With the wave of a checkered flag RuPaul's Drag Race just burnt rubber from the starting line speeding off into season five. The popular Logo Channel show spotlights fourteen drag contestants competing for $100,000 while being crowned America's Next Drag Superstar plus prizes along the way.
Challenges can be anything from an underwater photo shoot to making a dress out of a trash from a dumpster as the first episode showed. The two in last place then lip synch before a judging panel of celebrities and series regulars (Project Runway's Santino Rice and singer Michelle Visage along with Ru herself) to find out who will sashay away.
The queens this season run the gamut from last season's winner Sharon Needles' boyfriend, Alaska, to a narcoleptic Jinkx Monsoon. Although not technically billed as being from Chicago, Monica Beverly Hillz has been performing in the Windy City for years. We went behind the makeup to talk to our local superstar.
[Note: Beverly Hillz came out as transgender on the Feb. 4 episode of the show. This interview took place before that development.]
Windy City Times: Hey, Monica. I told you at Berlin Nightclub that we would do an official interview at some point, so here we go!
Monica Beverly Hillz: Yes!
WCT: Are you originally from Kentucky?
Monica Beverly Hillz: No, I was born and raised here in Chicago with my Puerto Rican family, but I left three and half years ago for Kentucky.
WCT: Is that where you began a life of drag?
Monica Beverly Hillz: I started in a bar in Evansville, Ind., called the Brick House. They decided to open a bar in Owensboro, Ky.where I was currently livetwo months after that so then I worked there. I worked all over Kentucky in Louisville at The Connection and pageants down there.
WCT: Did you start performing in drag fairly young?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Yeah, I started when I was really young. I was 17 going on 18.
WCT: I have friends that grew up watching you perform at youth gay clubs.
Monica Beverly Hillz: That is where I got my start. There was a place called Deuces on the South Side like 47th and Paulina. There and a place called Club Royale. It is not alive anymore but it used to be back in the day.
WCT: Your real name is Juan DeJesus Anaya. Where did the name Monica Beverly Hillz originate?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Monica came from an Indian movie that I saw with a goddess, and her name was Monica. I fell in love with her. The Beverly Hillz came from where I have always wanted to be. I wanted to be in California or Beverly Hills. I'm always pushing for that type of girl.
WCT: It's ironic that the show this season has a goddess theme. What was your journey to being on Drag Race?
Monica Beverly Hillz: I tried out for season one and season three; after that, I pretty much gave up. I just thought it would never happen. I then went off the radar for a few years. I still lived in Kentucky and worked at bars there. I followed season four and saw people from Chicago on it like Phi Phi O'Hara. DiDa Ritz and I are really good friends. I realized I had to put my all into it and get on the show. Two of my best friends and I got together one day. I came to Chicago and recorded my audition tape. Literally we did it over the weekend and I went back to Kentucky. Ever since that the Logo people were hitting me up. It happened really fast.
WCT: There are people who believed you should have been on before some of the others, just so you know.
Monica Beverly Hillz: Yeah, I get that a lot. [Laughs]
WCT: When you met RuPaul, what is the first thing she said to you?
Monica Beverly Hillz: I do remember her saying how she liked that I'm a strong person.
WCT: Was it a long day shooting this show?
Monica Beverly Hillz: I will tell you one thing: I have never been in drag so long in my life! When people watch the show they just think it's fun and it is don't get me wrong but at the end of the day it's a job. It is a competition. You are there to compete and it's very grueling. It tests you at all types of levels.
WCT: What is one thing you have taken away from being on the show?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Once you put your mind to something and your focus on something then you can't let anyone come in the way of your hopes and your dreams. They really do come true as long as you work your ass off to get it. It is possible.
WCT: Love that. Do you like all the traveling that you do now?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Oh, I love it. This is what I have always wanted to do. I have always been a gypsy. I lived in California for a month. I am really adventurous so this is right up my alley. I love traveling, meeting new people, and experiencing places I have been to so I like it so far.
WCT: You are performing often in Chicago?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Yes, many venues like Spin, Berlineven The Dragon Lady Lounge sometimes.
WCT: Are you attending a big premiere party?
Monica Beverly Hillz: Yes, I am leaving to LA then go to New York for another premiere party. They are having a birthday party for me at Spin then I leave for Florida.
WCT: You have to represent Chicago even though you are billed as being a Kentucky native.
Monica Beverly Hillz: Chicago is my home and will always be my home.
WCT: You are going to give us good "face?"
Monica Beverly Hillz: Monica Beverly Hillz is always good at giving face so there is lots of face to be given!
Follow the Race every Monday and don't miss Untucked afterwards for behind the scene queens. For listings and details, go to www.logotv.com .