I caught up with Season 6 RuPaul’s Drag Race queen Darienne Lake this weekend just before she went on stage to perform at Axis nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. I didn’t have a lot of time with her, so I went into the interview thinking I’d do a quick “5 Questions With Darienne Lake” kind of thing. But as Chatty Cathies are wont to do, we got sidetracked gabbing about everything from getting kicked out of her house for being gay as a teen to the real reason she got a little cranky in the Untucked Lounge that one time.
G Philly: Who do you think deserves to have a second chance on the show?
Darienne Lake: I want to say April Carrión, because I don’t feel like we saw enough of her. She’s an amazing designer, so I’d love to see more of what she has to offer. Plus, I love a Puerto Rican boy.
GP: How do you deal with haters?
DL: Hateful people are not preventing me from paying my mortgage. Just like Mama Ru says, unless they’re paying your bills, don’t pay them bitches no mind. I’ve alway said, if you think you can say something worse than my parents have said to me, then good luck. I was born with teeth. I came out of this world fighting and scraping. I’m from an older generation that really had to fight for what we needed.
GP: What kinds of things did your parents say to you?
DL: Getting kicked out of your house when you’re 18 years old, and having your mom say, “I’m not paying money for some faggot to live in my home.” Hurtful things that stick with you forever. Since the show we’ve gotten to have an open discussion about it, which has been really great. I’ve even gotten sort of an apology from her. She said, “Well I don’t remember saying those things, but if I did, I feel horrible about it.” We’re coming to an understanding, even after all these years.
GP: Can you expand on the part about your parents?
DL: Definitely. I feel like we kind of had that “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of relationship over the past few years. But it seems like she’s more interested in my life now.
GP: Because you’re famous now, and rich. A millionaire!
DL: Doubt that. Please.
GP: You’ve defied so many stereotypes: Historically, the “big girl” doesn’t last too long, and neither does the fan favorite. What do you think has kept you to the final four?
DL: Because no matter how down I was, I never gave up. Never. I hung in there. I still had that confidence in myself. Even if it’s a complete delusion, you still have to have confidence and be able to sell it. Some people have said, “We didn't like your commercial, because we thought it was about plastic surgery.” I’m just like, “Really?!” Because I remember my commercial. Do you remember the other commercials? Probably not.” It’s not like I was making a commercial for CBS or NBC. We were making a viral commercial. I stood up for what I believe in. Even if you think it’s wrong, I stood up for it. Even if you think gay people shouldn’t get married or adopt children, I’m standing up for it, because I believe in it. So I think that’s what’s got me through. Perseverance.
GP: A lot of people were shocked when you beat BenDeLaCreme last week. Were you as surprised as everyone else?
DL: I was surprised.
GP: You thought you were going home?
DL: I had a feeling. But I said I’m not giving up without a fight. Did I feel like I messed up the challenge? Yes. Did I feel like I misunderstood the challenge? Yes. When it came to the banjee-girl look; I had no idea what banjee was. I looked it up on the Internet before I left for the show … And so, I thought banjee and ratchet were the same thing, so I was wearing what i see ratchet girls wearing at the clubs. When they judged me, I was like, “Okay,” I fucked up.” You know, I’m a big girl, I can take my bumps. That’s why I said, “On this challenge; yea, I think I could go home.” But you know what I’m not giving up without a fight. Put me up against a lip sync. I’ll lip sync against any of you. If I go home, I go home.
GP: You talk about being a big girl. Do you feel pressure to lose weight now that you’re in the spotlight?
DL: Your body goes through so much on the show. Even in chunky heels — you’re standing there forever. Your knees. Your back. Everything hurts. When you’re young, you want to try to lose weight because you want to look cute. But when you get older you want to lose weight because you want to be healthy and not in pain. And that’s all I care about. I’ve been trying to make better choices and all that stuff, because food addiction is a total addiction. It’s the most fucked up thing in the world. It’s weird how our minds can do that. People don’t believe in addiction to food, but it’s real. I can have a cigarette and go months without another one. Yet, you put a bag of chips in my face …
GP: I saw you at Voyeur a few weeks ago doing the “I Dream of Jeannie” number. You kind of had a slip up in the beginning. What happened?
DL: When I was walking up the stairs, my shoe got caught and flung right under the steps, so I went barefoot. I said fuck it. I kicked off the other shoe and went on. I also twisted my ankle on that last lip sync [against BenDeLaCreme.] If you look closely, you’ll see my left ankle wrapped up.
GP: What did you think of Philly?
DL: I loved Philly. The people are so much fun. They were great. I met these three nice boys who offered to help me with my bags. So I invited them to come to the after-party at the hotel in Bianca’s room with Courtney, and BenDaCreme, and Milk. That’s what a little niceness will get you. If people want to throw shade at me, okay, then you’re not getting invited to the party. Because I’m the nice one! They didn’t invite anyone else to the party. I did.
GP: Who do you like traveling with the most?
DL: Oh my God. They’re all really great to travel with.
GP: Even that loud-mouth Bianca?
DL: Bianca is hil-ARIOUS. I never thought she was a bitch. Ever. Even when she would say stuff that was shady, I was laughing the whole time. That’s the thing, too. She was laughing at the shit I was saying the whole time. If you notice, when she called me a shady elephant, she said, “You know what, you’ve been hateful today.” Today! Not every day. Today. One day. Honestly, if you think you can get along with every person you work with every single day of the week, then you’re better than I am. You have days [while filming the show] when you’re grumpy, you haven’t slept, you got your panties in a bunch. You’re hungry — all you had was yogurt and granola. So yea, there was one day when I was being a cunt. A little snippy.
GP: You do come across mean sometimes. It’s surprising.
DL: Exactly. There’s something about when you’re strapping your balls up your asshole; you get a little cranky, you know. It’s weird. It’s amazing we didn’t kill each other. When you have those days, you usually stay away from each other. But when you’re locked in the room together you can’t escape.
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