When last we spoke to this young queen, she was in the thick of 2016’s pivotal “So You Think You Can Drag” competition. Now almost a year later, she is making her way with fierce performances all over the city… and she’s won a coveted pageant placement to boot! And this weekend, she’s gonna respond to a terrible tragedy across the pond in a way that would make her idol/muse incredibly proud. This is truly the era of Adriana Trenta!
Thotyssey: Hey Adriana, thanks for giving us a chance to catch up! How’s it going today?
Adriana Trenta: I’m feeling blessed to be back, babe! Thank you for having me!
Werq! So much has happened since last we spoke, when you were in the middle of “So You Think You Can Drag.”
Has it been that long?
I know, right? Now that you have a little hindsight, how do you think that experience has shaped your drag?
“SYTYCD” was an absolute whirlwind, and helped me to prepare a lot of content that I’m now thankfully able to perform regularly. It gave me confidence, insight to who I want to be as a drag queen, and even gave me pictures of terrible makeup jobs to laugh at!
I always wondered–when you start improving your makeup and everything else, and you’re getting a better idea of what works for you… is that all noticeable as it’s happening, or is it so gradual that you can’t see until much later?
It’s different on a queen-to-queen basis. However, I’ve made friends with a lot of queens who’ve imparted some valuable wisdom on me, and really helped shape my overall aesthetic. And I’m finally on Team Blended…as a bench warmer. Ritzy Bitz says that if I’m good, I can try out for JV squad! If it weren’t for queens like Ritzy, I would still be using baby powder to set my makeup.
Baby stepping away from the baby powder! And that brings me to your recent Miss Stonewall second runner-up placement: congratulations! Were you quite pleased with that whole experience?
Thank you! That was such a fairytale experience! I didn’t get to see what I looked like in my final evening gown with my hair until I was done up with the earrings and everything, and it really floored me. I’m not the same baby queen who did “SYTYCD” and lost.
I watched you slay “Be Italian” in a recent session of Miss Lady Liberty… was that your Miss Stonewall talent number?
My Miss Stonewall talent number was actually the MDNA Tour version of “Girl Gone Wild!” I had the monk robe, the hair, the catsuit, fire, jumpsplits, you name it! I had everything but the crown that day!
Are you gonna go Full Pageant Queen now? Miss Fire Island, maybe?
[Laughs] well, it was a push getting me to do Miss Stonewall. Blame Brenda Dharling for convincing me two weeks before to “just do it.” Famous last words. But hey, I’m game! I love competition, and apparently I’m decent at it!
Are you still gogo boy-ing at all, by the way?
What’s funny is that after I made that giant post about quitting, I actually got a couple of offers to do it. But for now, she’s done. I’ll leave the door open for me to return if I ever decide to, but my heart is in the wig and heels. But never say never!
Congrats on finding your calling! So, let’s carry about Drag Race for a moment. Were you sad to see Nina go?
Not entirely. I can see why she behaved the way that she did, but she got eliminated at Top 6. That’s not a bad way to go out, TBH. Although, I’m livid ”Confident” wasn’t chosen a the lip sync song, given the contenders and the drama between the two.
That would’ve been something! The previous week was a much more controversial lip sync, with Valentina and MaskGate! Did this forever taint “Greedy” for you?
Honestly….not at all. I originally HAAAAATED “Greedy” with a passion, since it only seemed to be a song that annoying musical theater gays gravitated towards. I’m extremely sad to see Valentina go, and even more disappointed that the rumored “7 Deadly Sins” sewing challenge wasn’t when “Greedy” got used. Such a waste!
Okay, on to something much more serious, speaking of Ariana… this recent (alleged) terrorist bombing at her concert in Manchester has been absolutely devastating. I mean, what kind of person would do something like this, murdering all those kids?
I cannot even bear to think about it. It weighed so heavily on me, just reading the news. I remember thinking that there is no way it could be real, and that it was all a dream, or some kind of mistake. I was at a loss for words then and I am now; that night is such a tragedy for all parties involved.
