Adore Delano cuts quite the imposing figure, standing a chin and a neck above this interviewer. But as soon as she says her hellos, the only thing emanating from this rockstar is nothing but affability and good vibes.
It is backstage after her packed performance in Singapore — the first stop in her In The Dark Asia tour of Asia and Australia in February. A lot has changed since her previous tour — she received brickbats for her look by other fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, she (I mean, Danny Noreiga) broke up with former boyfriend Kristian Francuski and depression changed her outlook on life.
But on stage, one cannot tell as she jumps and belts her heart out from one song to the other. Despite a long queue for the meet-and-greet after, she is still all smiles, chats with her fans and gamely poses for selfies and outrageous poses. She kept wearing a tiara her fan gave her throughout our interview.
So when she tweeted recently that touring saved her life, she really did mean it.
I went through a really bad depression in August, a six-month period of being on the road having identity crisis issues and meeting people for two days and never seeing them again.
Going on the road and having love from the audience is something that you’ll never be able to buy. That’s some shit that is out of this world.
I broke up with my boyfriend and that void of love got filled with shows because we sold out everywhere and (audiences) were so receptive and sweet.
It was a different type of love, like family — they stick by you. I still deal with (depression) everyday but it helps me to have people understand and show up for you.
Those dark thoughts are what will probably form her as-yet-untitled second effort, due to come out some time “mid-June or later”. Working again with Till Death Do Us Party co-writer Ashley Levy is the only constant; Adore’s trials and tribulations with losing love, losing her father and being away from family while on tour have made its way onto pen and paper.
“No more pussy-poppin’,” according to Adore.
I experienced so much that people would experience within years, in one year. It’s going to be more personal. Dark. It’s more me.
Her fans — she prefers calling them her ‘homies’ — probably know this side to her if they follow her on social media. Adore’s constant musings on life, love and fellow drag queens have made her closer to her following, so it is no surprise she is the Drag Race alumnus with the highest combined social media reach. In her words, “I know how to work it.” (Thank her YouTube beginnings for that.)
One such remark was her retort after her drag looks were criticised by fellow drag queens Delta Work and Raven. It affected her so much that she turned up at a show in West London cinching her waist and trying to be fish.
(The staff there) said “Why are you doing that? We want to see you in your t-shirts. That’s not you, you didn’t look comfortable up there”. When I said I was trying out new things, she said “Don’t listen to Raven, girl. Do your shit. You have a fanbase built from what you do”.
If it wasn’t working for me and people weren’t writing on Twitter saying they identify with me, I would try to change it up. When I was performing as other girls, I would wear the ball gowns but that’s not me.
Adore admits how others in the community such as Drag Race judge Michelle Visage and, yes, fellow queen Raven, have advocated for certain staples in drag. But Adore feels her current look has worked for her and frees her up to sing properly on stage without having the restraint of a cinched waist.
(Before singing I Look F*ckin’ Cool, she addressed her look “because nobody can look like Raven”.)
That’s not her only initial concern she had to shrug off mid-tour. The chart-topping headlines her previous effort Till Death Do Us Party did weigh heavily when she went back in the studio — “F*ck, how am I going to top this?”. However, her new intimate material has placed her energies less on sales and more on the stories relating and connecting to her fanbase.
And indeed, on stage in her Singapore gig, she showed just that. From a dramatic rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” to a throwdown in smash ballad “I Adore U”, Adore stopped at nothing in electrifying the TAB locale.
Fans screamed and sang along as Adore breezed through a two-set performance, including a rendition of the 1984 Shannon single Give Me Tonight — it is set to be Adore’s next single and music video.
Tonight was support — when I am on stage and there is no crowd, no love, I can’t perform. It’s mutual love (on stage). This is all fun for me: on my stage, it’s a safe zone.
I can’t complain. I’m thankful for RuPaul and everything that he’s done. I’m a little kid from Azusa — for people to even know my name in Singapore, that is huge for me. That’s what I’ve always dreamed of.
Indeed, RuPaul has paved the way for Adore’s success — Adore credits her boost in confidence on the show with what RuPaul said to her on the Top 3 one-on-one face interview, where RuPaul said on the show that felt Adore was the young RuPaul.
RuPaul sat me down and said, “Some people will get it, some people won’t. That’s the way life works. As long as you’re doing you, you don’t have to be aware of loving yourself but if you’re in the process of doing that, that conveys in the audience”.
When I see the audience getting it and get fired up, that’s how I get my confidence.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about Adore? Besides the fact that she’s only getting into Miley Cyrus’ album Bangerz now (“it’s good now — she is the epitome of a little rock star”), it’s that behind the crazy, loud personality, Adore is very much a loner, cooped up in her room even when she is on tour.
In her words, “I like to think, smoke weed by myself, write a bunch of stuff and eat everything that’s in the refrigerator.”
Nice to know that a drag queen is just like you and me, no?
Featured photo: Kyle Malinda-White for Popspoken