“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” RuPaul asks at the end of every episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Honestly, most of us are still trying to figure that out. That’s why Solo-ish spoke with three stars from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” about how being in the public eye affects their romantic lives, and what advice they have for dating in 2018. Shea Couleé has been with their partner for two years; they met before “Drag Race.” Trixie Mattel, who won the most recent season of “Drag All-Stars,” has been with their partner over a year. And Latrice Royale, season four’s Miss Congeniality whose engagement video left the Internet swooning, will be married in the fall. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Solo-ish: Where do you stand on using pet names with a partner?
Shea: I call my boyfriend “baby” all the time. I’m that girl.
Trixie: I’m into something a little sweeter than that. You know? Like slam piece. Honestly, my boyfriend’s name is David, and I really like that name, so I say it a lot.
Latrice: We call each other “babe” all the time. We try to be as adoring as possible.
Solo-ish: What is it like dating as a drag queen, and one having been on “Drag Race”?
Shea: It definitely changed after I started doing drag full time. Even in Chicago alone, people kind of knew who I was. During the process, you definitely see tons of people that will throw themselves at you. You really have to weed out who’s authentic and who’s not.
Trixie: It’s difficult, because my onstage persona is representative of me, but at the same time I’m a lot more open in drag. When I’m out of drag, I think sometimes people are disappointed that I’m just a white girl trying to have a gin and tonic. In every relationship, there’s a flower and a gardener. And I’m an earthworm. I’m just in the dirt wiggling around — and if you split me in half, there’s two of me.
Latrice: It did look a little different, because I wasn’t out for that long before I started drag. Back then, people didn’t want to date drag queens. It was not the “in” thing to do. Once “Drag Race” happened, people accepted that drag was a viable career and art form. It wasn’t just twirling out shows in the club. People got to see the human side of it.
Solo-ish: How do you feel about online dating and dating apps?
Shea: There are a lot of people who only feel comfortable meeting someone over an app. I’ve always had the best luck meeting people in person. You just have an immediate reaction to someone whether you’re attracted to them or not.
Trixie: Well, once I became a legend, icon and star, I knew I was going to have to stop using them, because I don’t like to sleep with people who know me from television.
Latrice: Never. I’m so glad I got rid of all those apps. [Getting engaged] was the biggest relief. Facebook is enough.
Solo-ish: Has your success since “Drag Race” changed your relationship?
Shea: No, and I think that’s what makes it work. We’re just the same as we were before this all happened. If anything, I feel like we’re much more calm. Because after going through the craziness that is the “Drag Race” fandom, it allowed us to put a lot of things in perspective.
Trixie: It’s difficult for me, because I don’t want to talk about work all the time, and I don’t want to someone to date me because of my work. I want my personal life to be about me and the person, not about my work or anything. When I’m with my boyfriend, I try to make sure the time I have with him is more about him than it is about me. Like I said, I’m a really good person, and you should be writing that down.
Latrice: I held out for Christopher, and I knew he’s the right one. We met, and the conversation was pretty intense right off the bat. I Googled him in front of him. He already was aware of my success; he’d been watching me.
Solo-ish: What is your idea of the perfect date?
Shea: We would be begin with brunch, and then we’d go to a spa. After the spa, we’d probably go to like, the art museum. And then go shopping. And then go and get a really nice dinner. And then after dinner, go out to the club and go dancing.
Solo-ish: That’s not a first-date situation right?
Shea: Yeah, that’s like you’re my bae, so we’re gonna spend some cute time together.
Trixie: You’re not ready for how boring, basic, Caucasian and predictable I am. An ideal date for me would be with somebody I already know. Somebody I’ve had sex with before, so I know that that’s gonna happen eventually. I like to go to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Then go out to a gay bar have a couple drinks and be home having consensual, unprotected intercourse by about 10:30, followed by reruns of “The Brady Bunch.” I’m very old-fashioned but also very sex positive. I like to have the craziest, wildest sex as often as I can have it, but I like to have it with someone I love.
Latrice: I would probably make a situation happen where we were getting away, without really getting away. A beautiful hotel on the beach, a gorgeous room setup. It would be a surprise. There would be champagne waiting for us, and maybe make it out to dinner, because at that point in my perfect world we might not make the reservation!
Solo-ish: What are your thoughts on sending and receiving nudes?
Shea: You should wait for someone to ask for them. I love nudes just as much as anybody else. But sometimes when it comes out of the blue and you’re not expecting it, it can be quite confronting. You’re like, “Okay, girl, she thirsty.”
Latrice: With fans, I try and be respectful to my partner. We know each other’s passwords; there are no secrets on our phones. But for us, to send them to each other? Yes! You’ve gotta keep the home fires burning!
Solo-ish: Hooking up while in drag, is that a yes or a no?
Shea: If that’s your thing, I don’t knock it. For me, it’s just not. I don’t find anything sexy about getting down when I’m in drag, because drag is uncomfortable. Sex is messy, and I don’t want to mess up my drag. There’s a whole pulley system that holds everything together that’s very delicate.
Trixie: Mentally, if people are okay with me doing drag, sometimes they’re too into it. It can’t just be a fact; it has to be a fetish.
Latrice: Back when I was young Latrice, yeah! She didn’t care! That was part of the charm. But now, it’s too much. What are we gonna do with brown makeup everywhere? Stuff has been plucked and pulled and stuffed.
Solo-ish: What are your thoughts about starting a family one day?
Shea: No. I realized so much of our innate desire to have children stems out of a fear of our own mortality. I feel like my baby is my artwork, and that’s what I’m trying to leave behind.
Trixie: What’s the point of me amassing all this wealth, drama, conflama and fame if I can’t pass it on to someone?! I think it would be cool to pass on my musicianship or my humor. But I’m also really selfish, so it appeals to me to spend my whole life giving of myself to someone I love and not necessarily children.
Latrice: Because I own a management company, we have enough children. In our drag family I’m the favorite auntie, and that’s great because they’re somebody else’s kids and they can go home to mommy. I get my fill.
Solo-ish: If you could give one piece of dating advice, what would it be?
Shea: Don’t force it. Everything happens for a reason. I know these are cliches, but they’re cliches for a reason. Everyone says that person will come right when you stop looking for them, and that’s exactly when he showed up. We just bumped into each other at the club.
Trixie: On Tinder we have our perfect 10 photos, which we can never live up to. We highlight our strengths. And on first dates, second dates, third dates we go in almost doing a character study on who we wish we were. Then relationships fail because that top layer of varnish wears off. You can’t pretend to be someone forever, and that comes from someone who pretends to be someone for a living.
Latrice: Always remember why you fell in love. Respect and communication are the most important things in a relationship. Christopher’s said before: Even if things fall apart, he never wants to get to a point where he can’t say he loves me. And I always want to be able to say I love him.