Honey Mahogany Shantays Onto “Looking,” Releases “Shoulda Known Better”: WATCH

Honey Mahogany is having a moment:. Tonight RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Five star makes her debut on Looking, HBO’s new drama about a trio of gay guys living in San Francisco. And she’s releasing a new single, “Shoulda Known Better,” off her brand new EP, Honey Love.

So, who better to portray SF’s unique energy? NewNowNext sat down with Mahogany to talk music and drag, Looking, San Francisco gays, and lots more.

Watch Honey Mahogany on Looking, tonight on HBO at 10:30pm, and watch the music video for “Shoulda Known Better” below

Tell us about the episode of Looking you’re on.

I play myself. I also will be featured singing—“Shoulda Known Better,” one of the song on my EP. I wrote and co-produced it with Eric Ian Walker.

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“Looking” actor with Honey Mahogany.

I do think it’s reflective of an experience of someone who is new to San Francisco. Some of the grit is very real. The venues are real. Of course it’s gonna be given the Hollywood treatment. Of course they’re all gorgeous. [Laughs].

People complain its an all-white show—I hear that, but I think that it’s true to itself. It’s written by a gay white man who lives in San Francisco. He’s being honest to his life experience, which I appreciate. And, by the way, the show does deal with issues of race. Maybe not the way people expect.

You’ve released a new EP, Honey Love. Did you come to music after drag?

Music is really how I started: I grew up watching Madonna and Michael Jackson. The album includes two cover songs, “Feling Good” and “Lucky Star.” Which has always been, like, my favorite song. My cousin said to me, “I used to come over to your house when you were 3 and you were rolling around and imitating that song!”

I was always doing choir and musical theater. I actually started out doing drag with live singing. I love lipsynching but my heart—and my future—is in music.

honey loveWhat’s Honey Love like? From the title, it sounds smooth.

It’s very different from some of the music that’s been released by other Drag Race queens. It’s jazzier, a few soul songs and some pop ballads. I’m also working on a dance remix album for It’s Honey.

You’ve been identified as a “San Francisco queen,” and Looking explores gay life in San Francisco. How is the gay scene different in the City by the Bay than, say, in L.A. or New York?

There’s a sharp distinction between the two cultures in San Francisco. The Castro culture—it’s pop-music oriented, dance club scene. And then there’s the SOMA culture—leather and bears and alternative. It’s Art-y. I love it, it’s a bit of “something for everyone.” I’m much more associated with the SOMA crowd—club kids, avant-garde and performance artists. I do Midnight Sun’s Mahogany Monday in the Castro to bring some of the those queens out of SOMA.

Who are you rooting for on Season 6 of Drag Race ?

Early favorites? I think a lot of the San Francisco queens are rooting for Milk. The queen I know best is Courtney Act—I met her at the X-Factor auditions. It was in the middle of Drag Race casting—I had been asked back and she didn’t know yet. “When I first saw her, I was like, God, that woman is so beautiful!”  So I’m Team Courtney.


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Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.