Just when you thought Fluffy Starlet couldn't get any more intense, along came Heat #3. On Sunday the 20th Betty Knives, Luna Thicc, Richie LeStrange, The Slaying Mantis, Tina Bikki, and Velvet Heartz hit the Fluffy stage and brought everything they had.
Through jaw-dropping performances, stunning costumes, and a drill with a rotating dildo, Heat #3 did not disappoint. Surprising many with an absolutely breathtaking performance that left people talking days later, Richie LeStrange made Fluffy Starlet history being the first drag king to move on to the elimination rounds, while The Slaying Mantis came in as a close runner up.
LeStrange went on to save Luna Thicc from elimination, while Tina Bikki lived to strut another day by winning the lip sync battle. This Sunday marks the first elimination round, but before that we touch base with Heat 3 winner Richie LeStrange and runner-up The Slaying Mantis.
Congratulations. How does it feel to be the first Drag King to win a heat of Fluffy Starlet?
It feels wild! I’m incredibly proud to be here showing that Kings can reign just as fierce as Queens.
What's the history behind the name of Richie LeStrange?
I really wanted LeStrange as my surname, and my Drag mother Christina Draguilera came up with Richie, and now the rest is history!
Why did you first get interested in drag?
Outside of drag, I work in the theatre industry. I’ve been playing music, dancing and acting since I was a kid. So looking back, I feel like all roads led me to drag. But the reality is that in 2017 my theatre company The Sui Ensemble needed a way to raise money for a show, so Quiche Lorraine and I thought it would be camp to host trivia in drag! Now we produce and host that event monthly. You should come!
What inspired your performance choice for the night?
I wanted to do something totally outrageous that only I could get away with, something that was equal parts hilarious and sexy.
What was your reasoning for saving Luna Thicc?
I had to follow my heart and, my heart told me Luna is really stepping her pussy up, and she deserves to stay because of all the hustle she’s putting into the game right now.
Now the twist with the next round is that you can nominate your fellow queens for elimination, can you share who and why?
I’m up against some serious legends. So I’m keen to see how that sauce bottle shakes out! Honestly, I’ll be going with my heart again, and if I’m in the position to send someone home, I’ll be consulting the report cards for sure.
There seems to be a lack of representation of drag kings in the scene, why do you think this is the case?
To answer that holistically, I think we would first need to have some deeper conversations about how our communities can become safer and more welcoming places for queer women, gender non-conforming and trans people, and people of colour. To give you a more practical answer, I think because drag kings don’t have a whole lot of representation, it doesn’t even seem like a possibility to people. Especially the type of drag king, gender fuckery, that I do.
Drag performance that sits outside of what Rupauls Drag Race is showing is definitely fighting for representation on the local level. Look, we probably don’t need an entire tv show about it (although how cool would that be!?) but it comes back to... how are we making our spaces representative and inclusive from patrons through to staff through to entertainers? We can change all these things on a local level by truly supporting each other for all of our beautiful uniqueness.
What has been the biggest life lesson you've learned from doing drag?
I’m learning not to stress over the little things. The details are important, but the entire package is more important. So fucking do you until the cows come home, never apologise for it, and have fun doing it.
For someone looking at getting into drag what advice would you give them?
See local shows, go to local events, say hi to the local performers. Take every opportunity you can get your nail gloved hand on. Don’t let the scene take your shine. Show everyone what you’ve got and know you're doing you to the fullest is enough, and totally worthy, and as always #TakeUpSpace
Congratulations. How does it feel to make it to the elimination rounds?
It feels like it was worth all the hard work.
Where did the name Slaying Mantis come from?
I have been OBSESSED with the praying mantis since I was a kid. They’re the only insect that can turn their head, they sit back, watch and strike when needed. I feel like that’s very much me. The Slaying part comes from the fact that I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She was, and will always be my hero. #TheChosenOne
What made you get into drag?
It’s been a long time coming. I’ve always been weird, artistic and misunderstood. My drag mother Mercedez Munro from San Francisco got my ass into gear and gave me the confidence to just own it.
What inspired your performance choice for the night?
My school life growing up was pretty rotten, like really bad, and to escape, I played video games. It was a world I could be in that didn’t judge me, where I could be strong and finally win. Being in my own video game on stage was SO MUCH FUN. I recommend it.
The next two rounds will see Starlet competitors with the power to nominate their fellow queens up elimination. What factors will be influencing your decision?
I mean everyone’s gotta go at some point, so maybe I’ll just play pin the elimination on the busted bitch. Blindfold me, spin me round 3 times, and I’ll crash tackle one of them.
Right now who do you think is your strongest competition in Fluffy Starlet, and how will they influence your choice of performance and runway in the next round?
Yeh Sunday was a game changer. My biggest competition will always be my own ego. Someone can not like what you do in that moment, and it’s not personal. The best people are the people who can separate their ego from their art. Life isn’t that serious.
If you could share the stage with any queen, who would it be?
Judy Garland - the OG QUEEN.
Lastly, what is the biggest lesson you have learned from doing drag?
Life is not that serious, but in all seriousness, I work as a physiotherapist during the day working with kids who have cancer. I help keep them strong, motivated and want to give them the best life they can have. There are so many terrible things that happen every day that people don’t even realise. Drag should be fun. The second it’s not...stop. Let’s fuck shit up kids. See you next round trolls.
11 Queens and 1 King remain.
Don't miss the first elimination round this Sunday at Fluffy. Click HERE for more details.