With a flawless figure and skin to die for, Carmen Carrera is ready to face the competition on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Not one to sit still, this multi-talented performer is not only a drag superstar, but she’s also a makeup artist, photographer, and even a part-time babysitter! Carmen shares with us her top beauty tips and dishes on the many perils of being a drag queen, including bobby pin-induced skull damage and the dangers of adhesive abuse! Once you get to know this curvy, confident queen, you’re sure to be stuck on her!
Socialite Life: Hi Carmen! I got to see the premiere and it looks like this is going to be a good season.
Carmen Carrera: It is going to be a good season – it’s going to be the best season!
SL: Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in drag?
Carmen: I got started by doing those amateur shows at a club I used to frequent when I first came on to the scene. I actually started as a photographer at the club and I was taking pictures of the girls that were in the show, the cast members and stuff like that. It just sparked a little interest – because I got really cool with one of the girls in the show and you know she told me that I might look cute in drag and I was like, “Oh, okay, whatever!” I was excited. And it kind of took off from there and I just kept doing that and I got into the cast and the rest is history!
SL: What do you enjoy most about performing?
Carmen: I think that for me I get to do what I want to do on stage. I get to become a character that I create. I do my own makeup, I do my own hair – and just that is so amazing to watch, you know, something that you yourself create. If I want to be a bitch, I can just do my hair and makeup to be that bitch. I if I want to be a sex kitten, I can do that, I have that power and I can express myself the way I want to because it’s my name they call out before the number. I think that, for me, is the best part.
SL: Who are your influences? Did the girls you took photos of inspire you?
Carmen: When I first started, I didn’t know anything about drag or performing or being feminine or any of those things. Originally, the inspiration was coming from the other girls that I saw. These girls actually were transsexuals in the show. I’d watch the show and I would see a woman and I was like, “Oh my God! I don’t understand how that’s a woman, but it’s a man.” and it was crazy to me. So, in the beginning, I was like, “I think I can do that. If I have the right hair and makeup, I think I can do that too.” But now it’s more like I look at celebrities, I look at style. I try to be a little bit different than what everyone has already seen on stage. Because sometimes when you go to the same club, the girls get kind of stuck in a rut and they do the same thing because they stay in that same style, I guess, the same period of drag. So now, it’s a little bit different. Now I look at the other girls with respect but my influence now comes from Lady Gaga, Rihanna and people like that.
SL: One thing I’ve heard you mention in other interviews is that you don’t wear any padding.
Carmen: (Laughs) Yeah. I’ve never worn padding before because I’ve been lucky enough to have a pretty decent body. That’s the way I’ve started and that’s the way I’ve always been. My drag mother never put me in pads. Even if I had pads, I wouldn’t know how to use them because I know it’s a whole process of blending and layers of stockings and all that. I’ve worn pads one time at a competition in an evening gown but it was because I used my drag mother’s gown and she had way bigger hips than me – but that was it. I don’t think I could wear pads all of the time. It’s a lot of work, but I think that I make up for it by taking care of my body – and every single time before I do a show it’s body bronzer and shimmer. If I show it, it’s going to be pretty. I always make sure my skin is flawless.
SL: Do you have any special workout plan to keep yourself in shape?
Carmen: Honestly, I just recently started to go to the gym and I run a lot and I just try to eat wisely. I love to eat food and I love to eat junk food and I live close to New York and there’s pizza and junk food everywhere and it’s hard just to stop! I hate vegetables and I’m not into eating healthy like that! I just try to eat small portions and just watch my weight and if I see that I’m gaining a little bit of weight…because, you know, I’m a man and the way men gain weight is usually in their arms. So, if I’m trying to keep this feminine figure, I have to watch myself. Just exercise and I guess just not overeating, that’s all!
SL: What was your first reaction when you found out you were going to be on Drag Race?
