One would be forgiven for thinking that the second season of RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race was inspired by the runaway success of Fox’s The masked singer – each show features masked celebrities who put on show-stopping performances each week, only to reveal their true identities upon elimination.
It sure felt like an episode of the hit Fox show last week when contestant Electra Owl was sent into a lip sync against Thirsty Von Trap to Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive.” Asked to identify herself, Owl revealed herself as ’80s and ’90s dance superstar Taylor Dayne, known in recent years for her stint as The masked singers Popcorn.
Dayne’s run on the show, while short-lived, gave fans plenty of worthy performances, including last week’s entertaining rendition of the Donna Summer classic “Last Dance.” But even on the show, Dayne (then Electra) talked about her difficulty with the lip sync format and how her penchant for singing live made the challenge even more difficult than usual.
Billboard spoke with Dayne after her elimination about the behind-the-scenes process of the show, her love for RuPaul, and how her experiences on The masked singer AND Drag Race they differ.
Congratulations on yours Secret Celebrity Drag Race internship! How was your experience being on the show?
Oh god, okay. I’ve done a few things in my life, but this was just…watching everyone prepare for this was really something special. It’s exciting, but really transformative for some people, really. It was so wild to watch, and wild to be a part of, I must say.
I really thought it would be easier to tell who was under everyone’s creepiness, and I admittedly had a hard time placing almost everyone in the cast, including you!
Oh, really? I think you have a pretty good idea about people! But no, it was a really extreme change in many ways. It’s so cool, it was like a four or five hour process, getting into the look.
Were you great? Drag Race fan before participating in this season?
Oh, I’m a huge fan, and most importantly, a huge friend of RuPaul. RuPaul Charles and I go way back, so that’s where it starts for me. Everything he’s ever been involved in, you can see … our paths have crossed, obviously musically, and we’ve come together and supported each other. What did he do? Drag Race and the LGBTQ community itself, and bringing it all to the middle of America, if you will, and opening the doors, it’s just amazing. So whenever you ask me for anything, I’m there.
But Drag Raceit is wild. I mean, I always have to say that the queens have done me better than myself! And I mean it! There’s just a passion and art form that goes into it that I can’t really explain – when you really let go of your persona and get into someone else’s personality, it’s huge and incredible.
Well, you mentioned on the show that lip syncing was the hardest part of it all – did that give you a new insight into the work these queens are doing when they perform?
Well, I mean, it’s an art form! You guys have only seen two episodes – so you understand, it’s now being left to the artistic dimensions that some of these other people are bringing. I can’t figure out what those upcoming shows are, but I can promise you that you’ll see things that I really didn’t think would ever be brought to my attention. Not that she must be brought to attract, or may or will be brought, but this is art. It takes different forms and everyone has their own perception of it.
So now, you have a bunch of people who never thought they’d be in heels and they’re fun to watch! Now, you’re seeing these stories and this art. It was really exciting to watch the growth in this show as well as the story. Each show became a vignette, which was cool.
Of course, this isn’t your first time doing a reality competition series – fans have loved you as Popcorn The masked singer. How would you compare? Secret Celebrity Drag Race in that format?
Well, for one, if they voted me out in the second episode, I’d be down on my knees [laughs]. listen, The masked singer, to me, it’s a completely different art form—I’m drawing from a different source there, and of course, there’s a vocal capacity and strength in that. I mean, I went all the way to the semi-finals with The masked singer! But my feeling is, underneath that, you’re still developing a character like with Electra Owl – people fell in love with Popcorn. You are becoming a character, but at the same time you are also making artistic choices. Hence, it becomes fun to watch week after week. I think it’s the same thing here, but it’s that my craft is my voice and my music, so The masked singer it wasn’t just a choreographed moment for me. It was a much more involved process.
But limitations are everywhere! Many of these guys have never worn their breasts and bottoms, so this is a new experience for them.