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The Interview

The Interview: Raven

Chiffon Dior: Well hello Raven. I’m grateful that you made the time to do this with me.

Raven: I’m happy to do it. I’ve kept up with you. I’ve read all of your stuff. I watched videos. I’ve seen everything. Have we worked together before?

C: We’ve never personally met before, but what I will say is that I began writing about drag in 2012, I wrote a piece about defending some of the issues that people had with Drag Race early on that I thought were unfair. You actually shared that article on your Facebook page and it really blew up the amount of eyes on it from there. It really was a substantial turning point in credibility as a writer for my career. So I just would like to thank you for that nine years after the fact.

R: Well, you’re welcome. And I’m happy to assist.

C: So I guess my first question would be, you’ve been a part of big productions before, big television shows and what not, but how does it feel when the show is your baby? You know, when it’s your name on the marquee, so to speak?

R: It is definitely a big concept to grasp. I didn’t really want my name in the title and RuPaul pushed for it. Ru said, “You need to put your name in the title.”, and that was probably in part because he knows that when they’re talking about the show and they use your name, they know that your brand has reached a point that people are going to get quality. So I said, “Okay, that makes sense.” So it was hard for me to put my name on it and then walk away and go, “Oh my gosh, I just did that!”, but I also feel that over the course of my drag career, now going on twenty years, I’ve always been that person where I always try to cross every t and dot every i. When it comes to my drag, from head to toe, I make sure that I look at details so I knew that we were going to look at details with the show and that would make me feel more comfortable saying, “Okay yes, I feel great about this.” I knew that World of Wonder always puts out quality products so I felt comfortable going into this and also hosting it.

C: So we’re, we’re a couple of days out from the premiere of Painted with Raven on WOW Presents plus. Are you nervous or are you just content with the work, like, I know what we did is good and I’m just excited to see it.

R: I’m always nervous. There’s never a time that I get ready to go on stage or go out or even when I know that I’m going to be making an appearance in the Werk Room on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK or Down Under or wherever where I’m not nervous. I always get nervous because you’re putting yourself out there for the world to critique. No matter what you do, there is always going to be a group of people who are going to look at something and not like it, or take offense to it, or want to tear you down. So there’s always that in the back of your head. I am happy for the world to see these seven artists and everything that they bring and their artistry. Each one of them is so very talented and each one of them is just a star in their own right. And they’re literally doing this from their home! So it’s an amazing thing that people are going to be able to watch, that we were able to create a competition out of these artists’ homes.

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The Interview: Raven 11

C: Did you have any trouble making a connection with the competitors, because it was a digital platform as opposed to being in a studio setting?

R: It was a little difficult. When I remember when we filmed Drag Race season two, every time the cameras would cut, Ru would come over and start talking with whatever queen she was talking to on-camera and want to ask what foundation they were using, where they got that wig, their shoes and I remember production always saying, “Hey, you should try and not get too chummy with the contestants.” So with this, it was kind of like when we would cut, I’d want to talk with them but they would just take me out of the room and I didn’t get to really talk with them. I would have to say, “Hey, put me back in!”. So I got to have a little one-on-one time with each one of them, but we did have times where we would all be in the room together and we would be talking and it was fun. It’s nice when you’re in a group of your peers, with the people who all speak your language, so they’re all very excited and happy to be there. There were none of them that you felt like, why are you here or why are you doing this? They were eager to do it and they all stepped up to the plate.

C: Let’s talk about the format of the show. Was it your concept, or did you work with a group coming up with the show would look?

R: Well, World of Wonder sat me down and said, “We have this idea. What do you think?” And I said, “Are you serious?”. They just kind of laughed at me and I said, “I don’t know about this.“, and so then as time went on, we talked more about it and it kind of got more streamlined. And they said, oh, this is great. I love it. So it was a group thing I would throw in my ideas. They would throw in there. I would have my ideas for these challenges or things should look or how they should do it or backdrops. And, and then you know, the producers said, oh, we patient have headbands. It was, there was a small group of us that all kind of threw our ideas in a hat, just kind of pull everything out and pieced it together in a way that we fought, came up with a great concept.


C: So if RuPaul famously is looking for charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, what is Raven looking for in the winner of her show?

R: Concept, technique and impact. That’s what I’m looking for now. It was hard for me to come up with a funny…what do they call it…acronym? So yeah I’m looking for concept, technique and impact. CTI. Maybe we’ll think of an extra letter and we’ll be looking for CLIT by next season. *Laughs*

C: Assuming the show does well, which we’re going to just assume that how it will go, do you think it would translate to a studio setting with with live contestants for future seasons?

R: I think it would take away from the fact that it’s so different. I think if we went into an actual studio and had us all together, it would lose what made this its own thing. And it’s so different than everything else. Plus it wouldn’t be fair to the first round of contestants if we didn’t keep it all virtual.

C: So you were a member of season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race and at that point, could you have guessed where your life was going to go as a result of that show? I mean, you’ve won an Emmy award and now you’ve got your own show, obviously you’ve traveled the world. Is that something you could have ever imagined at that time?

R: Absolutely not. If you were to tell the kid, I say kid, I was 30 years old. If you were to tell the person who walked onto the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race in that zebra print dress that there were so much more in store for them. I would’ve said, yeah, right. When I went into RuPaul’s Drag Race, I went with the intent to compete. That’s all that was it. I wanted to go in and win a competition. When I left there, I thought, “Okay well, I did it. That’s it.”. Whether I went home first, or if I won, I left with that knowledge that I did it. I didn’t expect anything else. There was not any expectation as far as anything else happening in my life. I honestly did not think I’d be here now talking to you about this or anything else that’s happened. So no, I wouldn’t. I would not have thought that this would have happened.

