Instinct Interviews The Eliminated Queen From RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6: Week 7/8 [SPOILERS!]
It was a Rupersized double feature for RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 this week, and we all know what goes well with double features: Laganja. In episode seven, Laganja Estranja and BFF Adore Delano won the main challenge after portraying spoiled brats schlepping Ru’s new makeup line; in the next episode of the night, a stand-up routine performed in front of seniors put Laganja in the bottom two, only to sashay (authentically, ballet style!) away into the next chapter of her bright future.
In this week’s Instinct Exit Interview, Miss Laganja lifts our spirits and our moods, and makes us crave more Laganja!
(Image: Austin Young)
Jonathan Higbee: What have you been up to since taping the show?
Laganja Estranja: I’ve been working on several different projects. I had my website and store with merchandise up online before the show came out. I have a song, a music video, a jewelry line and a makeup line, so I’ve been a busy little lady!
Your merchandise is sickening!
Thank you so much. I just really wanted to have something unique.
I’m really into fashion. People may say I’m an attention whore, but, no I just genuinely appreciate fashion for what it is—a form of expression. Even as a kid I was into it. I’ve died my hair neon colors since I was 16. I love expressing myself through fashion, so I wanted my merchandise to have the same feel, be something cool that people can wear and not just, you know, have my face on it. [Laughs]
A lot of our readers might not know that you and RPDR fave Alyssa Edwards are part of the "Haus of Edwards." How’d that come about?
I started working for Justin, which is how I know him, about six years ago at his dance studio. I used to work for a competitor of his. When I didn’t get rehired at her studio, I called him and was like, “Hey, want to piss this girl off?” So he hired me pretty much on the spot. We formed one of the most incredible relationships in my life.
We just got back from traveling Europe together. I was the first girl of season six to get out of the U.S., so I was very proud. We went to London, Scotland and Ireland.
Anyway, he and I are really good friends and have an incredible working relationship together. We can really create magic in the dance studio. I’m so lucky to have him as a mentor and a drag mother and a drag sister, all of those things! He’s a big ol’ sweetheart.
Why do you think you were the one to be eliminated this week?
I think it was time for me to go. Unfortunately, my story had pretty much already played out. We figured out about my parents, Alyssa, we had high highs, low lows. I don’t know that they felt there was really much more for me. Maybe it was out of protection because I had lost it. [Laughs] We never know why they make these decisions. I try not to focus on it. By not winning I have learned so much more about myself, my character and what I want to do in my life.
What’s your biggest takeaway from the experience of filming RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6?
It sounds funny, but it’s just to love myself. I think RuPaul says it at the end of every episode. It’s one thing to hear it, but it’s another thing to really do it. Just watching myself and seeing others react, people having their opinions—it’s really forced me to be comfortable in my own skin and know that I have my friends, know that I’m talented. No matter what anyone says about me, I come home to a good person inside. I know that, I love myself for that. I think the show has really allowed me to fully accept who I am, flaws and all, and just laugh at it. Go with the experience and continue to learn from it.
Would you have done anything differently?
In life, I don’t think we should do things differently because I think we learn from our mistakes. But I’m a human being, so of course there are things I would do differently, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad that in that moment I was 100 percent me. I tried to be honest in every situation, just tried to be myself, pretend the cameras weren’t there and that I was with my best friends and that we were at home kiki-ing. Sometimes it works to your advantage, sometimes it doesn’t. I know who was up on that screen is someone who’s real, someone who cares and someone who wants people to feel the same way about themselves.
If you had to pick a favorite look of yours from the show, which would win?
Well I think all my looks are sickening because that is what I spent all my time and money on. [Laughs]. But if I had to pick my favorite, I’d say my butterfly dress. It was one of Alyssa’s pageant dresses that my designer took and recreated, so there is a lineage in that dress. I love a 1920’s hairline and rounded brow, so that’s just a classic look to me. I think a lot of people see the ghetto and sassy girl, they don’t ever get to see my classy side. I can’t perform in gowns. So, being on that stage gave me another opportunity to show myself in fashion. I think that dress was a moment for everybody to realize “Okay, this girl is in it.”
