It was only a year ago when I had the pleasure to see Rock M. Sakura perform at the New York City premiere for season twelve of RuPaul’s Drag Race. What impressed me the most was her high-energy dancing, kicks, and tricks – including a paper fan throw or two.
Flash forward a year and one pandemic later, after her stint on Drag Race, Rock has come back in full super-she-ro force, this time with the aptly named Rock M. Sakura Sexy Superhero Sickening Spectacular. The hilarious new WOW Presents Plus mockumentary series follows Rock’s superhero adventures.
In the series, Rock tries to figure out her superpowers, defy her rivals (and fellow season twelve sisters), and attempts to step into her parents’ large superhero shoes (who look eerily similar to a cross between Rock and a store mannequin).
C.Tepper: The first seriously important question is: Have you been watching WandaVision? Thoughts and feelings?
Rock M. Sakura: I have been watching WandaVision, and one of the main things I really just can’t get over is how incredibly dance-y the opening is. It’s crazy! Every time the opening comes on, I’m on the floor in a dip, and I’ve been duck-walking for the past thirty seconds. It’s great. I get a workout every time.
But the one thing I really appreciate about WandaVision is its dedication to really pulling in easter eggs from the Marvel series, and it doesn’t play down to its fans. In fact, it flexes on its fans. Like, “Do you think you’re a fan? Look at this, can you catch this?” Oh, I love it so so much.
C: Who were your favorite superheroes growing up?
R: I was really into Batman: The Animated Series, so I loved Batman. I also really liked Spiderman, mostly because of the skin-tight outfit, and I would be like, “Could you imagine if you were in New York and someone with that tight ass just walks across your window – just full display.” Imagine a twink just like twerking on your window.
I would say a big influence for me would be Sailor Moon. I feel like that’s such a cookie-cutter answer for someone who likes anime, but I’m rewatching it right now with my partner. He just turned forty – so he has to see it at least once in his life. We’re at the Uranus / Neptune arc, where there’s so many lesbian plots going on. It gives me life every time!
C: I’ve read that you have a background in illustration and animation. How has that influenced your past and current projects?
R: For the Rock M. Sakura Sexy Superhero Sickening Spectacular, I did the design for my outfit, and I also did the opening title card illustration. Doing animation and illustration really influenced my drag because I wasn’t able to make an actual career out of that, so it’s kind of like my failed dreams have come through and are manifesting into my drag.
I’m designing every aspect of the show. Like writing scripts, I wrote with the help of Jeff and Pete from WOW Presents. I wrote the scripts for all the episodes. It’s one of those things where I wanted to get a WOW Presents show, but I didn’t want to sit in front of a green screen because there’s already UNHhhh, there’s already Gap Chat, there’s already those other things, and I feel like my strength doesn’t lie in sitting in front of a green screen. I feel like it comes from one: dumb content, and two: expertly crafted moronic content.
I want to [create] something that appeals to the kid that’s been drinking too much Mountain Dew, you know?
C: I think I do! So San Francisco is one of my personal favorite cities. What makes your current hometown such a great city for a superhero backdrop?
R: Part of San Francisco that makes it so good is that there’s so many iconic locations to film at. Like [in the show], there’s a lot of scenes filmed literally next to iconic San Francisco staples. The first scene in the show is actually next to Oasis, which is a bar owned by Heklina and D’Arcy [Drollinger]. It’s one of the bars that helped me come into myself as a performer, so I really wanted to show that.
I love San Francisco, so being able to film there helps me make this series a love letter to this city that helped me grow and turn into this wonderful performer.
C: What inspired the show’s mockumentary-style? It’s definitely an interesting take on the superhero genre.
R: I got pitched this show, me and Pete were talking and throwing around a couple of shows we could do. I really love mockumentaries. Mockumentaries are one of my favorite genres in general. I had finished rewatching Parks & Recreation. I had just finished watching – there’s only six episodes of – Gerhard Reinke’s Wanderlust, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and just finished watching Spinal Tap too. So all of these things were telling me, “Go for the mockumentary style.”
