Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
After perhaps the twistiest season finale in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory, fan favorite contender Trixie Mattel claimed the third All Stars crown Thursday night, securing her rightful spot next to Chad Michaels and Alaska in the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Shortly after her victory (and her new album, One Stone, reaching No. 1 on iTunes), EW caught up with the reigning champion to discuss her Trixie & Katya Show cohost’s ongoing recovery, Shangela fans’ backlash against her victory, what “gagged” her the most about the jury’s vote, who she’d like to see on All Stars 4 (hint: it’s a lot of Tammie Brown), and whether BeBe Zahara Benet finally told her whose lipstick she pulled during the infamous BenDeLaChrist episode. Read on for the full interview.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Trixie! What an evening you’ve had. How are you?
TRIXIE MATTEL: It’s totally crazy! And with the album going to No. 1 [on iTunes] last night, I feel like a winner. I was expecting last night to get diagnosed with an illness, just because karma and the universe. I’m probably going to get hit by a bus today. You can’t win Drag Race and have a No. 1 album [without that happening]. Today I’m literally going to be targeted by Isis, and I’m fine with that.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen!
But you’d be the last interview with me alive!
Well, okay then. I hope it does happen. Better for me!
[Trixie does her signature yell-laugh] I love that, it’s so honest! You’re so shady. Were you voting? Were you pulling lipsticks last night?
I wish I was!
Who would you have picked for your top two?
Definitely you and Shangela.
Well, I’ve got Kennedy on the line here. Let’s hear what she has to say about it.
Oh my God. You just Mean Girls-ed me, I can’t. I am, however, so happy you won and I personally think it’s well deserved, but I’m sure you’ve seen that the internet is a bit upset that Shangela didn’t make the top two. Do you agree with that backlash, that Shangela was robbed?
What’s great for me is I didn’t pick it. You can watch my face: I was as surprised as anyone. I hate to give a pageant answer, but what we were looking at was four great options…. I’m such a Shangela fan. I think she exemplifies Drag Race greatness. She’s like the Tiffany “New York” Pollard of Drag Race. She’s like a patron saint of reality TV. I’m sure Shangela thinks Kennedy was great, too, but I think [in the end] Shangela was a bit shooketh by having to face her demons [in front of the jury of eliminated queens].
Did it shock you that only one queen — Thorgy, of all people — voted for Shangela to advance to the top two?
Gagged! Snatched! Gagged! Kennedy said she was a pageant girl who’s really good at interviews. I don’t think a lot of those girls went in knowing whom they were going to vote for, but clearly they knew they were going to vote for Kennedy. She said the right things. To a jury of eliminated queens, they’re looking for some sort of authenticity, and Kennedy always offers authenticity.
But were they voting for Kennedy or against Shangela? Was there a side to Shangela the queens saw, but the audience who loved her didn’t?
Girl, I have no idea! I was as surprised as anybody. I really thought Shangela had the highest scorecard at that point. Like I said in the episode, what happens behind the scenes in the Werk Room, not on the main stage, is important. I guess at some point Shangela must have said or did something that turned the other girls off.
You and Shangela are proof that mostly everyone who goes on this show becomes a star in their own right. Does winning still mean something, these days? Is the crown important?
I was watching the episode last night and during “Kitty Girl” I was like, I would have been proud to lose to anybody…. Zero shame. And they didn’t show me talking about this in the deliberation with the eliminated queens, but I said — to a roomful of girls who’d been eliminated from Drag Race for the second time — “I’ve been you. I’ve been eliminated twice, and I realized that losing Drag Race doesn’t make me a bad drag queen.” The last half of the competition, I wasn’t scared anymore. If I go home, I’m not a bad drag queen. Shangela and I are living proof of that. Winning is great, I’m happy to have won, but we’re living proof that you really are in charge of your own destiny. That sounds so dramatic, but Shangela and I never won. I don’t think winning Drag Race was ever going to make or break us. Shangela and I are both the type of queens who will taffy-pull 15 minutes of fame into something solid. And I always say the real race starts after Drag Race. Nothing was taken from Shangela, taken from BeBe, or taken from anybody else. I was sitting in that room looking at the eliminated queens like, I would have been proud to lose to any of you. They’re all great.
