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Dakota Schiffer on “Drag Race UK”, Representation & “Valley of The Dolls”

The ingenue of Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is most definitely, Dakota Schiffer. Bringing a Valley of The Dolls aesthetic with a fresh faced flair to the competition, Schiffer became the first trans representation in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK herstory! Serving understated glamour and epic lip sync showdowns, Schiffer left the competition as a beloved doll with tons of new capabilities in her arsenal. I sat down with Dakota Schiffer to chat about her Drag Race UK experience, moments during the competition that meant the most to her, and what Valley of the Dolls moment is her absolute favorite!

MC: Throughout your run on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, we watched you stay true to your aesthetic and passion for the sixties style and fashions throughout each episode. Has it always been your favorite era? 

Dakota Schiffer: I’ve been fascinated with the sixties decade for as long as I can remember. Even just when I was in secondary school and we were doing year 7 textiles and I was eleven I remember seeing a picture of Twiggy on the wall and saying “that looks very interesting”. It’s always been grounded in that kind of era. I’ve always appreciated the fashion of that era, it was such an era of innovation and glamour. Glamour in a way that to me, it was relaxed and not as rigid, but cooler. That is what has always attracted me to the decade. Valley of The Dolls itself is a camp classic, and I think the aesthetic of that film is something that I have always referenced. To go out in that look was something that certainly I could not have written better myself, to be fair. 

MC: What was your Drag Race UK journey from your perspective?

DS: I’d say a roller coaster comes to mind. I don’t think there was ever a week that I was winning or losing, there was really no in between. I think for the two weeks that I was safe, there was a debate about whether I should be safe or not, in the bottom or in the top. It’s crazy to know that the journey was fraught with lip syncing, badges, and anything you could imagine. That roller coaster was an interesting ride, but I don’t think it’s one I would change. I’m so grateful for the way things have gone and with the response that I have received. As much as it may have felt like a traumatic rollercoaster while I was there, the outcome has just been insanity. I am tremendously grateful. 

MC: What was it like being the first trans representation for the Drag Race UK franchise? Did you feel the weight on your shoulders of being “the first” trans representation for the entire franchise? 

DS: That is very much what I was feeling. The intense responsibility that I felt, went from being something that caused me nerves to being the thing that motivated me to stay as long as I did. I think it was actually quite nice because I know no other queen had that in the competition. People want people to look like them and the communities that they represent, but for me as “the first”, it was built up to be this big thing. It was daunting but motivational. Even in episodes where I wasn’t talking about my identity, just to be visible in the workroom, present the way that I do out of drag and in the confessionals, and the way that I look in drag as well, was something new for Drag Race UK. I was grateful to be the first and hopefully not the last. 

MC: Do you think that your fellow competitors, as time went on, got to understand you? Some of the girls in the competition were extremely high profile names, so was that something that was intimidating to you? And did they quite possibly, learn from you as well? 

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Dakota Schiffer on "Drag Race UK", Representation & "Valley of The Dolls" 5

DS: I think people were surprised by me. I think I came in with no expectations for myself and certainly, there are expectations; the bar was literally, on the floor after Episode 1! Danny (Beard) and Cheddar (Gorgeous) are legends, and (Black) Peppa is a legend in the UK drag scene as well, for the short time that she had been doing drag, it was an incredible cast to walk into. I just was even baffled that I was even considered on the same level as everyone there. To surprise people every week, after that was a privilege. To be able to compete with the best of the best and to be able to go out feeling that I did a good job (was amazing). It could’ve been a season of fierce egos and big competition and it was a competition, but the sisterhood I am just so grateful for. That shot of everyone running up on the runway when I left was about three minutes long was all group heaving!

Danny and Cheddar were were like my mothers at the end of it, my pseudo parents. I was just so close with everyone and you become just like family. That journey with drag legends and being afforded compliments and being treated as on the same level and being treated with respect. I’ve certainly gained more respect for myself because of the people that i’ve competed with and matched on a level in performance. I would never have said that, that I would beat any of those people at challenge before that competition. When I did and when I didn’t, all those journeys meant so much to me to even be considered on their level; I have a lot more respect for myself because of it, which is lovely. 

MC: What would you say are your rose & thorn of your RuPaul’s Drag Race UK journey? 

DS: My rose is the sewing challenge, I loved that challenge, working with Baby was a privilege and I got to redeem myself from Episode 1. I love when the playing field is leveled, I think half of my struggle this season was coming in saying that I loved fashion and not being able to provide the most elaborate things on the runway, which I think could have had something to do with my financial situation prior to going on the show, unfortunately. The sewing challenge is a great leveler and takes everyone’s wallets away . To win that challenge certainly felt like massive retribution.

My thorn, is very obviously the musical episode, I can’t imagine Broadway is in the future for me. Watching it now, I did quite enjoy watching it, but doing it not quite as much. Trying to get my head around doing something you genuinely don’t want to do is hard to manage on national television and the energy of a performance that you dont want to give is a real struggle. I am so proud of myself that I managed to do it and then go own to do the lip sync that I managed to do that episode. That has become one of my favorite moments. I think to survive that episode after that, i was like “what else can you throw at me”? (Laughs) 

MC: The challenge that you were eliminated during was so important and unique, as it was great to see behind the Drag Race curtain to see you work with some of the women who work closely with you day to day behind the scenes. What was that like for you? 

DS: it was just incredible. That is the first time the Queen Team members have been shown on camera and they are such a crucial part of every season of Drag Race. To finally peel back that curtain and see these amazing women that have afforded us all the space to be crazy, emotional, and self defeatist drag queens, they are dealing with so much to have the jobs they do, they work so hard. For them to finally get their flowers and be thanked for the work that they do for us was so emotional. Even if I had gone out on the this episode, I would have done it all over again for the same outcome, just so Lucy could get her thanks, and all the other Queen Team members as well, because they deserve the world. They made that experience for me.

MC: What is coming up for you next now that you have this massive global platform? 

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Dakota Schiffer on "Drag Race UK", Representation & "Valley of The Dolls" 5

DS: Keep an eye out for February when Fashion Week is around, there is a lot happening and I am very excited. I have my directorial debut, I directed a music video in the summer that should be coming out very soon. I also have DragCon and the tour top prepare for, and I am very excited for those as well. 

MC: What is your absolutely favorite Valley of the Dolls scene? 

DS: It has got to be the one where Sharon Tate is on the phone. I posted that clip as an indirect nod when I got the call for Drag Race. Sharon Tate is on a pink phone and I put it on my story and it was like symbolism! The composition of that shot, with her hair, the makeup, and the phone, I tried to recreate it in my elimination shoot as well with the pillows. Any scene with Jennifer North in, like the one with the blue feather hat when she says she is “feeling a little top heavy” that is also one of my favorites, I can’t pick just one! 

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