‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Interview: Mercedes Iman Diamond on Making Herstory and Why It’s ‘OK to be Muslim and Gay’
By Christopher Rudolph
Trump was the word on this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, when the queens were tasked with performing in a spoof of Grease titled, Trump: The Rusical. After her portrayal of Ivana Trump, and an orange-ous runway look, RuPaul asked Minneapolis’ Mercedes Iman Diamond to sashay away. We spoke with Mercedes about making herstory as the first Muslim queen on Drag Race, who she is rooting for to win the season, and why that Lip Sync for Your Life was so hard for her.
MTV News: So what has the reaction been from fans after last night’s episode?
Mercedes Iman Diamond: Well, I’m still up from yesterday. I just flew into Reno because I have a gig tonight, but It’s been great. I’ve received nothing but love so I’m happy. It’s been amazing and beautiful.
It looked like you had a really positive experience on the show. You were always smiling: even when Ru asked you to sashay away, you stood there with a smile on your face.
Absolutely. Mother Ru picked me out of thousands of girls, I don’t want her to see me with a sad face. I want her to know how proud and how grateful I am for this opportunity.
Even on Untucked, when you were packing up your workstation, you just seemed very thankful for the experience.
Oh yes, because opportunities like this don’t come very often, so you have to take it and run with it. Always remember who Mother Ru is and why she picked you. All of us were chosen for a reason.
You are the first Muslim queen to compete on Drag Race. Did you make a conscious decision to talk about your religion on the show?
I was back and forth. I don’t like talking about religion and politics because it always causes drama and fighting, so I initially chose not to talk about it. But then I thought to myself: “You are being given a chance right now, and there are so many Muslim gay boys out there who don’t have a voice. Why not use this chance to let your voice be heard?” It’s ok to be Muslim and gay. Follow your heart, and don’t live for other people, live for you.
I thought it was a really educational moment on the show. I’m glad you talked about it.
And I loved your orange look on the runway! And so did New York [guest judge Tiffany Pollard]!
Thank you! I’m actually known for wearing blonde wigs, it’s one of my go-to looks. I don’t want to be the girl who wears blonde all the time, but I guess blonde is what they were looking for. I wish I had done it earlier!
Let’s talk about the Lip Sync for Your Life. Did you find it difficult to perform to a song sung by a man?
Oh my God! My whole nine-and-a-half years in drag, I have never performed a male song. It was uncomfortable! Should I dance like a girl? Should I dance like a guy? I had so many thoughts going through my head! But I knew I had to fight for my life, so I gave it my all. And you know what? It was my time to go home. I’m happy and grateful. Hopefully I can come back for All Stars!
Have you taken Silky’s tip and started using Sharpies to do your eyebrows?
Absolutely not! I don’t do Sharpies! I just can’t. It’s not me. It works for her, but it won’t work for me. I don’t know how she does it, but come through with your Sharpie!
Are there any particular queens you are rooting for to go all the way this season?
You know what? I am rooting for all of them. All of them deserve it. I am so close with all of the girls. Whoever wins will get 100% of my support.
And it sounds like you’ve been busy since Drag Race…
Interviews, photo shoots, shows… Everyday I’m doing something. I am so happy. I quit my banking job that I was doing for the past nine years. This has been a dream come true. No matter what happens I am blessed.
Do you have any tips for queens who are about to go on Drag Race?
Don’t ever give up. Don’t be quiet, take risks in the workroom, and you will make it far.
RuPaul's Drag Race airs Thursdays at 9/8c on VH1.