Alyssa Edwards is back, back, back, back, back, back again.
The legendary performer and RuPaul’s Drag Race icon is finally returning with a sixth season of her fan-favourite WOW Presents digital series, Alyssa’s Secret, in which she will spill T on a variety of important, hard-hitting topics.
“I’m nobody’s therapist or doctor, but I like to think that I am. So now, I’m giving advice about online dating, what it comes to and what all the abbreviations mean,” she tells us down the phone. “For example, this guy said he was looking for a unicorn.
“I thought, ‘Well I’m a unicorn.’ I didn’t realise that a unicorn is a third. I get educated on online dating, it’s hilarious.”
The dancing diva has also received another spin-off titled Alyssa Raw, which will invite us into her world as she celebrates World Pride in NYC, flies to LA to shoot the music video for her eyeshadow palette and spends time with family in Dallas.
Because she’s a working WOMAN, Alyssa is also going to be touring with Werq the World in 2020 and hosting the official tour for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, which commences 28 November in Newcastle until 7 December in Manchester.
We caught up with Alyssa to discuss her upcoming projects, why she feels “privileged” to be compared with Drag Race UK contestant Cheryl Hole, and whether she’d return to the Emmy-winning franchise for a UK vs US spin-off series.
You’re finally back with a new season of Alyssa’s Secret – how excited are you to put this out?
It’s a full circle moment. This was kind of another self discovery moment of who Alyssa Edwards really was, of me growing as a character. So coming back into this, and I have a couple projects in the works, but this was one is fun. This is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing because it’s me sitting in front of a camera speaking shit; talking about something, or rather… nothing! The greatest thing that I love about drag is that it’s empowering, and it makes people smile. I think that’s what this provides. These are five minute, little videos of me just sharing my secrets and stories of my life.
What can we expect you to discuss this time around?
Oh my gosh. Well you know, we upgraded, we upgraded Alyssa’s Secret. When I tell you we upgraded, we upgraded these chats. There were a few where I was like, ‘Now, should we really go all the way this way?’ And they’re like, ‘Well Alyssa, you done already done started the conversation.’ I’ll tell you one of my favourites: online dating. I’m nobody’s therapist or doctor, but I like to think that I am. So now, I’m giving advice about online dating, what it comes to and what all the abbreviations mean. For example, this guy said he was looking for a unicorn. I thought, ‘Well I’m a unicorn.’ I didn’t realise that a unicorn is a third. I get educated on online dating, it’s hilarious. It’s HILARIOUS. I cannot believe this is actually my life. I’m sitting here like, ‘What am I doing? I should be teaching class right about now with 10-year-old’s running around! And I’m over here playing dress up.’
So you’ve gone from being a dancer, to being a reality TV star to a therapist. Brilliant.
To being a therapist, and let’s not forget: I’m an ordained minister [laughs]. She is well-rounded! Well, well, well-rounded! When I got that certificate that said, ‘Justin Johnson/Alyssa Edwards: Ordained Minister,’ I sat in my room and giggled. I had to take a moment to giggle and think, ‘What is this life you are living?’ How did all this come about?
What is the line-up looking like for the new series?
Oh now that… Now that you are gonna have to stay tuned. But it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be exciting and it’s definitely going to be what everybody expected it to be. It’s going to be silly, campy, over-the-top and all things Alyssa Edwards. Extra! Now, they know how to work me over over there. They’re like, ‘Let’s just line some Red Bulls up, put a straw in each one, a colourful straw so she’ll really go off.’ So let’s talk about this tour, are you excited? Season one, what is the buzz over there?
The general consensus is that it’s one of the best seasons of Drag Race. How are you finding the UK slang?
[Laughs] I adopted that throughout my travels! I would say that the UK is one of my most travelled destinations, and I have found such a huge fanbase for my gig over there. The very first time I went over there, it was a little hard, I’m not gonna lie to you Sam. There were no “howdies”or “y’all’s”. I’m like, ‘Can you repeat that? You’re going too fast.’ I’ve found myself saying that a lot. I also learned that the humour and the art, it’s like there is no boundaries. You go all the way out, full throttle. But I’m very excited, before I depart, me and the Haus of Edwards are doing a binge watch party this weekend. We’re going to watch everything! I haven’t got to see every single episode in detail.
