Whether stomping the runway for Marco Marco and the most recent Miami Fashion Week, or constantly making headlines with her outspoken views on the LGBT community, the gorgeous “truth cannon in heels” known as Carmen Carrera pulls no punches.
While she may have become distanced from the drag community for one reason or another — more on that later — she still pays homage to the community that helped her stand up straight in stilettos.
In this exclusive Hornet interview, we catch up with the first trans woman to walk Miami Fashion Week, discuss the progress of the trans community and uncover how Carmen Carrera thinks she and RuPaul could finally bury the hatchet.
Miami Fashion Week is a huge event, and you’re the first trans model to walk the shows, which is a monumental accomplishment!
It is! It has gotten so big throughout the years. I’ve actually been going for the past three years myself. I just feel so proud and happy. I feel that I’ve been able to open the doors for someone else, and I’m so happy to be able to do that.
I was both nervous and excited, really. I knew that I was going to walk and I went to do the go-sees and the designers loved me. I want to be the best that I can be. I think coming from a background where I participated in something like RuPaul’s Drag Race, I want to always do my best and do better than the last time.
So how much of a priority was getting yourself in top form, both physically and mentally?
Oh, very high! I had actually started working out really heavy and lifting weights and really wanted to be a strong representation of what a trans woman could be.
I went back to the gym and teamed up with my friends at Equinox, and my trainer Rafael and I really focused, visualizing what it would feel like to walk the shows, because it can definitely be a little intimidating. You have everyone sitting down, and the focus and energy is on you, so it can be intimidating, but it can be great and empowering at the same time. I knew the experience was going to be great, but I was definitely nervous.
Being a trans woman and walking in a swimsuit runway show must come with enormous pressure.
You have to change backstage, and everyone is kind of naked, with their perfect bodies. At the end of the day I am still trans, and I am going to carry that with me — the insecurity, the second-guessing and the self-consciousness. It’s something you just work through.
For instance, when I walked the Marco Marco show, I was very scared, but you were not able to tell. That’s the power of being a model or whatever you are in life. You have to conquer those fears. I carry mine with me, but I work through them. It was a growing experience, but it was also fun to be included with everyone else.
The trans experience has become significantly more highlighted, popping up in the news and with shows like Pose. Do you feel that being trans and the conversation around it has finally turned a corner?
Yes, I do. It has taken a while for the message to get out there, but it’s happening now. We have had big companies supporting us also. AT&T for instance is taking me to LOVELOUD Festival for LGBT people of the Mormon faith, and we are trying to help reduce the suicide rate with them. It has taken a while for people to get that message, but it is coming around.
Little by little our stories are being told, and little by little people’s minds are staring to open up. That is a great thing for all of humanity. That gives people room to be open to other causes, too — women’s causes, immigrant causes, all of the things that teach us we are all human and we should all be helping each other.
You are one of the rare few to have moved past the experience of RuPaul’s Drag Race, blossoming that into a full-blown career. Do you ever get tired of being asked about the show, about your relationship with RuPaul and about a possible future All Stars appearance?
I actually do sometimes. But I feel like the Drag Race community and I have a lot of unfinished business. I actually think that’s why it keeps coming up. I think subconsciously people really want to support and love me and all that stuff, and be proud of the fact that I come from the Drag Race franchise.
However, there are so many confused and mixed events that have gone on in that past, and I think that is both my fault and RuPaul’s fault. It’s not like I am not visible, it’s not like you don’t see me on Instagram, you know? We should talk about it; we should have these discussions. We should give clarity to the people that are indifferent, and the people that are ether supporting RuPaul or myself.
Ultimately we come from the same place. RuPaul and I come from the same New York City streets, maybe two different timelines but we do have so much more in common. At the end of the day I would not mind participating in drag shows again for the benefit of gay Pride or something that is really worth it. Even on a tour; I am still open to that. But we have to come together in unity. We will see when that happens. I am moving to L.A. in the next month, so we will see what happens. Maybe I’ll call Mama Ru and say, “Hey sis, let’s go out for lunch.” Why not?!
Maybe a run on All Stars 5 perhaps?
[Laughs] I don’t know about All Stars 5. I don’t even know about another television show, really. I’m an entertainer but not much of a competitive person. Entertaining is definitely my job. I would love to judge maybe, or if there’s another competition in the future with trans people or something, I could do that. We will see! Stay tuned!
You’ve lived a colorful life, from the streets of Central New Jersey to Drag Race to filming for Steven Meisel to Miami Fashion Week. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the woman I’ve become. I am my life’s biggest life project. I want to be able to inspire more LGBT people. I want to be a part of that missing link between “hetero society” and the LGBT community; I want to help bridge that link.
I have lived very interesting and different aesthetics and have been able to learn so much from different people. I cannot wait to give what I have to offer; all the wisdom I have pulled from the drag, trans and gay communities, and now the hetero norm community. I want to share and spread that. I don’t know how it’s going to happen or if it’s happening now; but that’s something I look forward to.