Musician and RuPaul's Drag Race superstar tells EW what to expect from her '60s-inspired tour with a live band and her new album, Barbara.
The skinniest legend in Hollywood is launching her heftiest tour yet.
“[Audiences] always talk about the jokes and the songs, but they never really gagged over the costumery and the wiggery, so I was like, let’s really do it on this next tour,” indie folk musician, drag superstar, comedian, and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3 champion Trixie Mattel tells EW of her upcoming fourth traveling concert, Trixie Mattel: Grown Up, which she promises will include “ambitious reveals, costume changes, and wigs on wigs on wigs” along its 29-date North American run at the top of 2020.
“I want people to leave and be like, ‘That was hilarious, the guitar playing was great, and she did not have to do five costume changes in the first number — but she did!'” the 30-year-old says.
Mattel says she wanted to beef up her live shows as she capped her third decade on earth, inspired by her “second puberty” upon reaching 30 — the experience of which she says will provide the bulk of material for songs and jokes about specific junctures in her life, like “getting older, my relationships, where I am, and where I thought I would be at age 30. Visually, it’s pretty shocking how quickly I’ve deteriorated,” she jokes. “Drinking and eating at airports and not sleeping isn’t really good for you.”
However, the Wisconsin native is right where she’s supposed to be as she reflects on a fruitful career in TV, film, and music: After rising to prominence on season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Mattel has become one of the most recognizable drag performers in the world, having released two full-length albums (the country-fried Two Birds and the folky One Stone), transitioned into variety TV (her UNHhhh digital series with Katya regularly logs nearly 1 million views per episode), premiered a feature documentary, Moving Parts, at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, launched a beauty line called Trixie Cosmetics, and landed a stand-up comedy special earlier this year — all while maintaining a healthy global touring schedule in between.
For Grown Up, though, Mattel channeled her past anxieties about age into a beautiful tribute to her early-life fixations, stripping away the superficial layers to expose the youthful heart under the mother mogul’s wig.
“My brain is like a little mini blender. Whatever media I take in gets defecated out into my personal style and material,” she explains of the tour’s aesthetic, which she says will heavily reflect her childhood affinity for 1960s clothing, pop culture, and, of course, dolls. “I rewatched the first three seasons of The Brady Bunch, I collect almost entirely 1965-1973 Barbies, and through the last year I’ve been deep-diving into old, vintage fashions,” she explains of culling inspiration for Grown Up‘s retro feel, which will be partially aided by comedic videos and reinterpreted footage from vintage toy commercials and classic TV shows among an even split of new music and her signature brand of stand-up.
“I can’t make my shows a drag queen in a dress talking for an hour. It needs to be drag queen in 15 dresses talking, singing, playing a harp, doing a cartwheel…and there are videos!” she squeals, adding that she’s also touring with a live band of eclectic musicians for the first time — a rarity among the visually driven, electro-heavy productions of her Drag Race peers. “I want to do the most!”
It’s all in support of Mattel’s upcoming third studio album, Barbara, a sugary set with a post-Beatles invasion soul brimming with groovy sonic vibes that complement Grown Up‘s throwback motif (as evidenced in “Yellow Cloud,” the album’s first single).
“It’s warm and fuzzy 1960s radio sounds, like That Thing You Do! meets Fountains of Wayne. It makes the hair on your neck stand up,” she teases of the album, which doesn’t yet have a release date (she’s only recorded two tracks thus far, with others waiting in the wings).
While she admits she was “out of puns” when it came to naming her LPs (she wasn’t ready for an album titled Half in the Bag after Two Birds and One Stone), she opted for something more personal instead.
“I started writing some of it when Katya and I weren’t doing so well last year, and Barbara is a name she throws out a lot, like Brenda or Denise,” Mattel says, referencing the pair’s since repaired (yet contentious) falling out, as detailed in the Moving Parts documentary coming out this December. “It’s also a fun, beautiful, retro-sounding name. It’s kind of like a rewind, before I got really into country as an adult, I was into ’60s music as a kid…and because Barbie’s real name is Barbara, so I was trying to refine Trixie, cook her down, and see what’s really there. It’s the full name of my personal material.”
Fans will have to wait to see her on the road to find out what resides at Mattel’s core, but she promises a fun ride that’s equal parts familiar and boldly innovative.
“The songs I’m writing go with the jokes. I love sections of stand-up that ends with a bow on it, and that bow on it is a song,” Mattel finishes. “My goal is to marry stand-up to the music.”
And with Mattel in control, it’s never been easier to say “I do.”
Read on for the full list of Trixie Mattel: Grown Up tour dates. Pre-sale tickets are available via Mattel’s website beginning Wednesday, Oct. 23, followed by the general on-sale beginning Friday, Oct. 25.
Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Seattle, WA – Moore Theatre
Thursday, Feb. 6 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall
Friday, Feb. 7 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
Sunday, Feb. 9 – Boulder, CA – Boulder Theater
Tuesday, Feb. 11- Kansas City, KS – The Truman
Thursday, Feb. 13 – Detroit, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre
Friday, Feb. 14 – Cleveland, OH – The Agora
Saturday, Feb. 15 – Columbus, OH – Express Live
Sunday, Feb. 16 – Minneapolis, MI – Pantages Theatre
Tuesday, Feb. 18 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
Wednesday, Feb. 19 – Chicago, IL – Park West
Friday, Feb. 21 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
Saturday, Feb. 22 – Toronto, CA – Danforth Music Hall
Sunday, Feb. 23 – Albany, NY – The Egg
Tuesday, Feb. 25 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Boston, MA – Royale
Friday, Feb. 28 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
Saturday, Feb. 29 – Philadelphia, PA – Temple Performing Arts Center – Lew Klein Hall
Sunday, March 1 – Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre
Tuesday, March 3 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Broward Center for the Performing Arts – Amaturo Theater
Wednesday, March 4 – Orlando, FL – The Plaza Live
Friday, March 6 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
Saturday, March 7 – New Orleans , LA – Civic Theatre
Sunday, March 8 – Houston, TX – Lillie and Roy Cullen Theater
Tuesday, March 10 – Austin, TX – The Paramount Theatre
Wednesday, March 11 – Dallas, TX – Bomb Factory
Friday, March 13 – Phoenix, AZ – Orpheum Theatre
Saturday, March 14 – Los Angeles, CA – The Novo
Sunday, March 15 – San Diego, CA – The Lyceum