Despite the crystalline timbre of her voice, angelic looks, and the breezy cadence of her sugary sweet name, Blair St. Clair's life story is rife with trauma.
Just over a year ago, the Indiana native — then a budding drag queen freshly introduced to America on season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race — had her dreams crushed in front of a nationwide audience when she was eliminated from the reality competition series in 9th place, shortly after she'd opened up to the world about her experience with sexual assault. Now, confidently armed with her new single, the 24-year-old stands tall over her past struggles at the forefront of a landmark publishing deal between Producer Entertainment Group and Warner Music's Alternative Distribution Alliance, self-rising a new reality from the ashes as a survivor who found her strength through music, and is ready to share it with the world on a scale rarely afforded to her community.
"People last saw me on Drag Race as someone they considered broken, and a victim. Today, I live my life as a survivor. The gap between that was finding love — with someone else and myself," St. Clair says of the inspiration for her latest single, "Easy Love," the first taste of a mystery project coming later this year (and the sultry music video for which EW can exclusively reveal above).
"Two years ago, I couldn't do this," she adds of the steamy, ethereal video's sensual scenes, which came together only because of their star's ability to heal through musical therapy. "I was so afraid of being vulnerable and showing skin, because being vulnerable also meant laying close to someone else, and I wasn't letting people be close to me. This was my full-circle moment. I feel comfortable in my skin and with my voice, so I feel comfortable sharing that and living life."
Watch the full "Easy Love" music video above, and read on for EW's extended conversation with St. Clair, in which she discusses her new musical direction, finding chemistry with a sexy male model, and her involvement in New York Magazine‘s recent (controversial) RuPaul's Drag Race feature.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I love this song! Sonically, it's remarkably different from your last album. Is this a single from a new album with a different creative direction?
Music is music, and it has no definition by gender and orientation. Not all music needs to be a club bop to be fun and enjoyable. For me, music is about my personal life. [I'm telling] a story about how I've evolved. People last saw me on Drag Race as someone they considered broken and a victim. Today, I live my life as a survivor. The gap between that was finding love — with someone else and myself.
Was it therapeutic approaching music in a new way with a focus on intimacy after the experience you went through with assault?
Absolutely. My first album was written after I'd already been eliminated. I used that music as therapy. Since then, I've risen and grown as a person. This music is phase two of my life: This is the Blair St. Clair as a strong, independent, happy, humbled woman, after all that therapy. <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0RD2MnFdMZptVtO4ROkhXy" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" class="" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>
Is this part of an album?
I'm working on a big project now. I'm excited to release it within the coming months. It's important to me, this being an exclusive launch with PEG, Warner Music, and ADA. Drag queens have released amazing music across the board, and have almost created a new genre of what we consider to be "drag music," but there isn't a [clear] definition. It's important for me to capitalize on this momentum and not have definite labels behind what music is. Music is music, and I don't want someone to say it's gay music or LGBTQ music or drag queen music. I want this first launch to be about music. There are more uptempo fun, crazy songs coming, but I wanted to do something different first.
This deal with PEG and Warner Music's ADA is so important for queer representation, though. You have to call that out because it's so significant for the community, right?
There are mixed emotions. It's important to me and I'm so humbled, but I also don't want it to detract from the amazing amount of work other queens have put in as well. Trixie, Alaska, Adore, and so many more have released great music in the community. But, I'm getting this opportunity to be this first and extend a peace-offering to mainstream society to say, "This is what we have to offer, and we're people, too." In politics and society, we're so fixated on labeling things, whether it's your race, gender…. we're so quick to judge and put people in categories.
Why did you land on this sound as the one you wanted to bridge that gap?
The first sound I wanted people to hear after a [hiatus] was something dreamy, ethereal, and vibey. It was important for this first song to be laid back and make you feel an emotional memory or a connection, and feel the music rather than dancing right away. It's a bridge to the next chapter of things I want to release. I wouldn't say this song is the next sound for Blair St. Clair, but it's the bridge between my old sound and a new sound I'm working on. The last time you saw me, I was working through a lot of life's adversities and challenges, and today I have risen above with the care I've given myself.
