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DRUK vs The World star Arantxa Castilla-La Mancha on her shady sisters & sharing her trans joy

‘DRUK vs The World’ star Arantxa Castilla-La Mancha on her shady sisters & sharing her trans joy

Arantxa Castilla-La Mancha
Courtesy of World of Wonder

Plus how she turned a painful childhood into something fabulous through the power of drag.

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Are you all as obsessed with Drag Race UK vs. The World as we are? Good, because only two episodes in this show is giving us all the serotonin we could ask for. From Le Grande Dame’s incredible looks to Tia Kofi’s quips to Choriza May’s, well, everything — because that queen is a riot— this season is off to a stellar start.

But with the good comes the pain, and by that we mean saying goodbye to another queen. This time around it was the oh-so-charming Arantxa Castilla-La Mancha. Fans first met and fell in love with this queen on the first season of Drag Race España when she skipped into the Werk Room bringing her bubblegum and ‘00s aesthetic into the competition. While she ultimately came in seventh on that season, she was a memorable queen and one ripe for a comeback — making her the perfect candidate for a return this season.

Despite her charm and clear joy at being back in the Drag Race fold this week, Arantxa was asked to sashay away following a performance in the ball challenge that left the judges cold. As always, this Spanish queen left with a bounce in her step and a twinkle in her eye, which reminds us of exactly why we love her oh-so-much.

PRIDE sat down with Arantxa to talk about strategy gone wrong, why she never lets her sisters’ teasing get her down, and how she took the pain of a childhood dominated by bullying and transformed it into something beautiful, inspiring, and healing through the art of drag.

PRIDE: I was so excited when I saw that you were joining this cast. One of the things I noticed right away is that you seem so much more comfortable in your skin. What did it mean to you to get to share this new version of yourself with the world?

Arantxa Castilla-La Mancha: It really made me happy. I know that sounds simple, but the fact that when I was on Drag Race the first time, I felt awful. I looked in the mirror, and I wanted to puke from what I saw. Then I went home, I worked hard on myself, and I worked on my craft. The call came at the right time because finally, I was feeling good about myself, good about my drag. I really believed in what I did. And then you get to do that in front of a TV? Yes!

I love it! I want to congratulate you on being a part of the cast because UK vs. The World has such an especially international audience. How are you feeling about your time on the show?

I had a great time. Really... even though I cry a lot. But they're not bad tears. They're happy tears. I'm a crier and I'm on hormones. What do you expect? But there was no moment that I had a bad feeling, a bad thought. I was just having fun meeting new people and making new friends. And just being goofy and silly, which I know sounds stupid, but it made me really happy.

I'm so glad to hear that! One of the things I love about this format of the show is the way that they do the cast reveal. I'm curious, who were you most excited or gagged to see when that curtain came up?

How is that even a question? Mayhem Miller was in the room! She came after me so I was already sitting there. I was with Tia Kofi and Hannah Conda. I have an idea who might come out the door, but not really. Then I saw the silhouette and I was like, 'No way. There's no way.' It literally went up, I saw her face, and I was like, this is a joke. It's a gag. There's no way she's back on Drag Race for the third time. I mean, that's a Drag Race legend, a drag legend. And she's competing with us. Mmm-mmm, Chaka Khan.

Was there some degree of relief when she went out first because it opened up the competition? Or did it feel like a little bit of a gag?

Both! Actually, I was kind of playing the devil in that Untucked because they were all like, ‘Well, Mayhem forgot the words and Gothy didn't really show her drag in her season.’ I was like, ‘Actually imagine being eliminated first, twice. That is iconic. I was like, do it for the meme? Do for the title.’

One of the things I love about you is you have such an amazing sense of humor and you don't take yourself too seriously, but did it ever get to you when your sisters teased you about your fashions?

Oh no, I don't take that seriously. If you only knew what I say to myself in here [points to her head], you will understand why that is nothing compared to it! Lady Gaga said my biggest enemy is me, but as a bad thing. But my biggest enemy is me but I do take it as a good thing, because nothing you can ever say to me will hurt me as much as something that I could say to myself, so let's just laugh about it.

Yeah, I totally get that. I ask because I was so moved by what you said about how your fashion represents the girlhood you missed out on growing up.

Actually, it's funny that you asked that because I had never thought about why I have the references that I had, and why I did the type of drag that I do. In that moment when Michelle asked me, it just came out. I didn't even process that until later. I was like, 'That's right. I have been doing drag that is inspired by Disney, by the 2000s, because that is my childhood, my girlhood that I didn't get to live. I was in a very small town, I was bullied every single day. I had to basically be kept safe by being in a room alone with a TV. So for years, the only childhood that I had, the only experiences that I had were me and my TV where I got to see Hannah Montana, Zoey 101, Lizzie McGuire, and High School Musical. I didn't even have friends to talk to about it. I didn't get to play dress up, have fun, or have a birthday party. So this is my childhood now. I'm so happy that I get to do it on TV with people and now fans are seeing it. And they're like, 'Oh my god, me too. I was also a bullied kid. Yay!'

Now there are kids out there like you were, that are watching this and you are giving something to dream about! Ok so let’s talk about this week’s Untucked. The UK girls obviously have an alliance. I'm curious: When you went into those deliberations, why not start forming an international alliance?

I think we all made the mistake of making an assumption. It is called UK vs. The World. Yeah. So of course, when we walked in, it was like, okay, it is the UK versus us. So we didn't really talk about it. But we all thought that we made a pact with the international queens we were together. And then as the episodes go by, you realize that we should have talked about this. It's going the way that we planned.

OK, for my last question, let's have a little fun! Your sisters dragged you for your looks this episode, so let’s get some payback. If given the chance, which of your sisters’ wardrobes would you steal — and which would you avoid most?

You know, I think I will probably snatch Le Grande Dame's wardrobe. Have you seen those clothes? You know what, she can make new ones. I don't care. She has Jean Paul Gaultier in the Werk Room, I'm taking that. I will probably avoid Jonbers' because I hate green.

That’s a very diplomatic answer!

[Laughs]

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author avatar

Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.