Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Drag performer Latrice Royale is an expert bong architect

Drag performer Latrice Royale is an expert bong architect

Photo: Araya Diaz (Getty Images), Graphic: Libby McGuire

Since his Rupaul’s Drag Race debut in 2012, Latrice Royale has become almost synonymous with the show, supplying the Emmy-winning series with enough quintessential moments throughout his three-season tenure to justify his own spinoff. Attempting to deny his impact on pop culture is a fool’s errand, and Royale knows as much: When asked to name a show that is most quotable in his daily life, he didn’t hesitate to name his own, and rightfully so. Both Royale and Drag Race are endlessly quote-worthy and have moved the culture needle in more ways than we can count.

But Latrice Royale cannot be reduced to a collection of quips and memes (no matter how much “Get those nuts away from my face!” may resonate). He is, at his very core, a consummate professional, as evidenced by his effortless handling of a performer’s crisis on WOW Presents Plus’ Werq The World. When he’s not onstage or touring, he’s a doting husband and noted Ursula enthusiast. It’s a miracle that we were able to accomplish a round of 11 Questions in between all of the laughter, yet The A.V. Club still managed to learn which band he would readily join and confirm his unwavering dedication to helping the human race relax during the actual end of the world.

1. What is your favorite fast food menu item?

Latrice Royale: I think it would have to be... the number four [at] Taco Bell. It’s the Mexican Pizza combo with the two tacos—which I always turn into Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme—with a Pepsi Max on the side.

The A.V. Club: They love to inundate you with sauces. Do you have a particular favorite sauce that you must have?

LR: Well, they got rid of my verde sauce. Like, we really need to campaign and come together because, I mean, that was the best sauce ever and they got rid of it.

2. If you could relive any moment or event in your own life, what would it be?

LR: My wedding day.

AVC: The pictures from that event were beautiful!

LR: It was so... everything. It was everything we wanted, and we did it the right way. We didn’t do social media and camera and video. [We had] one still little camera in the back that recorded the whole entire ceremony. We still haven’t gotten the audio and all that stuff pulled together so that we can actually have a moment. But, um, yeah, it was pretty perfect.

AVC: Do you remember how you felt when you first woke up that morning?

LR: I was just anxious that whole day. Anxious, anxious, anxious, you know? But it wasn’t until I walked in the room as we were walking down the aisle and saw everybody standing up that it really took over me. Like, I lost my complete shit because it was just so overwhelming, and you could just feel that everybody was there for us and on our side. And that was just the most overwhelming, beautiful feeling ever.

3. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

LR: Ursula! Oh, I should be her right now, man.

AVC: What do you think Latrice Royale could bring to the character of Ursula?

LR: Boooody language, baby! I’m brassy and bold and everything that she should be. Oh well. I wish Melissa McCarthy the best. She’ll be cute. It’ll be cute.

AVC: Do you have a favorite Ursula moment?

LR: The “Poor Unfortunate Souls” moment is just everything for me.

4. What is a line from film or television that you’ve incorporated into your personal vocabulary?

LR: ...That I created? Because that’s really it. Sorry ’bout it! [Laughs.] The whole “Get up, look sickening, make them eat it,” that is my thing. That is my mantra, my lifestyle, my way of life, my Bible, my everything. It was created by me, for me. So yeah, that’s why I love it, and a lot of other people do, too.

5. Who would play you in the movie of your life?

LR: Ooh, he would have to be younger... Alex Newell? He could play Baby Latrice, totally!

6. What’s a movie that you will always stop and watch if you’re flipping channels?

LR: Steel Magnolias.

AVC: Perfect.

LR: I’m so gay. [Laughs.]

AVC: That’s a bit of iconic cinema!

LR: It is iconic! If you do not know “Drink your juice, Shelby,” come on now. You have not lived unless you understand “Drink your juice, Shelby.”

AVC: Have you ever been to a funeral as eventful as Shelby’s funeral?

LR: Not as eventful. I have been to a few where some things have gone down, but not to that extent.

7. What possession can you not get rid of?

LR: I have this photo album. I had lost everything when I went to jail and all my stuff was in storage. Long story short, my storage unit was sold, and a bunch of gays had banned together and divided up all my stuff because they thought they were never gonna see me again. My photo album wound up at some random person’s house and a friend of mine saw it there at their house and was like, “How did you get this? This shouldn’t be here, I know who this belongs to.” And they gave it back to me.

