“RuPaul's Drag Race” star Sapphira Cristál explains vampire teeth, reveals unused beating heart gag in final lip-sync

Sapphira tells EW she's living her "absolute best life" after the high-stakes finale, and "it definitely came down to that final lip-sync."

If there's one thing America sunk its teeth into this season, it was RuPaul's Drag Race season 16 runner-up Sapphira Cristál's talent. In turn, Sapphira flashed fangs of her own on Friday night's grand finale, as she sported vampire teeth (and a devilish grin) during the lip-sync for the crown against eventual champion Nymphia Wind.

Now, after her epic run on Drag Race, Sapphira tells Entertainment Weekly why she chose a spooky aesthetic for the performance she feels was the deciding factor in RuPaul's decision — plus she reveals an unused gag that would've seen her pull out a beating heart during the number.

Read on for EW's full interview with Sapphira, in which she discusses her upcoming projects (including an opera show with two Drag Race alums), why she cherishes leading with love and kindness on the show (enough so that she tied for Miss Congeniality with Xunami Muse), where her Fisher Price breast plate is today, and how she feels her late father would've reacted to her near-flawless execution on season 16.

<p>MTV</p> Sapphira Cristál's vampire teeth in lip-sync for the crown on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' finale


Sapphira Cristál's vampire teeth in lip-sync for the crown on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' finale

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the lip-sync! Can you discuss your approach and why you chose the vampire aesthetic for “Padam Padam” by Kylie Minogue?

SAPPHIRA CRISTÁL: When this song came out, I wasn’t anywhere in the public. I didn’t know it existed until we heard it. I was like, what is this song? What’s going on here? I didn’t know it was the worldwide sensation that it is. So, when you come at it from this very pure way, I just thought, oh, it’s about hearts. Who loves hearts? Who loves blood? Who loves to hear the pumping of blood? The one and only Nosferatu! You think about Interview With the Vampire, Blade, From Dusk Til Dawn, these sexy vampires who seduce people and hear their blood pumping and it makes them excited. My approach was just to be a sexy vampire.

Did you initially have something else planned? Maybe some liquid blood?

No, I wasn’t going to do that. There are too many unknowns when it comes to having liquids on stage. I want to win by winning and not by sabotaging anyone. As we saw, Nymphia was doing a lot, and if she slipped on some blood, I would’ve felt horrible. I just couldn’t get it together, but I wanted to have a pumping heart that I took out of something and held in my hand. It just didn’t work out in time. But, that was not something that didn’t happen because of production or anything. Logistically, it just didn’t.

You could’ve done liquid blood and not felt bad because Nymphia seemingly left landmines, little banana peels, all over the stage for you with her reveals.

[Laughs] I was like, umm, I don’t know where to go, there’s s--- everywhere!

Looking back, would you have done anything differently, if given the chance? Does it feel like the title came down to just that final lip-sync?

If it didn’t come down to that final lip-sync, I won the whole thing. It definitely came down to that final lip-sync, and that final lip-sync only. I could not have done any better on my solo number. It was chef’s kiss, no notes, 100 percent A+, honey. The energy from the room while performing it was an energy I’ve never felt in my life. Everyone was on the tips of their seats…. I won three things in a row. I guess the one thing I would do differently is the makeover challenge. It landed me in the bottom, and until then I hadn’t even been in the bottom at all. I was just top or safe.

Many people said that a Sapphira victory felt predestined and compared your essence to Sasha Colby. Do you think that helped or hurt you?

I don’t think it hurt me. I did what I did because I knew it was right, I knew that it was important to be myself and not anyone else. I’m generous and genuine. I lead with compassion, love, and kindness. Especially now, it was important to do that. But, there’s another side. I’m a Libra. I could’ve played the game completely differently and still done well. I tried to help people be their best so that when I beat them, I felt that much better, because I don’t want to beat you when you’re struggling. I want to beat you at your best.

Do I get the impression that you could’ve gone the route of Plane Jane if we saw the other side?

