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Rita Menu Dishes ‘Drag Race Down Under’, Double Eliminations & The Power of The RuPaul Critique

With a short career in drag pre-Drag Race Down Under, Rita Menu became one of the only queens in Drag Race herstory to eliminate two queens in one episode. While she has departed the competition, Menu left with one valuable piece of advice from RuPaul on her makeup, one that she is applying going forward. We sat down to chat post-elimination about her iconic lip syncs. her life prior to Drag Race, and what it was like receiving such a remarkable critique from RuPaul.

Michael Cook: Thus far, you are the Lip Sync Assassin of Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. How does that feel? 

Rita Menu I will happily take that title! 

MC: Not many other girls can say that you have eliminated two girls in one episode; its fair to say you’ve made herstory! 

RM:I think there is actually only one queen in the Drag Race franchise that has done it other than All Stars. (Ava Hanger of Drag Race Italia also eliminated two queen in two different lip syncs).

MC: What was it like to see the first girl ever in Drag Race herstory faint on the main stage? It looked absolutely wild. 

RM: It really was, I was quite in shock. You are getting ready for a lip sync and that is kind of all that you are focusing on at the time. After seeing all of the judges react and then seeing Ivory (Glaze) stumble, all that I could do was to run over and make sure that she was okay. 

MC: Tell me about your experience on Drag Race Down Under Season Three. As someone who has not been doing drag for that long, your experience was undoubtedly unique. 

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Rita Menu Dishes 'Drag Race Down Under', Double Eliminations & The Power of The RuPaul Critique 7

RM: It was. I enjoyed every second of it. Going into the competition, not a lot of people knew who I was. I was happy to try things for myself and test my abilities to the best that I could. It was quite a learning curve and I enjoyed all of the tips that the judges gave me and the tips that my sisters gave me. It is something that I have taken and grown from. 

MC: On the main stage, RuPaul looked at your makeup and remarked how exquisite your makeup was and simply said “this is your look, this is it”. I don’t recall that happening in recent memory for another queen. 

RM: Oh yeah! I know that there were a lot of makeup queens in this season so I was not really thinking that my makeup would stand out in any way. Getting that type of praise from RuPaul especially, was a huge compliment. I have taken that on board now and it’s my look (laughs)! 

MC: How did you get started in the world of drag? 

RM: I kind of was just playing around with makeup and do makeup on people, that was my entryway into the whole makeup side of things. It was about going to my local events and drag shows in Hamilton and Auckland and it kind of just made me think of when I was younger and performing on stage. I realized it was my time now, so why not do it? 

MC: More and more drag performers are influenced by Drag Race, and so many of them are influenced by individual queens. How did you manage to separate yourself and find you own niche? 

RM: I would like to say that I was a bigger queen, I tried to focus more on my shape and my body and took it back to other influences like Beyonce, who’s curves are what really stand out. I wanted to embody that and make sure that I showed that off. Strong independent women also, we have a lot of women here in New Zealand that I look up to and that is something that I wanted to be sure I was going to embody and show on the main stage. 

MC: Looking back, what was your rose and thorn of your Drag Race experience? 

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Rita Menu Dishes 'Drag Race Down Under', Double Eliminations & The Power of The RuPaul Critique 7

RM: I guess, going into the completion because I was new, I didn’t expect to get this far and I am very proud of that . Things that I have now learned that I didn’t know, like acting (laughs)! I think I come with a confidence as well, knowing that side of things and getting some experience in that area. Next time, I want to slay some acting challenges (laughs)! 

MC: The fact that as a newer queen, you didn’t think you would get that far, you still had the confidence to try out and take that risk. What gave you that confidence? 

RM: I always had the confidence to stick to my guns and if you are confident in yourself, just go for it. I had experience in my past life, I used to represent New Zealand in swimming. I had a lot of strength in myself to get there and I know how to put myself in the situation and just go for it! 

MC: So with a background in swimming, you were probably hoping that the first challenge was going to be a mini-challenge in a large water tank, like how Season Five kicked off. 

RM: Oh I was ready to do so (laughs)! 

MC: What is harder, swimming and representing your country or doing Drag Race and representing your country? 

RM: Wow, I would say..I think they are both on par with each other. There is a lot of training involved and a lot of practice representing New Zealand, so that goes in with drag as well. To be good, there is a lot of time and effort that you have to put into it to get there. I would sy that they are both around the same. 

MC: The good news is that if you are really cinched, you could probably hold your breath longer than anyone on the runway. 

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Rita Menu Dishes 'Drag Race Down Under', Double Eliminations & The Power of The RuPaul Critique 7

RM: Oh yes (laughs)! 

MC: What do you want to do now with this global platform? 

RM: I really want to travel land get to know a lot more queens. Being from a small town I have my niche and my group, but just experiencing the world and different elements of drag is something that I’ve always dreamed of about doing. I I got to experience a bit of it when I went to Melbourne for Drag Expo, but I want to travel and spread my kitty around the whole world. The closest that have ever been outside of New Zealand is Australia! 

MC: You embraced the unknown and that is so much of what life is about. What advice do you give to other performers who want to want to take a leap of faith, with Drag Race or something else? 

RM: If you ‘re confident in yourself and you know what you’re doing, just go for it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you don’t do it, you might miss out. Go in there, guns blazing, get in there, and fully connect! 

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