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The Interview: Raven 11

C: Do you have a proverbial bucket list of things you still want to accomplish in your career, your own makeup line perhaps?

R: That’s funny you say that because, yes, I do think about that. The makeup line is something that I have thought about where I don’t know if I want it to be a collaboration with another brand, or if I’d want it to be my own brand, but I’ve talked about this with people in the past. I’ve actually done some trials of things and just haven’t really liked it or cared for it. I would want it to be everything, to be done to my precise specifications and I’m such a control freak with that type of stuff that if it did happen, it would probably be a lot of work. So that would be the next step. But you know, where I’m at with traveling with Ru and getting him in drag, and then being able to do my own drag when I can, I’m very, very content and happy with where I am at. I mean, we always want more though, right? It’s human nature.


C: Obviously you work with high end products, but for the queen on a budget, what’s your favorite drugstore makeup item?

R: Maybelline Great Lash is probably one of the best, if not the best mascara is out there. It is the one in the pink and green tube. You can get it anywhere and everywhere and that is one of my all time favorite products, Another product, if you’re in the UK and you go to Superdrug, I can’t remember the brand, but they have this thing called Glitter Bomb. It almost feels like a waxy consistency, and it’s full of glitter. You just grab a little bit and you swipe it and it just gives this beautiful payoff. That’s another thing, and they’re very inexpensive, but those are probably my favorite drugstore brands.

C: Speaking of the UK, why do you think the so many of the American Drag Race queens are booked so often over there? Why do you think you all resonate so well in the United Kingdom?

R: I think the UK loves drag, and I think UK celebrates drag, no matter where you come from, no matter what you have accomplished, where you’ve landed, if you are doing drag, they’re going to love it. You know, if you look at so much of history, a lot of our pop music has come from the UK, they hold pop culture to such a high regard that drag has now become part of pop culture. I think that it’s just so celebrated there and who doesn’t want to go somewhere where they’re celebrated?

C: It may be a foreign concept with your schedule, but in your downtime, what do you like to do? Do you have a Netflix or a Disney+ recommendation?

You know, I do, I have Netflix. One of my favorite things on Netflix is “The Toys That Made Us” and “The Movies That Made Us”. I am very bummed that I’m still waiting for the next season of “The Toys That Made Us” to come out. I have watched them over and over again. I also love going to amusement parks, theme parks, and being able to just be out now. It was hard to do last year, but now that things are opening up more this year, that’s probably my favorite thing. I just recently bought a house and we’ve been renovating it. That’s something that’s been fun. It is not something I would do again, but actually being able to go in and say, “No, I want to paint that this color, knock that down, take that out, put this in and not having to worry about a landlord is a lot of fun. So I think maybe I want to get into flipping houses. I don’t know.

C: That could be your next WOW Presents Plus show.

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The Interview: Raven 11

R: That would actually be a lot of fun, flipping houses and flipping wigs.

C: So you mentioned theme parks. As a California resident, Disneyland or Knott’s Berry farm.

R: Disneyland absolutely! I love Knott’s Berry Farm. I grew up not very far away from it and I still have a Knott’s Berry Farm annual pass. I go as often as I can. It’s my childhood, but Disneyland has that little extra something added. Everything’s just done so beautifully and it’s next level. So it’s Disneyland all the way.

C: I always love how the Imagineers always say that the story begins at the street. It’s not once you get on the ride, it’s, you’re on the line and that’s, that’s where the story begins.

Yeah. So once you walk in, you’re literally enveloped and engulfed by this dream fantasy world, where you leave everything out at the gate and you go in and it’s just a fantasy. It’s fun. I went to Disney World for the first time, a few years ago, and I remember walking in to the Magic Kingdom and being all, this is ugly and I didn’t like it. I just thought it looked like it was put together so quickly and there weren’t those little touches that Disneyland has. And then someone reminded me, Walt didn’t walk that park. Walt walked the Disneyland park and he actually put finishing touches on everything. I’ve gone to Disney World several times since then and I actually enjoy it a lot, but Disneyland has that quaint, clean feeling.

C: It’s a little more intimate.

R: Yeah. I would do anything I had to to make sure that I could maintain an annual pass for Disneyland. It’s hard now because they’re so expensive and who has the time to go? You now have to make a reservation and make sure you don’t miss it.

C: They’ve made it a little difficult unfortunately, but your schedule is a little busy right now too. So Painted With Raven debuts on November 25th 12:00 PM Eastern time, 9:00 AM Pacific on WOW Presents Plus. Do you have your final pitch for people to watch.

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The Interview: Raven 11

R: Well, you know, if you are a fan of makeup and even if you’re not a fan of makeup, if you just a fan of people doing what they love, then make sure you watch Painted With Raven on WOW Presents Plus!

C: Thank you so much for your time Raven. One thing I always ask in my interviews, do you have any parting words of wisdom for the universe?

I say this universe. If you have makeup and you want to wear it, put it all on and go out and present yourself to the world because you are your own creation!

Painted With Raven premieres November 25th on WOW Presents Plus.

Follow Raven and her show on Instagram HERE and HERE.

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The Interview
Written By

(she/her) Despite being a drag journalist for over a decade, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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