The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Photo: Mat Wulff

BY Sarah MurphyPublished May 9, 2018

Shangela has become a fan favourite from RuPaul's Drag Race, known for popping out of boxes, shouting catchphrases like "Halleloo!" and managing to routinely work corn into her runway looks. So it was quite the shock when the queen didn't make the final two on the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars. A major finale twist left the eliminated All Stars with the power to select the top two queens — and almost none of them voted for Shangela, despite her impressive winning record throughout the show's weekly challenges.
"There's no use in crying over spilled milk," as the 36-year-old Los Angeles-based performer tells Exclaim! over the phone. And although All Stars 3 has wrapped, Shangela hasn't stopped working for a second. Touring non-stop with other Drag Race alumnae and her own comedy show "Shangela Is Shook," she's also locked down movie roles in Bianca Del Rio's Hurricane Bianca 2 and the Lady Gaga-starring remake of A Star Is Born, not to mention an appearance in celebrity choreographer Todrick Hall's recent video "Doll Hairs." On top of all that, the all-around entertainer has also released a new single of her own, the Ryan Skyy-featuring "Pay Me" — which she describes as "upbeat dance music that makes you want to turn that treadmill velocity all the way up, honey" that's about "staying on your grind and never giving up and never being afraid of being exactly who you are."
What are your current pop culture fixations?
Oh my god, we all know that Shangela loves Game of Thrones. That's numero uno, honey! I love Game of Thrones. Other obsessions of mine, music-wise, Beyoncé is coming out with the new tour. I love Beyoncé. I'm in love with Dua Lipa right now, and her music. I can't wait for Westworld to come back. There's a new show called The Chi — really good. All of that's in addition to my touring, so I can't add myself to anything else, girl, or I'll just be lost.
Why do you live where you do?
I live in Los Angeles and I love it. Originally I'm from Texas, and I moved to L.A. to pursue a career in TV and film, because obviously that's where most of that is. It's been so good to me, and I love the weather — I'm just a sunny weather kind of person; I have a sunny attitude and I'm just a happy person. I feel my best in good weather.
What has been the most memorable or inspiration gig?
Alyssa Edwards and I performed as part of World Pride celebrations in Toronto a few years ago. We were there for a Pride event and it rained outside. They were like, "You probably won't be able to go on because it's raining." And we saw that the people of Toronto were not trying to leave the rain, so Alyssa and I were like, "You know what, let's do it! It's Pride, we're all here to celebrate and be together." So we pulled two trash bags — clean trash bags — cut little holes for our arms, pulled them over our dresses, got some umbrellas out of the lost and found, and we went out there are performed "It's Raining Men." And right when the song finished — I couldn't make this up — the rain cleared and a rainbow came out. You can't write this!
What's the meanest thing somebody has said to you before, during or after a gig?
Well, it's never after, because after they always live! I wouldn't really consider this mean, but something I had to overcome was people in the meet-and-greets saying I was very polarizing. You either love Shangela or you're like "Mmm, it's not for me." Some people would say, "Shangela, oh my god, I love you, but my boyfriend really didn't love you on the show. But tonight, after seeing your show, he loves you." And I would be like, "O… kay. Thank you? Welcome to the team, baby!"
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
Loonies and toonies! I always think of poutine. Shangela loves to eat, honey! Anywhere I go, I gotta taste the food.
What was the first CD or cassette you ever bought with your own money?
Mariah Carey's Music Box, with "Dreamlover." I loved it!
What was your most memorable day job?
I used to sell shoes at a place called Bealls department store in Paris, Texas. I loved it, even though people's feet didn't always smell the best, and I had to re-fold clothes 20,000 times a day. That wore me out.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Well, I think I was just in shock the time I met Cher. I started approaching her and she goes [adopts Cher voice], "Oh my god, you're so tiny."
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
I would love to have dinner with Tina Turner. I love her. She's always been a firecracker on stage to me. What would I serve her? I don't know if she would eat it, but the only thing I know is how to order Popeye's chicken. Order up some chicken and talk about her career and life, and it would be amazing to tell her how much she's inspired me. I looove Tina Turner. And I did her my first time in "Snatch Game" on Drag Race!
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A perfect day off is me sitting in bed with my phone off. The phone off and not feeling bad that the phone is off. When my phone is off, I'm usually like, "I should turn my phone on, I'm gonna miss something." So, in bed, phone off, watching Sister Act.
How do you spoil yourself?
Travel. Well, I do it for my job, but sometimes I'll stay in a place an extra day or two, either to visit friends or to see the city. I love an extra day in my favourite city. I'll just say every city it my favourite city.
What is something that everyone should shut up about?
I'm the loudest girl in the room, it's hard for me to tell anybody to shut up.
What do you fear the most?
Not making the most of all the great opportunities that I have in front of me.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Well, I'm a drag queen, so there's a lot of taking off. By the time I get it all off, I probably don't want to get it on no more.
Is there any advice you should have taken but didn't?
One time my mom told me to invest in Bitcoin. A guy got in our Uber and was like, "You need to invest in Bitcoin." I was like, "Mom, I'm not taking stock tips from a backseat Uber person." The next week Bitcoin, like, quadrupled.

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