Latrice Royale is in the race till the wheels fall off

Timothy Wilcots gives advice on getting through hard times from his own experience: 'I always tell people it could be worse. It could be worse, baby, because I've been there! Take it as a speed bump and keep moving.'

Timothy Wilcots gives advice on getting through hard times from his own experience: "I always tell people it could be worse. It could be worse, baby, because I've been there! Take it as a speed bump and keep moving."

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The voice on the other end of the phone is deep, but feminine. It's the dicotomy of Timothy Wilcots, better known to the world as female impersonator Latrice Royale — fan favorite on the reality TV show "RuPaul's Drag Race."

"I'm at home sweet home in Hollywood, Florida," says Wilcots. "I have to work tonight at my home bar in South Beach, so I'm excited about that."

Wilcots has been a female impersonator for two decades, but Latrice Royale's profile was raised enormously with the appearance on television. (Latrice was a contestant on the show twice in 2012, appearing in season four early this year and then returning for an "all-stars" season, which recently ended.)

"The change is way beyond my expectations," he says. "I could've never dreamed of all that transpired this year. But I am so blessed and so thankful for it. I am so busy and I want to stay busy, honey!"

He says the response has been overwhelming. Much of it is probably more due to Wilcots' personality than his act.

"Everyone was just so surprised at how real and how forthcoming I was on the show," says Wilcots. "They didn't expect that. You can't get me with anything, because I'm right there. I know my flaws. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses and I'm cool with it. I'm just trying to teach everybody else how to be cool with it."

He says being a female impersonator (he uses that term over drag queen) was never a lifelong dream.

"I never had intentions of being a female impersonator, ever," says Wilcots with a laugh.

Timothy Wilcots gives advice on getting through hard times from his own experience: "I always tell people it could be worse. It could be worse, baby, because I've been there! Take it as a speed bump and keep moving."

Timothy Wilcots gives advice on getting through hard times from his own experience: "I always tell people it could be worse. It could be worse, baby, because I've been there! Take it as a speed bump and keep moving."

While he was still a teenager, he would travel to Las Vegas to watch legendary drag star Kenny Kerr and hang out with the star and the cast of "Boy Lesque."

"I was always amazed by it and so intrigued by it, but I never thought that I would do it!" On a dare one Halloween, though, Wilcots dressed up as Jamie Foxx's ugly woman character "Wanda" from the TV show "In Living Color."

"I was a hot, greasy mess!" says Wilcots with a hearty laugh. "The next week I got convinced to do a drag competition and 20 years later, here I am!"

He says it took a while to figure out who his character was.

"I wasn't your standard little average girl," says Wilcots.

He knew he wanted to take audiences on some kind of journey, not just present a stereotype. And, he says, Latrice Royale had a secret weapon.

"I'm a big girl, so people don't expect my dance background. They don't expect me to bust out and kick and all that carrying on. But that's how I became Latrice!"

At one point on "RuPaul's Drag Race" it was revealed that Wilcots had spent time in jail (on a drug conviction). It was also at that point that his mother died. He says, without a doubt, it was the lowest point in his life.

"You're in prison. You've lost your mom. What else do you need to happen to you? You have no possessions, nothing you can call your own. You don't even have your name. You're a number. It wrecks your life."

He says prayer and gospel and inspirational music got him through that time.

"The only place that I was able to be completely free was my mind. That's why they couldn't touch me. They couldn't take nothing away from my mind. That's when I knew I had to do something better when I got out."

Part of his strength, he says, came from accepting who he was.

"It comes down to loving yourself, flaws and all. Once you learn to love yourself unconditionally, no one can hurt you, because you won't allow them to."

He recognizes that he's become an inspiration to certain fans.

"With everything comes responsibility. I can't carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, but I am an emotional being. I have to make myself keep in check to not get overly involved with my fans as far as their lives. I cannot save the world, as much as I would love to. I can do my part, so that's what I'm gonna do."

And winning, he says, isn't always such a good thing.

"When you win, you disappear! You go, 'Where are they now? What are they doing?' I don't want to be that girl. I'm looking to go and do bigger and better things. When you get the Hall of Fame and all that kind of stuff, that's when you retire! I'm not retiring!"

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Latrice Royale

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Edge, 7211 Kingston Pike

Tickets: $8-$10, available at http://edge-latriceroyale-es2.eventbrite.com/?rank=5#

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