It’s been a long road of ups and downs, hair and makeup, false eyelashes and lip-synching for his life. But on Monday’s finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race it was made official: America’s next Drag Superstar is … Raja!
“I wear drag because I love fashion. I love performing. I love being in front of a crowd of people but above and beyond everything it’s because I love clothing and I love wearing clothing,” the season 3 winner told PEOPLE Monday night.
As the season-long frontrunner it wasn’t really a surprise that the 6’3″ international supermodel in 5-inch heels took the crown. From the first episode – when he won both the mini challenge and the runway challenge – Raja, 36, has dominated the competition. On Monday’s finale, he beat out two other finalists – his friend, the quirky and gorgeous Manila Luzon, and the Puerto Rican pageant princess, Alexis Mateo.
But Drag Race isn’t just about competing. “There’s a part of me that’s always wanted to be a role model or a teacher or a mentor,” Raja said of performing in drag on TV. “We’re here one day – we could be gone the next day. It’s really important for us as people in the arts to leave a legacy and be on the forefront and introduce ideas to young people.”
By putting himself out there Raja has already made a difference in the lives of young people. “I get emails from kids who are 13 years old and they say, ‘I’ve started a gay student alliance in my junior high and I’ve opened a dialogue with my parents and I admire you,’ ” Raja said. “There are times when I’m just sitting at home and I’m reading these emails and tears will come out of my eyes. I remember being that kid.”
Besides setting an example, what will Raja do next? “For most of my life I don’t think I’ve really planned anything. I know that there’s a really great brightness ahead of me that’s going to be really, really fun but it’s all kind of hazy,” he said. “I’m going to experiment with a few ideas now.”
That most likely means combining music and fashion. “I feel a little bit of rock. I feel a little bit of dance,” he said. “I just want to make music that Marc Jacobs can be like, ‘Oh my god that’s the sickest song. Can we please use that for our runway show?’ ”
He may not have the best singing voice but, in true drag fashion, he won’t let that stop him. “Who really needs to sing? Can Katy Perry sing?” he said. “No. She’s really cute … so I’m going to follow her formula.”