Not to make Ariana Grande the focal point of all this, because clearly it was arbitrary that it was her concert where this happened… but to be her now–knowing that people were killed because they were at your show–it can’t be an easy thing to accept.
Oh, absolutely. Especially seeing how she blamed herself and apologized, thinking that it had anything to do with her. For someone who is so young and just finally getting a career going for herself, and establishing a reputation… it must’ve been devastating to be a part of that. I’m so glad that she is okay, and is stepping up to pay for the funeral services, as well as perform a benefit concert at Manchester. That is the ultimate sign of a good figure for our community: someone who steps back into the line of fire, and stands up for what they believe in and what is right.
It’s very admirable of her. And as her number one drag fan, you are stepping up to the plate as well, with an all-Ariana benefit show of your own at Stonewall: “Break Free!” Did it occur to you immediately to do this after the incident happened?
It almost felt like I had to do this: not because of some outside force pushing me to do this, but because of my reaction to this tragedy. I knew that if I truly cared so deeply about this, I’d have to do something to help. I remember posting the initial status saying that I wanted to help, and it almost snowballed with all of the queens reaching out to want to help. Within 24 hours (not knowing if Ariana was okay, if she was continuing on her tour or even if there would be a benefit), I had an event that Stonewall graciously agreed to host with a lineup of talented queens ready to give to the cause.
I have to say I never thought of myself as a huge Ariana fan before, but when you announced an all-Ariana show I suddenly found myself very excited! Her songbook translates to drag so well, doesn’t it?
NOW YOU SEE WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!!! Took ya long enough [laughs]!
Everyone involved with this project has been so creative with song selections. I thought it’d be much more difficult getting everyone to relate to Ariana selections that weren’t the same three radio singles we’ve all heard.
I just assumed everyone would be fighting over “Side to Side.”
HA! No, I actually approached each queen individually and asked for their picks, and surprisingly everyone backed away from that–well, except one queen. But why ruin the surprise!? You’ll have to see what everyone does! Although there will be NO “Bang Bang”. #toosoon
I can’t wait to share the stage with these eight talented and beautiful queens that I get to call sisters.
And proceeds go to a fund for the victims’ families?
Yes! Every dollar collected at the door goes straight to the victims’ families. The money goes to an account managed by the British Red Cross; however the money is 100% saved for the families. It’s not used to pay off any salaries, business expenses, or anything of that matter. This truly is going to an incredible cause, and I am so happy to be able to donate this money with Stonewall and the LGBT community to the families.
Yes! It’ll be a blast!
I also am in talks with a couple of venues regarding expanding my Ariana show into a cabaret series, honoring various contemporary divas.
They would be incredible… make this happen, cabaret places! Okay, last question: at this point, what do you feel like the worst thing about doing drag is… and what is the best thing?
I would have to say that the worst thing about doing drag is the constant fear of stepping on another queen/bar/person’s toes.These days, everyone is so opinionated and headstrong that you don’t want to rock the boat. Especially over all of this stupidity, giggery riggery and romper room fuckery that has been happening the past couple of weeks.
Oh gawd girl, let me stop you there and lets talk about that, for one second… WTF is going on?
Right? What. In. The. World? You got people fighting over management/ representation/ partnerships, you got people fighting over a really stupid song on SNL, you got JASMINE (kidding, she’s amazing!!!) and you got all of these extra bits and pieces of drama that are causing a powder keg.
THIS ISN’T THE SECOND SEASON OF FIRE ISLAND, Y’ALL We all need to just take a collective deep breath and focus on the things that matter.
How dare you infer that there’s going to be a second season of Fire Island!
Oh god, I jinked us!
Damn you, Logo!
Okay… so what’s the best thing about drag for you?
I’d have to say the absolute, hands down, best part of drag is the ability to put your mind to something and actually create what you envision in the world. I mean, I’m doing an Ariana Grande show, for crying out loud. This is making me pumped. Who knows what’s next? The community and scene are ever-changing; If you put your mind and energy into making something happen, chances are the universe will let it!
Thank you, universe. And thank you, Adriana!
Previously: Adriana Trenta (9.27.2016)