Konichiwa Queen Rock M. Sakura Breaks Down Her Emotional Drag Race Debut

The colorful San Francisco drag artist wasn't afraid to show her tears on Season 12

By Christopher Rudolph

San Francisco’s Rock M. Sakura brought some brightness to Season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race with her anime-inspired outfits and kooky Konichiwa personality. The queen’s love of all things manga, toys, and neon brought some laughs to the workroom, but Rock also got serious at times. She was brought to tears multiple times while talking about past struggles, including her mother’s battles with addiction.

This week, the girls were asked to bring three outfits to the runway: “Lady Baller,” “Basketball Wife Realness,” and “Balls to the Wall Eleganza.” But the judges thought Rock M. didn’t bring enough of her fun personality to the ball, forcing her to lip-sync for her life against New York queen, Brita Filter. In the end, Rock M. Sakura was asked to sashay away.

MTV News spoke with Rock M. about her time on Drag Race, why she thinks there haven’t been more San Francisco queens on the show, and what anime she recommends to everyone as they self-isolate.

MTV News: Hi, Rock M. How's it going?

Rock M. Sakura: Every day grows a bit darker.

MTV NEWS: Has your Nintendo Switch arrived yet?

Rock M. Sakura: Not yeah. It's not coming ‘til Monday, so what I've been doing is I've been staring at myself in the mirror, and I've been crying, and I've been in the fetal position.

MTV News: Wait, you cry?!

Rock M. Sakura: No, never! But I did it for the first time today and it was very liberating.

MTV News: A lot has changed just in the past week, so how are you continuing to do the art of drag in this pandemic time?

Rock M. Sakura: I've been writing a lot of scripts. I have always, from the get-go, been influenced by YouTube culture, online videos, and just online content. I think that YouTube is the way of the future, and there's no better example of that than now.

MTV News: What are the videos?

Rock M. Sakura: Well, I have a lot of videos. It's just me for my YouTube channel, but in one of them I'm green-screening myself into every Drag Race episode that I'm not in. I wanted to do a segment with the girls that get eliminated because I used to do a show called “Tuck-Bang” where it was a Mukbang, so I would get in drag and I'd eat. But I wanted to do a segment called “Comfort Food,” invite the eliminated girls over to my house, and cook for them, and talk to them about their eliminations, their time on the show. And then at the end, I wanted to share with them a letter that I've written for each of them, telling them how much I love their craft and how excited I am for them moving forward.

MTV News: I'm still surprised that you were only the second girl from San Francisco to be on Drag Race. Why do you think that is?

Rock M. Sakura: A lot of people say that our aesthetics don't necessarily match what is asked on the show. Here's the thing: San Francisco was really affected by Honey Mahogany's time on the show. Our city took it almost too much to heart and they blame everything on her, so that’s why we don't get on. Before I auditioned, so many people were like, "Well, you moved to San Francisco. Hope you like not getting on Drag Race. They don't like us because of Honey," which is not true. Honey is a champion for LGBTQ+ people, she is a light in our community. Don't get that twisted. I love her so much.

I think the main reason why people from our city didn't get on until now is that they were looking for someone who... it wasn't about the city, it was about their drag, and every audition video that I've seen from girls that are in this city, it always has to do with, "I'm not wearing a caftan because of Honey Mahogany. I know you guys hate San Francisco girls, but we've got to get another one on." When I auditioned, it was for me. I love San Francisco and I said how much I love the city, but my audition video was for me.

MTV News: So let’s talk about that lip-sync. I was stressed you were not going to get that hoop off!

Rock M. Sakura: Oh my god.

MTV News: What was going through your mind?

Rock M. Sakura: Nicky told me backstage, "You need to cut it off.” I made those little things out of stretchy fabric, so it just kept bouncing, and then I couldn't reach the ones in the back. But it wasn't on there for that long, that was the first thing that I took off. I also felt like that was the only time that Ru looked at me, and then the whole rest of the number, she was only looking at Brita.

MTV News: You're a Season 12 girl, you're supposed to be too booked to be bothered right now. But everything is canceled. You're doing a digital drag show tonight, right?

Rock M. Sakura: Yeah. I think that digital drag is the future. I'm still thinking about other ways to make a living and keep my presence in the season. If it isn't hard enough that you go home second, the fact that everyone is inside and no one can see you outside, and DragCon is canceled and everything, it hurts a little bit. But I'm really just trying to find new, innovative ways to stay relevant.

MTV News: People online were saying that you were crying just to try to get further in the contest. Was Drag Race more emotional than you thought it'd be?

Rock M. Sakura: It definitely was more emotional than I thought it was going to be because I went in pretty confident. I told my partner, "I'm not going to cry at all because I don't want the narrative of another Asian person getting on and crying," and then I cried the first episode. It is a lot harder than people think, for sure. If I could give anyone advice going on the show, it would be to cry now. Cry before you go on, as much as you can, because if you don't let yourself cry before the show and show yourself that compassion, then it's going to come out when you're there.

MTV News: Is there another queen on the season that you think people should look out for, that you think has what it takes to go all the way?

Rock M. Sakura: Well, I think Jan, for sure. I love Jan. She is just an amazing person, and an amazing voice too. Amazingly talented and very compassionate. Also, keep an eye out for Nicky Doll. I know that she's representing her country really well. Her fashion is just so forward, and she's a fucking character. She's fucking funny. I love her.

MTV News: If people wanted to dive into an anime while they are quarantined in their homes, what would you tell them to start with?

Rock M. Sakura: Well, since we're quarantined and we're not going anywhere, I would suggest watching One Piece because I think it’s 900 episodes in right now. This is the perfect time to catch up. Look, you have no excuse now.

MTV News: Is there a San Francisco girl you would love to see on Drag Race?

Rock M. Sakura: I would love to see Militia Scunt, S-C-U-N-T. If you say her name fast enough, you'll get the pun. She represents the city so well, she has an amazing voice, she has such a funny personality. She can dance the house down. She can do flips and tricks. She looks beautiful in drag, too.

MTV News: Well, Rock M., thank you so much for your time. I'm not just saying this, but you are one of my favorite queens out of the group this year. Hopefully, I'll see you out on the road after this whole thing is over with.

Rock M. Sakura: Yes, please. Well, who knows? It's not the end for me. There's always hope.

MTV News: All Stars Season 6, you never know!

Rock M. Sakura: Yes, exactly. Tell everyone to get their hashtags ready!