The “Itty Bitty EsTitties Committee” added an abundance of new members this year as a result of its founder, Salina, making her Drag Race debut. While the self-described ‘brassy Chola’ didn’t take home the crown – or win a single challenge, for that matter (robbed!) – she continuously tore up the stage in her lip-sync smackdowns, became one of the most memorable confessional queens in the show’s herstory and provided visibility for Latina women across the world.
“I took a big risk going into the season, making it my mission to represent West Coast Latin culture,” says Salina, “and even though the judges didn’t necessarily understand what I was bringing to the table a lot of the time, the fact that people clocked what I was putting down made this entire journey worth it.”
Although she received positive reviews for her performance as Tuck in Wigloose: The Rusical, Salina lost her place in the competition after facing Loosey LaDuca in a lip-sync to Kate Bush’s enduring classic Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God).
Following her exit, Salina caught up with GAY TIMES to discuss her journey across the milestone 15th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, why she felt “relieved but completely unhinged” after sashaying away and her plans to make a reality television comeback on “Big Brother or Survivor”.
Salina, condragulations on making it so far this season – you were so much fun to watch. Did it take you long to come to terms with your elimination?
On the show after the elimination, I felt relieved but also completely unhinged. Feeling beat down and discouraged and allowing myself to “dim my light” came to the forefront when I had nothing to lose after being eliminated. When I got back home, the first thing I did was call my best friend Mandoh and Frankie Grande and I completely cried to them about how the judges hated everything I wore. It did take me a minute to come to terms with my elimination, but it was more coming to terms with the harshness of the critiques I got while on the show and understanding that, at the end of the day, they were critiquing me to boost me up. But being there, it did not feel that way. My mom passed away during my first bottom placement episode, and that kind of put everything in perspective for me… At the end of the day, none of those critiques or that outfit I wore matters. I had to “let loose” if you will.
I’m so sorry to hear about your mum. I have to say, a lot of fans disagree with a lot of your bottom placements, me included! How did it feel to see that support online?
I was honestly confused a lot of the times I was in the bottom! I understand my looks were a little out of the box, but I felt like you couldn’t deny my talent in these challenges at the end of the day. So seeing all the support online and even people loving my looks, what I brought to the table in terms of representation, and also recognising my talent, means the world to me. As we saw I won zero challenges, and in this competition your deservedness of the crown is based upon how many challenge wins you have, hence, my elimination episode. Bloop! I just wanna reiterate for the haters that I am not bitter, it’s just a very extreme one-of-a-kind situation to put yourself through everything that this competition demands of you, so I think it’s only human to have feelings about everything and how cards were dealt. The love from fans online has made this process so unbelievably amazing. I don’t know where I’d be without that love tbh.
What would you say was the most challenging aspect of your Drag Race experience?
I feel like I did pretty well climbing my way as far as I could. I think the most challenging part was recognising that I wasn’t one of the girls being praised and celebrated by the judges. When I realised I wasn’t a frontrunner in the judges’ eyes, I think that became the most challenging part to deal with.
And on the other hand, what was the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part of my Drag Race journey is honestly connecting with all the Latin people around the world who have been messaging me and telling me that they see themselves in me., that their moms are big fans of mine and I remind them of their Tias. I took a big risk going into the season, making it my mission to represent West Coast Latin culture, and even though the judges didn’t necessarily understand what I was bringing to the table a lot of the time, the fact that people clocked what I was putting down made this entire journey worth it. The first generation “in between” Latina girl is rarely celebrated and I feel like this will open doors for the next one to do it better than I did. It’s all about having a seat at the table, because representation matters. At the end of the day, this was all bigger than me. What I set out to do was bigger than me. I’m so proud to have taken that risk, even though it didn’t win me the crown, it won us visibility on the biggest platform for queer art.
The scene on the main stage with the queens stating who should go home looked quite intense. Can you remember how you felt at the time?
It was only intense because we were in front of RuPaul. I never wanted to show Ru that I was disrespectful or unprofessional on the runway. I feel like I was undeservedly in the bottom a lot of the time. By the third time I was in the bottom, I had a feeling it was leading to this exact moment so the girls could say my name, and bloop, there goes EsTitties out the door. I knew this was coming, so when Ru asked that question, and the girls said my name… I was ready to rumble! I had a feeling I was probably gonna go home that episode, so I was ready to go down swinging.
“Say their names!” is on its way to becoming an iconic Untucked moment. How did it feel to watch that back?
Oh my god. Like I said, I had a feeling this was gonna be my last episode. Playing nice and good with the girls obviously wasn’t working in my favour so I figured I might as well go out with a bang. I’m a giant fan of Survivor and Big Brother and a big tactic on those shows is, ‘Take me to the end with you because I’m not a big threat, I have no chance of winning, you’ll have better shot of winning the crown if you take me with you.’
As we know, Drag Race fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world. How are you navigating your newfound fame in regards to the online fandom?
I feel like my trajectory on the show really won people over as time went by and the episodes got longer. With that said, the fans were not very nice to me in the beginning, but as I won them over throughout the season the love has been pouring in more and more. Like I said, when my mom passed away, it kind of put things in perspective for me. I wasn’t taking the comments too seriously and I wasn’t allowing the hate to get to my heart as easily anymore. I kind of have just been focusing on the love and trying to stay away from the negative comments. I’m very sensitive so protecting my peace is very important.
From the confessionals to the lip-sync smackdowns, you provided viewers with some incredible television this season. Do you feel like you showcased your true self?
Thank you so much! I was myself 100%. I was my sensitive self. I was my funny self. I was my insecure self. I was my confident self. I was all of it wrapped with a bow, a full EsTitties emotional rollercoaster, because that’s who I am. I really love my confessionals. I felt like I was my most self in my diary room, just getting to speak my truth and I’m so happy that they showcase that heavily on this season.
Overall, what has been the best part of your Drag Race experience?
The best part of my Drag Race experience is people recognising my talents. I’ve been working so hard for so long. My approach to drag is very different from the traditional drag queen and the fact that people are celebrating EsTitties is simply amazing. I’ve been sober for 11 years. Eleven years ago if you told me that I would be a “famous” drag queen on one of the biggest reality competition shows in the world, I would’ve said you were crazy. But here we are! I do not take this for granted, and I am so grateful for this opportunity.
What’s next for Salina EsTitties?
What’s not next for Miss Titties?! Big plans are in the works! Mostly getting myself on TV shows and movies is the goal! I would love to be on Big Brother or Survivor, but baby you’re gonna be seeing a lot of the titties for years to come like I said when I got eliminated, “the titties are coming”.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 is available exclusively in the UK via the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus, with new episodes dropping weekly from 2am GMT on. Subscribe now via https://uk.wowpresentsplus.com/