As a fan of the art of drag, Mark Indelicato might have thought he knew what inhabiting Thirsty Von Trapp on the latest season of RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race would take; but he now knows, “it takes a village”! Getting to the finals on the second season was a challenge up against a stunningly talented group of performers, but Von Trapp showed that she was more than prepared for the challenge. I sat down to chat with Mark Indelicato about his Drag Race run, his Ugly Betty legacy, and which one of his current co-stars on Hacks just might slay the competition.
Michael Cook: You were such a fun addition to the cast of Secret Celebrity Drag Race, and it looked like you had an amazing time. What was the experience like for you?
Mark Indelicato: It was incredible. I am such a fan of the show and my friends and I started watching when we were in college, so that was probably around when Season 5 was airing. We did our due diligence and watched the previous seasons and it became an event for us and we became completely obsessed with it. All of us would say what we would do for ‘Snatch Game’ or what our lip sync style would be if we were on the show. I feel like being on the show was a dream for me, but I feel like it was also partly for me friends as well, they were so excited!
MC: Everyone that enters RuPaul’s Drag Race has their ideas and impressions of what being a drag performer is like. What do you think shocked you the most about participating in the art of drag?
MI: I think the thing that shocked me the most was that the format of the show is all live audiences. I had a little bit of an idea…friends of mine are drag queens..about how difficult and daunting it can be, the performance aspect especially. I think what really scared me was not only having to perform in front of RuPaul and Michelle (Visage), but having to do that in front of a live audience. I’m not a live performer by trade, so to have to do that, and then on top of it be so out of my comfort zone in heels, a corset, six pound boobs, and hair…you know (laughs)!
MC: When you found out who was on the cast with you, did you totally fan boy out about anyone’s participation?
MI: I mean AJ McLean, of course! I am a child of the 90’s so the Backstreet Boys are very much in my vernacular, vocabulary and discography. AJ was the one where I was a huge fan of the Backstreet Boys as a kid, this is a dream come true. Loretta Devine is definitely legendary status, and Taylor Dayne is also an absolute legend. I feel like all of those “gay legends” that were on definitely.. (laughs)! And of course, Danny Franzese who is Damian in Mean Girls, that is part of my growing up as well. I was pleasantly surprised with how many iconic people were on this season.
MC: While you might have participated in Secret Celebrity Drag Race, your character of Justin on the beloved sitcom Ugly Betty was equally as revolutionary. The character of Justin was getting comfortable in his own skin while so many viewers were doing the same thing, and they had that character to relate to. Do you still find people coming up to you telling you how that impacted their lives?
MI: Sure! It’s very lovely…I feel like there was a long period of time where I wanted to distance myself from Justin and what he represented because I was very young at the time, and I don’t think a young person is equipped with the skills to be a role model, or at least I was not advanced enough to do that. There was a really long period of time where I wanted to separate myself from that character and was kind of..not resentful, because the Ugly Betty cast is still my family to this day, we are all extremely close and the show changed my life. But for what Justin represented, I don’t think I was ready to be representative for a community in that capacity.
Now, I feel like being older and being able to really embrace it, it is so incredible, it is just lovely. An Ugly Betty fan page just posted that there was an episode where Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” had just come out and Betty is pitching something for Lady Gaga. The gag is that Justin tapes over her tape with his own rendition of “Bad Romance” and they posted a Justin then/Justin then with my performance of it from Drag Race. I totally forget that this happened (laughs)!
MC: Since you are still so close to your Ugly Betty cast, you had to have asked Vanessa Williams for some tips, who as Vanquiesha De House was a winner on the first season of Secret Celebrity Drag Race and in addition to being a judge on Queen of the Universe, is a massive Drag Race fan.
MI: I actually didn’t ask Vanessa. Obviously Vanessa has been watching, posting about it, and rooting for me, that’s my auntie! We were just catching up this morning about what the most difficult part of filming was. Mine was definitely not been able to take a nap in drag.
MC: Do you think a world exists where you would step into the pumps of Thirsty Von Trapp again?
MI: Well first of all, it takes a village to get me to look like Thirsty Von Trapp, literally (laughs)! I don’t posses the makeup skills, the wiggery skills, it took many many talented and experienced professionals to looks like that. If I had to put on Thirsty Von Trapp on my own and left to my own devices, she would not look like that. For the right price and the right team though, anything is possible.
MC: On the highly acclaimed show Hacks, you portray Damien. Who do you think from the cast of Hacks would absolutely kill it on Secret Celebrity Drag Race?
MI: I think I would have to go with either Poppy Liu who plays Kiki or Johnny Sibilly who plays Wilson. I am on a campaign to get Johnny on the next season. Johnny is so incredible and he wants to do it too! I tried to convince Hannah Einbeinder to do it since there were rumblings about her possibly being asked. She said that she saw what it put me through emotionally and she does not want to do that (laughs)! I would call her and say “you have no idea, this is so hard…I am coming back to work a broken woman” (laughs)!
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