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The skinny on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’
Mystique Summers Madison from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” whose real name is Donté Sims, competed for top queen in season two of the Logo reality series but was eliminated in the third episode.
This self-proclaimed “pageant queen” from Bedford, Texas wants you to know that big girls can do everything skinny girls can and she recently made a stop in Washington, D.C. to prove it. A curvaceous beauty, Mystique Summers Madison brought her own brand of “charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent” and left an impression on many of the viewers that the most important part of being a performer is to stay true to one’s self. The Washington Blade talked to Mystique about RuPaul’s show, her competitors and how it feels to represent “big girls” everywhere.
Washington Blade: How did Donté Sims, aka Mystique Summers Madison, land a spot on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?
Mystique: I had been doing drag for five years and there was a casting call in Dallas for the first season but I decided to wait and see what the show was all about. Then, when there was a casting call for the second season, I went for it and submitted my paperwork and video and they got back to me about two months later.
Blade: Two months is a long time to wait, what was the next step in the process?
Mystique: Well … all applicants need to have a psychological evaluation before they would cast you.
Blade: What exactly was involved with that? What did they ask you to get evaluated for?
Mystique: [Laughs] Well, I had to sit down with a psychologist and I guess I got the seal of approval. Although, [laughs] I still don’t understand how I managed to get it.
Blade: What was it like meeting the other contestants for the first time?
Mystique: I’m used to Texas pageant drag, which is more makeup and costumes. When I met the rest of the contestants it was more female realness.
Blade: You were eliminated in this season’s third episode, losing to Raven when you had to “Lip sync for your life” to “I Hear You Knockin’” by Wynonna Judd. How do you feel you handled the elimination?
Mystique: After the lip sync, RuPaul needed to think about the decision so she was gone for about 20 minutes and then came back and I was the one to go. Honestly, it was [like] a big sigh of relief because I was able to get back to real life and communicating with the real world.
Blade: Things got pretty heated with a few of the contestants prior to your elimination. At one point it looked like the wigs were going to come off and punches thrown. Let’s talk for a minute about your “I’m from Chicago!” interaction with fellow contestant Morgan McMichaels, as seen via “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked.” Was it as confrontational as the cameras made it appear?
Mystique: It was actually worse than the viewers saw! The camera crews missed a lot of it when it was happening but at this point I don’t have any issues about it.
Blade: After your elimination, who were you pulling for to win?
Mystique: Well the person I wanted to win was already eliminated — Pandora Boxx. I really feel Pandora should have stayed but you never really know what the judges were looking for or wanted.
Blade: Casting calls have begun for the third season and it looks like several of D.C.’s drag performers are submitting tapes. What is your advice to applicants?
Mystique: The best advice I can give would be to stay true to yourself. Go on the show as “you” and leave the same way because you shouldn’t change who you are to try and win a competition.
Blade: The first season of “Drag Race” didn’t include the “Untucked,” behind-the-scenes show. Do you feel this was a good addition to your season?
Mystique: I think they came up with the idea of “Untucked” to show how catty things behind the scenes really were. I know it was brought on for my season but I don’t know if it will be brought on for the next one. They cast such strong personalities this season so they kind of knew there would be drama and wanted to catch it on film because they knew it would bring in the viewers.
Blade: There is going to be another spin off show called “RuPaul’s Drag U.” Will you be involved?
Mystique: No, the performers from my season on “Drag U” will be JuJu, Pandora, Raven and Morgan McMichaels.
Blade: Bebe Zahara Benet won the first season yet other performers such as Ongina and Shannel seemed to get more attention. Why do you feel that is?
Mystique: Well the winner really is under lock and key and has to do what the show says. It’s almost better not to win because then you can travel and get booked and just do your own thing.
Blade: How much of what the audience saw was spin created by the producers?
Mystique: There is a lot of editing of course. It’s sometimes two or three days of footage condensed down to one hour. So when it was edited, the storylines can be skewed to make the story smoother.
Blade: How much do the contestants actually interact with RuPaul?
Mystique: The amount of interaction the viewers see on TV is about how much we actually interacted with Ru.
Blade: You said on the show that you represented all the “big girls” out there. Do you feel there is a stigma attached to the full-figured drag performers?
Mystique: Well, I went on the show just as myself and I was classified as representing the “big girls” because I said it once and it just caught on. I received a lot of e-mails and Facebook messages from different people thanking me for showing that the big girls can be sexy and that it took a lot of courage to compete against the skinny girls. If I’m helping other people out there then I think that’s great.
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