It's been more than a year since the drag force that is Latrice Royale last landed in Atlanta. But the “RuPual's Drag Race” Season 4 finalist is back and ready to deliver some “good ol' drag” to her fans.
Royale is no stranger to gay Atlanta. She joined Lance Bass here in June 2014 for #ToastToMarriage (top, second photos) and returned a few weeks later for Augusta Pride (bottom photo). And who could forget those big girl splits she unleashed on Jungle during Fantasy Girls in 2012.
“I think fans know they can expect an emotional, thrilling, personal performance,” Royale told Project Q Atlanta. “I try to show up and give my all for every crowd, and I know how the children live here. So mama’s bringin’ out the good ol’ drag and gonna let ‘em have it!
Ahead of her stop in Atlanta, we chatted with Royale about her documentary “Gays In Prison,” being an underdog, dating across races, her upcoming one-woman show and what fans can expect during her appearance on Friday at Burkhart's.
Last fall, “Gays In Prison” premiered on Logo. You worked with one of our fave ex-Atlanta gays, Christopher Hines, on that. Tell us about making the film and the chance to tell your prison story for the documentary.
I forgot that Christopher was from Atlanta, but I love him too. Making “Gays in Prison” is one of the most gratifying experiences of my career so far because of what it means to people. People who have not even been to jail seem to really identify with my story, so to have the opportunity to be the focal point of something that is telling the stories of people like myself is kind of incredible. It was very emotional, especially going back and physically revisiting some places from my childhood. But it has lead to healing in my own family and enlightened people to the struggle LGBT folks face in the prison system. It has seen a little bit of traction on Logo, but it’s also available for sale or rent on Vimeo.
In the documentary, you talk about being an underdog. After your Season 4 appearance on “RuPaul's Drag Race” and your career trajectory since, do you still say that you're an underdog?
Absolutely! [laughs] My struggle is still very real just on a different level. I am still always fighting to be taken seriously as an entertainer and businessperson. That being said, I also think that I would not have been as successful as I am had I been anything but an underdog, so it’s something I say with pride!
You've been coming to Atlanta since at least 2012. What keeps you returning?
Well, firstly, Phoenix keeps asking me. [laughs] That’s my sister and also one of my clients, so I’m always happy to get the chance to work with here. I do love it in Atlanta, though, especially because it gives me a chance to see my brother Curtis. But I think that lots of different kinds of folks in Atlanta like me and show up to have a good time. So it’s always fun.
You have any favorite spots to see, dishes to eat or people to do when you visit Atlanta?
Oh, you know I just hang with Nene and Kandi. That’s all. [laughs] As far as people to do, my boyfriend isn’t going to be with me this trip, so I’ll see him the day after.
Back in June 2014, you were in Atlanta with Lance Bass and Michael Turchin for #ToastToMarriage. Did you ever imagine that one year later, gay marriage would be the law of the land across the U.S.?
I am thrilled that the work we did together – all of us – has made a difference in our laws. There was a time when I couldn’t have imagined it, and now that’s a thing of the past.
Atlanta is a black gay mecca. And there are certainly lots of white gay boys. So it's no surprise that there are a lot of mixed-race gay couples – like you and Christopher. How did you guys meet? How do people react when they see that you're in a mixed-race relationship?
Well, we met at a meet and greet, actually. [laughs] I was performing in Knoxville where he was living at the time. He sort of helped with the meet and greet and definitely caught my eye. We spoke that night, stayed in touch, and have been together ever since. That was 2012. So three years together now, and we are very happy.
In a lot of cases, people don’t even see us as a couple at first – especially in airports and places like that. A few people have had some negative things to say, but most people know not to mess with me. Beyond that, I think people see us as two people who strive to bring out the best in each other and they choose to celebrate that.
Are y'all married yet?
We might get married one day, but right now we are both choosing to focus on our careers and ourselves. We are in business together as well, so sometimes it feels like we are already married. But not officially.
On Friday, when you join the cast at Burkhart's, what can fans expect to see from you and the show?
I think fans know they can expect an emotional, thrilling, personal performance. I try to show up and give my all for every crowd, and I know how the children live here. So mama’s bringin’ out the good ol’ drag and gonna let ‘em have it!
What's in the works for you?
I’m working very hard right now on my one-woman show called “Here’s to Life,” debuting officially in New York City at the Laurie Beechman Theatre March 17-19. Performances are already sold out, so I’m polishing the show and doing some trial dates to get myself ready. It’s a whole new venture with an accompanying album that will be available soon. Oh yeah, I'm singing live! Did I mention that? So, no pressure. [laughs]
The project kind of fills in the rest of the blanks of my life and lets people know more about what I’ve been through and what they can make it through. It’s very emotional and inspirational and all of that and I can’t wait to share it with you guys some time soon.
Latrice Royal joins the Mardi Gras celebration at Burkhart's on Friday, Feb. 5 with the cast of Femme Fatale.
[bottom photo by Brian Hughes]