AVC: Oh wow!

LR: Isn’t that amazing? It’s a photo album that I thought I had lost that was returned to me.

AVC: Is that the only thing that came back?

LR: That’s the only thing. Out of all my stuff that’s the one possession. Pictures, you can’t replace. That’s memories right there.

AVC: If one thing could come back, I’m glad it was the most irreplaceable thing.

LR: Right! And that’s why I don’t really put a lot of like stock anymore in materialistic things. They come and go. And so it took me a long time to possess things again because I just didn’t have the desire to. After you lose everything, you’re just like, “There’s no sentimental value to it,” you know? What matters is the now.

8. What specific skill would you bring to a post-apocalyptic society?

LR: I would show them how to make the fiercest bong out of old pipes.

AVC: Please walk me through this.

LR: [Laughs.] Where there’s a will, there’s a way! I’m gonna take some kind of piece of something. I don’t care if it’s a lead pipe or a piece of PVC, whatever. If it’s tubular and has a hole in it, we’re gonna smoke out of it.

AVC: I have to put this to the test just a little bit. We’re walking in post-apocalyptic Everytown, Georgia and we pass an abandoned Krispy Kreme.

LR: Oh, you already have me.

AVC: What would Latrice Royale use within this abandoned Krispy Kreme to make the world’s best bong?

LR: I’m sure that the doughnuts are really stale and hard. We’re going to cover the doughnut in foil and make a little tray. You know what I’m saying? You got to poke a hole in the foil where the air can escape through and then attach another covered doughnut below that. Then you have to put a straw through it. So then you light the top of the bowl—provided that we got some great herb because we found a patch, miraculously—and you suck through the straw. The other doughnut is where the reservoir is, where the smoke is collected. I mean, you’ve got yourself a double-layered doughnut pipe! You can’t get no better than a sweet doughnut pipe. And it’s light, you know? You’ve got to keep it together some way.

AVC: And it’s necessary! Everyone has to relax in some fashion. The world basically ended.

LR: It’s over! So the law is to stay alive and happy, and nothing makes me more happy than doughnuts and weed.

9. Who is the most underrated person in your industry right now?

LR: Are we talking just drag, or are we talking overlooked Black drag queens that could have played Ursula in a blockbuster motion picture remake of The Little Mermaid?

AVC: That’s truly a category in and of itself. Is there an underrated Black drag queen that you would like to see get some shine?

LR: Yeah, I would. Because we work really hard but they take so much from us, you know what I mean? From the culture, from the fame. But when it comes down to the get down, we don’t get the parts. We don’t get consideration for the big roles, the blockbusters. We haven’t really, truly crossed over. I want to be a cross-dresser who crosses over.

AVC: There are so many images inspired by drag queens. If there were something Ursula-adjacent, who would you recommend to play them?

LR: Oh, I’d want to see Ginger Minj or Vicky Vox.

10. If you could be in any band past or present, which one would it be?

LR: If it [were] back in the day, Earth, Wind & Fire. That was a band.

AVC: If you could only listen to one Earth, Wind & Fire song every day for three weeks straight, which one would you choose?

LR: “Fantasy.”

AVC: Nice. People usually go straight to “Reasons.”

LR: I know, right?

11. What would be the first thing you’d do during the Purge?

LR: I would definitely have a panic room, and I would just be in there chilling, because I have no desire to kill or be killed. So you know where I’ll be. I would have a panic room and it would be me and my closest friends will be in there making bongs out of doughnuts. [Laughs.]

AVC: So a panic room, doughnut bongs, and three friends.

LR: See, doesn’t that sound nice?

AVC: It sounds like you’re getting through the night!

LR: I’m getting through it!

Bonus 12th question from The Good Place and Midsommar’s William Jackson Harper: What would you do for a Klondike bar?

LR: Oh my god, is it Heath? If it’s a Heath Klondike bar, the sky’s the limit. I mean, I might do something, you know, a little freaky for my ice cream, but if it’s Heath crunch, you can get whatever you want.

AVC: What question would you like to ask the next person who does this interview, not knowing who they are?

LR: Have you ever or would you ever consider trying to be a member of the Mile High Club? I find it impossible for myself, personally, given the dimensions of that room. I have to fold my body in there by myself. I can’t imagine another person being in that little-ass bathroom.