Interview: Drag Race season 13 queen LaLa Ri on her infamous hot glue dress disaster and what makes a perfect lip sync
The run of LaLa Ri on RuPaul’s Drag Race was as tumultuous as it was successful, but her trademark charisma and personality made the entire thing inherently memorable. For better or worse.
From the sewing challenge where she created one of the worst looks in the show’s history, to the incredible lip sync that kept her in the competition; from the rip in her look during her final runway, to the reveal of having a white baby bump during the improv challenge. LaLa Ri may not have won the crown, but she won our hearts. And isn’t that what really matters?
Daniel Trainor and Sam Stone spoke to the eliminated queen about all the drama, the redemption and why these Instagram queens need to step up their games.
Daniel Trainor: LaLa Ri, as we live and breathe. How are you, girl?
LaLa: I’m really good! How are you guys?
Trainor: We are so good. LaLa, we have to start by asking about the pink and purple paper bag dress heard and seen ‘round the world. Walk us through that day. At what point did you know things probably weren’t going to go your way?
LaLa: Honestly, I prepared myself to be in the bottom for a sewing challenge. I did not know how to sew at all. I knew if there was going to be a sewing challenge, I better know my lip sync song that week, girl. It was no surprise to me that I was in the bottom. But what was surprising to me is that I clearly can’t glue, either. (laughs) That was a glue project and it was still horrible.
Sam Stone: To jump to this past week, when you were grouped with Denali and Rosé, two powerful performers and actors, were you worried about being overshadowed by them?
LaLa: Yes, definitely. I was in the bottom for a previous acting challenge where they said my scene partners overshadowed me. So, I didn’t want the judges to say that I was outshined by my castmates.
Trainor: It was affirmed what a lip sync assassin you are this season. You typically look very confident, even in the lip sync where your dress was literally falling apart. Before the lip sync that sent you home, however, it seemed like the nerves were creeping in a bit. Was that just because you found yourself in the bottom again or was there something particular about this week?
LaLa: Yeah, it was definitely because I was in the bottom again. I actually felt, during the challenge, I did well and held my own. Of course the judges know better and they see what I can’t see. I got in my head and defeated myself, I feel like. I was so in my head.
Trainor: When you were on the runway, Michelle noticed a little rip in your dress. It felt like one of the first times the judges got nitpicky this season. Were you aware that the dress had an imperfection? How did that happen?
LaLa: Michelle and those glasses! I joke that Michelle could see a man on the moon with those glasses! (laughs) I did know there was a hole. It actually happened right before I went on stage. Right before I went on the runway. I think it was because the beads were so heavy. While I was walking from the Werk Room to the runway, it was all coming down on the fabric. Right before I went on stage, it ripped and I knew I couldn’t do anything. I was hoping that she wouldn’t see it, but you know she sees everything.
Trainor: Eagle eyes Visage!
LaLa: (laughs) Right, we gotta love it!
Stone: What do you think makes a perfect lip sync and what makes a perfect lip sync song?
LaLa: For the perfect lip sync, it’s all about connection with the music. I really take my time to not only learn the lyrics, but I learn the entire song – the backbeat, the ad libs. I really take the time to connect with the song. I want to make you feel like I’m the artist that is actually singing the song. The perfect lip sync song is one with all the drama. All of the over-the-top stuff.
Stone: Do you have a signature song?
LaLa: I’m known for performing a lot of rap music. Beyoncé, as well. One particular song I’m known for doing is Megan Thee Stallion’s “Stalli Freestyle.” It’s really, really fast with the lyrics. I just stand there and hit every word. People go crazy over that.
Trainor: I need to see that. On that note, you brought an almost old-school sensibility to the show this season because you’re all about performance and giving the audience what they want. Do you worry that some of the girls these days are too worried about aesthetics and when it comes to the performance aspect of drag, they falter?
LaLa: Yes. This is definitely the social media age. (laughs) A lot of girls can’t really perform. They have sickening looks on social media, but not when it comes to going on stage. Being a performer is the foundation of being a sickening drag queen. I grew up in Atlanta and it’s a pageant town. The performance aspect is one of the main things about drag that they teach you. I just hope we don’t lose that within the art of drag. I hope we don’t let social media, the looks and all that overshadow the most important thing, which is the performance.
Trainor: It goes without saying that your profile has exploded as a result of being on the show. When you can get out there and perform in front of an audience again, the crowds are going to be so much bigger because so many more people know who you are. Have you thought about what that might do to your drag?
LaLa: It’s just going to push me to be an even better drag queen, to go even harder on my performances. Bigger stages call for more production, so there will be more of that. It’s going to force me to push my drag to a level that matches the greatness that I’m able to be blessed with.
Trainor: Absolutely. Thank you so much for chatting with us today, LaLa. It was such a pleasure. Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished and everything that’s to come.
LaLa: Thank you guys. I really enjoyed the ride.