Catching up with RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Honey Davenport! She’s back with a new EP, videos & more
The fabulous Honey Davenport has been keeping busy since wowing us on her (far too short) time on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Last year, she made her directorial debut with the music video for “Draw the Blood”, a collaboration with Aja, and this year, she’s back with new music and a slate of other exciting projects.
Her new EP, Love is God, which will be released on January 14th, features five songs about love and overcoming dark times with an overarching story of judicial and sexual liberation. The tracks draw upon a myriad of inspiration – from pop, disco, house and reggaeton – while spreading a message of social justice and change. It features the iconic house DJ and nightlife legend Kevin Aviance (of the House of Aviance) as well as drag superstars Manila Luzon, Tammie Brown, LaLa Ri and Jackie Cox. The first single and video for the lead track, “Love is God”, featuring Manila Luzon and Electropoint was recently released and is a must-listen (and watch.)
Honey took some time out of her busy schedule to talk about her creative process, the stories behind the songs, and her collaborations with these iconic performers on her new EP. We also chatted about her hilarious YouTube series “Da Fuq?” and what’s next for her in our exclusive interview
I was looking back and we talked right before COVID hit last year. How have things been going since then? How did you survive?
Well, I wrote an EP (laughs) and that’s what we’re going to talk about today! But how did I survive it? I created, you know, even when we first locked down, I launched a bunch of shows to take my mind off the fact that I was stuck in the house. I was like, “I’m going to do shows from my house every day or every other day.” I couldn’t stop creating because if I would stop creating, then I would focus on all of the hardships that I was having to overcome. And then, as I got a little worn out, I sat down and wrote an EP, five incredible songs featuring five of my favorite artists.
What was the creative process like putting this EP together?
Well, the songs all have a common thread. I had talked about it a little bit before the pandemic, I had already kind of come up with the titular song and the rest of it fell into place. When we were in lockdown, and I started to really write about just a better side of what I was experiencing. So, as opposed to reflecting on what I was going through in the moment, I was writing songs about how it was going to get better. And that’s the connections through all of the pieces.
The single for “Love is God” is already out and it’s amazing as I would expect from you. How did you end up collaborating with Manila and Electropoint on that?
Well, first I wrote the music, the lyrics and the melody, and then I sent it over to Electropoint and I was like, “I want disco. I want Euro pop.” And he was like, “Okay, I’m going to put on my rollerblades and rollerblade around in my garage and we’re going to get in the mood and we’re going to listen to ABBA and we’re going to get that feeling.” And so, after we got that, I presented it to Manila and I was like, “Hey, Auntie, it would mean the world to me if you were part of this track.” And she said “Absolutely.” Manila has always been a huge supporter of mine and a huge inspiration. It was such an honor to step into the studio with her and have her singing lyrics and melodies that I wrote, you know, because she’s such a musical icon, especially for what drag music is.
You recruited Kevin Aviance for this project. He’s a legend. How did you get to work with him?
Well, Kevin and I did a play together, an off-Broadway show back in the day called Trinkets. I really hoped for Trinkets to have another chance at getting viewed by the world someday because it is such a phenomenal play. But Kevin Aviance and I were in Trinkets together and that’s where I got to meet them at first.
Actually, I had met Kevin before that, but that’s when I got to like really connect with who Kevin Aviance is and be around him and he became family. I remember the summer before COVID, not very long before lockdown, I was at a club in New York City and Kevin came up to me and said, “I’m a fan of yours.” And I was like, “Hold up, I’m a fan of yours!” I love that man and I’m so gagged that happened. And so, when I reached out, he said, “You know, a lot of people ask me to be on songs now, but I always say no, but I love you so I’m going to do it.” So, that was an incredible experience on its own.
I had to do it virtually because of COVID, Kevin Aviance was in New York in the studio and I was at my LA apartment, virtually chiming in and just giving him notes or feedback on a track that I wrote. And, you know, somebody, who’s my hero, who I’ve looked up to, you know, as a small little baby gay, it was mind-blowing afterward. After that session, I sobbed because I was so overwhelmed.
How did you get hooked up with Tammie Brown and what was that experience like?
I love working with Tammie Brown. I’ve done a couple of local shows and stuff with Tammie and I love, love, love her energy. At first, I asked if she would be on my YouTube show (“Da Fuq?”) and we really bonded when we recorded her episode of my YouTube show, which you should check out if you haven’t.
So, after I asked her to be on my show, she asked me to be on this upcoming season of The Browns. And I made a little cameo. It’s really cool. I can’t wait until it comes out. I get to whip ass in it. I’m Katya’s henchman. It’s a dream role – and we realized we worked together really easily. I asked if she’d record a song with me and she said yes. I told her, “I love everything about ‘Sexy Orangutan’ and the fact that you just like spoke on it and were so brilliant.” And I said, “I want to write a spoken word section in the middle of this song, and I would love it if you would do it for me.” And she said, “Yes and I’m going to sing on it a little bit because I’m a singing diva!” It was so wonderful working with Tammie Brown, just so, so wonderful.
Now, when we had talked last year, we were talking about your directorial debut with “Draw the Blood” and now you’re directing the visual album that’s going to accompany this EP. What was that experience like for you?
So the visual album is going to be released well after the EP, because of some funding issues that we’ve had. We had a big sponsor actually randomly pull out to support other artists who are not people of color when they originally said they were interested in supporting people of color, but never mind that.
