Asttina Mandella on Drag Race UK, Naomi Campbell and her favourite British night out

‘I’d love to take Ru clubbing in Circa’


Following last night’s shocking Drag Race UK elimination, The Tab spoke to Asttina about her time on Drag Race and how it felt being sashay’d away by RuPaul.

Whilst Asttina only graced our screens for three episodes, in that time she made a huge impact on the show’s fans. From having important discussions about black LGBTQ influences to turning some incredible looks on the runway, there’s no doubt everyone has a big Asttina-shaped hole in their hearts.

We asked Asttina about what it’s really like being on the show, how it was working with RuPaul and what she’s been up to since elimination.

Asttina described how it felt to exit the show as: “Shock, disgust at yourself, disgust that you’re going home. Although there was also confusion and a kind of happiness because I was kind of ready to go home. At the time, I was over the whole experience so there was a total array of emotions. It’s like initial shock and acceptance all of a sudden.

“I started bawling my eyes out when I came off the runway. Compared to the other outfits on the runway I should’ve stayed, although it was simple. But I stand Ru’s decision.”

When we asked her how she feels about the elimination now, Asttina said: “Every time I watch the critique, I start crying. But I am proud to see myself vulnerable, seeing what I was and what I’ve learnt. It makes me feel proud of the person I have become today. I can’t even remember Ru speaking [on the runway], I just remember my hairline being critiqued and the man shoulders.

“It really took me back to when I was young and I was struggling being a man, let alone being black and queer. I am more than just legs and body. We are all more than just the one or two things that people see us as.”

Like many of the queens, we were convinced that last night’s lip-sync would be a double save. Hearing Ru say “sashay away” was like a knife in the heart. We asked Asttina whether she had any hope it would be a double save: “It didn’t even cross my mind as a possibility. I just remember freezing on the runway, standing and waiting, thinking everyone on this stage is freezing and my feet hurt and Ru’s not saying anything. I know everyone thinks it should be a double save but I didn’t even think about it.”

There’s no doubt Asttina was a fan favourite to win and many people thought she was a sure top three. So what else did Asttina have up her sleeve for the season? She told us: “I don’t want to give too much away but there is one dress related to ancestry that I was really looking forward to, but now I am going to show it in a very different way.”

She also teased her Snatch Game characters: “I had three options, Mel B, Rickey Thompson and Azaelia Banks”. Now we’re even more upset she’s gone.

“I researched all of them”, she said. “Doing Azaelia would be hard to make funny because she is just an idiot but because she’s just so not like me, it would have been such a nice challenge to myself. We’ll just have to wait until All-Stars 20 million and eight”

Being on Drag Race also inevitably has an impact on the queens’ relationship with Ru on the show. We asked Asttina whether her view of RuPaul was at all impacted by being on Drag Race. Asttina told The Tab: “My opinion is still how I originally saw her – she is a carcass of perfection and now I understand so much more about her. Why she looks so fucking good, how she is as an entrepreneur and how she is so much more than you see. I am still gagged every time I see Ru on the runway.”

She added that if she could take Ru anyway on a proper British night out it would be “Heaven. I lie, it would be Circa. No no, Freedom, oh god just come to London or Manchester. Manchester is amazing. This is SO hard.”

Credit: BBC iPlayer

The saddest parts of Asttina’s elimination is that we won’t be seeing her light up our screens every Thursday night and we’ll miss her interactions with all the other queens. But she did reassure us she is still very close with her Drag Race sisters: “I’m very close with them all. We send memes and check in with each other.

“We keep changing the WhatsApp group chat image to funny photos of each other. We do as much as we can due to the world situation. We are 12 girls in a family now.”

And finally, the most important question. Who is Asttina rooting for now she’s gone? “I kind of want Bimini or Tayce to win. Or I would love a Scottish queen to win like Lawrence or Ellie. I love Scotland. Or, you know what, Cherry Valentine bring her back to win the crown.”

You can catch up on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK on BBC iPlayer now

Featured image credit: BBC iPlayer

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