Carmen: When I go the phone call, I had this overwhelming feeling of beyond happiness, beyond excitement. I couldn’t even believe it. I got this phone call and they were like, “Okay, this is what you’re doing, you’re leaving in four days and you need to get this, this and that. Alright, have fun, bye!” I was in shock. I was like, “Did this really happen? Did I really do this? Am I going to be on a plane? What?” I was amazed, just stunned. I didn’t know where to start – I was like, “I need more hair. I need to buy some more glue. What am I going to bring? How am I going to pack?” (Laughs) It was a little bit of panic, but I got over it.
SL: What was it like meeting RuPaul?
Carmen: RuPaul in person is so amazing. For me, I was looking at someone I watched growing up and it was just amazing. And seeing RuPaul in drag, was even better. I couldn’t stop staring, she’s perfect! People who do similar things…I’m pretty sure that actors watch other actors and they can pick them apart. Whenever I see a beautiful drag queen, the first thing I think is “Let me get into her hair, let me get into her makeup, let me get into her outfit”, and (RuPaul) is just somebody you can look at and you can keep looking – because you’re never going to find a flaw so you just want to know, “How did she do it? How did she get her hair to look like that? How did she get her makeup to look like that? Where did she get the fabric for that gown?” Those are all of the questions that go through a drag performer’s mind when they see something they really like. And after seeing (RuPaul) in person, I’m just like, “That’s the route I want to go!” Because it’s different on TV, but when she’s right there, it’s just like “Wow! She’s stunning!”
SL: Were you able to interact with RuPaul a lot?
Carmen: Yes, we would film for the entire day – filming one episode would take a couple of days. There were times when off-camera, she’d be in the workroom with us – and she’s cool! I never got the chance to sit down and have a cup of coffee or have “girl talk”, but yeah, we had some time to talk.
SL: What was it like working with the other queens on the show?
Carmen: I just remember looking at everyone coming in and thinking, “These girls are amazing.” This year, (the show’s) got so many different kinds of drag – everyone is everyone else’s competition because we’re so different, like things that I do, Mimi might not be able to do and things that Mimi does, I might not be able to pull off. It was a challenge everywhere you turned – it was a challenging situation. At the same time, everyone’s good at what they do. It’s like a little bit of inspiration but then at the same time there’s a little jealousy and it’s just like, “Damn!” I learned so much – from the first day, I was learning. It was definitely something good.
SL: Is drag your full-time gig?
Carmen: Well, yeah. Besides doing drag, I am a makeup artist and I’ve worked at different cosmetic lines, but now I just do my freelance stuff and I just do photo shoots here and there, I’ve done music videos, I’ve done a movie here and there. I haven’t really given it all 100% of all of me, I haven’t really done that yet, it’s still part-time. Everything is part-time. I do photography too, I went to school for photography for a little bit and I still have clients who will hit me up from things that I’ve done. I’ll do a private shoot, or I’ll do a wedding or a party or whatever. I own a couple of websites – I don’t maintain them – but I always keep my hands in something. I have to keep on moving, I don’t know, I probably have ADD or something. I’m not the kind of person who can work 9-to-5 in an office. I have to continue to move. I have a ton of things to do. And besides that, I have things I have to take care of at home. I have my family members who bring over their kids and sometimes I babysit them while I’m working on my computer, editing my pictures. I try to stay busy all of the time, but everything’s part-time – drag is the best one though! It’s amazing – you become your own stylist, your own glam squad. It’s cool!
SL: Does a lot of Carmen’s personality carry over into your non-drag life?
Carmen: Hell yeah! As much as a lot of people want to say, “No! It’s separate!”, once you start doing drag, that character you create becomes so important. It’s just like when you hang out with a bunch of friends that are new and some of their mannerisms rub off on you. It’s kind of the same thing when you do drag. When you do drag, you create this diva, this character, this bombshell – whatever your imagination can stir up. You become this person. So, when it comes off, you’re still yourself but you have that little bit of cockiness, that little bit of whatever.
SL: I have also read that you are quite the aficionado of Super Glue!
