INTERVIEW – Alyssa Edwards: Beyond Alyssa’s Secret by Joey ‘Crafty’ Heal

Alyssa Edwards: Beyond Alyssa‘s Secret

I had the opportunity to chat with Alyssa on the phone and see what she’s been up to since Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 5 ended. Between her dance studio, her web series and a potential new spin off, girl has been busy!

1. By now we’ve all heard about ‘Beyond Belief’ your new show revolving around your dance studio. Tell us a little bit about the premise of the show. Have you started filming yet? When can we expect the show to hit the air?
*Well, the competition world in Texas is a little on fire right now, but different than say Dance Moms. The network approached me after Drag Race and thought it would be interesting, right now it’s just potential, it’s just an idea right now. We made that sizzle reel, but it takes a long time to get it on air, so you will have to stay tuned. If it does go on the air though grab that popcorn and get ready.

2. Now that your studio might be featured on television has there been an influx in parents trying to get their children enrolled in your classes? How do you decide who can enroll and who can’t? 
*Umm, you know honestly it’s been very competitive with or without it. They are going to be there either way, it would be an added bonus, but it’s kind of what you see is what you get with my kids and the parents. They aren’t seeking tv exposure, just training for their kids. We have annual auditions/evaluations for the kids, I sit down with a couple of my teachers. They come to my studio because it’s a bit more serious. They are young aspiring artists who want knowledge. We have a couple teachers and they place the kids in a curriculum that will fit their needs and goals.

3. I’m sure all of your students (and their parents) have seen you on television and the internet as Alyssa by now. What do the kids think about you being a drag queen? 
*You know, before Drag Race that was totally private, I’m real blessed and fortunate, because Mesquite, Texas is REAL country. But the kids are really supportive, especially the high school kids. I’ve received a real outpour of support and appreciation, I never thought in a million years,  you know that I would receive so much positive feedback. But you know that shows you now times are changing, hallelujah, hallalu and all the above!

4. Do the parents feel the same way as the children? Have any of the parents had a problem with you being a drag queen? Or being gay? 
*Honestly, it’s not talked about too too much. If there is a parent that has an issue with it they try to avoid the topic, there are some parents that will gossip but they keep it to themselves. During the season when it was airing I would come by and people would say ‘Oh, you did a really great job last night!’ or ‘You looked great’, but it was never really a full blown topic. But now, with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram etc and with Alyssa‘s Secret people know when they come. They know what kind of roller coaster they are in for.

5. Are there boys in your classes? If so it must be rewarding to be able to mentor these young boys.
*There are some boys. Growing up there wasn’t a lot of boys that danced. You have these shows now like So You Think You Can Dance, it’s kind of made dance for guys cool. I wouldn’t say it’s more rewarding to teach boys, I just enjoy being a teacher and nurturing young artists. I think it’s neat that in 2014 with all these tv shows, I think it’s great that we are in a time where  boys don’t have to wear blue and girls don’t have to wear pink, society has kind of type casted kids and all those barriers have been broken down, not even broken down, but demolished and kids are really being themselves. It’s a privilege and a honor that everyday I get to walk into class and these kids just want knowledge. Being a teacher and a director are really the happiest moments of my life. That and being on stage. One of the most rewarding gifts is being a teacher.

6. How did you get into dance? 
*I grew up in a large family with four sisters. My father believed boys didn’t brush their hair and they spit and played football and I was my mother’s first born. And I did the exact opposite. I was neat and orderly and put together. I was blessed that I had an uncle that was huge into arts and theatre and I stumbled on a program that was trying to start a dance program for boys. I knew at that moment that’s what i wanted to do with the rest of my life. I didn’t know how, I just knew that was something I wanted to do. I had a connection and a bond with music and dance. I tried to play football and broke my arm both times at the beginning of both seasons. The second or third day. It wasn’t my thing. I did baseball for four years and would get hit by the ball, dance was my calling.

7. Same question but regarding drag. How did your drag career come about? About how old were you when you first got into drag?
*That totally was an accident. I stumbled into a gay bar, not stumbled, but tripped and fell! Oh my god! I’ll never forget seeing the entertainers on stage. The nice wigs and costumes and feathers, oh my gosh. I knew, I want to do this. It’s like playing dress up all over again! I saw a poster for next week searching for new talent and I knew I gotta do it! I don’t know how, I didn’t know much about make up but I new the basics and by a trick of faith I won! You won like $100  and you got to come back and do it again. And the rest is history. A star was born. At least I’d like to think a star was born! My momma always told me I would be one. I love the idea of playing a character. Justin was shy, but Alyssa isn’t. I’m never shy as a girl. As a boy I’ve embraced my weirdness, my awkwardness, but I think I’m more outgoing now as Justin. Drag has helped change that for me. When I’m all up in the gig I’m a whole nother creature, that’s the point of drag.

8. If you absolutely had to choose one or the other, which one would you give up? Drag or dance? 
*Both are such huge parts of my life, I would have to be at gunpoint. I actually stopped doing drag for a while before Drag Race. But me being on stage as Alyssa is my creative outlet as a performer. I knew I wanted to be the creator, the costume designer, the artist and drag has been my outlet. So unless I had machine gun or something crazy in my face I couldn’t, both are equally important and have shaped the individual I am today.

9. When you first got cast on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, how did your students take the news that you would be away for a while?
*I was away for close to 30 days and everyone thought ‘Where the hell did he go?!’ You have no phone, you have no contact with anyone. People were a little like ‘Where is he at? Where is Justin? Do we need to put up posters or somethin? Is he lost?’ They were told he’s out of the country, he will be back, he’s studying lol.

10.  A lot of the polls have you as a top choice for All Stars Season 2. Would you consider doing it if they asked you? 
*If asked I would totally throw my hat into the All Star ring! I need another opportunity to redeem myself!

11. And finally a little bit of a game. I will read you the name of a couple of drag queens and people from Drag Race and you tell me the FIRST thing that pops into your head! :

*Honey Mahogany – It’s Honey! Beautiful!
*Michelle Visage – Nail Game! The 1st lady!
*Gia Gunn – Hilarious!
*Sharon Needles – I live!
*Ru Paul – The Mother!

Don’t miss Alyssa right here in the Castro on September 28th at Beaux! Co hosted by myself and the lovely Carnie Asada!

About the author: Joey Heal aka Crafty Dough, is a staple in the LGBT nightlife community. You can spot this colorfully tattooed Castro resident, bartending at Midnight Sun, playing with his snake (an actual boa constrictor… eek!) or hosting such events as BIG TOP Sundays at BEAUX last night!. Don’t let his shy demeanor fool ya, he’s got lot’s to say and will be spilling it here in Gloss Magazine and on his blog on Antitwink.com.

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Posted on: September 17th, 2014 by Joey Heal No Comments

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