Chatting with America’s Next Drag Superstar, Raja!
With his inimitable, avant-garde style, mastery of the runway and arsenal of killer costumes, it’s really no surprise why Raja (a/k/a Sutan Amrull) was crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar” on season three of the wildly popular hit reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race. On the day after winning the title, the reigning Drag Race queen took a few moments to reflect on his victory, his most memorable moments on the show and his future plans.
Socialite Life: Congratulations on winning the title! I am so happy you were crowned “America’s Next Drag Superstar”!
Raja: I know, me too!
SL: When we chatted before the season began, did you have any idea you would be chosen by RuPaul as the big winner?
Raja: You know, I’m pretty confident about most things that I do in my life. I like to go in with confidence and you definitely go into something like (Drag Race) with intentions of winning. You don’t go in there…you don’t want to be all self-deprecating and like, “Oh, I’m going to lose.” But, at a certain point I started to feel – about midway – that I might have been kicked off. I just thought maybe my ideas were too progressive or too provocative or too crazy and I thought maybe it was too much for this competition. And I proved myself wrong, I guess – I won the thing! (Laughs)
SL: What does being “America’s Next Drag Superstar” mean to you?
Raja: It really just means that I’m part of a legacy of queens who have paved the way for so many different people. It’s just nice to have that title and be a part of this constellation of drag stars who are out there.
Read more of our interview with Raja after the jump and check out photos from the RuPaul’s Drag Race Finale Party by launching the gallery!
SL: Do you have any plans for your winnings? (Raja won $75,000 with the title.)
Raja: You know, the first thing I’m going to do with my winnings is definitely pay some bills off. I’ve had 36 years of debt (laughs)! So the responsible thing to do is to take care of that first and then I can clear my thoughts and get rid of that stress and focus on doing my projects. I’ve been experimenting with music. I definitely want to do something within design and even have my own TV show one day.
SL: What sort of TV show do you envision yourself doing?
Raja: Well, I’ve always been really fascinated with travel. I do it as much as I can. I would love to have a travel-related show. I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel. I would love to do that kind of a show with a gayer, more queeny take on it. I don’t know, it’s something I would definitely like to work on.
SL: I know that when we talked before, you had mentioned that you really wanted to travel the globe. Is there any place in particular you want to go?
Raja: There’s so many places in Europe I haven’t seen yet. I got to travel through a lot of northern Europe this year during the winter – which was really great. There’s a lot of places in Asia that I still want to go to. I’ve caught that bug and I really love traveling. The world isn’t as small as people think, there’s so many different pockets and areas that we can all explore – and I’m always down for that.
SL: Speaking of globetrotting, you mentioned during the live chat on LogoTV.com Monday night that your “National Geographic” drag was your favorite look. What other 2 looks are in your “top 3”?
Raja: You know, a lot of my costumes I’m really tied to emotionally. The bucket of blood hat (from the ‘Ru-Ha-Ha’ episode) and the gold robot costume (from ‘Queens in Space’)…I’m really connected with those costumes because they remind me of the time when I was living in New York and it was winter outside and it was sort of my escape to make these things. I’m a California boy and I was a little depressed in the wintertime and when I see these costumes on television or whenever I put them on, it reminds me of these moments and I think those two costumes are definitely two of my favorites as well.
SL: What was your favorite challenge this season? Please say “Snatch Game” – I thought your impression of Tyra Banks and her “smizing” was fabulous!
Raja: Oh, thank you! I had a really good time on that one. You know, the money challenge was definitely a fun one for us – well, for me, anyway because whenever I get to make something or use my hands to create, I’m happiest. And it was really fun to use paper and somehow make it look like fabric and make it look fluid and wearable those types of challenges are stuff that I really love and I try to do that for myself every day.
SL: On the other side, what was your least favorite challenge?
Raja: My least favorite one definitely was the jock challenge. I just did not feel like making anyone over. I definitely didn’t want to make a jock over. I just didn’t want to do it and that’s what made it really difficult. Most of the other challenges I was fine with – anything that involved acting or making something I’m fine with but making someone over…I was like “Oh God, why do I have to do this?” – and it really showed. I got in trouble that day.
SL: What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you since appearing on Drag Race?
Raja: You know, there’s been a lot of recognition. People come up to me all of the time and I get compliments all day long – and that’s amazing. But I think the best thing for me is to get to reach out to kids who are 12 and 13-years-old and they’re sending me emails about how they’ve opened dialogue with their families and they’ve come out of the closet and they’ve started gay student alliances in their schools and they’ve protected the kids who were being picked on and bullied. You know, there’s so many different stories that keep pouring in and one of my favorite things to do is to forward them to my family members like, “Oh my God, look at this one” or “Look at this one, check this one out.” I think that, to me, is the most rewarding part of this whole process – being able to talk to kids and to get to hear their stories.
SL: With a fourth season of Drag Race already announced, what advice do you have for aspiring drag queens?
Raja: Well, I think people need to realize that it’s not as easy as it looks. I went in very confident but there are things within the competition that start to break you down a little bit – and it breaks you down emotionally and I don’t think people really get to see that. I’ve said it before that this was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life – if not the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. They just need to be prepared for that. It ain’t easy, it ain’t easy.
SL: A big cliché among reality show participants is the expression “I’m not here to make friends.” Was that the case for you on Drag Race?
Raja: No, not at all! I love making friends, I mean I’ve formed a great alliance with three other really fantastic people that I’ll be friends with for a very long time, or for the rest of my life anyway. I’m all about making friends. I like finding people who are like-minded and just making friends in general. We don’t even have to be like-minded, let’s just get to know each other.
SL: Is there a question you’ve been dying to be asked that you haven’t been asked yet?
Raja: Ummm…good God…no, actually. The great thing about being on this show and meeting all of these new fans and stuff is getting these different questions everyday and constantly being surprised. I’ve had some very crazy questions – I don’t even think I should say them out loud! (Laughs)
SL: Do you have a message for your fans?
Raja: I would love to say thank you and…I know this sounds really cliché and silly, but I just want to say thank you to everyone who supports me and I realize that some of my philosophies and views are a little bit strange to people but I’m glad that I have a tremendous amount of followers and fans out there. I’m eternally grateful and appreciative for all of the attention and I can’t wait to see them in their hometowns!
Condragulations again, Raja! Keep up with Raja on Twitter (@sutanamrull) or on his Facebook page. You can get the lowdown on the past season with Raja and all of the queens on the RuPaul’s Drag Race Reunion special, airing Monday night at 9pm EST on Logo! And if you missed one moment of this fierce and fabulous season, you can check out clips and full episodes at LogoTV.com!