If you haven’t been watching season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you’re missing out on some of the fiercest queens to ever strut down the runway. Among this season’s standouts is Rochester, New York’s own Miss Darienne Lake. A performer who describes herself as 12 tons of twisted steel and sex appeal, Darienne won the online vote to be able to compete to become America’s Next Drag Superstar.
With her infectious sense of humor and standout performances in the “Drag Race Me to Hell” and “Snatch Game” challenges, she’s showing the world why she deserves to be in the running for the title! Darienne took some time out of her busy travel schedule to chat with us about her drag origins, inspirations, and experiences on Drag Race.
SL: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Darienne: I grew up the middle child of 5 on Long Island, NY. When I was 11, we moved to western NY. I had always been a fat child, but moving during my sexually developing years forced me to become very introverted. I felt like I had to keep my life and my homosexual feelings secret. Food seemed to keep my mouth busy and questions from being asked. It wasn’t until I found drag, did I feel like I could express myself. I came out to myself at the beginning of 1990, and I started doing drag in August of that same year.
SL: How did you get started in drag?
Darienne: I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Aggy Dune (a local famous drag icon) was playing Frank N. Furter. My friend said he saw her in a show at the Liberty Club and we should go. I was amazed at the transformation. I eventually befriended the queens and they painted me up at an after hours party.
SL: It’s not a secret that Pandora Boxx has been a big supporter of yours. Did you get any tips on surviving Drag Race from her
Darienne: She told me to bite my tongue and let other queens shoot themselves in the foot first. With so many large personalities, it’s good to let others dominate the conversation, and pepper it with humor. She also said to make sure I wore a comfortable shoe on the runway because you’re up there for a while.
SL: Do you feel any added pressure being the “people’s choice” this season?
Darienne: There is pressure to make the people who helped you proud. As long as I try to do myself proud, I think I’ll do alright.
SL: How would you describe your look?
Darienne: Vixen, vamp, a sexy, curvy Glamazon who loves sparkle.
SL: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as you’ve developed as a performer?
Darienne: You have to evolve and not be scared to fail. You might be a comedy queen but try some drama. Do it all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
SL: What do you enjoy most about performing?
Darienne: That for a few minutes, people put their cell phones down, look at you, and smile.
SL: Where is your favorite place to perform?
Darienne: There is no place like home. They know you, your sense of humor, and you can try out new things on them. I own a house in Rochester, NY, but Rain Lounge in Syracuse and Club Marcella in Buffalo are also my heart.
SL: What can people expect to see when they come to see you?
Darienne: A fun, entertaining night, full of laughs and playfulness. I’m there to talk to everyone and have a great time. You can also expect me to poke fun at you, especially if I like you.
SL: Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?
Darienne: Too many to count! One particular evening, I was coming up from the dressing area (in the basement) and a roach the size of a half-dollar hitched a ride onto my dress. As I was performing, the roach climbed the layers of the chiffon skirt and the crowd screamed. I thought, “Wow! They are LOVING ME!” Finally, the critter fell off and scurried away.
SL: What do you think separates you from the other queens?
Darienne: That I am first and foremost an entertainer. I’m not one who loves photo shoots and modeling. I’m much better live and in the flesh.
SL: What was it like working with RuPaul?
Darienne: It was great to watch the process. RuPaul is such a quick, funny, and professional entity. She is incredibly inspirational.
SL: What was it like working with the other queens?
Darienne: It was such a learning experience. A complete case study as well. When you put people in an environment like RuPaul’s Drag Race, no telling what aspect of your personality will surface. As a more experienced queen, it was great to make some brilliant new friends.
SL: It seems in the more recent seasons of Drag Race that there’s more of an emphasis on pitting the experienced queens (like you and Bianca) against the new kids on the block (like Adore). Do you think that there is a big difference between the generations of performers?
Darienne: The great thing about so many differences is that we can learn from each other, if we’re willing to learn. Younger queens haven’t quite settled into their niche so they can be more malleable. More experienced queens have the advantage of being more professional with their focus on their goals.
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Being a young, gay child, it’s so crucial to see #gaypride in small towns. To know that you’re not weird or abnormal. That you are loved and welcomed in a family. See you Saturday for #SyracusePride @dukenrain with @ivy_winters. ❤️😚❤️ 🏳️🌈 photo credit: @argonianphotography
SL: Do you think the “comedy queens” like you and Pandora don’t get as much of a fair shake on the show?
Darienne: I think we all get a fair shot. The hard part is that the show gets you to show all aspects of your personality. You have to be a comedy queen, a pageant queen, a club kid, a model, fashion designer, musician, and a dancer.
SL: I adored your Paula Deen impersonation on “Snatch Game”, and if you really were eating a stick of butter there, I bow down to you! I also thought you made a lovely Adele. What other performers do you enjoy paying tribute to?
Darienne: It was real butter, but it would also take my lipstick off when I put it to my lips. I’ve done other impersonations like Anna Nicole-Smith, Big Ang, Sarah Palin, Britney, Cher, Madonna, Susan Boyle, and Charo. I enjoy the camp in all of them. I’ll give you so much camp, you’ll pitch a tent!
SL: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Darienne: I love to get in my car and just drive. It is meditation to me. Oh, and after watching Watership Down as a child, rabbits freaked me out.
SL: What do you hope people will learn about you from the show?
Darienne: That I’m just like them. I struggle with inner saboteur and try to find ways to bring out the best in who I am.
SL: What words of wisdom do you live by?
Darienne: It’s nice to be important, it’s more important to be nice. The toes you step on today are connected to the ass you kiss tomorrow.
SL: Could you share one of your beauty tips with us?
Darienne: Womanwithin.com has beige opaque tights that are fabulous for big girls. Makeup primer is a must. In a pinch, a drop of a certain hair shine serum or lube will work.
SL: What one beauty item can you not live without?
Darienne: Fresh Balls by Fresh Body. It is a cream that dries to a powder finish and keeps everything fresh as a daisy.
SL: What are you hoping to gain from your experience on the show?
Darienne: Getting to see new places and meeting new friends and fans. Breaking out of my usual routine and challenging myself.
SL: Any upcoming news, future projects or events you’d like to share with us?
Darienne: I’m looking forward to the Europe and Mayan Drag Stars at Sea cruises with Al & Chuck Travel and make sure to check my website for more touring info.
SL: How can your fans best stay in touch with you?
Darienne: They can visit my website, Dariennelake.com or follow me on Instagram, Vine, Tumblr and Twitter @dariennelake. I also have a Facebook fan page.