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Double Dare

Drag Superstar Latrice Royale Makes Provincetown Debut

by Steve Desroches

It all started with a dare. For fans of drag Latrice Royale is not just a household name, but also America’s Sweetheart, a fan favorite after her appearance on season four of the television phenomenon RuPaul’s Drag Race, nabbing the title of Miss Congeniality for her kind ways. Her subsequent appearances on seasons one and four of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars solidified her drag queen superstar status. But that road to global fame didn’t begin in the pink workroom on the soundstage of the biggest drag show in the world. It all began at the Copa Night Club in the mid-1990s in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a chorus of “I dare yous.”

She took those dares and entered that night’s drag contest…and lost. Perhaps that’s the night she discovered her personal philosophy, which became not only sage advice years later, but one of her most popular catchphrases: “It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fall down. Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it!”

It’s been at the core of who Royale is as a person since growing up in Compton, California and then crossing the country to southern Florida, where she’s lived for over 20 years. Royale took that first-time-in-drag defeat and turned it around, returning the next year to perform, appropriately enough, as Patti LaBelle lip-synching “New Attitude.” She won. That led to her dominating on the drag pageant circuit. And then came another dare: send in an audition tape to RuPaul’s Drag Race. She did and the rest is drag herstory.

“I mean it’s clearly done a complete 180 for me,” says Royale about appearing on the show. “It’s afforded me the opportunity to travel the world. I’m the three B’s: Beautiful, Busy, and Blessed. It’s wonderful. It’s taken me all over the world.”

It shocks many to learn the international fervor around RuPaul’s Drag Race and the opportunities it can provide to those that land a coveted spot in the cast. For Royale it’s been a literal jet set life. She just wrapped up shows in London and then flew into New York where she’ll shake off the jet lag and perform at the Laurie Beechman Theatre before sashaying over Cape Cod Bay to make her Provincetown debut at the Pilgrim House with her affirming show Here’s To Life, a long overdue appearance as she’s played everywhere in the USA from Little Rock to the Big Apple.

The surprising aspect of the global tours Drag Race alumni go on is that the show is not broadcast in most parts of the world. It’s become so popular despite how hard it is to view for much of the globe. But there is an international network of sharing downloads or bootleg copies that are shown at gay bars and house parties in places like Budapest, Cape Town, and Lima. There is an undeniable need for what the show represents to LGBT people all over the world, a voice for those who feel on the outside and a celebration of queer culture. It in turn creates connective tissue that reaches every continent, but Antarctica…and it’s only a matter of time before drag goes there, too! For Royale, she laughs when she thinks of all the stamps in her passport: Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand. She gasps when she recalls performing at a youth event to promote peace and understanding in Trondheim, Norway, which drew teenagers from all around the world…who all knew who she was and cheered when she took to the stage. But there’s one hot spot that is like no other for drag.

“My favorite is Brazil,” says Royale. “The fans in Brazil are fanatics. They really are passionate about it and the most vocal. Doing a show in Brazil is like no other experience. Its ca-ra-zy! Anytime we get an invitation to go to Brazil, we’re there!”

It’s not just Royale’s high-energy performances and star quality that make her such a beloved drag queen, it’s also her message of believing in yourself and being yourself, while being kind to others that has made her a role model and mentor to many. She’s uplifted so many who feel ignored or beaten down by life, often by sharing her own experiences of how she’s overcome hardships both personally and professionally. After all these years giving voice to others, she herself just regained her full-throated say as an American citizen when the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions were restored after the 2018 midterm elections, the result of a movement in which Royale was a leader.

In 2001 Royale was arrested on a minor drug charge and served a year in prison. A­ Florida law instituted in 1868, a relic of the Jim Crow era largely intended to disenfranchise African Americans, stripped convicted felons of their voting rights forever. Royale campaigned heavily for Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that ultimately passed with almost 65% of the vote. As of January 2019, 1.4 million Floridians became eligible to vote, including herself. She spoke about her mistakes and subsequent incarceration on Drag Race and about how she turned her life around. She also spoke about how ever since she was released from prison she and many like her haven’t been able to participate fully as citizens despite having served their sentences. Many she spoke to while campaigning didn’t even know such a law existed in Florida. Now that she can vote, she says she cannot wait until 2020 to vote Trump and the Republicans out of office.

“I was surprised,” says Royale. “You know we can get it so wrong down there in Florida. So I was surprised. But I feel like I did my part. I talked about my experience. I reached out. It was a horrible law and it needed to change. If you don’t like something use your voice to change something for the good of everyone. When it passed, it made my heart sing.”

Latrice Royale presents Here’s To Life at the Pilgrim House, 336 Commercial St., Provincetown, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 28 through Friday, August 30. Tickets ($30/$40) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.6424.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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