While Honey Davenport was eliminated far too soon on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 (after an unforgettable 6-way lip sync) Davenport is using her Drag Race fame to share an important message. She and season nine standout Aja have released a video for “Draw the Blood”, a song with an appeal for racial equality. The powerful video, which marks Honey’s directorial debut, is gorgeous and captivating. We discussed the video, what Honey’s been up to since Drag Race, her season 12 favorites and lots more in our exclusive interview.
Socialite Life: What was the inspiration behind “Draw the Blood”?
Honey Davenport: The song was inspired by a quote from Martin Luther King, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” When Aja started the writing process for this song, we really wanted to make a piece that make people start talking about the fact that all of these social injustices were happening and no one was mentioning it and that all of our sisters were standing by in silence and that was part of the problem. So we wanted, without any sort of confrontation, to come up with an art project that would express those feelings to the world and encourage people to start talking about this issue. That was the inspiration for us. We were really trying to get people to start talking about the fact that this issue does exist.
With this song and projects like the NUBIA tour, do you think the visibility of queens of color is improving? What would you like to see in the future?
The thing is The Vixen has been making great strides with Black Girl Magic and the whole team at the NUBIA tour with Peppermint and Vixen and Bob (the Drag Queen) is doing great stuff. The problem still exists that in small towns and on the larger tours, the queens of color are still being booked less. So, these tours and these projects that we’re working on are our way of fighting back, our way of saying, “If you’re not going to book us, we’ll create something for our own selves.“ But that hasn’t eliminated the problem. We’ve been creating our own visibility. We haven’t been garnishing it from anybody else.
How did you end up collaborating with Aja?
I’ve known Aja since she started drag in New York City. She was underaged and performing in different drag competitions and became a pretty established performer. The two of us got along really good from the beginning of her career and then Drag Race happened for her. We always wanted to work on something together and when she started making really bomb music, I was like, alright, at one point we should make a song together about something. Electropoint, the DJ who produced the project, wanted to produce a single with me and I was like, if it’s going to be with me, it’s got to be about something. Not just music about how pretty I am or how fierce my wigs and nails are – not to discredit any of those things, but they already exist. I make projects about things I want people to talk about. So, when Electropoint hit me up with a track, I knew I was already going to work on a project together and this is the one. And Aja was like, “Give me a theme and a place of where to go with it” and that’s how we decided to make it.
This video also marks your directorial debut. Is that something you always wanted to do?
It is. You know, it wasn’t anything I thought I was capable of doing. I thought I needed somebody to do that. And in trying to tell this story, I did meet with a couple of different directors who pitched me ideas and I wasn’t getting bad ideas by any stretch of the imagination, but I just wasn’t hearing back what my vision was. And I was like maybe it’s because it’s my story and I need to tell it – and this video, unlike my others, the stories in the video are true. The one that I’m in with the cops actually happened to me and the others are stories are from different people on my team and I just wasn’t hearing a clear way of people describing back to me how to display my vision. And so, I was like maybe I should direct it on my own. To be honest, it’s been the greatest joy and the most work that I’ve ever done. I now see the difference in everything else I’ve done. It’s part of the process I was totally capable of but I was terrified of it. I’ve overcome that now.
Now that you know you have the talent, do you want to do more behind the camera?
Absolutely! When I started creating the direction for this project, I was in Australia – I had some time off – and I was sketching and drawing it out and getting everything together and I was like, wow, this part of the creative process…sometimes I don’t even need be the one on the other side of this – but it brought me so much joy just to create it. And so, it’s something I’ve been talking about to other queens, other Drag Race alumni about in the future for sure is maybe making directing a solid part of my career because telling that story was so cool. And so now I’ve been seeing life like “Oh, I can tell this story this way” so it’s definitely something I’m interested in moving towards delving into.
What else do you have planned for the future? Do you have more new music coming up?
I am working on the solo EP. I had an EP with my band years and years ago, but this is my first solo EP. I have a new perfume coming out called Pollen 8. I have a new season of my YouTube show “Da Fuq” airing next month – I’ve already shot a little over 20 episodes for that, even some uncensored ones from Fire Island. I have so, so many projects on the horizon. It’s been the best part of my life since RuPaul’s Drag Race being able to create anything that I could dream.
Let’s talk a little about your background. You started in theater, right?
I actually went to school for musical theater. I went to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. After graduation, I was performing in regional theaters all over the country and I did the Hairspray national tour. So, theater was definitely what I moved to New York City ready to do and I wanted to be a Broadway star. And one day I was on tour in Hairspray and we were in Hartford Connecticut and Marc Shaiman, who wrote the show, was there and I was talking to him in the lobby. I told him I love singing Hairspray every night, but I want to make my own music. And he was like, “Well, go do it and stop singing mine.” I quit the tour the next week and I moved back to New York City and I didn’t know what I was going to do until I met Peppermint and that was how my whole career has gotten to this point.
Would you ever want to go back to the theater?
So, I’ve gotten some really cool opportunities to do musicals as Honey Davenport. That has been the best thing because I get both of my worlds to collide. Two years ago, I acted in an off-Broadway show called Trinkets written by Paul Alexander who was part of The Ones, who wrote for so many people in the 80s, the 90s and now. He wrote “Let’s Have a Kiki.” He wrote a musical that I did starring me and Kevin Aviance in New York. That was a really cool collision of both worlds and I’d really like more opportunities like that where I can put the beautiful character I created on stage as well.
