Any drag fan knows that Friday nights are reserved for RuPaul Charles. But for tonight’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars on VH1, interior design fans should also tune in. For the show’s first interior design–themed episode, AD100 decorator Martyn Lawrence Bullard—who has designed homes for Alessandra Ambrosio, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Kourtney Kardashian, and is currently working on a Beverly Hills mansion for Charles himself—will guest-judge and play adviser to the queens in a challenge to design a luxury getaway hotel suite.
Bullard himself is an expert in hotel design: His recent project, the 24-room Prospect Hollywood in Los Angeles, was a winner in AD’s inaugural Hotel Awards this year. And as a longtime friend of Charles, he has been a loyal viewer of Drag Race since it first aired 12 years ago. Bullard spoke with AD about his experience, which he describes as the “most fun filming I’ve done for television.” His favorite moment? “All the judges get to walk the runway. And it’s hilarious.” You better work.
Architectural Digest: How did you end up a guest judge on an interior design episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: I’ve been friends with Ru for 25 years now. When he first started Drag Race we previewed the first episode together in my living room. It’s changed the world, how people view drag and drag culture. I’m very proud of it for this. So of course, we’d love to do an interior design segment on the show. As I’m actually working with Ru now, designing a home for him, it was a fun juxtaposition to have. The theme around the show is that we get the queens to create luxurious getaway hotel suites and I have to help make them and judge. It’s an absolutely hilarious episode, when we were filming it was utterly hilarious.
AD: Are there similarities between the art of drag and the art of interior design?
MLB: Drag is an art form—it’s an amazing expression of how someone changes themselves into someone completely different. It kind of goes hand in hand with decorating. You create a look from scratch when you are decorating a room or a house. There’s a correlation between the drag and the decor. You don’t put paint on the walls; you put paint on the faces.
It was amazing how creative they were with the props that they were given. A lot of thought went into it. And this all happens within a 24-hour time period as well. So it’s a wonderful look at a different side of creation. I’m not sure there were that many design tips I might take away, but there was some cool imagery and ideas behind it.
AD: What decorating advice did you give the queens for their hotel designs?
MLB: I spoke with each queen about their taste and style and gave them direction on how to create that look. I gave them the advice I use in my own interiors: Modern luxury, particularly in what people expect in a hotel today, is comfort. Even though with a hotel you can experience more fantasy within the interiors, comfort is key, and there has to be a highlight that you really visualize your whole theme around. One of the sets was themed around a tropical getaway and they did this amazing, almost-tented mosquito-netted bed. They all took my advice in how to pinpoint certain moments to give strength to the interior.
AD: Were there any rooms by the queens that included the interior trends you’re seeing in the industry?
MLB: One of things we are seeing at the moment is that people are starting to layer in a Victorian aesthetic. Even in the most modern interiors, we are seeing floral wallpapers and things that have a traditional base, mixed in a contemporary way. On the show, there was a lot of a mix of fabrics in the interiors that they created. But remember, this is a drag queen hotel.
AD: In working with RuPaul on his own home, have you found that he also has an interest in interior design?
MLB: Ru loves every aspect of design from the ground up. For his home, we’re currently in the process of really turning it into something magnificent. As the world’s most famous drag queen, Ru is going to have one of the most extraordinary drag queen closets you have ever seen in his home: a 2,000-square-foot space for his costumes in an almost museum-like quality display. And then for his male drag clothes, we’re creating another extraordinary closet…we have taken down two bedroom and bathroom suites to make into one closet. As always, I try to ensure that my interiors are a mirror image of the client. This house will be very elegant, very glamorous. It’s going to be kind of a showplace for Ru’s career.
AD: Will the color palette match Ru’s drag persona?
MLB: We have a background palette of black and white in the house, but Ru’s favorite color is orange. There will be hints of orange, in his office for example. The flavor of the house is Hollywood Regency, taking old-school glamour and mixing it with a twist of Ru’s personality, and as he would say, some “eleganza style.”
AD: As a longtime fan of the show, who is your favorite queen this season?
MLB: Alexis Mateo—I love her persona and there’s a very emotional scene with her in my episode. I connected with her and her character.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest