Monday night’s Pitch Perfect-themed episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race ended on a cliffhanger following an equally-shocking double elimination (only the second in the show’s history) which claimed both Laila McQueen and Dax Exclamationpoint as its victims, leaving 10 queens in the competition — at least for now.
Following the elimination, RuPaul made a mysterious phone call to an unknown party, asking the person on the other line to come to the set ASAP. As the end credits rolled, Bob the Drag Queen hinted that a former contestant might be returning, and social media exploded with speculation as fans called for the return of season 7’s Miss Congeniality winner, Katya.
Now departing queens Dax Exclamationpoint and Laila McQueen are speaking to Entertainment Weekly below about this week’s shocking twists, what went wrong with their runway looks, and who they think will take the runway next week to fill their vacant stilettos.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hi Laila! How are you? My condolences to you for having been eliminated so early.
LAILA MCQUEEN: I’ve been better. S— happens. [Laughs.]
I have to say I really liked your runway outfit from the first episode. Do you think it was fair that they called you out for having a “cop out” bottom on yours when Derrick Barry was wearing just like, a bikini?
Yeah, I did think it was unfair. They did not put in the episode when they asked me to explain my outfit. I explained [how] I put so much time into the jacket, and I said my bottom isn’t as good as the top. I wasn’t going to fight with them. I knew the strong points of my outfit, and I knew the weak points. But, I don’t know how [Derrick Barry] got away with wearing a goddamn skirt, because how many goddamn seasons [have the judges] been like “Don’t rely on your body!” and [Derrick] didn’t make anything.
Do you think your elimination alongside Dax was fair, though? Do you really think you screwed up worse than some of the other queens?
No. I didn’t think it was totally fair. I think maybe it was more for shock factor. I thought it might have been a stunt to amp [things] up, like, “Oh my God, s—’s happening!”
Is there some consolation in being eliminated alongside another queen, though? So you’re not singled out for screwing up?
I actually hated being eliminated with another queen! Especially Dax. She loves to talk. She’s kind of like the Miss Fame of our season, so I feel like I kind of lost my exit moment. It hurt, because we both were eliminated, and they did not air us saying goodbye or saying thank you. They made it feel like it was such a shocking elimination, that Ru was so unimpressed, and that [Dax and I were] so bitter that we just stormed off stage.
Are you saying that, while you were on the runway, you did give an emotional goodbye, and they just edited it to make it seem like you stormed off? What did you say?
Yeah. I said, “Thank you so much for the opportunity and for having me. It sucks I couldn’t get to show all the things that I can do, but I appreciate the fact that I tried so hard to get on and I did get on, and it will not be the last you see of Laila McQueen. Thank you so much.” It just sucks, but are you going to be a d— about it and scream at RuPaul, and maybe she’ll let you stay?
I would kill to see that. You should’ve tried that instead.
[Laughs.] “You stupid b—-! I’m not leaving this stage until you make me leave this stage!”
Before you go on the show, do they tell you what you should bring so you have an idea of what the runway themes are going to be?
They give us a list of suggested things we should bring. You have to bring your entire wardrobe, but there’s some emphasis on the looks you should probably, definitely have. There are a lot of fun challenges and looks [coming up on the show] that are very Laila, so it’s going to be a fun season to watch with these other girls like Kim Chi and Acid Betty [still in the competition].
Have the judges’ comments impacted how you perform drag after being on the show?
It hasn’t changed how I perform drag. I wasn’t there for that long, and the things [they said] were wrong with my outfit, I already knew. The dress, because I have not worn dresses before, I thought it would be cute and different for me, and I wanted to show them variety. I didn’t really think, “Ok, Laila, you look like a goddamn thumb.” Now, when I wear dresses, I have them made for me and I specify for the designer, “Hey, I’m short and wide. I look like a tuna can, so I need a shape that does not accentuate that.”
We know now that RuPaul is likely bringing someone back after that ominous phone call at the end of the episode. Which queen from a past season is worthy enough to take your place?
Well, one girl is supposed to go home per episode, so I think I should get the call back.
A lot of people online are saying that they’d like to see Katya from season 7 come back…
Yeah, I support that. She made it real far in her season though, and won Miss Congeniality, so she’s already going crazy. I don’t know if they’d bring back a girl who already did so well.
Yes or no question: Do you know who they’re bringing back?
Maybe. Maybe not [laughs].
Who do you think could replace Dax, then?
I think Dax should have gone home that episode. Why do we both have to be replaced?
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m so sorry that we’re talking under these circumstances after your elimination, but congratulations on your time on the show, anyway! Now that you’ve been eliminated, do you think it was fair? It feels like everyone seemed to excel fairly well during the a capella challenge itself.
DAX EXCLAMATIONPOINT: It was a little shocking, because there were people in the challenge who did not do very well, who were a lot worse than I was and a lot worse than Laila was. Like Ru says, the final choice is up to her, and it is her show. She is fully allowed to do whatever she feels like, and that’s what’s going to keep the show interesting, because you don’t watch a show for not having plot twists [laughs].
I know the judges didn’t like your runway outfit that much, but it seems like you hammered the nail into your own coffin when you started giving the judges excuses about not being a dancer. This is the type of thing that gets people eliminated — especially on Drag Race — all the time! You broke one of those coded rules of reality competition shows! What was going on in your mind at that moment?
There’s a really fine line between reasons and excuses. If you’re asking someone, “Why did that go a certain way?” you say, “Well, this is my background,” or, “This is not my background.” I tried my hardest, and things went the way they went.
We know in previous seasons RuPaul has brought contestants back after being eliminated. Can you shine some light on who might be returning?
Shangela! It’s always going to be Shangela. Any time they’re like, “We’re bored,” it’s Shangy [who comes back]. No, when you leave the stage, you don’t know. That’s the end of it. I didn’t know that [phone call] happened until last night when I watched the episode.
So you were just as shocked as everybody else?
Yeah, I wasn’t completely surprised because there was a double elimination. Knowing that there are only so many episodes per season, you’re going to have to bring somebody back or something is going to have to happen [to even it out]. Maybe it’s Scarlett Harlott or whatever her name is. A lot of girls disappeared [from the drag circuit] at the same time [the season 8 contestants] did, so I wouldn’t put it past anyone to just hold them in secret and then throw them in there.
Just before the lip sync, you said you couldn’t remember Laila’s name. Was that shade or did you genuinely not remember it?
No, it wasn’t shade at all! I did forget her name because I was frazzled, and it was a really fun, weird situation to be thrown into, and we were only there for about two weeks and never really go the chance to know anybody that well, so I was just frazzled in that moment.
What do you think of Michelle Visage’s toned-down look this season? Since she read you on the runway this week, how would you read her?
I think Michelle is always beautiful. I think she portrays herself in the best possible way that she can. I’m kind of glad that she’s a little bit less draggy than she has been, because her hair was always so gigantic. I think she’s very pretty and very classy, and [her look this season is] demure for her, which is still extravagant for anybody else that’s just going to the grocery store.
Have the judges’ critiques impacted your style of drag and the way you present yourself to audiences since being on the show?
It’s really hard hearing those critiques from people that you respected for so long. It’s really damaging for your self-confidence. As soon as [my elimination] happened, it was all that I could think about. I didn’t know if I was going to keep doing drag after that point. But, drag’s an addiction; you can’t just get rid of it.
The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Logo.