Laganja Estranja is a sickening international drag personality, best known for her iconic run on Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 6, where her iconic catchphrases and death-drop dance moves made her instantly meme-able and memorable. After appearing as a contestant on Season 6 of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Laganja Estranja has performed in front of sold out crowds across the US and headline performances around the world.
After getting off Drag Race, Laganja performed internationally, leading to her recent appearance on So You Think You Can Dance as a contestant where she gained even more popularity and became known in a bigger audience. What most people do not know is that Laganja is a trained and seasoned dancer and a Presidential Scholar in the arts, holding a BFA from The California Institute of the Arts. Laganja’s choreography credits include Germany’s Next Top Model, NYC Cosmetics FACE Awards, and for Miley Cyrus and Brooke Candy. In 2016, “Laganja’s Dance School” was founded, a high-heels masterclass and confidence workshop which has been held in dozens of cities across Europe, Central America, South America, and the United States.
Laganja is also a strong voice in the Cannabis Community as an activist and advocate for marijuana, and uses her platform to bring awareness to medical & recreational marijuana and its uses, laws and benefits. Laganja’s brand extends into her collaboration on a pre-roll joint with SF marijuana collective, The Hepburns, called “LAhepburns.” Laganja has also been featured in High Times Magazine as well as Dope Magazine, making her the first LGBTQ+ entertainer to appear on the cover of a cannabis magazine.
YASS Magazine met Laganja and her is the exclusive interview.
Why did you decide to choose “Laganja Estranja” as your drag name? What were your rejected drag names?
I don’t really have rejected ones. I have some funny ones that were rejected and those are “Indica Re” and “Mary J Huana”. The reason I came up with my name is because I love marijuana. Marijuana changed my life and helped me with my social anxiety, my eating and sleeping issues and I really believe in it as medicine. I wanted a platform ultimately behind me that I can stand for, and not to be just fabulous and fierce.
Is it true that you were denied your marijuana-based medication during the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” competition?
Yes, they did not allow me to smoke medical marijuana on the show, even though I had a medical license which I had forwarded to the team of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” before entering the competition. So, I was unable to take my medicine, legally, as I should have been allowed to during the competition.
What does Jay Jackson have in common with Laganja?
We are both dancers and share a huge love for dancing. Obviously, I am constantly trained as a male dancer, but as Laganja I am more involved into the vogue and ball scene. This means that our movement vocabularies are so different, but we are both in love with movement and dance.
How much practice did it take to master the breathtaking death-drop?
I would say that it is not about practising, it is more about realising that I am able to do it and finally, doing it. I cannot explain it, it is something I am really able to do! And this has developed over time. In the beginning I did not use to lift my leg that high as I do now, and even my signature move has changed over the years. This is something I believe I have a natural talent for.
How was your experience in “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?
The show was very intense and there were definitely a lot of high stakes, high standards without being high, so that sucked, but it was great. I am so thankful for it and it changed my life, as it gave me the opportunity to see the world and my platform grew tremendously; so did my financial stability. It was a blessing. But, like with any job, you need to learn to do this job with the best of your ability, so I just learned to be flexible and to give my best.
Concerning the way I was portrayed during the show, I agree with it. I would rather be infamous than forgotten.
Would you go back to an “All Stars” season?
No, I would not go back to a television show. It is not really for me as an artist. Some people cook great under pressure, but I am not. I am the one who needs to be cooked like a stew, I like slow-shimmer rehearsal processes and practices. That is how I grew up in the professional pier.
Are you close with any of the other drag queens?
Sure, my closest sister is Gia Gunn who I live with in California. We met each other on Season 6 and we’ ve been friends ever since. We’ ve toured all around the world together as “Team TOO MUCH” and now we are learning to live together. It has been a blessing to have her in my life.
Who are your role models and inspirations?
My biggest inspiration and role model is Missy Elliot. I love her not only because she is cool, but also because she is very educated and she makes a lot of metaphors in her music. For instance, in the video of “Supa Dupa Fly” she wore a giant fat suit making a commentary on the hyper-sexualisation of the black female body. Apart from the fact that she can drop the beat, she also has a lots of braids behind her music and that is what makes her a true artist.
What have you regretted in your life and what are you most proud of?
I don’t believe in regret, I believe in learning from your mistakes. And what I am most proud of is getting up every morning and facing every day.
What inspired you to return to reality TV for “So You Think You Can Dance”?
Well, because it was a competision-based show on actual talent. It was not based on drama or ratings or how popular you might be on Instagram or if you are the prettiest. It is about dancing and this is what I do. I wanted to return to my roots and to show people that I more than a drag queen. With the show I managed to become popular to a different network and to a new audience and I expanded my community. I saw a huge growth in my platform after this show.
After you appearance in fashion film “PITTI” and sci-fi film “Channel”, everyone is talking about your acting skills, apart from your music and dance skills. Are you interested in acting?
Sure. I went to a musical school which encompasses dance, acting and singing. I am excited to announce that I am actually going to play Frank n Further in “Rocky Horror Show”. I am very happy that I will be acting again as this is something I love and I see myself in the future. I am also working on a couple of pilots with several of my friends.
Why is everyone talking about your latest single “Look at me”?
That is my latest single and the production was very big. I would like to point out that people should check the music video which is a social commentary on prison reform and the social injustices faced by the cannabis community.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are to find a house with a back-yard so that I can be with my dog and to worry less about being a star in the limelight and more about finding my happy place inside as an artist.
*all images are courtesy of Laganja Estranja
For more information please check http://www.laganjaestranja.com