by Joshua Michael Rumley -
SGN Contributing Writer
Shangela at Le Faux
Julia's on Broadway
Shangela, the Debutantess of the Deep South, is returning to Seattle for a full weekend of shows with the cast of Le Faux at Julia's on Broadway Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22. Shangela made a name for herself during her two seasons on the hit show RuPaul's Drag Race, in addition to numerous television appearances and a hit single on iTunes, 'Call Me LaQuifa.'
The response was so great after Shangela's debut performance earlier this year that the owners of Julia's on Broadway were eager to have her grace Seattle again. Shangela said that, rain or shine, she'll bring the heat to Seattle.
Joshua Michael Rumley: Good afternoon! How are you?
Shangela: I'm wonderful! I'm in Omaha, Nebraska, right now in the middle of a cornfield.
Rumley: Oh my god, Omaha? You better watch out, girl.
Shangela: [Laughs.] Well, I'm a country, corn-fed kind of girl.
Rumley: I'd be watching out for those corn-fed Midwestern boys I keep hearing rumors about.
Shangela: Oh, I'm watching out, baby. I'm actually out here working with Hope's Voice and the Divas of Diversity. It's me, Pandora Boxx, and Morgan McMichaels, and we're traveling around to different universities. We were at the University of Omaha and we're sharing stories about our lives, our personal journeys, we are talking with students, doing Q&A, and of course we're doing shows. We had 200 people come out for it - straight students, Gay students, and mothers. RuPaul's Drag Race really has developed a wide reach with it being on both VH1 and LOGO, its great. Tonight I'm performing at the Flixx Lounge in Omaha. But let me tell you, these country, corn-fed boys are nowhere near as fabulous as the Seattle boys.
Rumley: [Laughs.] Speaking from experience, I would have to give my seal of approval to that. I recently saw your video of Shangela stepping out at Home Depot in the middle of the day with big Diana Ross hair.
Shangela: Well, I have the daytime realness that a girl on the go living in Hollywood has to have. I go out as Shangela rather often. As much as I like putting on a show, my life really is a show.
Rumley: What was the reaction from people seeing Shangela in the middle of Home Depot?
Shangela: Well, you know you will always get a few shocked looks from the construction guys.
Rumley: Well, I think it was just because they were jealous of your dress.
Shangela: [Laughs.] You never do know what they might have hanging in their closet. I'm sure some of them have a leather catsuit in there.
Rumley: You are the only contestant in the history of RuPaul's Drag Race to be cast twice in different seasons. How did it feel to be asked back?
Shangela: Joshua, it was amazing. When I first went on Drag Race during season two, I had only been doing drag for five months. After getting kicked off, I really focused on myself and developing Shangela. I did a bunch of shows and worked on myself as a comedian, actor, and performer. I didn't feel like I had enough time to share exactly what Shangela was all about the first time around. Now, though, I made sure that everyone knows exactly who Shangela is. I have a single on iTunes, and let me tell you, Christmas will never be the same again. I'll be making sure Shangela drops out of every box till 2020.
Rumley: What was your experience filming Drag Race like?
Shangela: We filmed the entire season over a course of three weeks.
Rumley: It was only three weeks? I imagine it was a pretty intense schedule, then.
Shangela: Very intense. Imagine seeing one of your friends voted off every couple days. Plus we didn't have contact with the outside world; no email or phone calls. Thank god for those Absolut cocktails, though. It really was a full experience. Sometimes some of the girls were not very accepting of me. I'm always real, as Shangela I'm always real. Everything you saw of me was the real deal. I don't always come off as the sweetest thing, and sometimes people didn't like that, but I was just being real. Not everyone will accept the real you, but you have to stay true to yourself.
Rumley: It sounds like you've been very busy since Drag Race.
Shangela: So much has been going on since season three of Drag Race. As a comedian and as an actor, it's been wonderful. It's been amazing to travel around and to meet all of my beautiful fans. I've been getting a lot of great work, as well. I just filmed a show for NBC with Michael Patrick King, who worked on Sex and the City, and a show on HBO with Sigourney Weaver and Tea Leoni. To be in that company was absolutely amazing. Something current is the November 3 episode of Community with Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, and John Goodman. I play a drag queen named Miss Urbana Champaign.
Rumley: Miss Urbana Champaign plus Joel McHale, what an amazing combo. Joel McHale is dreamy.
