A RuPaul’s Drag Race favorite is hitting the road this month. Known for her southern aesthetic, quick wit, and many iconic memes, drag queen Alyssa Edwards is returning to the stage, inviting the audience in as she shares her life story.
On her Life, Love & Lashes tour, we see an unfiltered (or in her case, an even less filtered) Edwards—born Justin Johnson—recount her wins, losses and traumas by way of a fabulous 90-minute performance. We caught up with Edwards over the phone weeks before the tour, which kicks off Tuesday, May 10, in Dallas.
Edwards had begun planning her act for Life, Love & Lashes before the pandemic, however, COVID-19 forced several stages to shut down.
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Last year, she was able to bring a version of the show, called Memoirs of a Traveling Queen to London in the West End.
“This was the moment I realized I would have to tour this in America,” Edwards says. “I would not do my fans justice if I did not share more of me on stage—a one-queen spectacle that no one will ever forget.”
Some of Edwards’ fondest memories of living in London during that time include walking through parks and writing in her journal. Some of her journal writings will be incorporated on stage into the show.
“As a performer and a teacher, [COVID] was a very trying time,” Edwards says. “I can’t do a drag show on zooms, because the essence of Alyssa will not be there. I started hosting drag bingos, which actually was a great way for me to stay connected with people. I’ve always been one to make lemonade out of any lemon that life has ever thrown. Not only can I make that lemonade, but I drink it.”
Life, Love & Lashes details Edwards’ journey, from growing up in Mesquite, TX, to childhood dance lessons, to competing on season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race, to performing in the West End.
“I’ve always been one to make lemonade out of any lemon that life has ever thrown. Not only can I make that lemonade, but I drink it.”
But Edwards’ favorite part of the show is her coming out story, which is dazzled with elaborate choreography. Edwards describes this moment as “almost like being born again.”
“It’s a vulnerable moment that I didn’t know that I would be willing to share,” Edwards says. “Because I feel like I keep a lot of that magic to myself. What I think I’m most eager to do is to pull back the curtain a little bit and share the magic of becoming Alyssa Edwards. This truly felt like a hallmark of my life when I started to sit down and remind myself of all of the things that have occurred in the last 11 years I’ve been on television.”
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To produce Life, Love & Lashes, Edwards sought out duo Murray & Peter, who have produced shows for the likes of Miz Cracker, Crystal Methyd, and Heidi N Closet.
“I knew they would be the ideal producers,” Edwards says. “I’m just thrilled that they were so open to every idea. There were like ‘You need a vanity? Ok, check.’ I visualized this and I prayed for this. I put it into the universe and I manifested it.”
On stage, Edwards describes herself as a combination of Elvis Presley and Liberace, “now get into all that!” Over the course of the Life, Love & Lashes tour, she will visit 28 different cities. But she’s most excited to visit the kick-off city, Dallas, TX, where it all began.
She hasn’t performed in Dallas in a while, so she is understandably nervous, especially given the fact that many of her friends and family members will be in the audience.
“This is the journey of becoming Alyssa, and they never got to see it,” Edwards says. “And all of my closest friends are like ‘When you put on the wig and the eyelashes, it’s hilarious, because you just morph like a Power Ranger into this other character.’ This is everything that I’ve worked for and imagined as a live show.”♦