The All Stars Chop: BeBe Zahara Benet on Bringing ‘Jungle Kitty’ Back to the Workroom
When BeBe Zahara Benet glided into the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 workroom, she provided the cast with an extra dose of class and professionalism and definitely amped-up the competition! After making it to the final four, she may not have snatched the crown, but she has recharged her fan base with a brand new crop of BeBe-lovers! We caught up with her following the finale, and in our BeBe Zahara Benet interview we discuss everything from what led the jury vote how it did, coming back into the workroom after nearly a decade-long absence and what this Jungle Kitty has coming up (hint: she’s been in the studio)!
Your All Stars 3 experience is in the rearview mirror, and while you didn’t snatch a second crown you came out with a new legion of fans. Are you happy with your experience?
I am very happy with the experience. I have had so many incredible experiences avail themselves to me since All Stars. It was such a huge platform, and it is reaching many more people now. At first I did not say yes initially. I knew it was a new horizon and that I could potentially not click with some people. I had to realize, though, when I look at my body of work and what I have done, I am very proud of it. There were things I learned from being with these girls, and I think my voice, my presence and my aesthetic was needed.
I have to say, you were a calming voice in the workroom when some pretty heated confrontations were occurring.
Yes, and I think some people would take that and make jokes about me being bougie or being grand, and that has absolutely nothing to do with it and everything to do with the fact that I was focused. When you are a seasoned queen you tend to not be so over-the-top with everything. I have a good head on my shoulders and a good foundation. I have been blessed to be in the presence of really legendary drag artists. Coming in, I had to channel that as well. Although there is nothing wrong with being bougie and grand! [Laughs]
How do you know your presence has made an impact on viewers?
When you go to the meet-and-greets, of which I have done so many now, and you see the stories on social media, and you meet the fans, it’s the stories I hear that are so touching. Especially foreign viewers have sent me so many messages telling me what my presence on the show means to them. To me, that is how I know it is deeper than the makeup, the hair and the fabulosity. We have a platform that is touching so many people.
You really got to fall in love with your sisters in a whole new way, many of whom you didn’t know at all from a competitive perspective. Is that accurate?
Absolutely. When I walked into the competition the first thing they saw was “the winner.” I think that also could have played into the finals, in terms of some saying, “Well, she already won a crown.” At that point my body of work did not matter, whether I was winning or losing any challenges, things like that. I had to allow myself to get to know these girls, though, even though it was a competition, because at the end of the day we are all artists creating something to entertain people. Regardless of having a crown or not, we are all doing the same thing.
As someone who is already a winner, was it difficult to watch someone like BenDeLaCreme walk out of the competition on her own as opposed to being eliminated by the judges?
I absolutely did see it from a different perspective. For one, I am a fighter. I will fight to my very last breath. They call me “Jungle Kitty” for a reason. I really am Jungle Kitty. I fight! I had to look at it from both sides, though — where she was coming from and where I am as a contestant. At the end of the day, DeLa is the one that had to be at peace with her decision.
I have seen several articles about Drag Race having a race issue. Do you see a race issue from your perspective and experience?
No, I don’t necessarily see it. I feel like it’s a reality competition. It is not necessarily about race when you think about it; it’s competition People like who they like; they support who they support. I feel the crown is for everyone to fight for, and the outcome is what it is. When you keep looking at it as a possible race issue, it just serves as a distraction, in my opinion.
You know that the fans are looking for more music. Tell me you have more music coming!
Honey, when I tell you that I am about to rock the titty ka-ka… [Laughs] I am very excited, I am working with some very talented producers, some very talented musicians and I am going to be having some exciting cameos, too. I am also doing my Jungle Kitty tour, which I am very excited about. The fans have been asking for it, so I am doing it and I am going to come roaring into your city!