If you've been watching The Real Housewives of Miami this season, then you know Miss Elaine Lancaster, James Davis' attention getting alter ego.
Elaine and I recently chatted about her becoming Miami's most famous drag queen, what other show she'd love to land on, and the real deal behind her feud with Housewives co-star Marysol Patton.
THG: Tell me your story. I've read that you worked as a fashion model, that you sold high end home furnishings in Texas and that you've got a degree in American history. How did any of that lead you to becoming a famous drag queen?
EL: I don't think it did. I think it was just a holding pattern for me until I was able to find my focus and head for it but it's always good to have an academic background to pursue anything in life.
Do you consider Elaine a part of who you are or a character you've created?
I think it's a manifestation of an inner part of who I am. I think it's something that has materialized that I've brought to a physical form. We all possess male and female qualities and luckily for me I've been able to bring it to a physical form and shine a light on it, Celebrate it.
What brought you to the The Real Housewives of Miami?
Well, I was on season one but I was deluded down to almost atmosphere because it was not originally slated to be a Housewives franchise. As a result of that they had to reformat it and all of my footage apparently got cut. But in the big picture it seems that it was for the best because it prepared me for season two and I'm having a ball doing this.
On the show we've seen you at different events as both James and Elaine. How do you choose who attends?
Elaine is my job. It's my profession. It's not a hobby, so whenever you see me as Elaine it's either I'm going somewhere or I've just gotten back from somewhere. Like for example at Lea's house the third episode where I first make my debut onto the show, I was going to perform at a corporate event and it was an evening meeting. So I had to be somewhere, so time wise it was not reasonable for me to go to a meeting and then go home and get in drag and then go. So it's all about time equity, making the most out of my day.
Do you feel the general public has become more accepting of someone like Elaine, who is certainly what some would view as an unconventional form of entertainment?
I hope so but I don't think it has anything to do with me, per se. RuPaul was the catalyst for that. Ru brought it into the main stream and sort of set a precedent for it and for that I'm eternally grateful. I think he paved the way for the opportunity to do it on the main stream that I'm doing it today.
We've seen some conflict between you and Marysol Patton this season. What's your side of the story?
Well, my side of the story is the truth. Marysol and I have been socially acquainted peripherally for years. She was never on my radar, per se. Apparently I was on hers. Anyway, just a lot of personal animosity because the character of Elaine can be extremely overpowering character or presence. When Elaine is anywhere it can be very attention grabbing, not that I have to go out of my way to do it. It's just stepping through the door. So I have to be the first one to smile and welcome everyone and be gracious. It is intimidating if you don't know who I am. It took me a long time to realize that.
I was always in mixed company with Marysol and she was the one sitting in the corner with her arms folded and I wondered why this woman was always giving me such bad vibes. Finally, one day I asked a friend, Who is that girl? She's always giving me these dirty looks. And they said, Oh that's OK. That's the way she is with everybody. I said, No it's not.
Then certain things started happening as far as my work. I was inquiring to why and people would say, We were advised by the Patton group not to hire you. What?!? I started going back and backtracking and finding other similar situations where work opportunities had fallen through and tried to find out what the common denominator was.
When I came to Miami Beach in 1997, I was an overnight sensation. I literally took off and was in the newspapers the next week. It didn't stop. It still hasn't stopped. That's because I moved to Miami Beach with an unapologetic approach. I'm not going to ask anyone's permission to exist. You either love me or you hate me. I was always very gracious and my Southern personality shines through but no matter how much you extend yourself to some people, sometimes you just can't win them over.
So here's this person who's trying to get in the way of my work, my right to work at events and things like that. So when you see the thing (on the show) about the red carpet, it had nothing to do with the red carpet. It appeared that way on the show but it has to do with background between her and I causing me problems and trying to litter my red carpet. Every where I go is a red carpet, no matter where I go or what I do.
Marysol would go to my clients and tell them, If you have Elaine here it's going to become all about Elaine in the newspaper tomorrow. It's not going to become about us. You really don't want her here.
So I just don't listen. Enough.
What are your goals for Elaine in the near future? Where do you see her going?
I've always been an entertainer from a very young age. My grandparents were both deaf on my mother's side and I use to entertain them just by doing magic tricks because they are very visually stimulating. I was always seeking out ways to make them smile and laugh and then it just grew from there to doing ventriloquism with the Charlie McCarthy doll to other things. One day on the University campus on Halloween, a bunch of guys, we all dressed up. I won the student contest on a campus of 24,000 students. Not all participated in the contest of course but I was on the front page and it said Could This Possibly Be the Most Fabulous Person on Campus? It was very powerful and I thought if I could bottle this I can sell it, I could have a gold mine here.
I've tried to look at it like a bottle of ketchup. You have to have product placement and a pretty good label and shelf accessibility at eye level and you must appeal to a certain demographic. My character has always been high end. Sometimes the richest people and the biggest corporations in the world hire me from Abercrombie & Fitch to Ralph Lauren to Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. I've been to these events either as a host or as a DJ. I DJ in drag as well.
If you could star on any current TV show, other than the Real Housewives, what would be your dream job right now?
Oh my. I'd probably say a recurring character on Modern Family. It's a great cast.
Can you give us any sneak peeks into what we can expect of Elaine on The Real Housewives of Miami?
There's so many wonderful things. There's a whole lot of drama coming up and I'm sure I'm in the middle of it. I have seen some clips of what's to come and there's a big one on one encounter between Marysol and I that sort of explodes.