Hot Tea with Tatianna

Who’s that girl? It’s Tatianna, y’all! 

The RuPaul’s Drag Race OG beauty came through narcbar at The Standard, East Village last night for our weekly viewing and queer party, Miss Girl, and served us shows and face for days, hunty. Before she stormed the stage, Tati sat down with us for a sunset moment in the Penthouse and spilled some tea (TaTEA) about being a teen drag queen, sneaking on season 2, and her glorious return to the RPDR game for All Stars 2.
Read all of our "Hot Tea" interviews here.
THE STANDARD: You started doing drag at a young age, even going to high school as Tatianna. How did your character begin and how have you evolved?
TATIANNA: After school, when my mom wasn’t home, I would try out hair and makeup looks I’d seen in music videos, magazines, that sort of stuff, and try on looks. Then I found a few wigs, played with those, then it was natural progression to strap on some titties and give that a try, and then finally I was like, “Let’s go somewhere.” The first time I went out as Tatianna, I was 14. I walked to 7-Eleven and back with some friends, just in a pair of low rise jeans and a crop top. Then it became house parties, Halloween, the last day of school, things like that.
Were your parents cool with it?
Oh, not at all. They would know because they’d find stuff and then they’d throw it away, but I’d just buy more because I’ve always had a job. But they were not cute with it, mainly for safety reasons, but also like, “What are you doing, going out like a teen slut?”
So how did it go down when you were cast on season 2 of Drag Race?
At the time, I was staying with my grandparents and I’d been doing drag but keeping it on the low. I still thought I was being slick about it, but my grandma borrowed my car and she found the contract for the show. So when I told her I was going on a reality TV show but couldn’t tell her because of a contract, she already knew. When I got home I was like, “Well, everyone, I will be on television.”
The show was so different then. What was your experience like, especially since you were only 21 at the time?
It was a big learning experience. I’d never been away from home, never been on a plane alone, and never done any of the things I was doing on the show because I lied to get cast. I said I had x amount of experience, but honestly had been in like two drag shows ever. I didn’t know anything, I was just real cute.
Were you spooked competing with experienced queens?
It was probably the arrogance of being 21, but it didn’t really phase me. Because even if they had gigs and hosted shows or whatever, I had never heard of them. And they had never heard of me. We were all brought on to do the same thing, chosen from thousands of people. Once I got into the challenges, it was a little intimidating seeing how many looks they had and what they could do. But I made it to the top four, which is still quite crazy to me.
Who were you close with?
I was friends with just about every—actually, that’s a lie, there were plenty of people I wasn’t friends with. I got along with everyone who wasn’t a big dick to me.
Who were the big dicks? [Laughs.]
I guess the biggest issues were between me and Raven, or me and Tyra Sanchez. But the magical part is that everyone from season 2—with the exception of Tyra—is all friends now.
You had the right intuition, girl. The stuff with Tyra making threats online against DragCon was out of control. What are your thoughts on it?
I think it’s ridiculous and I don’t enjoy how I somehow got dragged into it. We’ve blocked each other on like, every orifice of social media! Phi Phi didn’t feel comfortable and I was down to support her. With all the terrible things happening in the world, it’s not the time to make those threats. When they’re made, they need to be taken seriously and dealt with quickly.
How do you think the Internet has impacted drag culture, both positively and negatively?
I think it’s great! When I was starting drag, sure I was going to house parties and actually going out in looks, but Tatianna had a web presence. I had my MySpace. She had a good amount of followers.
And now we look so much softer in pictures with the advent of FaceTune and Instagram, so that’s a positive. We can always use a digital nip and tuck. It gives anyone the opportunity to edit who they are to the public, which can make you look more experienced or talented than you are in real life, which is great, because we’re entertainers and at the end of the day we need to market ourselves. The negative is when you say something bad or make a mistake, it’s immortalized. Make sure you delete anything problematic from the last 10 years! [Laughs.]
You were out of the Drag Race game for a while before competing on All Stars 2. How did it feel?
It was great. I had taken the time to evolve and learn what I was doing. I’d become a cast member of Town Dance Boutique, the biggest gay club in DC, so I’d come to understand my strengths and weaknesses, so I went in confident like I knew what I was doing.
Rolaskatox [Roxxy Andrews, Alaska, Detox] was adamant their alliance was a thing of the past, but the way their dynamics played out suggested otherwise. What were your behind-the-scenes observations on that?
When you have all been on the same season and have a shared experience, it makes sense. They didn’t quarantine themselves together, but it was definitely a thing. Especially when I got sent home! Alaska she kept her homegirls and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. But I didn’t know how [my elimination] would play out on TV, but watching it and seeing all the #robbed follow-up was surprising to me. I didn’t know people loved me that much!
We really, really do. Who are you loving on the current season?
I’m a big fan of Cracker and Monet and I love Monique Heart. She’s a funny bitch. She really makes me laugh, and so does Eureka. I like how Eureka has settled into herself this season. She understands how things go. She doesn’t let things get to her. Well, actually she does, she has a lot of emotions, but I find her to be more lighthearted this season. Asia is immaculate. Kameron could do a sneak attack.
Now that the show is behind you, it’s really cool to see you focusing on other ventures, like your album, coming out on May 28! Have you always been a songstress?
I’ve wanted to dabble in music since I was a kid. When I had to sing live on season 2, I realized I could do it. I wrote The Same Parts [performed on All Stars 2] when I was 16 in high school, and there were a lot more curse words. The night before that challenge, I was going to do something else, but I didn’t think it represented me as well, so I slowed down that rap into a spoken word moment and made it real weird. And for the “Read U Wrote U” challenge for the top four, we were all told about that before the start of the season, and I wrote verses that I never got to perform. So I took those and put them in a track on the album called “Shut It Down.”
Are you going to tour? Please say yes.
We’re tossing around the idea, so hopefully! I want to do more music videos, but they are fucking expensive. But I got some coin!
Werk. And I know this is your line, but to close the interview I have two words to say: thank you.
Thank you.


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