I think the fans, for some reason, they lose sight of that sometimes. As cheesy as it sounds, regardless of who your favorites are, it’s like, this show exemplifies what’s so great about the community: It’s the artistry.
Totally. I guess the words “deserve” or “doesn’t deserve” comes down to personal preference. I know you’re supposed to win and then be like, “I knew I would win!” Bob the Drag Queen and Bianca Del Rio always talk about how they knew they were going to win. I didn’t know it. You can see it in my face. Every time I won something or won a challenge, I was gagged. If you walk into a room full of people that talented you think it’s yours to take, you’re a sociopath. Any given moment, you can go home. I watched this when Katya didn’t win. People were saying that Katya was robbed by Alaska, but something good happening to one person doesn’t take away from anyone else’s shine.
I think the fans need to remember that more often.
That’s also the gay community as a whole, though. We can’t really be happy for anyone else. It’s like if I did stand-up comedy out of drag, I feel like gay people’s instinct would be to say, “He’s okay, he’s not that funny.” But when you put me in drag, they’re like, “Yes queen, yes!” because they’re not threatened. It’s like when lobsters are being boiled and they hold on to each other so that they all die. It’s very that.
Is it difficult to gauge during filming what the reaction from the community will be, what they choose to get angry about and what they’ll ultimately like?
Yeah! It’s like, when Ben left, I knew some people were going to think she’s a Joan of Arc rebel, and some people were going to be mad that she was there in the first place. I knew the eliminated queens were going to be like, we’re trying to be here and you’re just walking out? Or when BeBe didn’t show her lipstick. I know she’s saving face, but the ultimate saving face thing is to be honest about something like that. It doesn’t look great to hide that. We still don’t know who she picked!
I was just going to ask you! She still hasn’t told anybody?
No, I have no idea! We’ll never find out, she doesn’t want any of us to know!
That’s so sh—y!
Stuff like that matters. When it came down to it, when the eliminated queens asked her and she wouldn’t say who she voted for, don’t you think the jury of eliminated queens would find that sort of confusing? I don’t think it would hit their ears and make them feel like it was necessarily a good thing.
It’s like, you’re already in the hot seat in front of them, just lay it out there.
Yeah. People don’t realize Drag Race is a certain percent competition, but it’s also a game show. There’s a certain amount of throwing dice and spinning wheels and there are twists and turns all the time. Part of it is also having the right idea and pulling the right look together that day. We’re all making choices in the moment. Not to negate winning; winning is awesome, but I’ve been a non-winner for three or four years, and I’ve only been a winner for a matter of hours. So I only have experience only being on the losing side.
More positive times ahead for you though, especially with this music!
Yeah! The album’s at No. 1 and The Trixie & Katya Show is still going strong, featuring another Drag Race winner, Bob the Drag Queen. This doesn’t have to do with people thinking I’m a winner, this has to do with people liking Trixie, Shangela, BeBe, Kennedy, everybody. If I could Mean Girls this crown into 10 pieces and share it [I would]. It’s metal and plastic and beautiful and wonderful and I’m so proud of it, but girl, don’t let anything stop you!
Now that you mention Katya, I know a lot of fans are worried about her. Have you spoken to her recently? Is she doing okay?
Yeah, she called me recently to give me some details on how much she’s pursuing her health. We had a short talk, but yeah [she’s okay]. She gave me an exclusive message for this interview if you want to hear it! She says: “The Trixie & Katya Show is on every week, Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET on Viceland.”
…and also that your album is “now available on iTunes,” I’m guessing?
Yes, to quote RuPaul, one of the greats: “Now available on iTunes.”
Speaking of your music, did you hear that Kacey Musgraves is a fan of yours and would be open to featuring you in a music video?
No way! I worship her! I relate to her because folk, country, and Americana music aren’t always seen as the most open-minded areas of music. She’s a beautiful young girl who, the references on the sound of her music tip their hat to older country, but her lyrics are always about being who you are, smoking weed, kissing girls, doing whatever you want. I don’t kiss girls, so we don’t have that in common, but she’s a legend. At such a young age she’s creating music that’s her legacy work already.
I know we’re still super early, but who do you hope to see on All Stars 4?
My dream cast would be Ongina, Laila McQueen, Tempest DuJour, Pearl, Kim Chi, Shea Coulée, and the rest is just Tammie Brown over and over again. My ideal cast is like, 12 Tammie Browns.