Camping, drag and politics. They’re not subjects that typically go together. But they were the dominant themes of our recent chat with RPDR’s Alyssa Edwards.
Ostensibly speaking to the Texas native to discuss her latest guise as a glamazon ‘camp director’ (yes, you read that correctly – more on which later), I can’t resist getting her take on that day’s news that British PM Theresa May is a fan of the hit show on which Alyssa made her name.
‘I did hear that – how amazing is that?’ says the star. ‘I thinks so! Why not? Look, if it isn’t hurting anyone, why not.’
It’s not the response I expected (season 10’s Aquaria, for one, was displeased, saying on Twitter: ‘Get your policies together and then feel comfortable enjoying our art. Mess’). But Alyssa goes on to make a good point about Drag Race’s universality.
‘In my opinion, if people look past the cattiness and silliness, it’s more than just flamboyant men, high heels and wigs,’ she says. ‘It’s a journey of courageous souls sharing their stories.’
Here Alyssa – whose Netflix show Dancing Queen dropped last year – shares her excitement for Drag Race UK, tells us what she’d say if she had a private audience with Trump and reveals why she’s a happy glamper…
Given you’re taking drag to a Texas campsite, how far ahead do you plan your outfits,?
I’ll tell you, some of my favourite looks have been spontaneous. When you over-analyse… I’ll sit in my drag room and say ‘why are you doing this to yourself?! Just follow the Yellow Brick Road!’
I’ve never dragged up, but I’ve promised myself this is the year I’m going to do it!
Ooh! Go for it! Why not?
Where do I start?
Get yourself a little wig and look in the mirror. And there are YouTube tutorials for everything.
Who are you backing to win the next Drag Race?
This is going to sound like a world peace answer, but I’m happy for all of these new queens. It’ll change their lives. It will be an opportunity unlike any. It’s turned my life upside down and inside out.
Plastique Tiara is a beautiful soul inside and out, in and out of drag. I’m so happy for him – 21 years old, wow! This younger generation: they’re equipped, they’re savvy. I’m so proud he has a good heart and sense of who he is and hopes to be. I can’t wait to watch this all unfold on TV!
Have you heard anything about UK Drag Race?
I’m very excited. I’ve toured the UK so many times, it’s almost like a second home to me. It’s huge, massive. There are so many queens I can’t wait to watch.
What issue affecting the LGBTI community is closest to your heart?
Protecting trans kids. Most definitely. We’ve been hearing a lot about the trans community in the media. It’s been quite disappointing, and very sad. It’s easy to get wrapped up in reading these stories online, of these parents who are struggling, and still learning. I think there should be more education. More open conversation, acceptance, celebration of life.
Would you like to see a drag queen in political power one day?
Drag is an art. People in political systems put on suits. That’s a costume, isn’t it? I don’t know if it would be me [in political power], but there is probably a queen out there who is heavy duty and into political and has a strong political platform and a voice!
If you had a private audience with Trump what would be your message to him?
I think I’d want to ask some ‘Why?’ questions. You know that song by P!nk, ‘Dear Mr President’? Things like that. Would you take a walk with me, do you know what it feels like for the people on the other side of this wall you want to build? Do you know what it feels like for a trans person who’s been banned from the military? That want to serve and stand up for our country? If you don’t understand what it feels like, why wouldn’t you walk with that person? Maybe get to know them, their triumph, struggles and the battles they’ve overcome.
What can you tell us about Camp Tazo? I’m told you’ll be hiking but I’ll believe it when I see it…
[Laughs] This whole adventure came about because TAZO reached out to me and talked to me about joining forces to get people out of their comfort zone. They thought ‘What better way than to get Alyssa Edwards, a drag queen – with her full Texas-size wig and high heels – in a campsite?’ Glamping. That’s what I’m calling it.
Is it glamping as opposed to camping, then?
I’d like to think I would be. It’s 30 people, 30 campers… For me, I went to camp as a little boy every summer. I was a shy introvert. A young little lad, going to camp it was very nerve-wracking for me. But it was also the greatest way to get me out of my comfort zone. It’s perfect because I thought for a long time I was going to be a camp counsellor. Now I’m going to be a camp director!