RuPaul’s Drag Race made Texas’ Alyssa Edwards (https://www.facebook.com/QueenAlyssaEdwards), aka Justin Johnson, an international star, and led to a revealing Netflix reality series, Dancing Queen (https://www.netflix.com/title/80198511), which debuted to positive reviews in October 2018. When not decked out in drag, Johnson heads up his 15-year-old Mesquite, Texas Beyond Belief Dance Studio, and its competitive youth and children’s touring companies: their efforts and emotional dance moms are a big part of Dancing Queen’s drama, while Johnson is also putting together his own fabulous one-queen show.
Raised and based in Mesquite, Texas, Johnson/Edwards (“honestly, at this point I’m gonna answer to both!” he says), started doing drag on the pageant circuit, picking up titles including Miss Gay Texas 2005, Miss Gay USofA 2006, and Miss Gay America 2010. She appeared in the 2008 documentary Pageant, and five years later made a splash on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Edwards made another effort to snatch the trophy in RDR: All Stars2016, and these days puts in meet-and-greet appearances at the annual RuPaul DragCon(www.rupaulsdragcon.com) conventions in New York and Los Angeles.
In early 2019, Edwards will serve as inaugural Camp Director for TAZO Tea’s overnight Camp TAZO, experience, which she promises will push people to discover new things about themselves (you can apply via www.camptazo.com). To discuss all the things she’s brewing up, we sat Edwards down in the VIP Lounge.
First, tell us a secret about RuPaul.
RuPaul is very transparent, what you see is what you get, and I admire that so much. He is unapologetically himself. I would say Ru is very gentle. I didn’t think he would be, because he’s such a business person, and he fought his entire life. For me, I like to observe him because he’s truly my idol, mentor, and inspiration. In his downtime, he’s soft. When I see him as Ru in full regalia, it’s this air of confidence and power and inspiration of, if you want it come get it, and I love that.