Drag Race Season 6 has started, though recently, season 1 was rereleased as “The Lost Season,” like some of us don’t own it on Amazon. I got a chance to catch up with Bebe Zahara Benet, the amazing winner of that season, and talk about where it all started, and what is going in the future for this performer.
How did you get started doing drag?
When I first started, I was doing modeling work in Cameron, and was with an African designer in Paris. Some of the models didn’t show up, and since I had played with make up before, they asked me to do the show. My first time doing actual drag, though was in Minnesota. There was a bar called “the Gay 90’s” and I saw some of the drag queens there, but I didn’t have all the make-up and dresses and thing. At one point, Cyndi Lauper was looking for entertainers to go on stage, and I interviewed and got the part and, from there, started doing drag.
What made you audition for Drag Race?
I was told by friends who saw that the producers were going to different states. At first, I wasn’t comfortable, because drag has not been portrayed in the best light by the media, and I did not want to be ridiculed. The producers came to one of my shows at The Gay 90’s, and saw one of my performances. Afterwards they approached me about auditioning. RuPaul is someone I look up to, so I decided to go ahead with it.
Your new single says “Nothing Beats the Face.” How do you think that helped you win season 1?
My face is a part of me. It’s a part of my branding. Your face is always “beaten” but that’s not what won me the title. I have a strong work ethic and I play it clean. I’m not sure I would have made it in other seasons. I use the phrase, and it seems to have resonated with fans. Fans like my face, and I give it to them.
How has life changed since winning Drag Race?
Obviously, I get to travel to so many different places and meet so many people in a short time. I feel like it’s been an introduction and I’ve not fully come out into the world yet. It’s been a platform for me to introduce myself. I’ve been doing a lot of networking, and it’s been very challenging, and certainly not all glamorous. I still have to work incredibly hard.
Can you tell us more about your new album?
I’m very excited about this. I worked with singer, songwriter, and producer Mark Picchiotti. He understands the voice and the beat, and it was a very good match. We’ve done some amazing stuff. The album is a fusion of sound and rhythm, and is incredibly diverse. Dance, house, R&B, pop, tribal, reggae, jazz, soft rock. Growing up, I heard so many genres and sounds and cultures, and I want that in this album. It’s fresh, and modern, and eclectic.
Do you have any other projects in the works?
My music has been taking up so much of my time, but I’ve been talking to people about tv shows and other projects. I’m currently looking at a tour, after the album is released, so look for that on my webpage.