It’s a new year and Untucked opens with a bang. We kiki-ed with drag queen extraordinaire and recording artist Raquel Redd, and, my, is this little lady busy! Find out how she juggles it all promoting a new single, doing drag, hosting bingo, and going to school! Some of what she had to say may even have some queens seeing Redd!
When did you start doing drag?
Honestly, when I was 6 years old. I used to wear my mom’s shoes and make up, and dance around to my VHS of *The Little Shop of Horrors*. I saw RuPaul on TV as I got older, I wrote her a letter, and she in turn called me back so happy that someone so young was mesmerized by her. I did perform on stage for as Raquel much later after moving to WeHo (West Hollywood) as an adult.
What does drag mean to you? How does it make you feel?
We can be who we want: it’s the freedom of self-expression. And not everything is what it seems. Drag makes me feel… like a woman! [Laughs] Sometimes it will give me heartburn depending on how tight my spanks are. But honestly, it’s self-expression, and that’s empowering, so what’s better than that?
Who inspired you to do drag?
Well, RuPaul, of course. In fact, I never honestly considered the fact of being a Drag Queen until I was working with Ru and he told me that I should audition for Drag Race. The show was very new, just wrapping up season one. So, I went to this place called Fiesta Cantina, and they held a karaoke show there. The DJ allowed me to do a drag performance instead for my audition tape. After emailing with casting and producers…it was still very new to me, so they told me to work more on my online and media presence and audition again.
Do you have a drag mother?
Honestly, no… I was pretty self-taught. To be honest, no one really seemed to like me enough to offer true help and advice. That always kind of bothered me, but I’ve come a very long way.
So you say it seemed no one really liked you enough to help: was that other queens throwing shade or just not being welcoming in general?
Both really. Don’t get me wrong, Weho and Nashville are very different. The queens there would give side eye and throw a little catty shade but would never hinder you in any way as far as making money or getting a show. They still would be supportive but not helpful.
What is the biggest difference between WeHo Drag and Nashville Drag, then?
Opportunity is one big thing. WeHo has a lot more of it because there are a lot more clubs and venues to perform in. Like I said, with the ladies, there was a sense of catty behavior, but it was also very balanced by a sense of sisterhood we don’t have here in Nashville. When I was new in WeHo, they had more of a sense of community, regardless of whether you’re a headliner or just working there for tips. They always have your back. Here a lot of queens have that, but they are in cliques. It’s almost gang-like in a sense, how they treat one another. It just doesn’t seem like we are progressing here, which is sad because we have so much amazing talent here that never gets the chance to showcase it because they aren’t given the opportunity.
How would you describe your Drag Style?
Unique. Cheap and cheerful with a hint of Saloon. Very fish.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Well, my favorite movie is Apollo 13. People are always surprised by that. I love it, though it’s just one of those movies that, if it is on, I can’t stop watching.
Do you feel like you have been an inspiration to other drag performers?
Oh God, I hope not! Because honestly there is only one me. If I have been an inspiration to them, I’m flattered, but I haven’t met or seen a drag queen yet that has been inspired by me. Drag is so artistic and creative, it’s so easy to draw inspiration from many things and people.
So you’re also a singer. Has music always been a big influence in your life?
Oh yes, I always loved music. When I was in high school, I got a scholarship to go to Berkley, where I studied voice. I had a band at the time, and we would go around and play some little gigs. We made a CD, but it never really went further than that. Then, in LA, I met a DJ at a club, and he heard me sing and said I should record a song. So, I was like, “Okay, fine.” So, he took care of everything and that’s when “Right on Track” came about. It was fun and everything: the touring, music festivals, and promoting the song and all, but my heart never really was with the song.
After that experience, did you know that you would continue to record and sing as Raquel Redd?
I have tried stuff as Rusty, and we did very well, but it just kind of never really took off. However, when I did a project in drag, it was like, “You’re very pretty,” or “You’re a good singer,” or “When are you gonna do an album?” But now I’m doing music I have written, so I’m very nervous and anxious to see how they will react, because people have asked me for so long now when I would be putting out new music. Well kiddies, it’s here! My newest single, “Tens and Twenties” is now available for download on iTunes and Google Play, with many more new singles to come.
What would you say was your inspiration for “Tens and Twenties”?
It’s about the money, honey: getting tipped! Seriously, though, I wanted to write a song I would enjoy preforming and that other queens would enjoy performing, a song that let the audience know that there was nothing we love more than getting tipped. When people see the shows sometimes, they just watch in amazement but they don’t really tip, or they do and you get ones and fives. So, I wanted to sit down and write a song that could really help make money and that people would love. I mean, seriously, ladies? Why are we selling ourselves short with ones and fives, when we can get “Tens and Twenties”? So, I wrote it to change the way people view tipping queens. It’s a money anthem song really for anyone who wants and loves money!
What Types of music influence your sound most?
80s music: the dance music, the hair bands, all of it. Definitely also 90s pop, for sure. I’ve always been influenced by dance and pop music in general.
What excites you most about your current and upcoming music releases?
I would say honestly getting to record the music I’ve written, having complete control myself, and not having to ask a record label or executive, “Hey, can Paige Turner be on my song, or Samantha Starr?” Being able to make my own decisions and choose my own direction is the most exciting but nerve-wracking part.
So, what is it like for you juggling school, recording and promoting your music, doing shows, and having a home life?
I always try to do things or go in a certain direction that feels natural. Anything that feels forced, rushed, or unplanned, I don’t like, so it’s really just kind of knowing what is on my plate. It was easier before, because I had Glen, my partner. He helped tremendously with the music, school, and drag…everything. Now I don’t have him anymore, and he will forever be missed. It has always been hard, but I always manage to make it. It’s just going to be more challenging now.
Raquel can be seen hosting Drag Bingo at Mad Donna’s every Tuesday night (except the 2nd week of the month). Raquel is organizing a tour, so to book events on the REDD TOUR, email [email protected] You can also follow her on Instagram (@RUSTYRAQUEL) and Twitter (@RaquelRedd).