Can I ask you a couple of questions about Drag Race?
Absolutely! I worked so hard to get there, you better!
What character would you have done if you had made it to the Snatch Game?
I had Santa Claus in my bag and I was so excited to do it because they were going to let me! I did a whole bunch of different ones on my tape and so many of them I had really developed, but Santa Claus was the one that I felt was the biggest standout. However, I will say this, if I ever get the opportunity to go back on All-Stars, I won’t you tell you who, but I have the most brilliant Snatch Game character ever! I’ve been working on developing it. I can’t say who, but just know that if it ever happens, it’s definitely going to win.
I would love to see you on All-Stars, because I wanted to see so much more after that epic 6-way lip sync that people are still talking about…
But isn’t that what you always hope for at the end of a performance? As a performer, at the end of a performance, what you really want is for everyone to want more of you. And I think that if anything, my little time on Drag Race set me up for people up to ask, “Who is she?” and “What else can they do?” I left with no bad edit, nothing to overcome, nothing to fight against, just everyone going “Oh, I could have seen more of her.” And that’s really a win. That’s an unheard story from that system, that it’s really set me up for whatever kind of success that I want to build. It’s given me the chance to create my own narrative – and that is a bigger blessing that I ever could have imagined from that experience.
When you returned to the show for the drag family makeover challenge, you had a beard and had social media drooling over how handsome you are. Were you surprised by that reaction?
You know, I didn’t know before this year that I was also a hot guy. I really, truly honestly didn’t know. I think I get it now. But before, I was so involved in my art and I’ve always been the weirdo and kind of dorky kid, so I never thought of myself as hot. And so, seeing myself on TV and seeing fans react to my beard, I was like normally when that grows in, it’s because I forgot to shave and that’s a bad thing. Normally, it means I need a shower, you guys! But, yeah, I totally didn’t expect that reaction. I never before had that experience and thought that little old me was hot at all. That was so crazy.
What was the coolest thing that came out of your Drag Race experience?
Well, definitely that. I didn’t ever see myself as somebody who was an attractive male. That wasn’t why I started drag. I just didn’t see myself that way. It was a really cool validation of that other part. I think I’ve always kind of known in the back of my mind or at least Honey Davenport has always thought that they were the shit. Even back in the day when I looked terrible, I kind of knew that I was okay – at the very least, I was good. I didn’t always feel that way about myself when I was a boy and the validation that I’ve gotten from this experience was something I didn’t know I needed or desired or wanted. It was just like whoa…well…okay.
You’ve worked with Yvie Oddly on “Stan for You” and you’ve worked with Aja. Are there any other queens you’d like to work with?
Absolutely. When I first started dong drag, I was a back-up dancer for Peppermint. And I worked with her for four years and toured the world. I would love to do something with Peppermint one day. The work and the art that I create is inspired by what I saw coming out of her when I started. Bob and I leaned to lip sync by going to Peppermint’s shows. I would be so honored if I could ever do something with her.
Do you have any favorites for season 12 of Drag Race?
I’m team NYC, I’m team Brita and team Jackie Cox. I love them so much. Brita is the queen of New York. She’s an unstoppable force and I can’t wait to see what she does with this platform. And Jackie Cox is somebody who you never even imagined would send in an audition tape but she’s the kind of queen who rises to every occasion. I can’t wait to see how the world falls in love with her like I have.
We’ve already kind of covered it, but if you had the chance to come back for All-Stars, would you?
Do you have a message for your fans?
I have a message for everyone. Keep having conversations and do it in kindness. Have conversations, especially the uncomfortable ones, because these are the ones that can change the world.
Honey Answers the Socialite Seven
What type of music or artist that you listen to frequently do you think your fans would be surprised to learn that you’re a fan of?
I’ve recently been into Aerosmith a lot. I think that’s a little off the beaten path for somebody who grew up in West Philly listening to rap their whole life.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
“I’ll Meet You There at Two and Other Lies”by Honey Davenport because I am never on time for anything!
What’s the oddest question you’ve ever been asked?
The oddest question I’ve ever been asked is how RuPaul treated me. I think it’s always so strange how people want to know how nice she was or how not nice she was. I’m like, you’ve seen the show. Everything that happens there is aired. But people always want some weird inside tea that doesn’t exist.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was from my Mom. My Mom used to say, “Trying is like constipation. It ain’t shit. Just do it.” Every time I was like “I’m trying to create this”, she would just make me believe that I could do whatever I wanted to do, that I didn’t have to try.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
If you keep looking at life and taking small bites out of your big problem, you eventually eat the whole burger every time. I would just tell myself to keep going and not give up. It definitely gets better, but that’s only because the doors keep opening. I think that’s what I would tell myself. The doors keep opening. Never lose hope.
What three things could you not live without?
Gummi bears, Grindr and RuPaul’s Drag Race!
What’s one thing you still want to scratch off your “bucket list”?
I would really love a VMA. I want to be one of – because I don’t necessarily have to be the first – drag queens to create music that is so great that I could be appreciated on a platform like the Video Music Awards.