When you catwalk for Naomi Campbell everything else is just icing on the cake. That's exactly how Shea Couleé feels after meeting the supermodel icon on the premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 7.
Drag Race fans knew Shea was a legend from the moment she sashayed into the workroom on Season 9. The Chicago queen snatched herself a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame when she won All Stars Season 5, and now she's back for the "all winners" season, hoping to be crowned the "Queen of All Queens" — but the competition has never been tougher.
Shea spoke with Logo about the TRL girl group challenge, her love for Titanic, recreating that gorgeous Vogue cover, and how she's preparing for Beyoncé's Renaissance.
First question, the most important one: Which Beyoncé box did you buy?
Obviously, I bought box number four, because four is her favorite number, duh.
So have you already blocked off July 29th on the calendar? How do you usually celebrate a new Beyoncé album drop?
Okay. Well for basically the past 10 years, she's just been surprising us. So now Beyoncé has decided that the music industry will be doing rollouts again, so I'm really excited to see how this whole rollout is going to happen. Maybe she'll bless us with a single. I'm just hoping that we get a little, little something. Just a little amuse-bouche, a taste of what we're going to get from the album. So I'm hoping for that, but I will absolutely be streaming. I will be bumping. Like I said, I already got box number four. I'm not playing around.
Hearing the rumors that there are dance and country songs, I am very interested.
Well, she worked with Chicago house legend, Honey Dijon. So that Chicago house influence is going to be there. And I know what that feels like and what that sounds like. Needless to say I'm very, very, very excited.
Okay, let's get to All Stars. So this week's episode, so that "Titanic" song is a bop.
We had it stuck in our head for a real cute amount of time. At least for the rest of filming.
What was it like performing that song?
Oh, it was so much fun. Look, I love a good girl group moment. You know, it's just, girl groups I feel are some of the basic, fundamental training grounds for our pop divas such as Beyonce. So anytime I get to live a girl group fantasy on RuPaul's Drag Race, I have the time of my life. And the early 2000s was such an important time for me. I just remember running home from school to watch TRL, things that kids in this generation will never understand. So it was great to relive that. And fantasize about what it would've been like to have been one of those iconic acts performing live on TRL.
I was feeling a hundred years old when Ru was standing there having to explain what TRL was.
Because there are teenagers watching Drag Race that never watched TRL.
So Titanic is one of my favorite movies, very formative for me. What is your history with Titanic? Have you seen it once or a hundred times? Where do you fall?
Oh my God. I had the double VHS set and watched it all the time. Just absolutely loved Titanic as a kid. One of the things that my dad and I would do together all the time was just go and see movies. So, I remember going to see that with him and everyone talked about it, and seeing the production behind how they made the movie, which was just so epic. So yeah, definitely was a big Titanic fan as a kid.
Something else kids today will never understand: Living through the Titanic era.
Right? We were talking about that movie for the entire year!
Then going on to the "Night of a 1,000 Dollys" runway, I loved your "Biker Dolly" look. How did you land on that look? What was your research like?
This is something that I realized when researching Dolly looks, because production wanted to have full length photos, so that you could see the whole look. Finding a full length photo of Dolly Parton is actually a lot more difficult than you would think. And I feel like I can attribute it to probably the male photographers at the time only wanting to photograph her from the chest up.
You know what I'm saying? There seemed to always be a focal point and I was just like, no, but babe, I need to see the whole ensemble. And I'm going through Getty Images, searching. And I literally was like, oh my God. That's why I landed on that paparazzi shot too, because she's just out and about in the street. And I was like, finally, someone got a full body shot of Dolly for me.
You're going through Getty like, "Get the shoes, get the shoes!"
Get the shoes, baby. Yes.
Were there any other ideas you had for Dolly or was it always the biker?
There was an appearance that she had made on the Peewee Herman Show, and it was this great tiger print, eighties shoulder moment dress, but I searched and even production helped and we could not find a full length photo. It's just like a headshot really. So unfortunately I wasn't able to do that one, but that was honestly my first choice. Because I just thought the hair, it was these big eighties crimps, she just looked so cute with her little tiger print, you know? But the biker paparazzi shot moment for me was just like a really cute, I felt like, blend between both my aesthetic and Dolly's.
Were you surprised that you weren't top two?
Here's the thing. I had so much fun doing the challenge and obviously I want my second Legendary Legend Star. And though the judges loved it, one thing that I've learned in my time on Drag Race is that, when it's your time, it's your time. And we're only halfway through the season at this point and there's just still so much more competition to go. And that's what I had to remind myself in the moment because I feel like it's about good sportsmanship because this is just a different season of All Stars. And for me, I did not want to get in my head and get out of the game and not be in the game by thinking too much about why I wasn't in the top. But instead I wanted to focus on how I could get into the top next week.
And what's making this season so fun to watch is that you can tell you are all having so much fun. So the Legend stars, they're almost just like icing on the cake.
Absolutely. Honestly. And I think also the girls being there for the entire time, nobody going home, we got to share every single moment together. You know what I'm saying? There's no part that nobody's not going to be there for and not remember. We got to go through the experience as a collective, as a unit, and that just made it just so much fun.
I love how you came up with the idea that there is some sort of secret when you get blocked. Was that just a spur of the moment thing? Where did that idea come from?
Okay. Because to be just perfectly honest, when I came in the workroom, I was giving a little face or whatever and you know, we're talking about things and I have this moment where I kind of tuned the girls out and I didn't realize that I was smiling, but RuPaul had told me, she was just so like, "Girl," the shoes that I was wearing, she was like, "I really fucking love those shoes." And I was just so like, wow, RuPaul really fucking loves my shoes. And so I'm grinning and Monet was just like, "What are you smiling at?" And I was just like, "Girl, nothing." And they're like, "No, what do you..." She wouldn't let it go as if there was something much deeper. And I was just all like, well, now that I have their attention... And so then honestly in that moment when she was pushing me I was just all like, okay, I won't tell her that it's just because RuPaul liked my shoes, but I'm just going to mess with them.
I love that.
I'm a bit of a prankster at times and I don't think that side has ever really come out on Drag Race before. So, it was a moment for me to just play with the girls, have some fun and just wipe that smug look off of Jinkx's face after blocking me.
And I love how they just keep the prank going.
And now that's the funny part too. Because I was like, everyone will get indoctrinated in it when they go backstage with that platinum plunger and nothing happens.
That's the prank right there.
Your veil runway look is one of my favorite runway looks. I love the fabric and the colors. Will we ever see that look again?
Actually, yeah, because I've been really waiting to wear it. It's been hanging in the closet because you wear these looks and then we film like a year before and you sit there and you just look at them and you're like, if only people knew. So you wait for the moment for it to be on TV. So you're like, okay finally, I can take this out of closet.
And then my last question: How's Baby Couleé?
She is doing fantastic. She just got a haircut the other day. So she's feeling even more adorable than usual. Just coming off of the high of her first magazine cover. My little baby, she snatched up a cover for The Wildest. Just taking after her mother. I'm just so proud of her.
Well, that Vogue cover that you recreated...
Oh yes. That was also a lot of fun. And what a fun challenge and opportunity. Everything that we've been doing this season has just been really top notch and I just really have to commend the team over at Viacom and WOW. For really putting together a stellar season and creating amazing opportunities for us to really enjoy this moment.