Trying to explain RuPaul's Drag Race to anyone who has never watched the show is pretty straight-forward: think America's Next Top Model meets Project Runway meets a heightened version of your standard night out at the local gay cabaret club. With this year's season of the ever-increasing-in-popularity drag competition, you can also add 'meets American (and, actually, in one case - Australian) Idol'.

And so, each year veteran drag sensation, RuPaul Charles, brings together an oversized handbagful of drag queens to compete for the title of America's Next Drag Superstar. The challenges facing contestants include dancing, singing, acting, garment designing and sewing assignments. In addition, on pain of elimination from the competition, each week two drag queens must lip-synch for their lives. It's a sizzling hothouse of glitz, drama, bitchiness and hilarity and has provided LOGO, the network on which it airs, an undeniable hit.

On its sixth season, the show's 2014 crowned winner was a brilliant, fast-mouthed glamour-joker named Bianca Del Rio but her way to the top was very much a close race with 24 year-old Californian trash-popper, Adore Delano. The bitter pill of only getting the runner-up trophy has been more than sweetened for Danny Noriega (for it is he!) with the timely release of his alter-ego's debut album, Till Death Do Us Party.

An accomplished singer - as was demonstrated during his time as a contestant on American Idol back in 2008 - Noriega's dream of stardom finally seems to be coming true. "My mom has tapes of me when I was, like, two years old, singing to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz," Noriega recalls. "I've always been singing, like all my life. I knew that I wanted to make it a career when I first visited Hollywood when I was 12 or 13 years old and realized I wanted to be a pop."

American Idol provided Noriega with a foot in the door but when he was sent home at the semi-finals stage, he fell into a depression. "I was just a kid," he says. "I was, like, 17 at the time and when I turned 18 I still didn't know what I was doing with my life. I was depressed, turning down reality shows and opportunities that would have otherwise been great for me. I think it has prepared me to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way now. But, at the time, I didn't really do anything other than doing drag on YouTube."

This was not Noriega's first flirt with drag. "People need to understand that I did drag from when I was about 14," he says, "and I lived my life as a girl throughout high-school and I used to compete in drag. I stopped doing that before American Idol but I just tapped right back into it after I'd seen a show in West Hollywood and thought - I can do that!"

Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano were joined in the Drag Race top 3 by Aussie "female impersonator" Shane Jenek, who, having failed his audition for Australian Idol returned the following day as his drag alter-ego, Courtney Act, and eventually made it to the singing contest semi-finals back in 2003. I ask Noriega whether he had similarly considered auditioning for American Idol in drag. "Yeah, absolutely," he enthuses. "I was very, very androgynous, very Pete Burns. But my mom talked me out of that because she was really protective and didn't want me to get picked on and made fun of and she also thought that it would over-shadow my singing but, yeah - that was my dream, to do that. I wanted to go and audition in drag with my pink hair, acrylic nails and I'm gonna show 'em attitude and all this stuff. But my mom really didn't want me to do that."

"I wanted to make a solid pop record and I just wanted to really be taken seriously as an artist. It's rare for a successful pop act to be a drag queen and I want to change that." - Adore Delano

To be fair, you can understand Noriega's mother's concerns that he'd be picked on, in light of some of the crap he already had to put up with at school. When I suggest that doing drag as a teenager was quite brave of him, he recalls the less appealing aspects of it. "Oh, babe, I was severely bullied when I was younger," he says. "People used to spit in my hair, set my books on fire, they would throw soda on me. It was awful. Physically and mentally. When I started dressing up in school it was kind of a liberating experience. I remember - two of the worst years of me being bullied were my fourth grade year and my seventh grade year and by the eighth grade year I was developing this 'I don't give a fuck' character and then when I went into High School I really used the make-up like a super-hero mask. I fell straight into drag and that was kind of my alter-ego saying "suck it!" through High School and I was just not giving a shit at all."

We change the subject to the Adore Delano album, which came out earlier this month. I wonder whether, supposing Noriega had made it further down the line on American Idol, his inevitable Simon Cowell-spearheaded record would have been anything like Till Death Do Us Party. Noriega lets out a long dismayed groan and then laughs. "Oh god, that's awful to even think about," he chuckles. "I was so not ready for that then. I was such a baby, I didn't even know who I was. But, no, that album would not have been anything like Till Death Do Us Party. At all. I just feel like this is the sound of Adore. This album is completely Adore. I wanted to make a solid pop record and I just wanted to really be taken seriously as an artist. It's rare for a successful pop act to be a drag queen and I want to change that. I want it to make people look at us in a different light. Drag Race is doing that a lot for us and I really want to hit the mainstream and compete with the big dogs like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. I wanna take over the fucking world."

As Adore Delano, Noriega showed off his rapping skills on an episode of Drag Race titled 'Oh No She Betta Don't!', where contestants had to channel their "inner 90s rapper goddesses" and be judged by both Trina and Eve. With high praise for this performance, Noriega went on to also feature a rap on the chorus of 'I Adore U', the single chosen to herald the Adore Delano long-player. "I rap in my shows a lot," he explains. "When I was still at home I used to host a show every Friday and I would always rap. My brother is a rapper and so is my sister so we would always freestyle and mess around, so when I was presented with the opportunity on the show I knew this was perfect for me, I had to do it. With 'I Adore U', I'd say it is probably one of my favourites off the album. I wrote it about a boy named Colton and it was initially about my commitment issues. I broke his heart and he tried to get back at me by dating somebody that I liked and then it ruined the relationship between us."

