Adore Delano – Interview

Roy Ward

Adore Delano is, by her own admission, not tech-savvy. She’s 10 minutes late for our phone conversation because she couldn’t figure out how to dial into the conference line. “Hi! Oh my God, how come it’s so hard to get a hold of you? The number was so complicated, are you Diana Ross?!” Right from the get-go, she’s charismatic and bubbly and hysterically funny, characteristics which have helped to propel her into the Final Three on RuPaul’s Drag Race’s sixth season.

Real name Danny Noriega, the Azusa, CA native was already pretty well-known in the USA thanks to his appearance on American Idol’s seventh season, and an iconic (and later viral) moment where he gave Simon Cowell some sass. Adore Delano, Danny’s drag persona, made her first appearance on a number of YouTube videos, then helped Danny to win a drag competition in West Hollywood in 2011.

She describes Adore as an exaggerated version of her boy self. “I can get away with a lot of shit as Adore that I’d never do as Danny. I can grab go-go dancers’ junk – which is something I’d never do as Danny. It’s like a superhero costume, you can just get away with shit. Now, especially with Drag Race, drag is so respected in gay bars, so people will be like ‘Oh, hahaha, she just made out with my boyfriend(!)’, whereas if I did that, they’d be like ‘You fuckin’ bitch!’” She was largely self-taught in the art of drag. “You don’t have to have a drag mother, just surround yourself with your drag sisters”, she tells me. “It’s cool to be a drag orphan, as long as you learn fast and get your shit together.”

Adore Delano

Adore Delano clearly has her shit together. She may have hot glue-gunned her dress to the mannequin in her first ever challenge, but she went on to win three other challenges throughout the course of the season. Now, along with Bianca Del Rio and Courtney Act, she’s only one step away from the RuPaul’s Drag Race crown. She tells me that she credits the show for helping to change her and the way she approaches her drag. “I took what they said and applied to my daily life, even as Danny. My drag aesthetic, everything has changed. I have a different outlook on life, I’m more of a go-getter now. I feel like not a lot of people get second chances to fulfil their dreams and this is definitely something I’ve wanted to do all my life. I’m really going hard with it – they taught me so much.”

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It’s also changed the way other drag queens respond to her. “When I hit the top 3 mark, everyone was all of a sudden my best friend, but in the beginning of my drag career, I was the laughing stock of the whole community, so they can all suck it.”

Every year the producers of Drag Race run a Fan Favourite competition on Facebook to choose a queen that the fans want to see on the show. For Season Five, Adore threw her hat into the ring, however ultimately lost to Penny Tration, who then ended up leaving after only one episode. “I slayed the fuck out of the vote, but I wasn’t ready, I woulda been the Serena Cha-Cha of the whole thing. I probably would have made it to the third episode maybe.”

She also thinks she would have gotten herself involved with the Roxxxy Andrews/Jinkx Monsoon drama on that season. “I would probably have killed Roxxxy for being so mean to Jinkx. Like, that’s the thing with me, I always stick up for the underdog, and I literally would have got into a fist fight. There’s no way I would watch somebody treat someone like that, it is just not in my nature.” Personally, that’s something this Drag Race fan is a little crushed not to have seen happen.

This season, however, the queens have all been bizarrely well-behaved compared to the catfights of seasons past. “I thought that [queens being mean to each other] was going to happen with this season too, like ‘They’re gonna jump me!’ I was so down to take some kickboxing classes. But, we were kind of boring, though we had a lot to say in the confessionals, didn’t we? After filming, I was proud of all of us for not going in and throwing drinks on each other like Shangela and Mimi.”

That’s not to say that Season Six was completely free of any of the drama we’ve come to expect from the show – we still had Laganja Estranja’s various spats with the other girls in the Untucked Lounge. “Before going in, my mom said ‘The way you act reflects on the way I raised you’, so I really took that into account. It’s why I took such offense when Laganja made up that story that I’d said something about her behind her back. Like ‘Oh, you’re fucking with my character now?’, which is something I work really hard on both as Danny and as Adore. You’re not going to make me look shitty, because I was raised right.”

Adore’s relationship with her mother was brought up a lot on the show because they are incredibly close – she describes her mom as her best friend and her biggest supporter. She’s also a frequent co-star in Adore’s YouTube videos, and they’re the perfect comedy duo – they’re so alike, they even share a star sign. Adore loves astrology, and introduced herself in her very first confessional on this season’s premiere as “a fucking Libra!” She reckons she’s pretty typical as far as Libras go. “I’m indecisive as fuck. I’m such a brat, I can’t make up my mind about anything, when it comes to decisions I freak out, to the point where I have to be like ‘Yes’, even if I don’t want it. ‘Do you want this burger with thousand island dressing?’ I’m just like ‘Yes’.  My mom is a Libra as well, but she’s so blunt – she’s the decision maker.”

