Rock M Sakura strutted into the RuPaul’s Drag Race workroom with a heart as big as her creativity and makeup skills. While she has departed the Drag Race season this week after lip syncing against Brita, Sakura’s emotional departure and “nothing but love” perspective will be felt in the competition long after her departure. I caught up with Rock to chat about the season that was, and she went deep for me on the love she has for San Francisco and for her Season 12 sisters.
Michael Cook: Rock, the whole RuPaul’s Drag Race experience is now in the rearview mirror; how does it feel to be an official “Ru Girl”?
Rock M Sakura: The whole experience really does change your world and it is very humbling. I came from a very poor background and never really expected much from life. Being on Drag Race has really shown me what star power I have. It really helps me realize my potential.
MC: You are one of those queens that viewers and fellow contestants alike are able to completely fall in love with. You were very open right from the beginning with both your sisters and Ru about your insecurities. Was it hard to be that open so quickly?
RMS: I have always worn my heart on my sleeve. I have never been embarrassed by the things that have happened to me or the way that I feel. I started to realize on the show that maybe I am openly vulnerable and I can talk about them so openly is because the real thing that I am not vulnerable about is how those things really hurt me and how much they affect me. That is why I was so saddened by going home. I would say that before the show I had championed this mantra of strength through vunerability for sure.
MC: What is the drag scene like in San Francisco where you are from?
RMS: Well there are gay people everywhere, that much I will tell you (laughs). Our drag scene here is that all of us are visual storytellers. We all love a narrative and we all try to innovate drag in different senses. In San Francisco, we are not big on labels, so we have a lot of drag kings, drag queens, bio queens, trans queens, everyone is in the community performing. Our main goal is to just create a good performance. You will see a lot of my San Francisco influences on the show. Whether I am trying to create something fun and exciting with a hairstyle, or create a giant silhouette with some tule, play up a character, things like that. With everything that I have on the show, it is all made by San Francisco designers because I love my city, so so much.
MC: Following up on that, is so much of what you do inspired by San Francisco? Or do you get inspiration from anywhere?
RMS: I get inspiration from basically everywhere, but the city has shaped me into a good performer and a good storyteller. You can be inspired by so many things, but if you are not able to tell your story and actively get your message out, it’s more difficult. The city has really molded me into a visual storyteller and has given me an opportunity and an environment to really foster that creativity because some scenes don’t let you do what I do and thrive at the same time. You can always do an anime face or a Japanese song, but here in San Francisco, I am celebrated and loved.
MC: Many performers right now are having difficulty ensuring that their art is seen. How are you getting through it?
RMS: I am going a little stir crazy, I will tell you that. I am with my partner though, and he is so loving and supportive. I have a lot of people that really support me in my life and to have that at least within arms reach really is wonderful. Also, I am introverted, so I don’t go out to clubs that much unless I have to make money.
MC: So many girls are offering their talent online and even teaming up with much larger groups of girls to put on a virtual version of a tour. Do you think that when this is all over, that will be looked at as a game changer?
RMS: I think it is a lesson in longevity. I have always thought that getting on Drag Race is great, but you need to focus on your longevity in this industry. The future is the internet. The future is YouTube. The future is Twitch streaming. You need to be able to create content that people can create online, but also make yourself marketable in more than a physical way. I understand that Crystal the Dancing Diva of Kansas City, but you have to be able to create digital content. She is doing makeup tutorials, going live, and things like that. Before the season started, I came up with a list of 100 videos that I was going to make and put out during the season. I did not get the opportunity because I did not have the funding, but I think it is so important to have those ideas about how to make yourself last.
MC: Looking back on the Drag Race experience, what do you think is the best part?
RMS: I would say the wonderful family that I got from it, honestly. My sisters, we all message each other every day and I love them so much. People always so that you have the biggest bond with the people from your season. These girls really understand me now and how much of an emotional person I am and they are just here for me. To have so many talented artists and beautiful people look out for me is really humbling.
MC: When we all finally emerge, what is next for you?
RMS: I would say afterward I want to get into visual YouTube creation. I would love to be a personality, walking red carpets, I think I have a good energy for that. Talk shows, I would love to get on as many Youtube channels as possible. Collaborations, I would love to get on Bon Appetit’, a Buzzfeed Tasty video, I love food videos.
MC: What would the Rock M Sakura of today tell the girl that was just walking into the Drag Race workroom on that first day?
RMS: I would say believe in yourself, but believe in yourself wholeheartedly. I know you think that you can do it, but just know that you can do it. And know that everything is going to be okay.
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Friday night on VH1 (check local listings)