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With a full wig and high heels, she towers close to seven feet tall. She unapologetically flaunts her buxom frame, often draped in bright, curve-hugging outfits. Yet by far the biggest thing about LaTrice Royale is her spirit.
On the most recent season of RuPaul's Drag Race — the Logo Network's silly yet subversive drag-queen spectacular — Royale's highlights were brighter than the streaks in her competitors' wigs. She moved viewers to tears while emotionally mouthing the words of Aretha Franklin's "A Natural Woman" to a fake baby bump, schooled them in the five G's ("Good God, girl, get a grip"), took them to church by proclaiming that "Jesus is a biscuit — let him sop you up," and thrilled them with a belly laugh that can be described only as the most joyous car alarm you've ever heard.
For her efforts, she snatched the fan-awarded Ms. Congeniality crown, but fell just short of the final three. Known as Timothy Wilcots when not in full makeup, Royale came to Miami from California in the early '90s for a dance line audition.
"I was only supposed to be here for two years, and I fell in love," she says of Miami.
Soon after, LaTrice Royale was born, but it wasn't a smooth sail from South Florida drag venues to primetime television. She spent 18 months in jail after being convicted on drug possession charges, during which time her mother passed away — a trying time she tearfully recalled on the show.
After her release in 2007, Royale got back in her heels, cleaned up her life, and was once again stomping down the sidewalk in front of Palace, the South Beach drag landmark, like it was a runway.
"Palace is the most amazing venue to really get your drag legs in water," she says. "It's such a tourist attraction. It's such a diverse crowd. You have to entertain the masses, and if you can do that, you can entertain anywhere."
While many of the plus-size queens in RuPaul's competition tend to falter under insecurity, Royale stood out for her unabashed confidence.
"I have no time for insecurity. All the things I was insecure about I either had to love it or love it more. People prey on your insecurities, so why give people something to prey on? You can't be large and in charge and be insecure."
Royale's absence from television wasn't long. She barely missed the top three in her original series and then completed a run on the all-star season in which she was paired with teammate Manila Luzon. The two recently released a video for their single, "The Chop," Royale's first foray into music. She's also the face of a costume jewelry line.
"Hopefully, you have not seen the last of me for sure," she says. "I've found my niche."
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