You never know what kind of craziness is going to go down on RuPaul’s Drag Race – especially once the show heads to its rather unpredictable runway. In the past we’ve seen queens be disqualified (Willam) and admit that they were HIV-positive (Ongina), and last night included another runway shocker, one that deserves a SPOILER ALERT in case you haven’t seen it: Contestant Monica Beverly Hillz admitted that she is a transgender woman.
“It’s true what you’re saying – there is a lot going through my head,” she said through tears to the judges, after they critiqued her rather harshly and said that she seemed “sad” and “disconnected” and not like herself. “I feel I’m not here. I’ve just been holding a secret in and trying so hard. I’m not just a drag queen – I’m a transgendered woman.”
It was clear from early in the episode – which saw Lineysha Sparks take home the win (and immunity next week) – that something was going on with Monica. She stumbled over the lip-syncing lines during the challenge, and even Coco pointed out that something was wrong: “There’s something on her mind.” Monica, it was clear, was worried about revealing what she was holding back: “I’m petrified to tell these girls my huge secret. I don’t know how they’re going to take it.”
The reception seemed pretty supportive, and more than anything, the experience seemed like a huge relief for Monica herself. “The only way I’m going to be able to give 100 percent,” she said during the episode, “is if I come clean.” RuPaul came out hugely in support of the queen: “I invited you here because you were fierce. You deserve to be here! And that’s why you’re here. You have to believe in yourself. The only person who does not believe is you. Stay strong, Monica Beverly Hillz.”
It might have been Monica’s admission, in fact, that helped her escape being told to “sashay away.” I mean, how could the judges have listened to her heartfelt admission to send her home just a few minutes later? Thankfully, it was Serena ChaCha – post horribly lip-syncing her way through Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World),” after last week’s lip-syncing mess – who will see no more days on Drag Race. Alaska put it best during the lip-sync battle between Serena and Monica, when she said: “Oh my God, Serena did a split! Oh wait, she did that last time.”
But forget Serena! We know what you really want is to hear more from Monica, so we rang up the queen to discuss this week’s big revelation. Read on for more:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What led up to you wanting to reveal this on the show? Did you feel like you wanted to be honest?
MONICA BEVERLY HILLZ: Well, yeah, that was the thing. It was already the second day, the second episode, I was already having problems within myself. My head wasn’t really in the competition anymore, you know, because I felt like I was lying and I wasn’t able to be myself. You start forming bonds with people and you leave a big part of your life out. All of that was messing with my head.
Did you plan to talk about it on the runway? Or was that spontaneous?
I wasn’t planning to say that, but when the judges were giving their critiques, I kept getting the same info back – that I wasn’t being myself and there was something wrong with me. Was something on my mind? I was like, oh God, I didn’t think they were going to be able to notice. I didn’t want to sit there and not open and say what’s going on with me. That might have been my chance to actually be honest. Whatever happens, happens, you know?
Did you think you could go through the whole competition without revealing it?
I didn’t really have a plan. When I auditioned, I waited and waited, and then when I got the phone call, it didn’t really hit my mind. Like, okay, it’s not going to be a big deal – you stay in the house and nobody has ever seen you like this. It’s no big deal! You can work around it, but that was the last thing that happened.
Being a transgender woman isn’t against the rules on Drag Race, as far as you know?
Logo doesn’t judge. They support everyone. As long as you’ve got charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. Actually revealing myself, I felt like back to why I was there – to be honest and true to myself and find who I really was.
There was a moment on the show where you say, “I don’t want to be here.” Was that just a heat-of-the-moment thing? Or did you really not want to be there?
At that moment, I really felt like I didn’t want to be there no more, like I didn’t deserve to be there.
You said, too, that you knew you’d be in the bottom two. Do you feel like this truth freed you some in subsequent episodes?
Well, yeah. You know, when you can be yourself 100 percent and you let out this huge secret, now I have to prove myself. Now I’m here to do what I have to do. Let the best woman win!
Do you feel a responsibility to be a role model?
Yeah, but I never signed up for any of this, to be any role model or hero. I signed up, really, to find myself and get some help. You know, I was kind of lost myself. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know the proper steps. Now, I feel a little bit of responsibility. There are going to be some people who are going to have their judgements – look up to me and have a similar story. If someone can watch my story, that could help them if that relates to them, and that’s a good feeling.
What was the reaction of the girls?
All the girls on the show were very, very, very supportive. They kind of made me feel like I should have done it from the get-go, but everything happens for a reason. I was very happy with it. They were very, very, very supportive.
What would you like to say to your viewers and fans out there?
Always be yourself, know what you want, don’t let anybody tell you know you can be. Put your mind to it, and work hard.
What’s behind the name Monica Beverly Hillz?
Okay, well, Monica comes from Indian movies – I’m really into Bollywood movies and stuff like that. She was an Indian goddess. So I got Monica from that. Ever since I’ve started out, I’ve had a fascination with Hollywood – where do I see myself? I love the movie Pretty Woman, so that’s where Beverly comes from. It was just Beverly for a long time, and then about three years ago I added on Hillz, with a “z.”
What is the push and pull with being a drag queen and a transgender woman?Drag is what I do; trans is who I am.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank Ru. I didn’t get to sit and talk to Ru at the premiere, but a huge thank you to her. She has forever changed my life, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Are you already feeling the effects of that change?Oh my God… I went from doing drag once a month to doing it every other day, talking to people, and I went to New Jersey, and they gave me an award for being person of the year for the youth center. Yeah, it’s been a huge thing!
Will you do drag to make a living going forward?
Oh yeah, that’s one thing about me – even when I was little, I was in the dance group. I love the entertainment business, and I’ll do drag until I can’t do it no more. That’s never gonna change.
Do you have more questions for Monica? Speak with her live via Spreecast during a very special Elimination Lunch, hosted by Michelle Visage at 1:00 ET today.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky