Trinity the Tuck on why her new drag contest doesn’t discriminate: ‘Drag isn’t just a man dressed up as a woman’

As Drag Race royalty Trinity the Tuck approaches 20 years in the business, she’s focusing on giving back to the community and showing the world that drag isn’t just about tongue pops, death drops and “female illusion”.

Love For The Arts is Trinity’s new digital drag contest, broadcast weekly on Twitch, which sees nine contestants take on unique challenges for the chance to win a $5,000 cash prize, provided by the streaming platform.

The format began life in 2019 as a US-wide tour, a chance for Trinity to uplift local drag performers who would compete on-stage for a grand prize.

“I’ve always been the person who tries to give back,” she tells PinkNews. Once I got to a comfortable place in my local scene, when I became the queen, immediately I was like, ‘OK, well, what can we do to uplift these new generation of drag queens that are coming up, give them a platform, help them’.

“I’ve always been that way but especially since I’ve been on Drag Race, it’s super important that when you’re given such a big platform like this, that you do use your voice for positivity and also to help other people reach their dreams.”

The nine contestants on the new, digital Love For The Arts hail from around the world and cover a wide-ranging array of drag styles.

Among them are Zodi, a non-binary drag artist from Birmingham, UK; Kat Wilderness, a trans pop drag princess from Miami, US; and Lesley Wolf, a Colombian queen who describes her styles as a “constant variation between 90s divas and clown art”. A drag king, Spikey Van Dykey, was set to be the tenth contestant but quit ahead of the first episode due to personal reasons.

The diversity of the cast is one of the things that sets Love For The Arts apart – and is making the series a hit with drag fans desperate to see the full spectrum of the art represented.

Trinity The Tuck and 10 drag performers standing in gold photo frames arranged on a wall

Trinity the Tuck has cast a diverse set of performers for her Love For The Arts series. (Leo Llanos)

“Before Drag Race, I would probably be one of those queens that said, ‘Oh yeah, drag is for female illusion’,” the Alabama-born queen admits.

“Because I’m from the south, everyone did female illusion, that’s what they did there. But after Drag Race and travelling, being exposed to so many different types of drag, I learned that drag is not just that – that is a part of drag, but drag is literally anything.

“Anyone can do drag, and to limit your contestants to only be one type of drag is going to do a disservice to your show, to the community, to your other competitors.”

Trinity believes that “when you have a diverse cast, it makes everyone work harder and better, to be the best”. 

“And I just want to make sure that, my fans know that being a drag artist doesn’t mean you’re a man dressed up as a woman – that’s part of it, but there’s so many other aspects to drag.”

Each week Trinity is joined by a special guest – among them fellow Drag Race alumni Shea Coulée, Peppermint and Alaska. But with 18 years experience under her belt, from pageants to the world’s biggest stages, it’s her own advice and critiques that will no doubt prove the most invaluable.

“I’m definitely not trying to be RuPaul, I’m not trying to be Michelle Visage.

“I don’t try to be like any type of judge that I’ve seen,” she says. “I’m definitely not trying to be RuPaul, I’m not trying to be Michelle Visage. I’m not trying to put on a show when I judge, I’m trying to be honest.

“I’m in constant contact with them – I’m a judge but I’m also still their mentor. If they want to run ideas by me or they need advice, they all have my personal phone number, it’s a constant open communication. The point of this is to really help them grow as artists and to give them a platform.”

With 1.3 million Instagram followers, Trinity knows the power of a platform. In recent weeks and months, she’s been using hers to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and to stand up for Black trans folk in particular.

When I put it to her that it “would have been easy” for her, as a popular white cis queen, to not speak up on the big issues, she hits back: “I don’t think that would be easy. At least not for me.

“I don’t think it should be easy for anyone not to use their platform for something better than themselves. If you are not using your platform to uplift someone else, or help someone else or to be political for positive change, then you are selfish and you don’t deserve that platform. 

“I am no better than anyone else on this earth. I just have a platform and when you’re given a platform, you use that for the betterment of humanity. That’s why I’m doing Love For The Arts, to uplift other artists, that’s why I post political stuff on my social media because I have a voice and I should use it.

“Unfortunately, right now in America and across the world, there are leaders in office that should not be, and there’s a lot of social injustices that are happening, and I have to speak on it. I have to educate those that do follow me so that if they don’t know about these issues, hopefully they will research it more after they’ve heard me talk about it.”

Trinity The Tuck is wearing a pink, 80s style gown with full sleeves, a full skirt and an oversized bow on the front. Her mug, beat for the gods, and her brunette bouffant stick out above the gilded frame she stands in.

Watch Love For The Arts on Twitch. (Leo Llanos)

Love For The Arts streams each Tuesday at 4.30pm PST/7.30pm EST/12.30am BST on Twitch, with the finale taking place on October 6.