Raja and her Barefoot Wine-inspired design – Screenshot: YouTube
Among the bevy of talented RuPaul’s Drag Race queens to stand before us, few have commanded the competition’s runway like season three winner Raja. The statuesque performer seemingly brings that stylish authority to all things, including the long-running WOWPresents YouTube seriesFashion Photo Ruview, where each week, she and sister RPDR legend Raven rate the looks and eleganza from the latest episode of Drag Race, All-Stars, or Canada’s Drag Race, as the case may be.
“I would like it to feel like Raven and I are just watching an episode of Drag Race, just like everybody else, whether it be in a club or at home, with the same stupid critiques that make no sense sometimes, and are clearly made just based off opinion,” says Raja, also known as Sutan Amrull, A-list makeup artist to clients like Tyra Banks and Adam Lambert. “A lot of times the opinions that come from me are due to wine-swilling early in the day. So what comes out is what comes out. You know, we try to keep it real.”
Giving each look a “toot” or a “boot,” the co-hosts regularly incite fans’ — and contestants’ — passions with their roasts and raves. “It’s all meant in good fun,” says Raja. “In the grand scheme and scale of what’s happening in life, our opinions actually mean nothing. And it’s funny to me when some of the queens get upset at us for booting, or not saying the thing that they’d like to hear. It isn’t serious. It isn’t going to make or break anyone’s careers whether our opinions of their outfits are good or not.”
Eureka and her Barefoot Wine-inspired design – Screenshot: YouTube
On this week’s special episode, Raja and Raven showcased their own toot-or-boot-able new outfits, marking a collaboration with Barefoot Wine to create the “House of Barefoot.” Joined by Drag Race all-stars Eureka O’Hara and Manila Luzon, the four divas each designed singular garments to celebrate Barefoot’s recently launched Pride Collection commemorating milestones of the LGBTQ movement. Proceeds from the Barefoot sales benefit Free Mom Hugs, a non-profit of parents and allies working toward full affirmation and equality for all.
Excited to be a part of the campaign, Raja points out that queer visibility, “no matter where it comes from, whether it be corporate or not, is important.” Although admittedly a bit of a goth, more “the girl who loves to wear all black,” Raja says the campaign’s Pride rainbow palette was uniquely inspiring.
“It’s remarkable and interesting that the idea of a rainbow can bring so much negativity to people, or bring on a negative concept to people who are so against LGBTQIA+ people. The rainbow has now become synonymous as being the symbol of gay. And it’s very visible. I like that. I like that something so beautiful as a rainbow can cause so much anger in people. It just shows people’s true colors. To be literal about it, it’s prismatic.”
As it turns out, promoting LGBTQ visibility isn’t the only aspect of the “House of Barefoot” campaign that fits the queen like a rainbow corset. “I love wine. I am a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, white wine person,” Raja says. “I like anything sparkly. I like bubbles. I like my wine to be festive. And anybody who knows me well [knows] Raja loves and lives white wine. So this could not have been more of a perfect match.”
Raja likens the partnership to another perfect opportunity that came her way not too long ago: the chance to appear as herself on a Season 30 episode of The Simpsons. “Again, it’s one of those times in my life where it just kind of came full circle,” says the life-long fan of the show, who had to take a break from her usual summertime one-woman show in Provincetown to record the part at a Boston studio.
“I took the ferry. I went in. I read the sides. I did the thing. I said thank you to the technicians that were there, they were very sweet. And as soon as I left the building, I sat on a brick wall that was right outside, and I immediately just [broke into] tears. And as I started crying, rain came down falling on me. It was a Chromatica moment! That’s all I’m fucking saying. It was like, Rain. On. Me. It was one of the most beautiful things that I’d ever experienced. You’ve got to be open to those moments in life, and that was definitely one of those moments. It was remarkably, profoundly amazing for me.”
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André Hereford covers arts and entertainment for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @here4andre.
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