So, we’ve had a huge stumbling block, but we have been able to accomplish the first video with Manila and the follow-up video, which I am not only directing, but also choreographing for “Thrive” with Kevin Aviance. And so, the whole visual album is something that we’re still trying to accomplish because whenever I wrote all of these songs, I saw them as a picture, you know? The video is step one of the Love is God project and, at some point, we will get to step two as well.
I know it’s like picking your favorite child, but do you have a favorite song on the EP?
You know, it changes every day. It is like having your favorite child, but, you know, some days, some children are your favorites – and it changes every day, A lot of days when I’m like, you know, in my emotional bag or feeling slighted by the world, it’s like “Lady Justice” with Jackie Cox. I think that “Love Still Last” with Tammie Brown is super catchy. The same with “Love is God”. But right now, at this very moment today, it has to be “Thrive” with Kevin Aviance. I’m making the music video for that, so it’s probably why it’s living in my head on repeat.
But, there’s something about it…I wrote it when I was trying to overcome the coping mechanisms that I had allowed to slip back into my life for reasons of overcoming the pandemic. Like, you know, my glass of wine went to a bottle of wine, nothing crazy. My healthy meals every day went to, “I’m in quarantine, fry this, fry that”, you know, everything that was stopping me from becoming who I feel like I am. And I was like, “I wonder how to write a dance track about that” and so, “Thrive” is about overcoming. And so, as we’re making this video that I’m directing and choreographing and, in a way, you know, with, with everything that’s been done with the visual EP it’s, it’s another experience to overcome, so it’s one that’s right now the nearest to my heart, but they all have their own day.
Let’s talk about “Da Fuq?” How do you get such amazing guests and can I be one of your guests someday?
(Laughs) Yes and yes, absolutely. It’s really mind-blowing that just about everybody who I’ve reached out to be on the show, they all say yes. I think it has something to do with the fact that years before I ever was honored to be on Drag Race, I had a nice long lengthy “legendary within his own right” career where I got to connect with a lot of different queens. A lot of my guests I knew far before I was “RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Honey Davenport”, when I was just Honey Davenport – and those connections have definitely helped me get great guests. And then, I guess once you get some great guests, it’s easy to get other great guests. I’m always surprised at the people who I’m sure have a ton of other things they have to do, like Bob the Drag Queen and Brooke Lynn Hytes, who say yes to coming in doing an episode. Some of my favorite busiest people have agreed to do my show and I’m honored – and I cannot wait to see what the lineup looks like for season four. Season three with really magical.
How do you pick out the stories that you talk about because they’re crazy and they’re amazing?
You know, I have a really wonderful team and a really wonderful manager and producing partner all rolled into one. We kind of tackle my career together. His name is Evan Zampella and he runs BeeZee productions and over at BeeZee, they really take care of me and they find the craziest stories. I couldn’t tell you how they do it – and they don’t reveal them to me until we’re about to record. I never know the stories ahead of time, just like my guests, so it’s an “in the moment” reaction. They pick all the stories and they come up with the craziest things. I’m always blown away and truly they take care of me because after it’s all said and done, and me and my guests have gotten to go on and be ourselves, they come up with sickening animations and sound effects. It’s really a top-notch show to be a part of. It’s one of those things that, you know, I am a producer on it there’s so much of it that is my child, but it would be wrong for me to take credit for that because my team really makes “Da Fuq?” happen. And it’s really our project and the baby of my whole team.
Since the holidays are coming up, do you have a favorite Christmas song?
I mean, have you ever heard Honey Davenport’s “Present (Tie You Down)”? (Laughs) No, my favorite Christmas song would have to be “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”. That’s a really, really bomb one. In fact, I’ve been trying to make it happen, but there might be a possibility that I can release a little remix of that in the future, if not this Christmas, one Christmas soon to come, because I love that song so much. And I started playing with it with a dope producer named Ocean Kelly, who is a drag recording artist in their own right. And so like, we started playing with it, but it probably won’t come out this Christmas…or who knows? I’m kind of random. (Laughs)
So, what are you asking Santa Claus for this year?
For everybody to download it or stream Love is God when it drops on January 14th. I think it’s really the best thing that I’ve ever worked on. And it’s truly been like a baby. It’s been like a child it’s like giving birth. And so, if there was anything that I wanted right now, that is for everybody to experience what I just put my heart and soul into, you know, it’s not just some music that some drag queen made. I feel like in this project, I’ve gone from being just like a drag queen who makes music to a recording artist that does drag, you know? It’s really been a life-changing project, so I hope that everybody would go experience it as soon as it’s available on January 14th. That’s my big wish for the big guy.
What’s up next for you after Love is God?
We’re in the process of trying to produce a Love Is God tour and that’s all in the works. But, you know, there’s so many other cool things that I’m working on. I have a new makeup line called Bee Yourself coming out, which is a collaboration with Chaotic cosmetics with super awesome high pigmented shadows and all kinds of cool stuff.
I also have a new podcast that I just started recording. We haven’t released any yet, but it’s with me and Jasmine Masters, and it’s called “The Wake and Bake.” It’s a total stoner podcast, the best way to start your day, especially if you are a stoner. It’s a really cool podcast to wake and bake to. We discuss hot topics and what television and movies we’re watching and, you know, the random things you could talk about on a podcast, but you get to hear about it from me and the person who always has something to say, Jasmine Masters!
Keep up with all things Honey by following her on Instagram, TikTok, Twitch and Twitter. Check out her music on Spotify and her web series “Da Fuq” on YouTube, visit her web site and see her at DragCon LA in May!