Shuga Cain came into this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race as one of several New York queens to hit the competition, and left as the last NYC queen standing, and with an extremely impressive showing this season. Proving that she had the chops to go toe to toe with some established queens in the industry, Shuga worked her way into the hearts of viewers immediately. While we have seen the last of Shuga this season, this doll has a long career ahead of her. I sat down post elimination to talk to her about that stunning dress that RuPaul herself coined ‘her favorite ever”, career changes, and why the kids are what is truly sparking creativity in her today.
MC: You were a standout on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the viewers got to see a great variety of what makes you the true performer that you are. Did you enjoy the experience as much as the viewers did watching you.
SC: I really really did have a great time. It was every emotion and feeling that you could ever imagine. At times you were terrified, other times you were having the time of your life, and other times you were stressed because you were working so hard. It was incredible and it was great to get so far and to really have a journey and to get to know the other girls, getting to bond with them over this crazy experience that not many other people get. I really did have a great time.
MC: You have the dubious distinction of presenting what RuPaul herself called her “favorite dress ever to come down the runway on RuPaul’s Drag Race” when you walked out in that gorgeous Christopher Palu eggplant-esque gown. What did it feel like to be getting such a stamp of approval?
SC: That was amazing. Seriously I cannot even believe it. It was incredible and I was really at a loss for words. I have seen it a couple times and I still can’t believe that she said that about that beautiful dress. Christopher Palu made that dress for me. He is amazing, he is so incredibly talented. I think one of the things that I love about him is that I came to him with this idea that I wanted to do a dress that was inspired by a Spanish flamenco, as we have a huge Spanish background. We worked together on it and it was a true labor of love. His husband painstakingly pulled out each and every sequin and put them on. I am so glad that it was that well received.
MC: You came into the competition taking a huge leap of faith, walking away from a full time career to let drag be your new full time career. Was that scary to take such a risk?
SC: Absolutely it was! I had quit my job about a year before, and that was scary to take that leap of faith and try to do the New York circuit. I got scared again and I went back to work and it was not until I finally said to myself that I really needed to commit to this if I wanted anything to really change. It was when I made that decision that I got RuPaul’s Drag Race. I am a huge believer that everything happens for a reason. You have to have faith in yourself and you really need to put in that effort and work hard. I really believe that if you do that, things will work out. I always have a lot of faith in those types of things; I am glad that I did that, because I don’t know if I would have gotten the show had I not committed.
MC: You made it very far in the competition this season with some truly legendary names in the drag community. What was it like getting to showcase your own talents with these girls?
SC: You know, now looking back at it, absolutely. I think it is one of those things where the girls have been in the game for so long and have done such incredible things with drag, and here I am this new queen in here doing my thing. When I was actually in it, I didn’t think of them like that, it was more like competition between myself really. I recognized that they were doing well, but I have always been the type of person who tries not to compare myself to anyone else. We are all different, we are all special, we all bring something to the table that is very unique. My biggest competition was always me. Like you said, looking back, it is incredible to realize how amazing they are and to see that I really held my own.
MC: You had a fantastic showing on the show this season, so the inevitable question is; would you return for a run on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars?
SC: (Laughs) I feel like I am a little damaged still, but would I do All Stars?-absolutely! I would probably have to wait though; would I go into an All Stars Season 5 right now, I would be hesitant. I think I would need a little time, but I would definitely do All Stars. Everyone is always living for that “Ru-demption”, honey!
SC: I would love to see Sherry Pie on the show, I would love to see what she does. She is already so good and so crazy and creative and talented! I would love to see how she would do and how the show would bring out this new Sherry. She is incredible and I think she would be fun to watch. She is a wild one; it is something new and different that I don’t think Drag Race has seen.
MC: What would the Shuga that has now left the competition tell the Shuga that walked into the workroom that day?
SC: I would tell her to not stress so much about everything there. To really just have a good time and know that you are there because you have talent and you deserve to be there. Let loose and just have fun! I think I was really in it and trying to please the judges and all that. I had fun, but I could have had more fun.
MC: As Pride season commences, it is a time for us a lo reflect on what gives us pride as members of the community. What truly gives you the most pride?
SC: It’s the kids. The young kids, the old kids, everyone that is out there. This platform is really allowed me to connect with so many amazing people who love drag and who love the art form. There are so many different backgrounds, there are young kids who have not come out yet who are now coming out and all these incredible stories and getting to know all of these people that I have never met before through social media. They really really inspire me to keep doing this, keep doing it harder and really putting my best foot forward. That is something that is so overwhelming to me that I never expected; I didn’t know what to expect from the fans and the kids out there, they really just inspire me more so than the other way around.
(All Art Courtesy of VH1 unless otherwise noted)