It’s raining in New York this November morning, one of the first really cold rains of the season. But Shangela’s suite at an upscale Manhattan hotel is warm and floral. Orchestral Taylor Swift plays in the background, and a candle burns on her coffee table.
Shangela loves a scented candle. Lighting one is part of her self-care routine after long days filming “We’re Here.” The unscripted series follows “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums Shangela, Eureka O’Hara, and Bob the Drag Queen (who won “Drag Race” season eight) as they travel to small towns across the United States to support newly minted drag children in putting on a celebratory revue.
In the final scene of each episode, the queens’ drag children perform. The queer and trans performers, many of them people of color, bathe in the cathartic roar of community support many didn’t know they had. The straight participants also transform in solidarity with their LGBTQ+ loved ones, the cis men’s shells of masculinity cracking like eggs, exposing their glistening femininity to the rainbow lights. Each episode has bathed me in tears, popping the grape skin of that place inside me that holds the sugary pain of queerness and letting it drain.
This morning, I’m interviewing the queens about season three, which drops on HBO on Nov. 25. They’re all in New York City at the same hotel, getting prepped for a big day of press, their hair and makeup teams swirling around them in their respective rooms. Despite the gloomy weather and early wakeup call, Shangela’s warmth fills her suite like a radiator.