Cleveland is about to get heck of a lot more glittery and gold when RuPaul’s Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD 2022 struts onto the stages of Playhouse Square on July 31.

To get the scoop on the dazzling scene that will blow Cleveland audiences away, The Buckeye Flame spoke with Rose, the 3rd place runner-up on the crowd-favorite 13th season of Drag Race. 

First, how many times can I watch you on The Voice with Jessie J before it becomes creepy?
Once. [laughs]

Great. Settled.  You’re traveling around in this line-up where everyone brings something different to the stage. What does Rosé uniquely provide to these audiences?
Live vocals, baby. She sings

So then if you could lay claim to one song and retire for all other queens, where would you stake your claim?
I’d probably pick “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. However, I would never even attempt to sing that. But in this fantasy, I’m going to pretend that I could.

What does that song selection say about you?
It says I love to sing very hard, iconic music. [laughs]

Tell us one of those times when you walked off stage, pumped your fist and said, “That was amazing.”
I just had so many of those moments on the European leg of the world tour. I’ve never performed for audience so large. My one really incredible experience was the Glasgow show because that’s basically where I’m from. The energy that the audience brought for me specifically was some of the most beautiful feeling energy I have ever encountered. They were so vocal and so loving. I’ve never received applause like that. I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged to an audience so much, which can be really overwhelming when its thousands and thousands of people.

Now you’ll be coming here to the Midwest. You did some time in Kansas, no?
Yes! I lived in Kansas for about 5 years during college.

Talk about being gay in the Midwest.
Well you know it was preceded by being gay in the southwest in Texas. And that was preceded by being gay in a rural village in Scotland. Until I moved to New York after college, I was always in the midst of conservative, oppressive environments. It was definitely…interesting. But I was used to it. It was during the Obama presidency, so I would imagine it was easier to live in Kansas when I was there as opposed to other leaders in office.

Does the place you’re performing affect you on stage?
Not necessarily. What affects me—and I think all of the performers on stage—is the energy that the audience provides and throws as us. It’s a communicative effort and we kind of work together with the audience to create the evening.

What I’ve found after just touring Europe is that some cities are just much more lively or vocal than others. That usually does elicit a wild show, which for drag is always preferable. So

I’m really hoping for your sake and mine that Cleveland can do just that.

RPDR’s Rosé (Photo Credit: Marco Ovando)

So speaking of Cleveland, you’re coming here to Ohio, a state that has bills on the table to ban conversations about LGBTQ+ identity in schools, force teachers to out trans students, ban gender affirming care to trans youth, and just last month advanced a bill to deny trans youth the opportunity to plan sports. We know drag has such a storied history of activism…
It really does. Drag is in itself a form a bold form of activism. Every single time I’m in drag, it is in the process of rebellion, both against societal standards that we’ve been taught to adhere to regardless of who we really are.

It’s funny you bring this up, I grew up in Texas also and Texas is really trying it these days with the kids and the drag queens. We’re getting to a boiling point where we can only take so much before it gets too out of hand. We have to put an end to it. There’s only so many people you can try to keep in the closet after we’ve been roaming the streets for years.

That’s the tricky part. We can write an article saying, “Have a great night out!”—and we want them to!—but LGBTQ+ audiences here will inherently be attending something that is being attempted to be banned for so many Ohioans. How do we strike that balance between a night out of entertainment and something that is inherently political?
I’m honestly still trying to figure that one out. As a career, that’s a huge moment on the table at all times. What we’re doing is so important and fuels and provides visibility to the activism that we are fighting for. Also, all forms of drag and entertainment are efforts designed to make us forget real life. I think you can achieve both.

I think luckily with drag because there are, by definition, no rules, you can go any which way with it.  Taking each day at a time is definitely something I try to focus on. If people really need to laugh and forget reality for a second, let’s do that for a night. If we need to be informed brought together for a cause, that’s also on the menu.

For our budding drag performers who will most definitely be coming to see you here in Cleveland, give us some patented Rosè advice to help them find their voice.
Today, it must be so much easier than when I was a kid because of the internet. There’s so much free access to a world of education with this stuff, both the history and craftsmanship that goes into drag.

What I always to kids who are interested in drag is identify the things that you are naturally good at and put those on display. And in the backstage hours, work on the elements of drag that are more difficult to you or new to you, so you can be more well-rounded.

Drag takes a lot of skill, and while it’s really fun, if you want a lot of people to see people and enjoy it, you have to be more skillful.

And finally how do you want our Cleveland audience to prepare for their night out on July 31?
[laughs]I would definitely say don’t eat for about 6 weeks before the night. Have several fittings for whatever you’re wearing or not wearing and for the love of god, do your own make-up.

Ignite Action:

  • Get. Your. TICKETS!  RuPaul’s Drag Race WERQ THE WORLD 2022 struts onto the stages on July 31. Tickets are HERE

About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

Share this piece.

Leave a Reply