Sapphira Cristál’s Legacy, ‘Drag Race’ & Beyond

Photo via Sapphira Cristál, Instagram.

After a record shattering season on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 16, Sapphira Cristál is putting the final touches on letting the world see what fans of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” saw the entirety of the season; she is, quite simply, a force of nature.

This East Coast powerhouse didn’t just shine during her season, she glistened-and garnered a tremendous new fan base in the process. I got to sit down with this Philadelphia gem for an extended chat after the season concluded. While discussed everything from her nightlife runs in spaces like Asbury Park NJ and Provincetown, we also chatted about her new music, brand-new tour (the aptly titled Cristál Ball) and why the journey still, remains so much fun.

Michael Cook: On behalf of Asbury Park NJ, Philadelphia NJ, and the entire eastern coast, we are beyond proud of your showing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 16.

Sapphira Cristál: Thank you so, so much.

MC: With the finale occurring so recently, how does it feel right now for you in this moment?

SC: It feels great. I woke up this morning and yesterday feeling really good, I didn’t have many regrets; I just feel great.

MC: There is a certain sensibility about you that seems to conspire to bring a fully formed performer forth every time you take the stage. What do you think the communities that you have been a part of like Asbury Park NJ or Philadelphia PA have contributed to you as a performer as a whole?

SC: Let’s not forget New York or Boston because I am very well known in all of those four places, and it’s because I show up. I think that one of the biggest tasks and responsibilities that we have is to show up; be there. And do what you can when you can. Being in this spaces, I was forged in the fire of Boston, which made me stronger than anything. When I went to New York City, I was only there for seven months living there, but after going and being there for a little while, I went to Provincetown for the summer, came back, and worked there constantly. People saw my talent and knew who I was and wanted to have me everywhere that I could go. I learned a lot about hosting, I used to host a four hour show on Saturdays. You learn in the middle of it and you say “Okay you have to do something.”

You also get inspired my great queens, like Hedda Lettuce, Sherry Vine, Joey Arias, you are inspired by these great artists who have been doing it for so long that make the culture of New York City so very strong. Then you come down to New Jersey with a whole different slew of beautiful artists who make you go “Oh Wow”! Philadelphia is filled with a lot of young artists and Philadelphia gave me the opportunity to become a leader. To forge the legacy that is the “Sapphira Cristál Ball.“ I have so many children, best friends, and sisters, that inspired me that and that I inspire. The Philadelphia community is very rich and very helpful to each other and I really enjoy that community; it is a genuine community.

MC: You broke barriers throughout your “Drag Race” run, but by by the end of the first episode, the world got a taste of who Sapphira Cristál was. You had three maxi challenge wins and you are the first person on the “RuPaul’s Drag Race“ US franchise to do that. Looking back on the legacy you left on "Drag Race," you didn’t just succeed, you thrived. What does that feel like?

SC: It felt good to do really well because I knew that I had prepared for years to do it. I won the first episode, I won every single thing in that first episode. The mini challenge, the maxi challenge, and the lip sync. I won three Maxi Challenges in a row which has never been done on the flagship version of "Drag Race." Doing Snatch Game, I really wish I would have won it, because then I would have had five wins. I know why I didn’t win and Mama Ru made it very obvious to all of us, but I felt it more obvious since it was my Snatch Game. I knew exactly what she wanted and exactly what she had gotten and I knew that not getting that made her say “Not this time.”

I am a person that lives in reality and I don’t live in a fantasy land when it comes to anything. Right is right, good is good, and when I say that we all know what “good” is; it is what it is. To have done so well after waiting so long, it felt like “Yes, you prepared properly and you did exactly what you needed to do.” The one thing that I tripped up on was the one thing that I wasn’t prepared for; I wasn’t prepared for that big of an issue to happen. When it did happen, I tried to pivot, but in my pivot I kind of over compensated. I ended up wearing a skirt that honestly I didn’t need and I probably would have looked more like my daughter if I hadn’t. It’s just one of those things that happens, it’s a game. You play the hand you’re dealt and when you play that, most times, if you know how to play the game, you’re going to do really well. I ended up in the top two so I think I’m okay (laughs)!

MC: In your Meet The Queens, you mentioned trying out eleven times for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Was there ever a part of you that thought that universe may be trying to gel you something and you weren’t listening?

SC: No. There was a part of me that said you still need to keep cooking, it’s not ready for you. Not only do you need to still keep cooking, but they need to still keep cooking. “Drag Race” right now is as big as it ever has been. The platform is greater, we have broken records with this season. We broke three records on television watching this season. It is the biggest season ever and I feel like for me to be ready and for this platform to be ready for me, we just needed to wait a little bit. I am a very patient person and I will get what I want, but it will take a little time. Because the journey is so much fun. If you’re thinking about the end result and you’re not thinking about the journey baby, you’re missing out; you’re missing the good part.

MC: You mentioned that the fans could all be now invited to the Cristál Ball and after having been to one or two of my own, I can attest to it being a truly remarkable experience. What do you have planned for the world now?

SC: The funny thing is, I have two things called the Cristál Ball. My album is called The Cristál Ball and I have a tour called the Cristál Ball which is a magical mystical comedy extravaganza which will really let the world know who I am. The Cristál Ball tour was announced a couple of weeks ago and people will really see the talent, grace, the hilarity and the magic that is Sapphira.

People always say that when I walk into a room I command the room and I learned this from great artists like Leontyne Price and Jessye Norman who walk into any space like royalty. We have worked very hard to be where we are and I am not going to put my head down, I am not going to be falsely humbled, I am going to stand in my pride and stand knowing that I got my God with me and that I am here to show you exactly why you bought the ticket, why you watched all season, why you love me. Because I truly love and accept myself. The love that permeates from my body can really travel into everyone.

MC: You are one of the rare queens on “RuPaul’s Drag Race“ that sets their own template and others will come after you that you truly helped pave the road for also, both on and off stage. It’s fair to say you have set both a standard and an example.

SC: I think that it is very important to lead with kindness, compassion and love. When you lead with that, with yourself and share it with others, you can make sure that the energy in the room is full of love, kindness and compassion. Even when we were being catty and shady, it was all in good fun. During the show, it was very rare a time when you actually heard people arguing fully like “I hate you go back to Party City where you belong” (laughs)! Even when certain people decided to call people out. They were saying, “I’m not liking what I’m seeing” in a very fun manner. I think we just need to have more fun and share more love and that is the legacy that I want to leave.

Follow Sapphira Cristál on @sapphriacristal

For tickets to The Cristál Ball and more info on Sapphira Cristál click here.


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