Las Vegans Alexis Mateo and India Ferrah gear up for the latest ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Beginning June 5, three high-kicking local queens will fight for the crown on the fifth season of ‘All Stars.’ Two of them talked to the Weekly about the experience.
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Beginning June 5, three high-kicking Las Vegas queens will fight for the crown on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. India Ferrah, Alexis Mateo and Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry will return to the Werk Room to represent Sin City in the fiercest ways possible, from over-the-top runway looks to gravity-defying death drops. The Weekly caught up with Ferran and Mateo to discuss the experience.

Ferrah, a Drag Race Season 3 contestant, might be known for being “picked up”—literally—by queen Mimi Imfurst during a lip-sync battle, and for her larger-than-life looks. But Ferrah’s shy personality underwhelmed judges, and she wound up in 10th place. Ferrah hopes to show newfound confidence on All Stars.

“I’ve grown so much,” Ferrah says. “Being here in Vegas really molded me into a completely new character.” Prior to the pandemic, Ferrah could be seen strutting her stuff at Drag Brunch inside Señor Frog’s at Treasure Island.

Since the lockdown, Ferrah and her fiancée, queen Savannah James, have used their custom costume, wig and nail company, Ferrah-James Designs, as a platform to sell masks to the public (ferrahjamesdesigns.com). Ferrah says her costume business will give her an edge in the latest competition, which features new wrinkles to make it even more competitive.

This time, instead of lip-syncing for their lives, contestants lip-sync against a “lip-sync assassin”—and receive $10,000 if they win. “It was the biggest gag,” Ferrah says. “I think all of us were shook so hard. It made us all up our game. We had to turn everything on.”

Mateo returns to the All Star competition for the second time, having been on the first season in 2012. She placed third during Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Mateo lived in Florida before moving to Las Vegas last year. “Vegas is a new beginning for me,” Mateo says. “My life was in a very dark place before I got [here.] Vegas is a second chance to me, so I’m feeling like this is my new home.”

In May, Mateo released a music video for her single, “The Crown,” on her YouTube channel (youtu.be/JWxKBfjP2gE)—a not-so-subtle shot-call of her plan for All Stars Season 5. “They know I’m hungry,” Mateo says.

As a returning All Star, Mateo might have an edge on other contestants, but she notes that her competition was equally as tough. “Season 1 of All Stars, we kind of didn’t know what to expect; it was kind of like The Twilight Zone for all of us,” Mateo says. “Going in for a third time, it’s completely different. This has been a very difficult one, too, not only because of the amount of pressure, but because the cast is so fierce.”

Barry, who wasn’t available for an interview by press time, finished fifth on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 and is competing as an All Star for the first time. Barry also performed in a Las Vegas spin-off of the show, RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! at the Flamingo, and was a contestant on America’s Got Talent.

Regardless of the outcome, Mateo says her on Drag Race experience has been unforgettable. ““Being on Drag Race has given me a platform to help others. Knowing that people know what I stand for … is just magical,” she says. I knew my life was onstage; I just didn’t know what I was supposed to be. Finding drag saved my life.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 5 Premieres June 5, 8 p.m., VH1.

Tags: Television, drag
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