The disco balls at gay bars have been spinning to the music of Taylor Dayne for three decades.
We recognized the ’80s icon watching Electra Owl lip-sync for her life on Rupaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race episode 1. You can’t hide pop legends from millennial gays! So, it was all the more surprising that she had to lip-sync for her life again in episode 2, this time being eliminated. But, perhaps, it’s really a compliment to Dayne’s authenticity as a vocalist that she struggled with remembering to mouth the lyrics.
We caught up with Dayne to chat about competing disguised as a drag queen, her love for Donna Summer’s Last Dance, creating new music with Gregg Field, backstage shenanigans, and whether she noticed any classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago lobby (during the queer time period known as Before Raid).
QUEERTY: Your drag legacy was short, but your music legacy lives on forever.
DAYNE: [Laughs] And now my floor gyrations do, too!
Now that you’ve done both: How does being a drag queen compare to being a pop star?
I’ll stay a pop star. It was the hardest thing ever.
Did you anticipate lip-synching would be such a challenge when signing up?
I knew it wasn’t something I’d done so that in itself was a challenge. Then to be a woman to be a man to be a woman, it’s unbelievable.
Imagine if you would have been a drag king instead. Who would have been your male celebrity influence?
Electra Owl! She was a smoother. I went there naturally. But if it was a male going into me, maybe, more like Marlon Brando meets, you know, um, I like a slinky vibe.
Yup! That’s my thing.
How did your experience on Celebrity Drag Race compare to when you competed on The Masked Singer in 2020?
There really isn’t [a comparison]. I created Popcorn and her vocal presence and what people expected from her. This was definitely like Glee on crack.
You went out with a banger, ironically Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” You also performed “Raise Your Glass by Pink” in the first episode. Was there a commonality among those songs for Electra Owl?
I love both those artists. There are only two songs I will do if I have to do karaoke, and one of them is “Last Dance.” There’s nothing about that song that’s not lovable. It’s obviously classic, but from the melodic breakdowns to the beginning, where she’s just trying to figure it out. Am I in the club? Am I going home? Am I going to make love tonight? Is somebody going to love me? To the end, where it’s just like, you know, woahh *holds note*, bam! Doesn’t matter. She’s just going to throw the glass down and get on home. Very New York minute!
What was the hardest part about being a drag queen?
Omigod! OK, so you work out the choreography. Then you have to start putting on the whole whatever the wig was going to be, whatever the press-on nails were going to be, whatever the everything else that came along with it. I felt like here we go… Now, walk! I was like, wow. A little different to do this now when you have three pairs of nylons on. And I’m a woman! I don’t even know how you get these guys to do this. But for some reason, when it’s a man dressed up as a woman, it’s hysterical, it’s fun, it’s entertaining!
And tell me, will you be blessing us with new music anytime soon?
I just finished a beautiful record with the iconic Gregg Field during Covid. Now it’s just a matter of balancing. We’ve mastered it. I have that in my pocket and am very excited.
You’ve also won a celebrity cooking competition. What has inspired you to join these reality competition shows?
Some of it is just, you know, management and the other people involved, and you kind of laugh. They’re like, “Don’t worry, you’ll do it with Joey.” I’m like, “I’m doing this with Fatone.” And I’m like, “I can’t cook at all.” So they’re like, “You’ll be entertaining, Taylor!” 9 times out of 10, they’re not wrong.
Your stage presence transfers over well to television. We love watching you.
You mean like when my extension goes on fire, and I’m running into it?
[Laughs] But you do it so gracefully! Has anything crazy happened backstage that we just have no idea throughout these competitions?
Omigod, the most fun times I’ve had backstage and then developing was on the Celebrity Guy and Rachel Cook-Off. If you saw the friendship… [Laughs] Joey Fatone and I are very close, anyway. And then Coolio. We took the subway and pulled such a moment. We went to a Yankees game. Just sh*t like that. Or backstage discovering what planking was and doing ridiculous stuff.
We can’t wait to keep watching you on TV and when your new music comes out.
Love it. Thank you, darling!