Monica Beverly Hillz made RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory by coming out as a trans woman during Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and her return to RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 had fans eagerly anticipating her return. While Monica’s return might have been short-lived, her stunning runway looks and the reverence that her fellow competitors demonstrated truly showed that Ms. Beverly Hillz has her place in Drag Race herstory truly cemented. I sat down to chat with Monica about her return to Drag Race, what her post Drag Race life was like, and how she finally learned to love Monica Beverly Hillz.
Michael Cook: Welcome back to RuPaul’s Drag Race for All Stars 8! When the cast was announced, fans were automatically thrilled to see you returning; what does it feel like to be back after all this time?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Oh my God, it felt amazing! I keep saying it, it felt euphoric to be back. Above all, amazing, happy; I could not ask for a better time to come back.
MC: Since your last appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race, so much has changed. The moment that you came out as a trans woman on the main stage truly is Drag Race herstory.
MBH: Still to this day, yes. I still get those emails, and it comes from a younger generation hitting me up. They say “your breakdown on ‘Drag Race’ helped me so much”…I even have mothers that have hit me up talking about my bravery and that they enjoy my bravery and my femininity. Not as much as it was during Season 5, but I will get those email still.
MC: Watching you come out as a trans woman on the main stage was an earth shaking moment, but seeing people like Peppermint, Sasha Colby and Kylie Sonique Love on RuPaul’s Drag Race, thriving as empowered and gorgeous trans women truly must make you look back with a sense of pride on what groundwork you helped to lay. Is that fair to say?
MBH: Definitely, what we all helped to pave. We all paved the way and we all came at different times that needed to be had. Definitely seeing all of the success that these people are having on the show, it pushed me more to want to come back. I definitely had my reservations when I got the offer. Seeing where drag has been and seeing how far we’ve come, I had no choice but to come back, this is the moment. Who am I to say no, I had to finish what I started!
MC: Your runway looks this season were beyond stunning, the glow up is truly real and the Cleopatra looks was beyond stunning!
MBH: (laughs) Thank you so much!
MC: Do you think that finding out who Monica Beverly Hillz really is has helped your drag truly explode?
MBH: Let me tell you something, on Season 5 I didn’t even know who Monica was; I was just being who everyone around me was telling me to be. “Wear this, do that, look like this, look like that”. This time around, Monica knows who she is and Monica loves herself. Monica is able to appreciate Monica Beverly Hillz. It’s like, you love yourself you start to love the things around you.
One thing that was constantly around me was my drag. Taking time and putting my effort into that…I don’t like to speak and do a lot of interviews, but I speak through my drag. The spark and the happiness started to come back, the enjoyment of drag. A lot of people know, I took about a two year hiatus away from drag to concentrate on my life and to concentrate on where I was going at the time. I think a lot of us during COVID had that time of reflection.
MC: That is so very true. I recently said to someone that I don’t know one person who is the same person that they were pre-COVID.
MBH: Yes and if they were, they aren’t around me any more!
MC: What do you think Monica and Monica Beverly Hillz learned about herself in those two years and really absorbed about herself?
MBH: You’re going to make me cry…..that I am enough. And that I am loved. (Pauses)…. I am a child of abandonment. It took me a lot of years to look in the mirror and say that I loved myself. I’ve worn my trauma for so many years… I would say that I am enough and that I am loved.
MC: As an adopted kid myself, I think there is an inherent need inside of people that might feel abandoned to hold their own relationships so tightly. Taking it a step further, when you put your art out there, it means so much to you because you are truly being vulnerable. That sense of abandonment truly must travel with you even when we don’t realize it, would you say that’s fair to say?
MBH: Yes! And for so many years, I was on drugs and alcohol so I was not able to see it or deal with it. I was just like whatever, I would just numb it away-and that almost ended my life. You wake up and you realize that “I am enough, I am loved”. There are so many people in this world who are going through far worse things than me. I am able to snap back very easily and say “lets refocus and look at the bigger picture here. You are still alive and you are still kicking after so many years”!
MC: You came into the workroom as one of the “elder stateswomen” of the group. Some of the other competitors were looking at you as a true icon of not just Drag Race, but of the drag world in general. Was that surreal for you?
MBH: Yeah, because I remember thinking that-no shade to the new generation-I would like to be cast with some of the older queens. I don’t want to be amongst a sea of the newer queens, they’re vicious (laughs)! Walking in and being one of the legends though, was such an honor. And the respect that I was shown, I was really gagged about too. They were so respectful, and knew the whole season, you’re famous for “this” or “that” These were babies when I was on!
MC: What was your high and low of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8?
MBH: My high was definitely getting to meet this amazing cast. Getting to work with people that have the same passion as me. My low for me, I’m gonna keep it real, was that girl group challenge (laughs)! I call it the “rigaromary”! I would have hoped that I would have had a little bit more confidence within the group and in myself doing the whole choreography. And actually been more myself; I messed up, okay who cares, I wish I had shown a little bit more personality and just get it through.
MC: What do you think that you want to do next? You have a brand new platform with All Stars 8.
MBH: Right now, I am going to continue my activism work, that is really my focus right now. I love the art of drag and I love drag, but I feel like my voice would do a lot better-especially with the climate we are in with trans people and banning drag-I feel like I have grown a passion for activism and helping others, and it also helps me. That is the end goal for me, having my own docu-series and doing things like that. Helping other individuals like myself, giving back. We are at a time where spreading love and giving back, and being there for people and educating, it is crucial for us to be on that right now.
MC: With Pride right around the corner, what gives Monica Beverly Hillz the most pride right now?
MBH: Being able to wake up every day and see the person that I am always seeing since I was little. That is what gives me pride.
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