My best friend [Eric Jaffe] said, “You as Miss Congeniality is crazy.” A lot of people know the other side, but I’m a kind person. There’s a reason why they’re my best friend, because I’ll always show up for you. People come up to me and tell me how much they loved my run. Some people come up to me and tell me I’ve inspired them to do better in their life, to escape certain bad situations that they were in, and that is what I do it for. That’s why I did it, because there’s only one way to live your life and be an example to people. You just do it. I don’t have an ulterior motive.

<p>MTV</p> Sapphira Cristál and Nymphia Wind lip-sync for the crown on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 16 finale


Sapphira Cristál and Nymphia Wind lip-sync for the crown on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 16 finale

I loved that you came out on the runway in a giant breast plate, compared to those Fisher Price breasts from episode 1. Where are the old Fisher Price breasts?

They’re at my house. I might auction them off, if anyone wants them. I have an album coming out, and, baby, that thing needs to get fully paid for. We’re funding the album, we’re funding the tour, the Cristál Ball tour, which is a magical musical comedy extravaganza that will let the world know exactly who Sapphira Cristál is. I’m excited to show the world who I am and if the breast plate can help that happen, baby, who wants it?

RuPaul said in a recent episode that you had a breast plate connection. What did he mean by that?

I brought a million breast plates. You never know when you need to pull out what. What could fit that outfit were the teeny breast plates, and it worked out. At the end of the day, you have to be present and at some point, I realized what was happening. I remember dropping down and it starting to bounce, and I saw [the judges] laughing, and I said, just keep going. What do they say in Finding Nemo? Just keep bouncing!

There were many jokes about the size of your runway looks and packing them all for the show, and your Philadelphia sisters suggested online that there are hilarious stories about packing and transporting your looks. Can you elaborate?

If you want to know how I packed, follow me on Patreon. Everyone wants to know. We will be putting out a full video on how it was packed and how to pack for life, honestly. I’m the new Marie Kondo of 2024, so don’t you worry. You will learn to pack great big things. Drag ingenuity is what I’d say. We had the best engineers, physicists, we had to make sure it happened. I think there was a 16-person team just figuring out how to pack.

One thing that didn’t work out was you trying to pull one over on your mama when she revealed that you snuck her dress out of her closet and didn’t clean it. Why didn’t you dry-clean your mom’s dress?

Because I was 17 years old. Who remembers to do that? I was in high school. She knew that I wore it because I was a 17-year-old child who smelled like a 17-year-old child after going outside. I remember my mom told this story and I was like, that’s the story you wanted to tell? Not the one where Sapphira was born, but the first time I ever did drag in general? She was like, oh, oops.

On the note of family, you opened up about losing your father. What do you think he would say if he was here right now, after going through the evolution in your relationship you spoke about on the show?

First, he would say I was robbed. I just know my dad! He would say that, I wouldn’t say it. I don’t agree! I think Nymphia is an amazing talent and she did the damn thing, especially on that runway. You can style me from now on, Miss Thing. He’d be proud of me. I remember when he came to see a show, shortly before he passed away, he couldn’t take the smile off his face. “You’re so good at this, you really found your strength.” I remember him asking, “Why aren’t you on that RuPaul show? Who do I need to call?” He’s been on reality television twice, in that UFC production world. I was like, “Dad, that’s not how it works, but I do appreciate it.” I think he’d be proud of me, of the way that I lived the game. I didn’t necessarily play the game because I just lived this experience.

What’s next? Are you focusing on other endeavors or is All Stars or a Vs. the World up next?

I have a lot coming up. My own tour and The Cristál Ball EP are coming out as well. Also, Monét X Change and I will be singing at Lincoln Center with an orchestra and Soundcake. It’s aural confessions, opera, pop, drag; it’s everything you want. We have a little bit of Thorgy Thor in there as well. All the classical girls are doing the thing. I’m living my absolute best life, and I encourage everyone else to take the bull by the horns and buck it. Ride the river of abundance and keep going toward your dreams. Remember to truly love and accept yourself, because that’s the only way you’ll be able to spread the love that you have inside, out.

Subscribe to EW's Quick Drag podcast for recaps of RuPaul's Drag Race, including reactions from the cast, special guests, and more.

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