Central Florida Reigns on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race

By : Erik R. Caban
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So far in every season of the popular LOGO series RuPaul’s Drag Race, Florida has produced a contestant to compete for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar.” In Season 5, which launches Monday, Jan. 28, herstory will be made as not one but five of this season’s competitors hail from Central Florida.

Former Watermark cover girl, Coco Montrese once performed at Walt Disney World while juggling a full time gig at St. Petersburg’s Flamingo Resort. Shortly after being crowned Miss Gay America in  2010 Montrese jet-setted off to Las Vegas to join the cast of Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas.

ReadyToRaceBubbly and funny with a bite, Jade Jolie calls Gainesville home while Serena Cha Cha from Tallahassee is the drag baby of the group, fresh out of art school and brimming with enthusiasm. Detox, originally from St. Petersburg, now performs in Los Angeles.

And named after the first nightclub she ever went to, Roxxxy Andrews is a pageant girl through and through. A former Miss Continental Plus, Andrews has big hair, big makeup, and isn’t afraid to show off her thick and juicy curves. On any given night of the week, you can catch her strutting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando with a special appearance upcoming at Revolution Nightclub Jan. 17.

These “girls” follow the traditions of Fort Lauderdale’s Rebecca Glasscock from Season 1, Orlando’s Tyra Sanchez from Season 2, Tampa Bay’s Alexis Mateo from Season 3 and Alisa Summers from Season 4, and Latrice Royale from Ft. Lauderdale.

RuPaul, alongside returning judges Michelle Visage and Santino Rice – and an array of guest judges including Joan Van Ark, Chaz Bono, The Pointer Sisters and Downtown Julie Brown – will again decide who will stay or “Sashay away,” among 14 female impersonators looking to capture the fifth season title.

“I have never seen anything like what’s going to happen this season,” says Andrews, who can’t reveal too many specifics. “It’s really going to be amazing!”

Since the announcement of this year’s contestants, Andrews says her life began changing. From countless Tweets, Facebook posts and Instagrams, she says it’s been nothing but love. She said local fans that have seen them perform and grow are elated to see Detox, CoCo, Serena, and herself – all from the Orlando area – on the same season.

“Everyone just wants to be a part of [the journey],” she says.

LOGO is tight-lipped about any details for this season and interviews with the contestants have been kept to a minimum.

Andrews hints that she makes it pretty far in the competition and adds that she doesn’t know if she will be portrayed accurately since she hadn’t seen any footage.

What It Takes
Andrews and the other contestants of Season 5 begin a life-changing experience once the show debuts. Mateo is excited that the same national television exposure is about to be unleashed on the queens, including best friend, Montrese. She gave us her take on why so many Florida drag queens make it onto the show.

“The Florida queens know how to werk a camera,” she says. “[I think] Florida queens have always placed on the show because of the pageant background this state offers. The girls here are used to competing and have to manage under pressure all while staying polished.”

Bob Taylor, partner at All-Star Management – which is owned by Season 4’s Latrice Royale – and manager to Season 4’s Alisa Summers among others, says that Central Florida is known as the breeding ground for drag.

“Many legends have come right out of this area,” he says.

Alisa Summers says there is a lot of fierce talent and beauty this season.

“Florida queens put beauty first and foremost and then we can get creative with it,” says Summers. “Every queen from Florida that has been on the show has been gorgeous – many different types of beauty – which works out for [RuPaul’s Drag Race] because then you don’t see the same personalities or styles over and over.”

Andrews agrees that Central Florida is a huge farer in the drag community.

“I feel our level of drag is something other queens aspire to,” she says. “Some of our newcomer queens are other big queens in other cities and get to learn from the best. Look at Tyra Sanchez – she followed me and learned from me – and she went on to win the whole second season.”

Kismet must’ve been at work. According to Andrews, she auditioned for the second season as well but never received a call-back. Persistent and a fierce competitor, Andrews said she just threw herself out there again this season and nailed it.

“Roxxxy mixes the old-school with the new-school and is going to bring the “BAM” to the show,” Mateo says of her friend.

You’d think with so many performers from the same area and all being friends, the competition would be that much harder.

“A competition’s always going to be tough,” Andrews says. “However, we all offer such different styles; I’m a pageant queen, so I always try to be poised and perfect while others are funny or campy.”

Life After LOGO
Although she didn’t make it far in her season, Summers says she has always been a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and still watches her season when it repeats on Logo.

“I still find it a bit awkward to watch myself on TV,” she laughs.

Besides performing on the “Drag Stars at Sea” cruise in December, Summers says life has pretty much gone back to normal. She still lives in Tampa and can be seen Fridays at The Honey Pot in Ybor City for Steam Fridays hosted by Amy Demilo, Saturdays at G-Bar and The Honey Pot, and Sunday nights at Barbarella’s in Ybor City for T-Dance. Thursday nights Summers is alongside fellow Drag Race alum Mateo at Hamburger Mary’s Tampa as they host “Mary’s Got Talent.”

“Granted, I have been given more opportunities to work here in Tampa and the surrounding areas like St. Pete and Orlando,” she says.
Summers explains that leaving early in her season has been a blessing and a curse. The smaller demand for her to perform more nationally is due to being lesser known.

“On the up side, I still have a steady gig and I don’t have to worry about going food shopping and being recognized. My chances of that happening are lower than, say, Latrice,” she jests.

Mateo, on the other hand, says she has been busy traveling – performing both nationally and internationally. Most recently, Mateo was chosen as one of 12 former contestants to compete on Ru Paul’s Drag Race: All-Stars.

“It was a great experience for me being chosen to be part of RuPaul’s Drag Race and then being chosen as one of the 12 top performers from all four seasons to be an All-Star,” she says.

When not traveling the globe, Mateo still calls Tampa Bay home. In addition to her co-starring gig at Hamburger Mary’s, she is part of the Saturday show along with Esme Russell, Jocelyn Summers and Amanda D’Rohd. Fridays she performs at The Flamingo Resort with Madisyn Michaels and cast.

More Information
WHAT: RuPaul’s Drag Race
WHEN: Mondays at 9 p.m. on LOGO

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