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Sapphira Cristál of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ discusses her ties to Latinidad

Sapphira Cristal
(MTV)
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In a season that had the most Latina queens in “RuPaul’s Drag Race” herstory, Sapphira Cristál felt right at home.

Though now based in Philadelphia, the Season 16 contestant and fan favorite was born and raised in Houston in a diverse household — her mother is Black and her stepfather, who came into Cristál’s life when she was 10 months old, was of Mexican and Thai heritage.

Jorgeous, Roxxxy Andrews and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo are the Latina queens of Season 9 of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.’

April 23, 2024

“I was raised in Latino culture, Thai culture and Black culture. I was very multicultural growing up,” she said. The drag performer notes that her stepfather, renowned mixed martial arts trainer Saul Soliz, embraced her as his own child. Soliz died in 2021 from COVID-19.

“People say you have your chosen family, and we as LGBTQIA people have a chosen family, and my dad chose to be my father,” Cristál said. “I’ve lived the life of someone who was loved beyond blood.”

Despite growing up with Mexican culture, Cristál says she’s often felt rejected by other Latinos.

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Sapphira Cristal
(MTV)

“The Latino community is very blood-centered, so sometimes I have felt a little less included in things,” she said.

In the “Drag Race” Werk Room, however, her experience was the complete opposite— Cristál says she was embraced by one Latina drag queen in particular.

“My closest friend from ‘Drag Race’ is Xunami Muse,” Cristál said.

“We were able to connect on cultural things that I remember growing up with [and] it felt good to be able to do that and not feel ostracized,” Cristál added.

Muse, who finished ninth this season, is Afro Panamanian by way of New York. She and fellow contestant Geneva Karr are the first DACA recipients to be on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” In the season finale, Cristál and Muse were named “Miss Congeniality,” the first time two people had shared the award in the show’s herstory.

On the show, Cristál revealed that she had a falling-out with Soliz over her decision to become a drag performer. She says, however, that they were able to rekindle their relationship before he died. Soliz even came to one of her shows, bringing former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez along.

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“It was very emotional and very exciting for me because he couldn’t take the smile off his face when he came to see me,” Cristál said.

Soliz, who was known as the “Godfather of Texas MMA,” was beaming with such pride that after the show he asked, “Who do we need to call to get you on that ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ show?”

It would take Cristál a total of 11 auditions before finally earning a spot in Season 16.

“I have a great belief that my dad’s up there watching and very proud of me right now,” Cristál said.

The six-octave vocal range opera singer made no apologies all season for her bigger-than-life personality and stage presence. From the start, Cristál distinguished herself among the bunch, winning four challenges all while displaying compassion and kindness to her fellow contestants — such was Cristál’s willingness to help the other queens that she guided a struggling Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige through the process of making a dress. She made it all the way to the finale, but lost to Nymphia Wind in the final lip-sync battle.

Sapphira Cristal
(MTV)

Sapphira Cristál may be the runner-up, but she doesn’t need a crown to know she’s regal.

The queen supreme recently teased her new song “Enough” and announced “The Cristál Ball,” her upcoming live show tour across North America.

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“Royalty is born knowing who they are, and I have always known who I was,” Cristál said.

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