It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to be in the presence of queen. And Bebe Zahara Benet, 28, is a queen like no other.
The Minneapolis resident, Cameroon native and contestant on LOGO’s RuPaul’s Drag Race (Mondays, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific and rupaulsdragrace.com) is captivating the judges and, dare I say, America, with her beauty and style as she fights off the other queens for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar.
Bebe Zahara, being the gracious queen she is, took the time to speak with me, one of her lowly admirers, about the show and her aspirations. And she was kind enough to dispense some advice to help hapless, fashion-challenged souls like me.
The Ride: Sistah Bebe Zahara, Pan African queen, I, who am not worthy to comb your wig, salute you…Really girl, you know how to work it. What made you decide to enter the Drag Race?
Bebe Zahara: First of all, you are worthy to comb my wig, just don’t try to steal it [laughs]. I decided to enter the race because I wanted to be part of the process to educate people on what drag is all about, to let people know we are artists in our own right just looking for creative outlets. Also, I was looking for the next step in my career as a drag performer and this seemed to be a perfect opportunity.
The Ride: I love the show but I am a bit troubled. I expected more backstabbing and wig snatching. You ladies are far too classy. Do you think that as the competition gets more fierce, it will start to get messy?
Bebe Zahara: I know the competition holds its own strong ground of being entertaining without all the negative stereotypes that go with doing drag. It will get fierce that’s for sure especially when everyone has the attitude of” “I will prove myself to you on stage. That is the battleground”
The Ride: Speaking of competition, which one of those beyotches do you think is a major threat?
Bebe Zahara: Everyone is a threat. You never know who is hiding what under their sleeves, and so you are caught with many surprises, so I do not take anyone for granted.
The Ride: I must say you are certainly coming into your own on the show. You beat those broads during the Oprah/Spokesperson challenge like they stole your Prada purse. Do you want to be the next Oprah? Should she be worried?
Bebe Zahara: I would love to have my own talk show one day. I think it will be so much fun, and very interesting and for sure I will have you on it, right? [laughs], Plus, Oprah is a legend, and this world has her. What they need is a Bebe and all I can bring is me.
The Ride:…Okay, I got that out of the way. I really wanted to talk to you because I need help. I’m 5’4’’ with a caramel complexion and 110 lbs. after a large meal. My hair is a mess and my clothing is fashion backward. Is there any hope for me?
Bebe Zahara: There is so much hope for you and everyone who is in your position. Do you how many hair consultants are out there? Lots and plus a lot of people are inspired by fashion backward to make it forward, thus setting a trend…All it takes for this to happen is to work with someone that has a rounded fashion eye and I am more than willing to help you in my own small way.
The Ride: Can we work on my makeup? I don’t wear any. What would be a good place to start?
Bebe Zahara: I tell everyone, you will be amazed what a black eye and lip pencil and gloss can do. The pencil can create a smoky eye as well as underneath the eye then line the lips with that pencil and gloss over it. Easy. For foundations and blushes, they all react differently on different skin types, so I suggest you go for a consultation.
The Ride: What about the hair? I did try wearing wigs at one time but it felt like I was wearing a wig, if you know what I mean? Any advice on how to wear a wig like it was your own hair?
Bebe Zahara: Find something that compliments your face and creates your vision by trying so many different styles and seeing what you are comfortable with.
The Ride: I think I just lack confidence. How did you gain your confidence, especially on the runway?
Bebe Zahara: Believe in yourself, trust your instincts and always remember your purpose.
The Ride: Who taught you how to walk in high heels? I need to know how to walk without tripping over my feet. What do I need to do?
Bebe Zahara: I learned from taking my mum’s heels when I was little and ruining them because I walked around at home when she was gone [laughs]. So I suggest you get a couple and start walking at home when cooking lunch and dinner and before you know it, you will be working the corners [laughs].
The Ride: If you could give me just one pearl of wisdom to keep me going as I try to tap into my inner fabulous, what would it be?
Bebe Zahara: Be always honest with yourself and remember [you] yourself are all you’ve got when it is all said and done.
The Ride: Well, that’s it. Thank you so very much for time Bebe Zahara. I know you are busy woman. There are wigs to brush and foundation to apply. Best of luck.
RuPaul’s Drag Race returns for season 2 on Monday, February 1 at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific. See Ru as “RuPalin”, click here.