Rock M. Sakura Scratches SF’s Seven Year Itch

By BeBe Sweetbriar | | Photo courtesy VH1

It’s only taken 7 years, but RuPaul’s Drag Race has finally cast another queen from San Francisco soon to be seen on Season 12 of the Emmy-winning reality show when the season premieres February 28 on Vh1. Rock M. Sakura, the Anime Queen of the Bay, is only the second drag queen from SF to appear on Drag Race, following Honey Mahogany’s break out on the show in Season 5. When major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York can boast double digit counts of their local queens on Drag Race, San Francisco, a city known for its vast Drag community, has been patiently waiting to just get our second representative on Drag Race. Rock, a big fan of Japanese animation, is a fine representation of the diverse styles of drag found in SF with her eyes painted with the exaggeration matching the characters of the anime genre, which makes sense since Rock is a comic illustrator. Having spent half of her drag life in San Jose before moving to San Francisco two years ago, Rock may not have the name recognition of other local queens in SF, but if you let her tell it, Drag Race was always in her cards, “I’ve always been built for television and performing because I would dance at the bus stop everyday while waiting…FULL ON!”

GLOSS had an opportunity to chat with Rock to help the SF Bay Area get to know her just a little bit more before she goes from San Francisco’s own to belonging to the world.

BeBe: Congrats for being only the second San Francisco queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race. We’ve waited 7 years since Honey Mahogany was on Season 5. Did the SF Bay Area’s hope to have another one of our queens on Drag Race heightened the pressure for you going into Season 12?

Rock: Definitely, for sure! Part of the big hurdle for us in the Bay Area was first getting on the show. Everyone in the drag community had called it the Drag Race Curse since we hadn’t had a girl on since Honey. The fact is that girls stopped auditioning here in San Francisco because they already knew they weren’t going to get on. That’s part of the reason we hadn’t had anyone on. If you are already predetermining your fate, it’s not gonna happen. My theory was regardless where I was (located), they’re gonna get me for the show if they wanted me.

How many times had you auditioned before being selected for Season 12?

I auditioned once before for Season 11. 

How long have you been doing drag?

I’ve been doing drag for about 5 years. I started right when Season 6 aired. I was heavily influenced by MILK that season because she was very wild and out there. I was not connected to the gay community at all before drag.  I’d never been to PRIDE or a gay bar. I’d never been to the Castro. Part of it is because I grew up as the gay nerd, and I never felt like I had a place in the (gay) community. It felt like it was really hard to get into especially as a femme Asian. From an outsider’s perspective, it felt like you had to be a cis white person to fit into the gay community here in the Bay Area.

With only a few years under your belt doing drag,  what strengths as a drag queen do you think you have to bring the reality show competition that can propel you to the next Drag Superstar?

I’ve always held the belief that I’ve adopted from anime that I’m different and unique, a sort of magical destiny sort of thing. I knew I’d bring a different personality and a unique perspective to the show, something they’d never seen before. And, I knew they were going to want it. I know my personality is infectious and commands a room which, one, I knew it would be good for the competition because CHARISMA is the first thing the (drag superstar qualities – charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent) list. And, two, I knew it would be good for television as well. 

We have a lot of local drag talent that goes beyond performing on the stage such as wig and costume designers. Did you pull any of those talents on to your team as you prepared for your appearance on Drag Race?

One of my goals going on to the show was to showcase San Francisco. So, there are a lot of people (you) can look forward to seeing their stuff on the show. Laundra Tyme (Wigs For Tips) helped with some of my wigs. Dallas  Coulter (Lady Hyde) does outfits for many of the RuGirls, and she helped (me) with some outfits. Dallas also brought my Gundam winged Drag Race promo look to life. And, I worked with the legendary Mr. David (GlamaMORE), who makes stuff for Juanita MORE, been in museums, and has made gowns for RuPaul. The fact that I was able to be graced with so many wonderful designers is very humbling. I wanted my efforts to be on my vision and execution of a lot of the things I was going to wear. I mean, I can see and craft. A San Francisco girl who can’t craft is not a San Francisco girl at all. We are a creative crafty bunch. I do all my designs, illustrations, and sometimes fabric designs. Basically, I needed these people in order to make my drawings come to life. Construction wise, I don’t have the attention span for that.

I think we just missed each other before I moved to San Francisco (from the South Bay) and their move to New York. But, I’m good friends with them now. We definitely bonded over our experience in San Francisco.

Since the official announcement of the Season 12 RuGirls, your social media accounts have blown up with new followers. Rock M. Sakura is a new found international celebrity. Do you have any plans to use this larger platform in any particular way?

Oh, for sure! In the Bay Area, in general, (drag queens) typically use our platform for good to speak out against political injustices, to really make statements.  For people who are given a magical microphone to say whatever we want to a group of people, I think it’s important to have something to say. It’s a political season, an election year. You gotta have something to say. I’m like a sexy, political Subway sign spinner with really big boobs and my dick tucked between my butt cheeks!

How do you hope your experience on Drag Race changes your life?

My aesthetic is J-Pop, anime queen. I would love to become an American pop idol in the same vein of a Japanese pop idol, cutesy music, very easy to learn dances.

ROCK M. SAKURA can be seen as a Drag Contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 premiering Friday, February 28 on Vh1.

Also, catch ROCK at home in San Francisco performing Saturday, February 29 at new party PopTart at OASIS hosted by D’Arcy Drollinger and Sue Casa!