RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars winner Alaska turned controversy into charity money
This post contains spoilers about RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 2.
Behind all the wigs, contoured cheekbones, sequins, and stunning, fierce, yellow fashion tape, Alaska, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars‘ second season, is a refreshingly starry-eyed theater kid hungry for your undivided attention.
“I’m just really grateful I get to have my picture on the wall next to RuPaul and Chad Michaels!” the 31-year-old, relishing her reign as America’s Next Drag Superstar, squeals during a recent interview with EW.
Alaska’s journey to the top wasn’t easy — in fact, she almost didn’t get the chance to compete at all, let alone take the crown; the western Pennsylvania native auditioned multiple times across the show’s seven-year history, finally landing a spot on season 5 and ultimately finishing in second place.
“I was more focused this time. Last time I just wanted to be everybody’s Good Judy, be everybody’s friend, and not make any waves,” she says of returning to the competition, which saw her squaring off against fan-favorites like Alyssa Edwards, Katya, Detox, and Tatianna. “This time I went in and I said, ‘I want to do so well that I make people mad,’ and I think I did.”
Read on for Alaska’s full EW interview, in which she spills the tea on Rolaskatox’s ongoing blood sacrifices, breaking down gender barriers, and what she really did with that $10,000 she promised to pay Detox for keeping her in the competition.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I have to know: Did you follow through and pay Detox that $10,000 for saving you?
ALASKA: Well, I tried. She said no. But, I wanted to karmically make up for being such a brat, so we decided to donate $10,000 to the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation. Hopefully that blood-bribed money can actually go to a good cause. We both donated $5,000!
Good for you! A lot of those people watch this show for inspiration. How would you say, from your experience, Drag Race is influencing the art form or changing the community for the better?
I think RuPaul’s Drag Race, as a show and as a phenomenon, is really important, and I think we might not realize its impact until many years pass. It’s remarkable that there’s a show where gender boundaries are completely eliminated. We’re talking about a room full of guys calling each other “she,” and nobody bats an eye. I can’t imagine being a kid and watching a show like this on TV. I’m very excited for the young children; I hope they spend less time filling my inbox with snake emojis and more time being kind to one another, being aware of really important issues like Black Lives Matter, making sure Donald Trump does not get into office, and getting women paid an equal wage.
Why do you think it’s so important to break down gender barriers, specifically?
We [need to] break down this strict, “men do this and women do that” [mentality]. The more we break that down and realize everybody is a little bit in between, we’re going to move toward a more peaceful planet, a more harmonious planet, and a more Star Trek future.
Do you think you approached the competition differently this time around?
I was more focused this time. Last time I just wanted to be everybody’s Good Judy, be everybody’s friend, and not make any waves. This time I went in and I said, “I want to do so well that I make people mad,” and I think I did.
Who do you think is mad at you?
Everybody, because I won!
I hope you didn’t make any members of Rolaskatox angry! How has your friendship with those girls been since you won the show?
We get together every full moon and sacrifice lambs and drink the blood of virgins [laughs]. No, we’re fine. I’m cool with all the girls from this season. I don’t think anybody came out of it really hating each other, which is good.
Would you have held it against Detox or Roxxxy if they’d won over you?
I don’t know. You’ve seen how I act when I don’t get my way, so it probably wouldn’t have been good.
Yeah, you had that meltdown toward the end, there. Looking back, do you stand by that outburst and do you think it helped you get into the right headspace to win?
When you’re in that environment, it’s really scary. Naturally you have an instinct to cling to your friends and cling to people who make you feel comfortable. That’s what you do when you’re in a situation that’s out of your comfort zone, but that’s also not the point of being [on the show]. I don’t think that’s what RuPaul wants us to do, so we have to push ourselves out of what makes us comfortable. We all have to do that. We have to go to the end standing alone, so I’m glad I did that.
If you read Phi Phi O’Hara’s interview with Vulture, she’s under the impression Ru might also want you guys to clash. Phi Phi said she feels like you’re all just “game pieces” on the show. How does hearing something like that make you feel? Do you think you were misrepresented?
I’m not the person to blame editing because I did everything I did and I said everything I said, and I would do it all again. Do the producers want us to be in situations that are high-conflict and high-drama? Uh, absolutely, because it’s a TV show. I think we all knew that going into [production], and I think they delivered this season.
In terms of your final runway look, what was the thought of contrasting the blue body paint during the performance with the gown on the runway? I feel like we saw some of the early, classic Alaska there.
Totally! I wanted to showcase every possible silhouette and reference and style of drag. Every time you go on stage is another opportunity to do that, and a lot of girls did that [this season]. What better way to [show off] than to be the trashy, filthy, monster drag queen that I am inside and contrast that [with the dress]?
I don’t want to classify your style of drag because it’s so dynamic, but did you find it difficult to transcend the idea of the drag queen people thought you were heading into this competition?
Yeah, I like surprises. I can be pretty, I just prefer not to.
What’s so appealing to you about doing drag that isn’t conventionally pretty?
It’s more comfortable. Wearing hair like [I did on the final runway makes me] afraid to touch it! You’re afraid to move because you don’t want anything to fall out place. Personally, I like drag that’s a little rough around the edges, drag you can run around in it, drag you can get in the Uber without worrying about!
Speaking of rough around the edges, you and Sharon Needles both got your start in Pittsburgh. Do you think it’s a little odd for what many people might consider to be a more traditionally conservative city to have such a thriving drag scene? Why do you think Pittsburgh is cultivating such a unique brand of drag?
Pittsburgh’s definitely the city where I learned how to be on a stage, hold a microphone, and interact with an audience. It’s where I got my chops as an entertainer and as a performer, so I’m grateful to the queer community there because they are active and vocal and they care about each other. Pittsburgh is an underdog city because it’s been in a recession for a really long time, since the steel industry collapsed, so it has this underdog mentality. Yeah, there are a lot of people who are conservative, but I also think they want to rally around their Pittsburgh people. Whether it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers or Sharon Needles, it’s the same thing.
RuPaul — as host, mentor, and creative inspiration — decides who's in and who's out.