'RuPaul's Drag U': A pre-season finale update with EW fave Pandora Boxx
Image Credit: Beatrice Neumann/LogoWe here at EW have made no secret of our love for Drag Race season 2 contestant Pandora Boxx (at left). Just take a look back at my TV recap of the episode this past March when she was voted off the show, when I called her offing the most “controversial elimination of the season.” Or, in the print magazine, when we wrote on Bullseye: “Pandora Boxx, in our hearts you are America’s Next Drag Superstar… even if RuPaul doesn’t think so.” We love! And, of course, we’ve loved seeing her return to Logo and the RuPaul world with this premiere season of RuPaul’s Drag U, which makes over biological women in drag style. With the finale — which stars Ms. Pandora Boxx — airing this coming Monday at 9 p.m., what better time to check in with her? Here, she talks the finale, how her life has changed since Drag Race, and the possibility of scoring her own show.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So let’s talk about Drag U. You’ve been a mentor this season. How have you liked that?
PANDORA BOXX: The best thing about Drag U to me — and what made me want to sign up right away — is that I knew I couldn’t get eliminated. Even though there was someone who has said in the past that my elimination from Drag Race was the most controversial of the season.
That was us, wasn’t it? That was me!
We are big fans of you over here, Pandora, just so you know.
Entertainment Weekly is part of my act.
What do you mean that we’re part of your act? Tell me more about that. All around the country?
Yeah! And I think I’m going to do it too at [the forthcoming Logo drag/comedy special] Dragtastic. That controversial elimination and being put on the Bullseye works into my intro of myself, and I didn’t win, but you know what, Entertainment Weekly said I was their “Next Drag Superstar,” so who cares.
When you do episodes of Drag U, do you get to talk to the guest judges at all?
A little bit. It depends on which ones. On Drag Race, no, we never did, we wouldn’t get to talk to them. I did get to meet Kathy Griffin, but that’s because she wanted to get a picture with me, but on Drag Race we’re totally treated like we’re prisoners. We are ostracized! They make these announcements like, “Contestants coming through!” It’s kind of like being in drag prison. On Drag U, we weren’t under lock and key, and we could hang out backstage and we could just talk to Ru and people. So some of the guest judges, yes, sometimes they just came in and did their thing and we were doing other things.
And I’m sure it also depended on their vibe, like are they people who like to hang out?
Yeah, Debi Mazar — I did get to talk to her and hang out a bit, and she was really nice and she was cool to hang out with. And Jackeé, I didn’t get to see her before because we were busy doing things, and then when we were out there we saw her up on the judges’ thing, but I was like, “I really want to say hello to her, I love her.” And then at the end when they all came up on stage, I was like “Oh my god, I love you!” and she was like, “Oh my god, I love you!” And I was like, “Oh my god she just said that she loved me!”
Who was your favorite contestant to work on Drag U and why? Who made a big impression on you?
I really enjoyed working with all of them. They all were great. I do have to say that Minlee — she was the first one that I worked with — we just bonded really quickly, because she’s got this amazing personality and is bubbly and friendly. She’s like a gay man’s best friend. She’s like a fag hag, although I don’t like to say fag hag anymore. I like to say fruit fly or something like that. Or flame dame. She was great, but I loved all of them. I loved working with Erin Murphy in the finale.
Oh, the finale, which is coming up. What’s so special about her?
Well Erin Murphy played Tabitha on Bewitched, and the season finale is all ’70s TV stars, and she’s just great. She’s fun and sassy and she’s kind of a drag queen herself. She’s got that attitude, and she requested to work with me. She was a big fan, she watched Drag Race, she loved it, she thought I should have won. She’s also one of those people who think I should have my own TV show, so immediately I loved her.
You mentioned that she said you should have your own TV show. Is that something you’re seriously entertaining?
I don’t know. I tell everybody that I can possibly tell that I want one, but I know that I can’t just say that I want one, I need to have a concept and meetings and the whole process that it is. I would love to have my own TV show, I’m sure it could be in the realm of possibility, but there’s nothing going forward yet. I say “yet.” I’ll say it here, and I say it in every interview I possibly can, because if you wish it enough, it will come true.
And the right person will read one of these interviews. Have you had a chance to revisit your Carol Channing impersonation since Drag Race at all?
You know, I’ve done the voice a couple of times, but I’ve never had the chance to do Carol Channing on a live show before. I have an online sketch comedy called “The Gay Means Happy Show. It’s on YouTube, and I’ve done Carol Channing on there. I have a couple of skits that I’ve impersonated her in, because I think she should have her own talk show called “Carol Channing Rambles,” because I just want a TV show where she sits there and talks about nothing. I don’t think I do that great of a Carol Channing impression. It’s good and it’s campy and that’s all I was trying to do with it, but when I was on Drag Race, I really had to nail it. I really had to make sure that I was good on it. That was really the thing that changed everything for me, that filming people loved it and before I go anyplace, that’s what everyone always says, “Oh, I loved your Carol Channing, it was great.” So I’m working on putting Carol Channing into my live act.
Your style seems amped up a bit on Drag U compared to Drag Race. Have you changed it at all?
I don’t know if my style has really changed. I think your style always can really evolve. I think that with Drag Race, the part of the thing about Drag Race is that it’s a one shot deal, you have to be like, “I’ve got it, I have to wear this outfit and I’m doing it,” because you only have a certain amount of time. There were a couple of outfits that I wore on Drag Race that if I had to do over again, I would not wear. I would not have worn that green dress that everyone hated. A big lesson that I learned on Drag Race is not to second-guess myself. For Drag U, I certainly knew that I was concerned with what I was going to wear and how I was going to look, so I paid a lot more attention to it. With Drag Race, it was also really at a point in my career where I was going to stop doing drag. I was going to quit drag because nothing was changing, I wasn’t happy with it, and I put out in the universe that if something doesn’t change soon, I’m going to quit drag, and then it changed in the biggest way possible. So I knew going into Drag Race that my wardrobe wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be, but I just thought, I’m going to go and make up for it in other areas. Still, I had to be ridiculed week after week.
You were going to quit. Will Pandora remain a drag queen for the foreseeable future?
I’m never going to get out of women’s panties. My life has totally changed. It’s changed in every way I wanted it to, because I’ve always wanted to go to different cities and perform. I wanted to be on TV, and I wanted to get my brand of drag and humor out to people and hope that people liked it, because I was pretty confident that people would, but you never know. When you get eliminated, you really leave feeling defeated and I got ripped apart every week, so I was wondering if I had hurt my drag career by doing this, because am I just going to be a laughing stock? And it was just the opposite of that. It was great to know that I did have these abilities that I thought I did and that it resonated with people, so it’s been great. I’ve been traveling every week since Drag Race ended. I’ve done a comedy special and stuff that I never ever would have done had it not been for Drag Race, so it’s really changed everything.
Were you living off of performing before?
I was working for a local TV station, and I was a video editor and photographer.
And now you’re fully living off of performing?
Yeah. There are just so many shows and so many bookings, and people are like, “You’ve got to just ride the wave, you can always get another job later.”
Isn’t that a great thing? You’re doing something that’s super fun that you love and you’re getting paid to do it.
Yeah, it’s amazing. I feel so lucky and so blessed that it’s happened and it’s something that I always wanted, and I am so grateful.
Are you still living full time in Rochester, New York? When are you moving to a coast?
I still live in Rochester right now, and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really had time to do anything else, but I am considering relocating to either L.A. or New York. I know that’s where I have to be to take this to another level of where I want it to be.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
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