A Conversation With RuPaul's Drag Race Winner Tyra Sanchez

Last night, James "Tyra Sanchez" Ross was crowned the next drag superstar as he won Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo. We caught up with him to chat about his experience on the show, the differences between Tyra and James, and what his future holds.

Congratulations on the win. How long have you had to keep the news to yourself?

Since August of 2009. A lot of times I'd get dressed and look at myself in the mirror and think about how I was the only person who knew.

What was your favorite challenge?

The rocker challenge, because it showed that I was very talented. Of course I can't sing, but that was the fun part, I still enjoyed myself and loved the energy of the crowd.

Who was your favorite guest judge?

Niecy Nash. She's just beautiful, and I love her big lips.

Which was the most difficult challenge for you?

The hardest challenge was the reading challenge, because I don't read books, so it was kind of hard to write a book about yourself.

Well it was good practice, because people might want to read a book about you now!

I wanna hire someone to help me write my book.

What was your audition video like?

I introduced myself as a guy, showed people around the house, then you see me do my makeup—but sped up dramatically—and then I introduced Tyra. I gave you a tour of her closet, showed clips of her performances, acting, and that's basically it. I just tried to show a lot personality.

Do people recognize you out of drag now that the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race has aired?

Yes, when I'm in the mall most of the time. Older women recognize me at the airport. They're like, old. I don't know how to say it without being mean.

Oh, come on, how old?

They're, like, 60 years old.

How do you feel about being recognized?

Sometimes I wish I could just be Tyra when I'm Tyra and James when I'm James but overall I don't mind.

When can your fans start seeing you in real life?

My first official appearance is in Denver, which is where the [upcoming RuPaul's Drag Race] tour starts on May 14. (See the rest of the tour dates here).

How was your appearance on The Wendy Williams Show yesterday?

She ran out of time so she didn't get a chance to come and talk to us but it was amazing, the energy from her crowd and the love they give her.

She's sort of draggy herself.

I don't get that from her, but I do want to say that TV makes her look larger than she is. The furniture she has on the set looks like children's furniture in real life, which makes the people look bigger.

Did you ever sort things out with Raven after you saw the note she left on the mirror in lipstick? The one implying that you should look to the stars because you aren't one?

With Raven's message, I was like "What is this, what does it mean?" But it turns out that Raven hosts a show every week and that's how she closes her show. So that was her closing remarks, it wasn't about me personally.

How did you come to choose the name "Tyra Sanchez?"

It's actually "Tyra-Symone Sanchez." Tyra comes form my little cousin, that's her name. She was born early, so every time she'd drink her milk it would come up as foam in her throat and she'd turn blue and choke. She was inspiration for me since she fought for her life. Symone comes form the actress Raven Symone, and Sanchez comes from my drag family.

How is Tyra different from you?

Tyra shows way more personality than I do. I'm usually more reserved and quiet and laid back, like how you saw me on the show most of the time. I didn't do much talking, but Tyra's loud and she's like, "I'm here!" whereas James is like "I'm here but don't bother me."

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