RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Katya didn’t capture the crown—that honor went to her friend Violet Chachki—but she did win our hearts, as well as $5,000 as Miss Congeniality. (Come on, Logo, you couldn’t do a little better than that?) Season 7’s funniest and most beloved queen talks about her struggles with confidence, her Russian roots, and how she’d destroy the competition if she ever got another opportunity.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So come on—you knew you were going to win Miss Congeniality, right?
KATYA: I had an inkling because everybody told me that I was going to win. It wasn’t very surprising, but the best thing about that whole night was the thunderous ovation. I’m not going to lie, it made me feel so good!
You had a hard time taking a compliment on the show, and Miss Congeniality is a huge compliment. Have you gotten better at that?
Hmmm. Yeah … I mean, no, but I’ve learned to let people say they love me and not be weird about it. [Laughs] It’s amazing. I’m getting better with that stuff. The taping was the funnest night ever.
It’s hilarious how many different ways you described your drag character Katya. Once and for all, who is she?
She is a retired kindergarten teacher that becomes a street-walking psychic crime fighter who’s also battling depression and schizophrenia.
When did you master the Russian accent?
I got this cassette tape called “Pronounce It Perfectly.” It teaches you just how to pronounce stuff. It doesn’t teach you the grammar or anything. I listened to that over and over until the cassette tape just melted.
So you have no personal connection to Russia?
No, I just [censored] to a lot of Russian porn.
Was it a big moment when Ru told you that you were “addicted to anxiety”?
First of all, I never heard that expression before. I don’t know if that was necessarily the case. Certainly on the show, the one word I’d use to describe for me is “anxiety.” I love Ru’s Dr. Phil moments. I wish she’d go more over-the-top with them. I wish they’d pipe in music to the actual Werk Room when it’s actually happening.
Imagine if you stuck around for a Tic-Tac lunch with Ru.
We would have been there for hours. I probably would have started crying before I sat down. It would have been too much. Oh girl, no.
The sense I got was that you had all the skills and all the look you needed to win, but you didn’t have that killer instinct, and you let your self doubt get in the way. Do you think you could have gone farther if you’d just had a different attitude?
Oh definitely. I think if I had had Violet’s attitude and her game plan, I would have won. I see that now. On the other hand, if I had Violet’s attitude and game plan, I probably wouldn’t have as many fans. People connected to me because I was [a] f—ing mess! On the show, I didn’t see or understand that I was any good. Watching now, I’m like, “Oh f—, God, I wish I was in the top three with Violet and Ginger.” The three of us make such a good triangle, but that’s all hindsight. On the show, it was bad. It was really bad because you have no one cheering you on there. I remember before I got there, I was like, “Oh, I guess I struggle with confidence sometimes!” And then I went there and I had zero. It was a wonder I made it through as many challenges that I did.
If there were an All Stars 2, would you approach it way differently?
Oh, yeah. But it’s funny because I’m not competitive. I’m not. That’s what I realized about myself—yeah, it’s good to go on a nationally televised competition show to find out you’re actually not competitive. [Laughs] I would do it, but I would approach it as fun. I’ll just do the best I can because the stakes are lower. I’ve already been on the show and people already know who I am. If an All Stars show happens, any episode you get is just a bonus. Of course, I would love to win if they have another one. After having gone through the experience, I don’t know how you could be all that nervous the second time around.
Who from the show are your girls?
I really do like them all! That was really surprising. I did not expect to like any of them, especially Violet, but when I went to her hotel room last night, I was just hugging her. I wanted to crush her body because I was so proud of her. Her drag is EX-CI-TING.
Well, now you have so many fans that in a way, you could say Miss Congeniality is just as valuable as winning.
Yeah, it’s $95,000 less valuable. [Laughs]