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The shocking elimination of Seattle’s beloved BenDeLaCreme after the ‘Glitter Ball’ challenge hit the Drag Race fandom pretty hard this year, and DeLa was the queen that Adore connected with the most during the competition. “BenDeLaCreme is one of my best friends, and she’s also a Libra. I really love Ben, she’s one of those people that I wouldn’t change anything about. I have so much fun with her. We could literally just be sitting on the rooftop of a hotel, and we have so much fun just talking shit and being cool. I love Bianca, too, but I’m the closest to Ben.”

She made new friendships on the show, but Adore was already friends with Laganja Estranja when the competition began. After their final confrontation in the Untucked Lounge, that might not be the case anymore. Adore tells me that the playback of their arguments at the upcoming Reunion took her back to a dark place, but that things aren’t quite as bad between them as some fans might think. “We travel so much together, too much for me to hold on to awkward tension. I like to focus on my performances and stuff like that, so it would be stupid for me to hold on to that. We had a good talk, and we’re at a cool place. We’re cordial, I respect her as an artist, but the friendship we had coming into the show is definitely gone. I have love for her, but the friendship is definitely not the same.”

Adore also shared a bit of drama that was left on the cutting room floor – an argument backstage between her and avant-garde New York queen, Milk. “[Milk] was the kind of girl in school that I would have tried to avoid. She’s very like ‘she knows best’ and she’s a smart person and I respect that. I’m kind of the dumb one, and every comment that I said, she’d be like [fake laugh], ‘oh, you stupid child’ and I hate people who condescend. Also, Gia [Gunn] had told me that she’d thrown me under the bus in the other Untucked Lounge. They showed a little bit of it, but it got really heated. She said that I was making excuses, and I was like ‘Umm, what the fuck are you talking about?’ There had already been a bit of a build up because in conversations, she’d treated me like a dumb child, and I really don’t like that. Like, you could literally smack a baby in front of me and I’ll get more pissed off if you treat me like a fucking idiot.”

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At the filming of the Reunion episode, all three of the finalists filmed a version of their possible win. They’ll find out who has won at the same time that everybody else does – when the episode is aired. However, this year there have been whisperings from those present at the recording that a fourth possible scenario was filmed – a joint win for both Adore and Bianca Del Rio. “Is that what they’re saying?!”, she purrs, coyly, when I ask her about it. “No, they filmed Laganja and Darienne tying…(!)”, she giggles. So, I ask her, if this hypothetical tie were to happen, would she happy to share her crown with Bianca Del Rio? “Absolutely! Bianca and I have become so close, if it did happen, that would be awesome.”


So what’s next for Adore Delano? If RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars is indeed returning for a second season, there’s only one other queen in her sights for a possible team –Season Five runner-up Alaska Thunderfuck (she’s even picked their team name -“Team Adore DeLaska”). Adore has also got an album, Till Death Do Us Party, due for release within a few weeks of the reunion episode, which features a duet between her and Alaska, excitingly titled ‘I Look Fucking Cool’.  “You’ll get the first single shortly after the reunion”, she tells me. “How miraculous, right? Then we’re gonna wait a couple of weeks for the album to come out, just so people can get excited and get the feel for the single. It’s called ‘DTF’ – which stands for Down To Fuck! ‘Cause everyone’s down to fuck!” Sounds like a lovely little pop ditty, I tell her.  She gives me a filthy sounding cackle in response. “It’s completely sweet, the complete opposite of what Miley’s doing. I cherish my image!” Plenty of Drag Race queens have released music, although not all of them necessarily should have done – is there anyone else she’d like to work with, other than Alaska? “Well, I don’t know if I can even talk about that, but I’m going to be collaborating with another winner, which is going to be awesome!” Watch this space, Drag Race fans.

She’s heading over to both Dublin and London this summer, which she’s really excited about. “I’m a big fan of your culture. I love UK television, Pete Burns was one of my idols as a kid. I watch your Big Brother every single year, illegally, it’s awesome, I’m like obsessed. Me and Michelle Visage travelled recently to New York and were talking about all the UK shows we watch.” Seeing the world, making an album, getting into the Final Three ; things are looking pretty good for Adore Delano. As for anyone who doubted her at the beginning, like she says, you can all suck it.

Massive thanks to Jake Lemmenes at Producer Entertainment.

RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Monday nights on Logo. If you want to be able to watch it in the UK, sign our petition.

About Roy Ward

When Roy was 7 a girl tied him to a tree and tried to set him on fire. He now lives in Leeds with his boyfriend. These facts may be connected. Vada's Deputy Editor, he loves pop culture in all its forms, plus feminism; drag queens and Nigella Lawson. Find him on Twitter @badlydrawnroy.

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