Who do you think will go all the way?
Well, I’m definitely rooting for my sister Adore [Delano]. She represents young queens and has a huge heart. I said it on the show and I’ll say it here: if I can’t win, I want her to win. She represents what I would’ve represented. I support her 100 percent.
How has your relationship with Adore been since taping the show?
Obviously, it’s going to be hard. That situation wears on anyone, especially those who are friends going into it. Both Adore and I are good people and we know that this is a hard process for both of us. It’s a working relationship. She’s healthy competition for me. I think it’s one of those things where it’s so much more than being friends. There’s a lot that goes into it, lots of emotions. I love her to death and I know she loves me too, and I think that’s what matters.
You were also tight with Gia Gunn on the show. Have you two stayed close?
When she got eliminated, I called her, we kiki’d and stuff. But the bitch didn’t even call me last night! [Laughs] So I had to call her and read!
No, I love her. She’s not a bitch, despite what you’ve heard. She’s the nicest, kindest person who I met on the show. I love her so much and am so thankful. She’s definitely one of the best things to come out of the show for me.
She gushed about you during our interview a few weeks ago!
We totally got each other’s backs and support each other. I’m so thankful to have a real friendship from this crazy experience. It’s almost like going to summer camp when you meet people and probably never see them again, maybe become Facebook friends. It’s not like that—it’s just very special.
What would your perfect lipsync-for-your-life song be?
“Work It” by Missy Elliot!
The other day was so major I totally cried like a big geek—I’m a huge fan. I actually have a Missy Elliot tattoo, which is what I said on the show. She had tweeted me like, “Oh my god, I gotta see your tattoo! Thank you so much!”
Speaking of Twitter, one of your retweets on Monday night read: "If they allowed weed while filming Drag Race, @LaganjaEstranja would've stayed longer." Any comment, lol?
Oh how I love this question but oh how careful I have to be to answer!
Let’s just say this: I’m a huge advocate for legalizing marijuana.
I was dropped doing a dance piece in college. I was in so much pain, so my chiropractor suggested it. I was like, “No, no, no. My grandma died of smoking.” I was so against it. Eventually, I was in so much pain I had to try it. It completely changed my life. I got off all the pharmaceuticals: I was on anti-depressants, Ambien for sleeping, a pill for eating because I had eating issues. It pretty much changed my life.
As you can tell from the show, I was very up and down, very emotional, so I’ll let you infer how it would’ve helped. [Laughs]
On that note, I’m in Seattle and I saw that you were here last month while I was out of town. How’d Seattle treat you?
Well, first I fell in love!
It’s amazing, the city is gorgeous. It was one of the first times I actually had three days to be in a place. Usually I fly in, get picked up, get in drag, perform and leave the next morning. It was so nice to unpack my bags and be somewhere. The queens were so nice, they took me out and showed me around. Then I met a boy and fell in love. It was just amazing and a magical experience. I totally want to move there and get out of L.A. [Laughs]
You should! Laganja is legal here!
What’s next for Laganja?
I’m actually working on a mixtape right now with some underground hip-hop artists, so I can’t release their names but I can tell you that they’ve worked with Missy Elliot. It’s very exciting.
I’m always looking for new avenues to expand my brand. I’d love to have a perfume, write a book, have a spinoff show of my own, would love to direct Cirque du Soleil. At this point I feel like the sky’s the limit and you can do anything if you put your mind to it, your body to it.
I got on RuPaul after two years of doing drag, so I feel like this is just the beginning for me. Obviously, I really wanted to win. But, like I said, I think if I had won it wouldn’t have been such a humbling experience, which I think I needed as an artist. I think you have to get knocked down to get back up again. I just see this as an opportunity to show the world that win or lose, I am still a winner. I’m traveling internationally, got a brand, got a team, and there’s so much more to accomplish!