What has been your favourite moment so far from what you’ve seen?
I actually like the interactions with them. This group of girls is very much a unique bunch of queens. I’ll tell you, when I watched the Meet the Queens, you know, that was like the first look. I think we’ve all been anticipating this. In fact, all of us American queens have always said there needs to be a Drag Race in every country, especially countries like the UK where the fanbase is so severe. You guys love RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the artistry there is so diverse and so creative. So, I was very anxious to see the Meet the Queens and it didn’t disappoint. It did not disappoint. It’s very campy and very fun – all the UK queens are very witty. I think that’s what I enjoy the most. The runways and all of that… it’s exciting, but as someone who’s been on the show, I like the banter. I like to hear the interaction.
Is there anybody you’re really looking forward to performing with on the tour?
Yes! I’m a huge fan of a lot of these girls, I’ve worked with them. I remember working with Cheryl Hole for the very first time, and I completely fell in love with this person; just bubbly, fun and outgoing. I remember working with The Vivienne for the very first time at ClubKids. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what a talent.’ Let me not forget Baga Chipz, over there at… what’s that show?
Porn Idol! Porn Idol. Oh my gosh. Hilarious. First of all, that was another whole experience for me in itself. He was so funny. I also really love the artistry of Blu Hydrangea, what a talented makeup artist and so creative.
And so young!
Exactly! That’s what is so interesting to me, is these young queens are doing drag at like 11 or 12-years-old and they’re so skilled with the makeup artistry. It’s very fascinating to me. But look, I don’t want to say one or two of them, or three or four of them, the whole group collectively. It’s going to be exciting to see the whole cast together, it’s going to be a very high energy show; producers, dancers, lights. It’s also going to give the audience a first look at each performer. So if these people have just discovered the show, just discovered these queens, have only seen them online, they’re going to get to meet them. That’s always exciting.
Are you aware of the comparisons fans have been making between you and Cheryl Hole? Because you’re both tongue-popping dancing divas?
We are. I met Cheryl years ago, coming to the UK. I never got to have that drag mother feeling and she was like, ‘I’ve always looked up to you Alyssa.’ Every time I would go on tour, she would always be there and she was either an opening act or helping out backstage. In fact, Hayden her partner has my name tattooed on him – and this was years ago! So, I kinda took her under my wing. So these tweets… I don’t think she’s trying to be me, I think Cheryl maybe idolises things about me and you know, I idolise RuPaul! I have no shame, I want all my wigs to look just like RuPaul. You take little pieces of people that you idolise. We do it for queens throughout pop culture. Look at Madonna. There are things that we do, we take from people that we admire and I’m humbled. I’m privileged that I see people saying, ‘Well, Cheryl’s trying to be you.’ I think that’s amazing and I think we should all just enjoy who we are. She’s a dancing queen! She is a dance queen!
It must crazy for you to now be this RuPaul figure for other performers?
I think I’ve always assumed that role, as the mother of the HOE: Haus of Edwards. I think I’ve always been that. You’ll get a little glimpse behind the scenes in my new mini-series, Alyssa Raw. You see that with me at the dance studio with my students. I think this has always been a part of my genetic makeup.
How will Alyssa Raw differ from your other projects?
Well, I got to watch it and I really don’t like to watch it first because I feel like if I watch it, I’ll give notes. It was very interesting for me because it was a very different angle. It’s definitely raw, and I didn’t even know what that meant. I was like, ‘Hold up now. Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.’ But it’s the angle from the cameraman. It’s everything. You get to see everything, what goes into being Alyssa day in and day out. I think this one digs a little deeper than others, to be honest with you. I really liked it, it’s fun, it’s uplifting, you get a little bit more of a VIP pass, behind the curtain of my life.
I’m shocked to hear that it’s your most personal project to date.