What was it like working on that song? "I really put everything into it. I remember crying while I was writing it. People were suggesting, like, maybe we need to change this or that and I was, like: do NOT touch this song! I really need this song to just stay the way it is. I just really wanted it to be the most emotional and relatable song off the album. And I chose it as a single because all my friends loved it."

Noriega sounds less enthusiastic about the first single his label released from the album, 'DTF': "Ok, I'm just gonna say it - I really did not want that to be the single - it wasn't my favourite. I wanted 'I Adore U' to be the first single, actually, I was begging them to let me do this. I felt like Lady Gaga when she was begging for 'Alejandro' [laughs]. I know what my vision is and I know what I want to present and what I want to market and this is exactly what I want."

Having written the majority of the songs on the album himself, Noriega also found the whole recording process to be fairly easy. "We started working on it at the end of February and finished it really quickly because when I'm in the zone I am fully committed to it and I need to just do it. It was very intense but the producers I worked with were just so awesome to collaborate with."

The moodboard for the songs on Till Death Do Us Party was eclectic. "Everything I listen to inspires me," Noriega says. "Everything that I see in life inspires me, my mother inspires me! There's nothing like it on the album but Freddie Mercury is my number 1 idol, although with the album it wasn't as though I was listening to a particular artist and thought oh I need to sound like this, or whatever. I just wanted to make a solid, grimy pop album and I wanted it to come across like I'd put work into it because I did. I didn't want to just shit out a shitty drag song."

Apart from 'I Adore U', Noriega has several other firm favourites on the album. "I really love 'My Address Is Hollywood' and 'Party', because its about my high-school years," he says. "I also love 'Speak My Sex' because when I play it live the gays go crazy [laughs] and I'm really glad Shannon gave me the rights to cover 'Give Me Tonight' because it's one of my all-time favourite songs."

And how did the collaboration with last year's Drag Race contestant, Alaska, come about? "Oh, well Alaska is one of my good friends and I just sent her a text saying: "hey bitch, wanna be on my album?" and she was like [mimicking the Alaska drawl]: "Of coaaaaarse! Yeaaaaaah, yes, yes and yeahss." She wrote her whole verse and came into the studio and we improvised. She was making me laugh so hard I was gonna throw up," he chuckles.

"Drag Race made me feel a little bit more individual and focus more on my strengths rather than just trying to be perfect."- Adore Delano

I ask Noriega whether he was thinking about ideas for the album while still filming Drag Race and he sounds surprised. "Oh no! The show was filmed, like, a year ago!" Say what? "Yeah, we finished filming last year in July." As the season finale was only screened last month, many (including The 405) assumed the whole series was filmed more recently. "No, it was all done ages ago," Noriega clarifies. "They actually film three different winner announcements so you don't know who's going to win until the very end. What was really fucked up was that they filmed me winning, Bianca winning and Courtney winning just so no one knows for sure and, at the end, they also filmed Bianca and I having a tie. So everybody freaked out. I was crying because I thought it was real but I think I kind of knew that Bianca was going to win, which was well-deserved. I really love her and I am really happy for her. She deserved that."

Watching this season, you really got the notion that RuPaul had a particular soft spot for Adore Delano as a contestant. I ask Noriega whether he'd felt this during the filming. "Yes, I did! They didn't really air some of the footage but there were times I felt like Ru was really protective of me and had seen a lot of himself in me. He told me that about four times throughout the season but they didn't air it once! [laughs] He told me he was exactly like me at the age of 23. He said 'you're exactly who I was'. I think that's why he had a little soft spot for me. I love him."

As is the case with most reality TV shows, some of the editing can be misleading. Does Noriega feel that he was correctly represented in the final cut, in terms of things he'd said and done and their contexts? "I absolutely do. I was fine with my edit. Bianca and I always say that we didn't come across as shady bitches because we weren't being shady bitches in our interviews. Everything we said was exactly what we said and the reason why we don't look like a dick is because we weren't talking shit. The only thing that made me cringe a bit was the final episode, where I do my speech and they made it look like I was this dumb young brat. Like, I really put a lot of thought into my speech and my speech was way longer than what they showed and made much more sense than what you see. I wanted it to come across as very liberating and awesome but, instead, I think it looked like me just being, like, 'I'm a mermaid, blah blah blah'. But it's fine, I can't be mad at it" [Laughs].

With the positive reactions given to the new album and the huge Adore Delano fan-base he's amassed, Noriega's time on Drag Race seems to have paid off. "When you're put on this platform you have to have something that separates you from the other, like, 75 girls that are on every other season," he says. "So I know my thing is being trashy and that is my aesthetic and my 'I don't give a fuck' attitude - because I really don't - and I am making the most of it. Drag Race made me feel a little bit more individual and focus more on my strengths rather than just trying to be perfect."

For Danny Noriega and for Adore Delano, if there's an overarching lesson to take away from the whole experience, that lesson is simple: party!

Till Death Do Us Party is out now on Sidecar Records