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RuPaul’s Drag Race Interview: Shuga Cain On Her Elimination: 'It Did Not Make Sense to Me'

‘If I had done anything differently I don’t think our team would have done as well’

By Christopher Rudolph

Shuga Cain had been doing drag for less than two years when RuPaul summoned her to be on Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Shuga held her own on the series, until this week when Ru asked her to sashay away after her performance in the group challenge proved to be less than magical.

MTV News spoke with Shuga about whether she thinks the judges made the right call, her favorite candy, and what advice she has for queens auditioning for the next season of Drag Race.

MTV News: How are you feeling today?

Shuga Cain: Ummm, I've been better! [Laughs]

MTV News: Ha! Usually when I ask the girls that they say they feel great!

Cain: No girl, I ain't lyin’. It was a rough one.

MTV News: Well, first I would ask if blondes have more fun, but I think you have purple hair now?

Cain: [Laughs] Ha! I do!

MTV News: So do purple-haired people have more fun?

Cain: If I had not been eliminated, I would say absolutely!

MTV News: On the episode you said being put in the bottom two made you “mad as hell” and it didn’t make any sense to you. Watching the episode, did you see why the judges put you in the bottom?

Cain: Nope. Absolutely not. It did not make sense to me. I was super surprised. We had done so well in that challenge as a team. I disagreed with the judges. If I had done anything differently I don’t think our team would have done as well. When I finally saw the episode I realized I wasn’t really bad. The challenge was really good, and the runway wasn’t as terrible as [the judges] were saying it was.

MTV News: Having done drag for only a little while, did you think you would get on Drag Race so quickly?

Cain: I auditioned for Season 10! I was like, bitch, I’m gonna get on this show. And then I didn’t, but I’m one of those people who felt I would eventually get on the show. And when I would watch my audition tape [for Season 11], I would feel there was something really special about it. So when I got on the show I was surprised and really excited. But I think I would have gotten on the show at some point, somehow.

MTV News: Well, you seemed really confident on the show.

Cain: I did feel confident. Look, I’m old! I’m 41 years old, and some of these girls are really young. I’ve been performing my entire life. I went to school for opera — I have a master's degree in opera — so I’ve been confident with the performance aspect because I’ve been doing it for so long. Was I scared at times? Absolutely! But at the end of the day, this is the largest stage for drag and you have to be confident or you’re going to falter.

MTV News: What surprised you about being on the show? Was it harder than you thought it would be?

Cain: Oh yeah, it totally is! After going through it, I was like, I will never come for a queen for whatever she did or didn’t do on the show! You’re never prepared enough for this thing. It is definitely not what you expect.

MTV News: What was your favorite challenge?

Cain: The Rusical! I’m a musical theater queen so I was super excited about it!

MTV News: Speaking of theater, what’s your favorite show that you saw this year?

Cain: You know, I really was surprised by Tootsie! It was so good! The writing is funny, the jokes are non-stop! I hope it wins all the damn Tonys.

MTV News: And did I see that you’re in the new Tales of the City?

Cain: I am! I ain’t got no speakin’ roles, but I am! It was a lot of fun to be a part of that.

MTV News: Going back to Drag Race, what advice would you be giving a queen who was auditioning for the next season?

Cain: It sounds so dumb and cliché, but just be yourself. Don’t try to be anything you’re not because the cameras will see right through it, the judges will see through it. Just have fun, work hard, and be unapologetic about it.

MTV News: Who are you placing bets on to snatch the crown this season?

Cain: I love Nina West. I live for her. I’m rooting for her. I’m also rooting for Yvie Oddly. I love her drag. There’s something raw, creative, and talented about it.

MTV News: So, what’s next?

Cain: I’m traveling around all over the place. I have a one-woman show coming up in June at the Laurie Beechman Theatre that I’m excited to debut. It’s called Sweet Dreams With Shuga Cain. I’m about to conquer this world! I’m really excited.

MTV News: Speaking of sugar, what’s your favorite candy?

Cain: All of them! I love Smarties and Haribo Twin Cherries. Those are my favorite.

MTV News: If you have to sum up your experience on Drag Race in one word, what would it be?

Cain: Epic.

RuPaul's Drag Race airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on VH1.