Okay I take it back. My other projects were very personal, there were the family scenes and I’m actually a little bit private in that aspect. But personal meaning like, I’ve never really walked out in a towel fresh out of the shower. I’m actually very funny about those angles, okay? We’re not going to have no more back rolls moments, alright? It’s in my hotel room, it’s me coming back from the gig. It’s kind of like that. It’s definitely raw! Me getting there at the hotel, the key not working at the door, stomping off in big platform shoes. It is good. It is really good and I found myself just giggling. Never in a million years did I ever believe that this was my life, beyond my wildest imagination! This is a monumental moment. For this to be season one, this will be the beginning of something. Hopefully, that will last a lifetime. Drag Race is so pop culture right now.
Not only do you have two series coming out and going on the Drag Race UK tour, but you’re jetting off again for Werq the World. How are you balancing all of this?
There was a time in my life when I thought, ‘Okay, what am I gonna do to get to the top? What am I gonna do to get to the top? What am I gonna do to get to the top?’ You have to take yourself back to when you sat down the first time and put makeup on and remember what you felt. If you can remain true to that feeling, your artistry will continue to rise. You just be proud of what you’re doing and what you’re presenting. I think that at the end of the day, for me, what I always tell myself is, ‘Everything that you’ve done was a part of your plan. It was your destiny. So keep doing what you’re doing. Get on stage, high energy, smile, tongue-pop, kick and splits. Give the audience what they came for, a drag show!’ That’s what I always tell myself. I’m very grateful and thankful to be a part of anything, especially drag-related. Drag is so empowering, it’s touching people all around the world. It’s uniting us, not just as a queer community but as people. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for me to get a note from a mother or a father or a grandmother or a grandfather, or someone who’s not a huge, avid supporter, but watched me and had been inspired and enlightened by it. Those things are very important to me.
I’m dying to find out what’s happening at Beyond Belief.
You’ll see a little bit on Alyssa Raw, but I will tell you one thing: I got a new studio, just like we said honey, we upgraded! I built a new studio and I’ve got a lot of new talent. I posted a picture actually on my Instagram. But Beyond Belief is my rock. It’s my centre. It’s definitely needed in my life. Every time I go there and I’m around all those smiling children that look up to me, as a fierce teacher, that’s the greatest reward.
You have a lot on, but would you consider appearing on Drag Race again for the inevitable UK vs US spin-off?
Oh my gosh, absolutely! Why not? I wouldn’t need to think twice. It was such a fun experience for me, especially the second time around. Then, having the opportunity to go back as a choreographer a couple times… It’s so fun, and drag is fun. It would be interesting. I’m looking at drag and we’re all celebrating the same thing. We’re all celebrating the artistry. We just have different angles and point of views and look, that’s what diversity is all about. It makes the world go round! So absolutely. Sign me up!
Where do you the drag landscape in the next five years?
Oh wow. This is a difficult one because… I’ll tell you this, they pitched Drag Race for eight years before it got picked up by Logo. Now, it’s probably won… I don’t know how many Emmy’s! I don’t even know the total. But I know it’s probably won more Emmy’s than other shows on the air. I know this sounds cliché but… let me think about this for a second. They pitched it for eight years and it went from Logo to VH1, now it went from VH1 to the UK, over to Drag Race Thailand. Where else do we have this? Canada. Then we have it in, erm… Drag is being celebrated all around the world, look at that. Look at that. Did you think five years ago that it would be that?
I envisioned more seasons for the Drag Race US version of course, but I didn’t think it would be coming to all these other countries so soon. It’s incredible, and it’s likely to become a Big Brother-esque franchise with a version in every major country in the world.
That is what really aided in my spin-off for my series. So I think in five years… oh my gosh. Well nowadays, everyone’s doing drag. We got the Kardashians in full drag everyday. I just think in the next five years… oh my gosh. In the next five years…. ooh the landscape! It’s going to be drag everywhere – all around the world! It’s going to be a huge celebration and I love it. There was a time when I was like, ‘I’m waiting on the world to change.’ Now, I’m a part of it. It’s an incredible feeling.
Now we just need a drag queen president, right?
[Laughs] Oh please! Oh my gosh. What if RuPaul did run for president? She’d come out there and sissy that walk. Can you imagine the inauguration? Ooh girl! That would be a festival.
Tune in: The three part behind the scenes docu-series Alyssa Raw will premiere 25 November on WOW Presents Plus. The sixth season of hit series Alyssa’s Secret returns to WOWPresents on 16 December.