It really lends itself to it because of the pandemic. Specifically, because if you can’t have a camera crew, or if you can’t have a thousand people curating stuff in a studio, and you only have your house – then do a mockumentary style. Like what else follows someone in their own house, you know?
C: I think I do. So in the show – your character “Rock” faces many obstacles and challenges to figure out their place in the world and their superpowers. Rock is up against literal brick walls struggling to push through. Has that metaphor resonated with you on a personal level?
R: *Rock laughs* Rock is me, and I am Rock. We are “The Rock.” Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?
That metaphor [of pushing against a brick wall] really has resonated with me because as a performer coming off of Drag Race and as someone not able to perform in a live venue, it’s kind of hard to figure out what your place in the world is when your biggest source of revenue and your biggest source of art is taken away from you.
So in a way, the superhero show represents me every day trying to figure out what I want out of this new current landscape – but in another way, it doesn’t because it’s dumb.
C: For me, I feel like your superhero power in real life is makeup. I always admire drag queens who go outside of the box of makeup conventionality. Do you have tips or tricks for people who want to stand out doing drag or in regular day-to-day life?
R: One thing I really do suggest is getting yourself some friends who really do care about you enough to bully you into doing your makeup better. You can’t have friends who [when] you walk out like garbage, and then they’re like, “Cool. Let’s go.”
You know you have to have a friend that’s like, “No, I think you should…um…maybe…take off that leg, grow a new one, because we need to start from scratch. Maybe, if you can, get some fillers before you leave the house.”
I have so many friends who will send me pictures, and they’ll be like, “What the hell is this queen?” And my lace will be back here [past the scalp], and my eyes will be uneven. You just need enough people telling you “No” until you get it right.
But a real real makeup tip is to do your makeup from the front, and turn to the side when you’re doing your makeup, especially eyeliner too. Like I have a nose that really jets out and eyes that really sink in a bit, so when I put eyeliner [on], it doesn’t look the same from the side because my nose pops out. So you want to think about your makeup in three dimensions.
C: You’ve recently posted a Gigi Goode drag recreation on Instagram, and there’s also a brief one in the show. Fans of yours, including myself, are begging for more season twelve look recreations of your fellow contestants. Is there more to come?
R: Um…there’s could be. I would love to do Heidi [N Closet]’s makeup on the show, but I would have to do it with my off-hand; the lines are just too straight! I always wanted to do Nicky [Doll]’s makeup on the show, too, just because her makeup is so so so soft.
But you will have to watch the show to find out to see if there’s any more season twelve girls, season twelve references, and you know, maybe some cameos.
C: Any teases of what’s to come in the following episodes? I’m personally looking forward to seeing Rock’s parents and their take on things.
R: My parents make an appearance on the show. Here’s the thing, I play almost every single character. We basically have one guest per episode, and most of the time, it’s my friend Mary Vice who is from San Francisco. She’s in almost every episode.
I was watching Meet The Fuccons which is a Japanese parody 1950s show, and all of the characters are played by mannequins and they’re just accompanied by very funny voice acting. I thought, “Hey, if I don’t want to play an extra extra role, what can I do?”
So I bought a mannequin from a man. I went to his house during quarantine. His house was like Hoarders: Buried Alive, you know where the cameras can barely get in. And he was like, “Here’s the mannequin! She’s missing an arm, is that okay?” And all I could think of was, “This is comedy gold.” Just having a mannequin with one arm on a show, and she’s in a lot of episodes, so she’s kind of carrying the show.
C: I’m so excited!
R: Oh it’s going to be so good. The next episode you’ll be able to meet my parents.
C: Can’t wait for the hilarity to ensue! We’ll be sure to tune in every Wednesday on WOW Presents Plus!