‘Drag Race’ Season 13 queens Symone and Gottmik open up

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As followers of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” know, every season of the Emmy-winning actuality competitors delivers a breakout star whose charisma, uniqueness, nerve and expertise, to cite the collection’ namesake, earn them a spot within the highlight — even when they don’t go on to win. This season, although, there are two. And each are from Los Angeles.

Meet Symone and Gottmik, two queens with wildly completely different aesthetics and an identical trailblazing spirit from Season 13, at present operating Fridays on VH1. Gottmik (who prefers she/her pronouns when in drag) will not be solely the collection’ first-ever transmasculine contestant however her punk-rock “gorge” appears to be like and depraved humor have additionally made her a front-runner to grab the crown. In the meantime, Symone delivers an “unapologetically Black” mix of sass and sophistication to “Drag Race,” matching her L.A. compatriot step for flawless step.

“It’s nice to see the L.A. queens slaying so laborious,” says L.A.-based drag icon and Season 3 runner-up Manila Luzon.

“I really feel like we’ve been fed how fierce New York queens are for therefore lengthy,” provides Luzon, who was a New Yorker herself when she first shantayed into the werk room a decade in the past. “Lately, everybody’s coming to Los Angeles. It has grow to be the brand new vacation spot for queer inventive varieties. And it’s the house of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ inserting the queens in shut proximity to the ecosystem that surrounds the leisure business and the present.”

The Instances just lately caught up with Gottmik and Symone, now vying for the “Drag Race” title, about how they ended up in L.A., what makes the town’s drag scene distinctive and the politics of their drag.

Gottmik, you moved to Los Angeles six years in the past from Scottsdale, Ariz., and, Symone, you’re initially from Conway, Ark., and have lived right here for 2 years. What introduced you to L.A.?

Gottmik: I all the time thought I used to be such a New York particular person as a result of it’s so quick and loopy. However every time I’d come to L.A., I’d get butterflies. I used to be like: “I simply should be there.” I don’t know what it was. It’s so intense, however so relaxed on the identical time. It’s the weirdest vibe of individuals, and I simply knew it was for me.

Symone: The vibe right here is like nothing you’ll find wherever else. Individuals come right here for the twinkle, the glint. I knew from a really younger age that I wasn’t going to dwell my life in Arkansas. Particularly for folks like us, who come from locations which are smaller and extra conservative, there’s a lot extra tradition and completely different factors of view. The drag scene right here, and “Drag Race” particularly, have opened up a lane for folks to do drag at a unique degree, outdoors of bars.

A drag queen in a floor length white dress with a fascinator hat inscribed, "Say Their Names."

Symone’s “Say Their Names” look is certainly one of a number of with pressing political messages she’s unveiled throughout Season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”


What makes your drag consultant of the L.A. scene?

Symone: In L.A., you must determine what makes you you: Dwelling in on it and exploit it. It’s a must to model your self and stand out from the pack.

Gottmik: On a extra bodily — not as cute — degree than what Symone simply mentioned, the drag scene in L.A. is all about who’s essentially the most stunning, whereas in New York, it’s extra about artistry. Symone and I each have this very female, glamorous model of drag, however with a twist. As in, Symone is the prettiest lady within the membership, whereas I’m this clown, freak factor, that’s additionally fairly.

Symone: It’s not sufficient simply to look the half. You want a persona so folks need you at their occasion. L.A. is attention-grabbing, as a result of there aren’t many drag reveals. As an alternative, there are events that includes drag queens, so it’s in regards to the look and whether or not the queen has a persona that makes you wish to be there.

How has drag helped you develop?

Symone: As a child, I used to be very shy. I didn’t actually like myself. I used to be Black and homosexual too, so I had all these items stacked in opposition to me. Then I found drag and noticed these stunning creatures and thought: “Oh, you get to place these items on and grow to be a unique particular person.” I had that mind-set for a really very long time, however then, transferring to L.A. and getting on “Drag Race,” I’ve discovered that my drag is me, I’m that particular person, and it’s been me your entire time. It’s all very “Wizard of Oz”: I had all of it alongside.

Gottmik: Once I began drag, it was virtually the alternative. As a result of I used to be assigned feminine at delivery, I used it as a masks. It was solely once I placed on my drag that individuals thought I used to be simply one other cis boy on the membership. And I used to be like: “That is every part.” I discovered this bizarre steadiness, the place I wasn’t too female, so I wouldn’t be triggered. That’s how I found my trademark clown-white face. It was actually a masks for me to placed on and be who I wished to be. I ultimately realized I don’t want a masks for folks to assume I’m a boy: I am a boy.

 L.A. based drag queens Symone, left, and Gottmik.

Symone, left, and Gottmik, present stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” photographed in Beverly Hills.

(Christina Home / Los Angeles Instances)

Symone: Drag saved my life within the sense that I don’t assume I’d be right here at present with out it. I didn’t see a degree in life as a child — I didn’t actually care. Drag saved my life as a result of I gained confidence, it helped me discover my voice and like myself and be content material so long as I like what I’m doing.

Gottmik: Once I was youthful, I didn’t even know trans was a factor. I didn’t have the language for it, however I felt in my soul that one thing wasn’t proper. One factor that held me again from transitioning was that, whereas I all the time felt that I used to be a person, I additionally had this very female facet. Then I checked out all my associates — they’re all essentially the most female homosexual males you’ll ever see in your life — and thought, “Why would they be satisfactory boys, however you’re not?” I spotted that passing isn’t every part. You don’t should do it, and it doesn’t make you a legitimate trans particular person.

As soon as I transitioned, even my associates have been like, “It’s worthwhile to residence in in your femininity, gorge, you’re getting a bit masc,” as a result of even I used to be making an attempt to be too masculine, as a result of that’s how trans males are represented within the media. I’m proud to be telling my story and exhibiting people who gender is a spectrum and you are able to do no matter makes you content as a result of that’s all that’s vital.

A drag queen wearing a "little black dress"-shaped piece of fabric over her crotch.

Gottmik, the primary transmasculine contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” makes a potent touch upon trans identification with this “Little Black Gown” look from Season 13.


On the present, you’ve each conveyed highly effective political messages. Symone, you created a durag with an extended prepare and a fascinator with the phrases “Say Their Names” as a homage to the Black Lives Matter motion. Gottmik, you re-imagined the “little black costume” to point out the scars out of your high surgical procedure. Why is activism an vital aspect of your drag?

Symone: I believe it comes naturally to me. It’s how I dwell my life. Social points matter to me. No matter whether or not it’s about Black folks, homosexual or trans folks. For me, having the privilege of being on folks’s TVs and being somebody folks look as much as additionally means I’ve a accountability to say one thing and to not simply be fairly. I like every part related to my tradition, particularly being Black, so I did issues like my fascinator look. I believe my drag is one thing that’s by no means been seen earlier than, and I believe it’s wanted now.

Gottmik: As the primary transmasculine particular person to seem on the present, I felt lots of strain. However when it got here to the runways, it relaxed me, as a result of I do know my silhouettes and what I seem like in drag. All I needed to do was be unapologetically trans. The little black costume was really easy for me, as a result of I received to stroll down that runway bare, as a trans man, exhibiting off my scars and nonetheless having my silhouette and simply being every part that makes Gottmik Gottmik. I’m pleased with my runways and the way I’ve been capable of symbolize trans folks. It’s been such a magical, loopy trip — I simply adore it.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

The place: VH1
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Ranking: TV-14 (could also be unsuitable for kids beneath the age of 14)

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