Queen of hearts
A Q&A with Alyssa Edwards, Drag Race royalty
Alyssa Edwards likes ‘em big (she’s from Texas afterall). Big hair, big gigs, big Latino hunks and big personality. But above all this — a great big heart. This queen has attitude and will read you until the library has crumbled to the ground, but at the end of the day she’s a good ol’ Southern gal who loves her family, her business, and her fellow queens. She may not have won Rupaul’s Drag Race season five, but she won over our hearts and is rumoured to be joining the cast of All Stars 2. She just got back from the UK, opened for Miley on her Dead Petz Tour with the House of Edwards and after many visits to Toronto, is finally headlining her own night: It’s not personal, it’s drag. I spoke with Miss Ewards over the phone from her apartment in Mesquite. Here’s what she had to say.
Hello Hello Alyssa, it’s Phil from Toronto!
Hello, how are youuuu?
Thanks for talking with me Alyssa! It’s an honour...
No thank you! My manager Ron asked if I wanted to do this interview with some people in Canada, and I said, “I might as well at this point I kind of feel like citizen, I’m so much over there. There’s just something about you up in Canada, they really do feel the Alyssa Edwards fantasy.
I’m DJing before your show alongside Scooter McCreight here in TO! You should know tickets are selling like hot cakes.
OK so it’s going to be off the chain.
It’s going to be off the chain.
I gotta bring the beat, I gotta bring my good gigs to Toronto.
Where are you now?
I’m home in Texas, praise the lord hallelujah. This has been a rollercoaster of a week. I’ve been in the UK, Los Angeles, Mexico and now I’m home. You know, I’m a travellin’ lady.
If I was coming to visit you in Mesquite, where should I go for a good time?
You must go to the rodeo, it’s a lot of fun, it’s very country. I grew up on the mesquite BBQ pit. I don’t eat a lot of meat now, but my gosh they’ll make a big sloppy-joe. Then I would say, you can’t come to Mesquite if you don’t pop in to Beyond Belief dance studio and watch the kids twirl.
How’s the selection of men in Mesquite?
They are home grown, corn fed and very handsome. Wrangler, ropers, I love all that. Good old Southern gentlemen.
Just like your current man!
I’ve been in a relationship for almost two years, he’s very Southern gentlemen, we’re besties, lovers. He’s a Hispanic man. I’m like a wild Mustang, I’m a tough catch, but he just swept me off my feet. He’s so polar opposite, so it works. When I met Marco he was a fundamental Baptist, he’s still deep into his religion. I still go to a Baptist church too, but not fundamental. As you get older your ideas and your views evolve a little. My love life is 100% great. It’s good to come home and I’m very grateful for him. Studio Movie and Grill, where you can go to the movies and order dinner is probably our favourite thing to do on a night out.
OK, tell me about Mexico? How was THAT?
It’s my second gig there, and I did a little tour of Mexico City and Guadalajara. It’s unreal to go to these places where Logo doesn’t even come on TV. They have to find it online. The Rupaul’s Drag Race craze is … there really are no words. The fans have really caught on to a show that is so important because it’s so much more than just drag queens. The show is based around us being these flamboyant over the top characters that are giving panther down the runway, but the stories are what I think are most important and crucial. We all overcome being guys to get to this point in our lives. I really didn’t catch that until I re-watched my season — which sometimes I cringe because I think ‘ooooh you were so crazy on there!’ The show offers so much more than cross-dressing. We’re in our eighth season? That’s just remarkable. It’s not stopping and it’s only going up. It’s getting bigger, Ru’s hair is getting bigger …
How is touring the UK? How do they receive you?
I met with Shangela and Laganga and we did a two-city House of Edwards tour.
I saw a video of you performing in the airport!
OH baby we’ll perform in the airport, the train station … You gotta do what you gotta do these days to get into first class, okayyy? When I tell you that was about 7am, oh yeah. But we did our number baby.
How do you pack all that hair and costume when you’re travelling like this?
My bags are always over packed and over weight. Just when I think I’ve mastered it, well, yeah, it’s a flop. That’s like me doing the singing challenge. I always say, I’m going to take just the costumes I need, but oh no baby, you know you got to take a few extra just in case. I’m a gal that loves a good hair do so I have to have a special bag just for wigs.
I love big big big hair. Doing drag, it’s a lot that goes into it, and packing is a big part — you don’t want the hair to get too flat. Especially with an international gig you want the hair to be nice and lovely and large and big and glamorous and gorgeous. You have to be strategic with your packing session. What is a packing tip you can give to us?
Practice for perfection. Don’t wait ‘till the last minute.
When you’re here, we should go to Cloré and go wig shopping! You need a Canadian wig in the lineup!
Oh my god I definitely want to go. OK that’s where I need to go. You can always find Alyssa Edwards up in a beauty shop like that. I love a big old Texas ’do.
Let’s talk Miss America pageant. With you being a one time Gay America and having your crown ripped from your hands … What do you think about the recent Vanessa Williams apology?
I think it’s great. Vanessa Williams won the competition. She is a lovely representative and a lovely person. I think people work very hard to achieve something like that. And there’s not one human that’s perfect, there’s not an obstacle that you can’t work through with communication. It’s more important to accept people — flaws and all. I think it’s really important that they gave her that moment. They reinstated that because she deserved it. It was gracious. We do share a couple things in common you know, she’s so statuesque and I admire the inner beauty that she possesses.
Tell me about that crazy VMA performance with Miley?
Miley was at the finally of Rupaul’s Drag Race. She was so complementary that night and she sent me an Instagram, we chatted, one thing let to another. She’s someone that is so inspiring. Miley is beyond cool. I say that because you’ve got levels and layers of cool, she’s like beyond all that. She’s ahead of her time, a leader, a trendsetter, an artist I live for – I loved her when she was Hannah Montana, and watching her grow into this beautiful person that she is today, and having a small piece of that. It was magical.
Was there lots of rehearsal time?
Oh yeah, it was a good week of rehearsals. It was intense, it was so cool, it was the final act and she was the host and she wanted it to be so over the top and grand and fierce. She did that.
How did you feel up there?
It was one of the biggest rushes of my life. My adrenaline was on fire, full speed. And at the end we hugged. I felt like I’ve worked my whole life for moments like that. To be there at the VMA’s in full high whore drag with Miley Cyrus? That’s kind of pretty.
Where’s the craziest place you’ve found glitter?
As you know, I love to sparkle. I can roll around in the glitter and walk on stage and be ate up. Marco and I always find glitter in the bed and in the underwear. We got glitter specs and flakes all up in this house.
Do you have a separate drag room?
Alyssa has her own room, bathroom and storage. You gotta store all that girl, you can’t have all that up in your bedroom!
It’s such an honour that people find me somewhat interest and want to chit-chat with me.
You gotta take me to that wig store, I’ll hold you to it.
Alyssa Edwards performs at Fly Nightclub, 6 Gloucester St on Fri, Nov 27. @AlyssaEdwards_1