Shangela: Trust me, it was a ton of fabulous. In addition, I was also on Dance Mom on Lifetime. It's a reality show following 9-year-old dancers and their crazy mothers. LaQuifa herself came in to teach the kids, and let me tell you, America is eating this stuff up. I was also in an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras, which my goddaughter is on! They asked her who her favorite actor was, and she said her godfather Shangela! The producers went nuts. I'm teaching my goddaughter how to catwalk, its great. It's really been non-stop lately. I was at Milwaukee Pride Fest in June with Mo'Nique. She is such an incredible woman. She has such a strong connection to the Gay community and - who knew - she is ordained to do marriages! She married India Farreh and her boyfriend right on stage. Mo'Nique just got up on stage and yelled out 'I'm marrying everyone tonight!'
Rumley: You often perform as Nicki Minaj. How did it feel to come face to face with her?
Shangela: Nicki is so sweet, she is an absolute doll. I was in New York filming an AIDS awareness ad for LOGO and I had just returned home in Los Angeles when I got the call they wanted me to come perform at an event for her in New York. So I turned around and got right back on the plane. It was amazing to work with her, I love her music. Performing her music and to have her yell out 'Work it out!' was my 'Oh, bitch' moment for life!
Rumley: I saw her earlier this year while she was touring with Britney Spears. Nicki really tore the stage up; she came out and really got the audience pumped.
Shangela: That whole tour was sickening. I'm just like that kind of performer. Just like Beyoncé and Britney, well, when Britney's in it, she's really in it. They just set fire to the stage when they perform. I always try to bring the heat, and Seattle, trust me, I'm coming with the fire.
Rumley: You were in Seattle earlier this year. You must have had one hell of an experience since you're coming back again.
Shangela: That was my second time in Seattle, but the first time performing with the fabulous cast of Le Faux. I got so much love from the audience. I called the owner and told him that anytime he wanted me back, I'd be there in a heartbeat. The Le Faux audience was amazing - nothing but love. I'm very excited to come back for another two nights.
Rumley: Your real name is D.J. Pierce. Where does D.J. end and Shangela begin?
Shangela: [Laughs.] Well, they both wake up in the same bed. I feel so lucky, and sometimes it feels really twisted like I have two lives. I'm an actor, I see Shangela as a character. People get inspiration from Shangela, and I just love my fans. My fans support me as an actor, comedian, and drag performer. I always make sure to give back to the community since so much has been given to me over the years. It's so important that we give back to our community. I was just at a homeless center for LGBT youth. I wanted to make sure I had time to bond with the kids and that we had some time to hang out. We even had a Q&A and it really was an awesome experience. On December 1, I'll be launching a safe-sex campaign as LaQuifa because LaQuifa wants everyone to wrap it up like a pimp ho.
Rumley: [Laughs.] LaQuifa sounds like fun.
Shangela: LaQuifa is in my first single on iTunes, 'Call Me LaQuifa.' I'm sure there will be a follow-up to it sometime soon. RuPaul really paved the way for so many performers. I learned a lot, and the best thing is she made it clear that she wasn't going to do it for us, but she was going to show us how she did it.
Rumley: Coco Peru is in town this weekend, and both of you were featured in an episode of Detroit 187. How was it filming the show?
Shangela: I love Coco. First off, Coco has been around for years, and looking at that face, you can't tell. We worked together as the 'Drag Queens of Comedy' at the Out comedy festival. It was called Comedy in the Castro. It was Lady Bunny, Coco Peru, Jackie Beat, and me. It was amazing. We were in Detroit filming Detroit 187 in the freezing cold and we were staying at the MGM Grand at the casino. She always has such great words of advice for me about how to navigate the entertainment world.
Rumley: Who inspired baby Shangela?
Shangela: People who were directly around me such as my grandmother, grandfather, and mother. My grandfather started out as a pig farmer. I really saw the hard work they did just to get by and to make a living and it really inspired me; it really showed me what it takes to be successful. As an entertainer I love Jennifer Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Kathy Griffin. I love to make people laugh and to entertain people. I love great entertainers - Jennifer Lewis is a diva.
Rumley: You've done television, film, and you've had a single. What's next, Shangela?
Shangela: [Laughs.] Oh lord, I thought you said 'and you're single.' I think Shangela needs a dating show called 'Shangela is Hella Looking for Love.'
Rumley: [Laughs.] Well, you give me the word and I'll work my magic. I'll have a nice lineup of boys for you.
Shangela: [Laughs.] Please get me a nice lineup. The next big thing for me is meeting as many of my fans as I can. I love my fans and I think that we need to band together for the community. I would love to do a European tour one day. At the end of every show, I want my fans to have the desire to come back for more. That tells me that they were entertained, that they had a good time, and that they got their money's worth. I'm in the business of repeat customers, baby.
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