Carmen: (Laughs) You know, everybody’s been telling me that! Definitely! I have to buy Super Glue all of the time because I either lose it or use the whole bottle. But if you ask any drag queen, everyone had a little bottle of Super Glue – I just happen to use more than the next girl! (Laughs) I use other things too, but that’s the best thing that works. It doesn’t irritate my skin – spray adhesive can eat up your skin sometimes. I had gone tanning this one time and my skin was a little bit red and I had to do a show and they specifically asked me to do a certain number and they wanted it a certain way. They wanted me naked and in pasties or whatever. And I was like, “Okay, I’ll go home, cut up some fabric, and do it”, and I did. when I got home after the show, I had already taken off the pasties, but I had the design of the pasties on my body – it was red! You could see the shape of all of the pasties that were on my body! It burned that first layer of my skin. I didn’t notice it because pain for drag queens is just something you have to deal with. We have to deal with bobby pins being stuck in our skull. We have to deal with tucking…pain is something that just comes with the territory. When you’re in pain, it’s just like, “Aw, whatever let me have a drink!” So, I didn’t notice…but yeah, for a good week I had red swirls on my leg. It happens sometimes. I don’t go tanning before a show anymore, I go after!
SL: Besides Super Glue, what else can you not live without as a drag performer?
Carmen: I cannot live without full-coverage foundation to cover my beard – and duct tape!
SL: Do you have a beauty tip you can share?
Carmen: Honestly, being that I worked in cosmetics before, they train you on how to take care of your skin and that’s a big, big important thing. You have to take care of your skin. You have to be sure that you take off all of your makeup and use the right skin care products. And besides that, concealer works! That’s the best beauty tip – concealer and some bomb-ass lip gloss and a lot of mascara – a lot of lashes! Because, honestly, if you watch TV and you watch commercials, usually the difference between a female and a male cartoon character is that the female always has lashes. Stay feminine, stay pretty, concentrate on your lashes, concealer, lip gloss, take care of your skin and you’ll be good.
SL: What does the future hold for Carmen?
Carmen: Honestly, I’m just hoping that people can just open up their eyes because drag is so different and there’s so many different kinds of drag and a lot people get stuck with, “Well, drag queen…well then, you must be like Lady Bunny and you must have huge hair and lip liner up to your nostrils” and that’s not necessarily the case. I take a lot of time to perfect my character – what I want to do. I want to express my art the way I want to. I just want to open up people’s eyes and maybe inspire others to go out and do something that you want to do. That’s kind of where I want to go. And, eventually, I really want to get into politics because I don’t think there’s enough of us fighting for equality. I know in the future, in a couple of years, I’m going to want to have kids. Where I come from, my family, everyone has kids. I’m Hispanic. I’m Latin. We have kids, there’s always kids in this house, there’s always babies, someone’s getting pregnant all of the time and I want to get pregnant too! I want to have kids and I know it’s going to be hard for me because I’m going to have to find a surrogate, I’m going to have to do this and that – and I want to make the process easier, I want to get there eventually one day.
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SL: Are you planning on touring after the show?
Carmen: Oh, absolutely! That’s a definite. I want to get out there and I want to travel and I want to perform – that’s the best thing to do. Performing for people who have never seen you in person is the best because they’re so into it. Rather than performing at the same venue every single week, you build your fan base – but at the same time, it’s just different when you travel and you go to a different venue and people are like, “Wow! You’re someone new” and “We saw you on TV” and honestly, there’s people who stop me now. For instance, I was just walking downtown the other day in my town and I was buying some stockings or whatever and someone had stopped me and said, “Carmen?” And I was like, “Hey!”, and they were like, “I’m so happy for you” and that feeling to me was just amazing. People are going to watch – and I’m a little nervous! – but it’s going to be good! I can’t wait. I love meeting people and I love being with people and touring is going to be f**king fabulous!
SL: How can fans stay in touch with you?
Carmen: I’m definitely a big Twitter person (@carmen_carrera) – and Facebook. I’ve also got a website coming soon. I’m very interactive – I try to answer back everybody who hits me up, so they can definitely find me online!