I love writing and recording, but after my first album, I needed to learn some of the basics. With this new project, I wanted to collaborate with different songwriters. I set ego aside and [let them] teach me some of their ways, because I want to be that next level and I can't do that by myself, so I sat down with writers and producers I hadn't worked with before. This song was written for me, but from my point of view…. [I gave] feedback and tweaked melodies.
That's how the icons' albums come together. You're doing it on the Beyoncé level.
By nature, I'm an intellectual. So, if you were to tell me to write a song, it would be super wordy, really deep, super thought out, and very meta, man! [Laughs]. But, that's not what's popular today. My dream is to be one of the first breakthrough drag queen artists in the U.S. because we don't have that right now…. we don't really have a drag queen leading the pack [in music].
What specific things did you have to get over to be able to do this?
I've learned love isn't easy, but the best parts of love are the intimate moments, the easy love that just happens at the beginning of relationships…. sometimes we think of relationships as inherently [difficult] because there's a lot of work, and loving myself has not been an easy road, either. The main obstacle is learning to get over myself. I hold myself captive by creating problems for myself in spite of other obstacles. A lot of people know I come from a place of healing from sexual abuse, and that's not something I allow to define me, but I've allowed it to be a part of my life; a past chapter in my big book.
It all leads to this sexy video. You're climbing all up on this man, living your beach goddess fantasy. Was that intimidating?
I felt so comfortable. I talked to my boyfriend beforehand about hiring an actor to basically be him. I actually cried at one point during filming because it was so beautiful for me to do. Two years ago, I couldn't do this because I was so afraid of being vulnerable and showing skin, because being vulnerable also meant laying close to someone else, and I wasn't letting people be close to me. This was my full-circle moment, because I feel comfortable in my skin, with my voice, and so I feel comfortable sharing that and living life. It was so special to be able to share that with someone I've never met, but acting as if we'd known each other a lifetime.
How did you find this model?
There was an audition process. I asked [the models] questions, like "What does love mean to you?" or "Have you ever been in love?" and "Is there a difference between sex and intimacy?" A lot of people had similar answers, but [this actor] was forthcoming and a good person with a lot of heart.
What did he say that made you want him?
Something [in the vein of], "To me, there's no such thing as love…. because love is in everything." It's like, very contradictory, but very true! Love is not math. So, why would you give an answer to what love is?
That's so deep. Who wouldn't swoon after that?
I'm pretty sure he's single.
Is he gay?
He's not! He's sweet, and I told him, "Baby, I'm not a real woman!" But, I don't think he cared. As long as you like who I am on the inside, girl, that's all that matters because I live my life half the time in a bathrobe.
It's funny you used a straight man, because we're seeing Madonna, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, and more pop stars using Drag Race girls as actors in their videos. What do you think about that?
We live in an outrage culture where people want to be upset about everything. At the end of the day, queer artists are being celebrated…. Can we just take time to celebrate the fact that we, as queer people, have been screaming for ages to be included and seen at that level? I get what people are saying, that they feel bigger mainstream artists are using gay people as fad items or accessories, but, honey, if they're paying you to be there, show up and shut up! [Because] one day you'll start out as an extra, but the next day you're networking and move up… That's not hurting us, it's giving us more opportunity. I understand some people might be outraged [because they feel] people are misusing queer artists or that we're accessories, but even if — and that's a capital I-F — that's the case, girl, why don't we just ride it for a hot second?
That makes me think of the way people reacted to those New York Magazine covers with the Drag Race girls, which didn't go over well. What are your feelings on that, especially the ranking?
I think the ranking was disrespectful because how dare anyone rank people in order of importance, of talent, or of validity? I'll never rank, judge, or put an order or number on another human being to determine their worth. I think that's wrong. At the same time, I let it roll off my back…. because it's like, New York Magazine is writing about me! I see and hear your opinion, that doesn't mean I agree with you, sweetie. I celebrate that…. Thank you for acknowledging me, I'm grateful that you've done something I've wanted for years: to be seen! But, the next step is: let's educate you on why what you did might not be the best thing. In the future, let's include queer artists again, but let's not pit them against each other.
At the end of the day, a cover girl is a cover girl!
Absolutely I am! You better shout that out to heaven. And it won't be the last time, either!