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Interview: RuPaul’s Drag Race – Laila McQueen

4 min read

Even though we all knew a bombshell was coming in episode 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8, it was one we weren’t prepared for: The second double elimination in the show’s history! Following the episode’s Pitch Perfect themed lip sync battle, aptly titled Bitch Perfect, all seemed to be normal as two queens fell into the bottom and fought to win their position in the race. Unfortunately, with Dax ExclamationPoint and Laila McQueen simultaneously failing to impress RuPaul with their lip sync renditions of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, both queens found themselves sashaying away. Nine queens isn’t enough for a season, however, and in true reality television form RuPaul set up a major cliffhanger with the introduction of a returning queen in the next episode. So don’t lose hope yet, as someone you know and love may still find their way back into the competition!

As season 8’s most reserved queen, Laila McQueen may have seemed like she was having trouble standing up against the louder personalities of her competitors. While it may have led to the end of her time on the show, rest assured that there’s more of Laila to come, and that it will be worth the wait; her shy personality doesn’t mean that she lacks talent! Following the elimination, we had the chance to ask her some questions about her experiences throughout the race.

RuPaul's Drag Race - Season 8 Queens

Michael Smith: Aside from your elimination, how was your time on RuPaul’s Drag Race? Are you happy with how you were presented on the show?

Laila McQueen: I could have been presented better. It sucks that I was in the bottom two in the first episode, but I killed the lip sync, so people know I can perform.

MS: This marks the second time there’s been a double elimination on Drag Race. What was your reaction when you registered the fact that you would both be leaving? Do you agree with the decision in hindsight?

LM: I’m totally biased, so obviously I didn’t want to go home. I just thought, “This sucks.”

MS: You had a controversial song to deal with, considering I Will Survive is such an iconic lip sync track. Were you worried when you found out you had to lip sync to such an important song?

LM: A little bit. It was weird; I know the song. If you watch Untucked, Bob is telling me to do it like someone’s done you wrong. They were expecting us to be campy and gayer. It’s not how I envisioned the song and I think that’s why they didn’t think our interpretations were adequate.

MS: Would you have handled the lip sync differently had you known the judges would react so negatively?

LM: I would have done what they were expecting, so I would have made it gayer and campy. It’s just not how I envisioned the song.

MS: How has the fan reaction been since the show started airing? Are you afraid this double elimination will cause a change in your fan base?

LM: I thought it would be negative, but fans have been super nice. So many have said that they’re bummed they don’t get to see more of me on the show. That doesn’t mean they’ve seen the last of me!

MS: Your shy personality was the major issue the judges seemed to have with you across both episodes. Do you feel this was an unfair assessment on their part? How do you think you would have overcome it or proven them wrong had you continued to the next episode?

LM: I would have had to be cuckoo crazy in the next challenge to prove them wrong. I don’t disagree with them, but just because I’m shy, it doesn’t mean that I’m not a good performer or good at drag. But I get that it’s a TV show. When I’m standing next to Bob the Drag Queen, Kim Chi or Acid Betty, it’s hard to stand out.

MS: Do you have any regrets about your performance in the Bitch Perfect challenge?

LM: I regret not forcing myself to have a bigger role in the challenge. They didn’t air it, but I struggled with the choreography at first; eventually I got it down. The judges said they were proud of how I overcame the choreography, but that I just didn’t stand out.

MS: Was there any sort of challenge you had been hoping to see on the show? Who do you think you would have done for Snatch Game?

LM: I was really looking forward to the transformation challenges. Those are the most fun. I had the perfect costumes for Snatch Game. It would have been either Betsey Johnson, Courtney Love or the Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo.

Tune into RuPaul’s Drag Race next Monday at 9/8c on Logo to find out which queen will return to the workroom!

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