Celebrity News / Interviews

Her Royal HIGHness, Drag Superstar Laganja Estranja

Laganja Estranja

It was a late February day in 2014 when Laganja Estranja was introduced to the world. Her iconic death-drop entrance on RuPaul’s Drag Race has gone down in history as one of the greatest entrances of all time. However, her accolades don’t stop there. As one of the most memorable faces from the beloved series, Laganja has only skyrocketed since her days of lip-syncing for her life!

Along with being an alum of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Laganja Estranja wears many more hats. From being a trained choreographer, musician, political and social activist and famously, a cannabis activist, among other things, Laganja is one of the hardest working people in the industry. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the live entertainment industry has taken a serious hit like many other businesses. With many artists and creatives having to adopt and adjust to a new medium, such as digital, it has been both challenging and a moment for gratitude. In particular, many drag queens, including Laganja, have been producing entertaining content online for many months. However, the future of drag shows is something that is still up in the air as the pandemic continues to rage on. Laganja Estranja

While the pandemic continues to challenge us all, Laganja Estranja has pulled out all her resources to continue to shine like the star she is. We were lucky enough to catch up with her amidst her busy schedule for all the tea you need! From her digital shows, to her Youtube series, Comedy Central appearances, and a potential upcoming music drop, everyone should keep their eyes out for Queen Laganja Estranja!

Cliché: Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the entire world. So many businesses and communities have been impacted this year. One of the many communities that has been affected by the pandemic is the drag community. With live entertainment coming to an abrupt halt earlier in the year, how did you take the sudden changes?

Laganja Estranja: When the pandemic hit, it was definitely very scary as an artist. However, I feel lucky that I have a platform that I have built over the last seven years that I am able to continue financially surviving off of. Luckily, I’m very creative. I have a degree in Dance and Choreography from the California Institute of the Arts. I really tapped into the inner artist, as opposed to the inner drag queen during this time, and got creative. I found ways to configure my home so I could do virtual shows and invested in a lot of lighting, fans and smoke so I could do all the things you would typically see at the nightclubs but here in my house.  

The world of digital-drag has been able to emerge strongly during this pandemic! With such successful digital performances yourself, how do you see the future of digital drag and drag performing?

We are definitely seeing a lot of Drive’N Drag right now, specifically from Voss Events. So, I’m hopeful that more promoters will take on this idea and create more outdoor landscape spaces for artistic performers to do their art while accommodating people safely. I definitely think we’re going to see a lot more outdoor drag especially for the foreseeable future. I don’t see us returning to indoor clubs for quite some time, unfortunately.

I do think digital drag will continue on. However, it has become so highly saturated and audiences seem to have lost interest. So, I don’t know the longevity of the digital drag world but I do believe there are a few people like Biqtch Puddin’ with her incredible digital drag show on Twitch and Rhea Litré with her Quarantine Queen show who have really created the capacity to keep going. It’s not to say that I don’t think we’ll see both but many performers, singers, dancers, and artists have had to switch over to digital and it feels saturated at the moment.

Congratulations on your sold-out performance of Up In Smoke! How did you come up with the concept for the show?

I am a child of musical theater! After I presented my first show HIGHconic, which was more of a music review, I knew that I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to tap back into my artistic roots and my BFA as a choreographer. So, I wrote an original play inspired by the circus, specifically 1920’s -30’s era. I wanted to make something that was dark and powerful. It was important to me to speak about being non-binary and what that might have looked like back in that time. The show is really about my character, the MC, who is rejected for not being feminine enough. It was a really interesting project to work on during this time and I’m so proud of it. I have actually submitted it for SXSW so hopefully, we’ll get an award! 

Your Muse Me series on YouTube has been so fun to watch! The creative collaboration between you and Robert Hayman is such an interesting process to see. What inspired you to document this series for the world?

We actually submitted this series as well for SXSW! My best friend Robert Hayman and I have known each other pretty much since I got off RuPaul’s Drag Race. He was one of the first photographers to reach out to me and want to photograph me and we clicked immediately. We have been making artwork together for years. I don’t even know how many images we have at this point. I definitely believe that no photographer has shot a drag queen as extensively as he has shot me. 

We really wanted to let the world in on our creative process because we both think our work is really interesting. The way we work is very unique, especially with little to no money and resources. During this time, we hope it has been inspiring others to do the same. We wanted to create a series to not only showcase what we do as artists but hopefully to inspire others to get out there and use their creative mind to make unique art and follow along with us. 

Laganja Estranja

I heard you just recently recorded a new single. Can you tell us anything about it and is there an album or EP on its way?

I’m currently shopping for a label for my next album HIGHconic. But what I can tell you, is that I am going to be releasing my first single this year on November 30th called ‘Daddy.’ It will have a music video to accompany the single. After that I’m planning on releasing two more singles early next year followed by the HIGHconic album. I’m super proud of it. It has been a long time coming. I’ve been making music pretty much since season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s something that has always been very near and dear to my heart but it has taken a long time to pick up momentum, especially since I self-produce everything. So, I’m hopeful of being picked up by a label to get this music out. 

Your latest episode of Comedy Central’s Tales from the Trip was hilarious! Two questions: Have you gotten that Andy Warhol inspired Pink and Yellow Cow outfit? And, has it put you off mushrooms forever?

No, I haven’t gotten the outfit! It’s not currently in the works but maybe this episode will inspire it! 

I have not done mushrooms since! I am all for the education of mushrooms. I think a lot of people have been microdosing and seeing incredible results. I am all for more exploration of the medicinal side effects. However, for me that was such an amazing and memorable trip that I just think I would not do it until I’m Grace & Frankie age. For now, I’m good on the psychedelics, all I need is a little green. 

What can we expect from you next? Any new music, cannabis collabs, or makeup we should keep an eye out for?

I’m actually dropping a cannabis derivative for the holidays. It is in collaboration with a company that will be announced soon. There will be three bath products that will go from day to night and be CBD-based. They will be able to be shipped internationally and will be full spectrum CBD. Can’t wait to tell you more, but keep an eye out around Thanksgiving for more information on the products.

The world of Laganja Estranja is only getting bigger. From CBD products to digital shows and upcoming music, the creative mind of Laganja doesn’t seem to have slowed down since we saw her strut into the Werk Room during the season 6 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race. With her upcoming music release on November 30th as well as her highly anticipated cannabis collab, it would be smart to keep your eyes on the legendary Laganja Estranja!

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Images Provided by Robert Hayman and Ash Danielsen

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