RuPaul's Drag Race's Robbie Turner breaks silence on car crash controversy
Since its 2009 debut, RuPaul’s Drag Race has solidified itself in the pop cultural canon as a producer of top-tier entertainers who command the global stage with impeccable dedication to their craft. But, earlier this month, season 8 contestant Robbie Turner — an endearing performer in her own right — stole the spotlight in atypical fashion.
On the afternoon of Sunday, April 15, the Seattle-based performer posted a series of alarming messages on social media indicating that her late-night Uber had been involved in a fatal DUI accident, which allegedly killed Turner’s driver and sent the TV personality to the hospital with minor injuries. When EW inquired with the rideshare company and the Seattle Police Department, neither had records of any driver-related deaths on the evening of April 14.
Naturally, the question remains: what really happened to Robbie Turner? The Drag Race community took matters into their own hands, of course, with some of Turner’s sisters — including Trixie Mattel, Bianca Del Rio, and Kim Chi — mocking the incident online, while fans posted derogatory comments on her various social profiles. Now, for the first time since the alleged incident and ensuing controversy, Turner is telling her version of events in an exclusive interview with EW.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you explain why you posted the tweets about being in a car crash?
ROBBIE TURNER: I woke up with bruises on my body, and I woke up with a headache, so my initial reaction was I thought I had a concussion. I was worried because I was alone… I wasn’t going to be seeing anyone for a few days. I usually try to rest and sit still after a weekend of shows. And I more or less woke up worried that I had a concussion, [so I] made a scheduled post for when people would be waking up Sunday morning… I was already falling asleep and was panicking… I did wake up with very large bruises and a headache, and I’ve always had this irrational fear of concussions.
Where did you get the idea that you’d been in a car accident, though?
After days of poking around and sleuthing to figure out everything I had gone through, days later I saw footage of me coming home, getting out of a car, and getting into my apartment okay. What [I] think happened is that I was slipped something [in my drink], because I didn’t drink that much that night, and [that I] slipped and fell in the shower. The hat I was wearing is completely bent and gross, so we think I hit my head in the shower, got out of makeup, went to bed, and had a very vivid and ridiculous dream.
I’m sorry, but to confirm: You think you slipped in the shower or you were slipped something in your drink?
Both, because I didn’t drink that much that night… I went home immediately after [being out]. I don’t 100 percent remember leaving, and I do not remember coming home at all. At the time that I came home, I had this vivid dream and thought it was 100 percent real, especially once I woke up and had large contusions on my thighs, shoulder, and my head was pounding.
When you woke up, did you attempt to contact the authorities to confirm what had happened?
No, I didn’t, because when I woke up I thought that I had already been to the emergency room. I had a very vivid recollection of being in an emergency room talking with them and a girl trying to calm me down and whatnot, because I still had my drag face on, but not the body and the costume, and I remember her trying to calm me down and telling me that it was going to be okay… and I remember hearing other things from other parts of the hospital, so I woke up honestly thinking that I’d already been seen and that I was home and I was panicked that they released me though I might be having a concussion.
Can you give an affirmative statement one way or the other that the car crash did or did not happen?
Yes. After doing my own sleuthing I went to the hospital and got an affirmation that I had not been seen on Sunday like I thought I had, which was horrifying and embarrassing… And so I spent the next few days resting and trying to find out [what happened] from the police and the hospital and everything was turning up into a weird dead end and almost becoming comical to the professionals that I was seeing. I thought I was losing my mind…. A friend of mine who is a therapist came over and told me that I should get a psych evaluation for the whole scenario, so I spent the next few days after that speaking to crisis counselors, and when I was finally seen by a psychiatrist. I talked to them about everything that has been going on, even prior to the accident, because it’s just been kind of a nightmare in my personal life. There have been many deaths and a lot of loss, and the social worker and psychiatrist [said] it sounds more like I had a mild mental break, and it was triggered by slipping in the shower and being slipped something [in my drink].
Have you ever had that experience before, of being drugged by a stranger?
The only other time was when I was 21, but that was a completely different scenario. I was 100 percent blacked out and woke up at some random man’s house without being harmed at all, so it was a completely different experience. I also… have had these dreams before, but always had the wherewithal to be like, no, that was a dream…
I know you also work at Queer/Bar, and the owner made a statement to The Stranger where he said you’d be taking a break from your gig at the establishment to focus on what’s best for you. What does he mean by that, and is it true that you’ll be taking a break?
I am taking a break. I haven’t had one in a very long time and it’s related to a lot of personal issues and stress, so yes, I am taking a break more or less to get myself back on track.
What do you want to focus on during the break?
After speaking with professionals it’s obvious that I need to be taking antidepressants at the moment, which I haven’t been, because I’d never felt the need to be seen by professionals before, but things have just been piling up and it’s harder to deal with things on my own.
Is there something to be taken away from this experience, not just for you, but for fans of the show who were giving you a lot of grief?
There’s absolutely a larger bullying community now, and I think people like to use the term “calling out” as a cover, as a guise to what they’re actually doing, which is bullying someone. I personally don’t read a lot of the comments, and the things that I have seen have been screen shots that a friend will send… I don’t want to see any of it. I’m already fully aware of what happened and what’s happening. But it is interesting to see that side of people that I’ve worked with in the Drag Race community. It’s like, well, I hate to point it out, but no one is perfect and everyone makes large mistakes that they regret whether it be on a public level or not… Unfortunately, I don’t think people have control, and they start reading one thing and turn it into a giant campaign to basically eviscerate someone when they don’t actually have 100 percent of the proper information.
I did see a lot of your Drag Race sisters posting about the incident as well in a mocking way. Trixie Mattel, Raja, Kim Chi, Bianca Del Rio… they all posted about the incident on social media. Did that sort of shatter your impression of the Drag Race sisterhood we hear so much about?
I was never fooled that there was a sisterhood in the beginning. I mean, we don’t all see each other and we don’t call each other. Basically, once you’ve gone through the gamut of Drag Race, the only time you really see the girls is if you are on a specific tour with them. Even if you were friendly prior to Drag Race, you don’t really see and/or talk to every single girl regularly. So, I’m not terribly surprised. Not one of the girls that you mentioned reached out to me once, so I’m not completely surprised that those are the types who said something because they’re trying to remain current, and talking about somebody else’s drama gives them material, I guess. I’ve just never been that person because I don’t see the point of kicking people who are down because it’s an unfair advantage.
Do you have any regrets about this experience and have you learned anything from all of this?
I’m a little horrified that I did publish it in the first place, and looking back it’s always easier in hindsight… but fear I think is a powerful motivator, and I was so fearful that I was not going to wake up, so I made a plea for help, and if you read the original post it was clearly scrambled… reading it now I’m like, oh my goodness, why did I post anything? I should have called someone to come over [and] take me back to the hospital if I was having an issue.
Why have you not deleted the tweets, then?
I haven’t looked at my social media at all since this whole thing exploded. [Laughs] My mother has. The way I was raised, I don’t shirk things. You’re supposed to admit what you did wrong and not be a coward about it. The goal [is to] move forward about what we need to be doing the proper way. We discussed deleting the tweets…. Do I keep them up and, say, learn something? But it has just never been something that I was brought up to hide mistakes, so I never thought to go run to social media and take it down because I knew that would cause some other kind of thing. Plus, at the time when everything was just lightly starting to hit the fan, I was already going to hospitals, the police station, starting crisis counseling and a psych evaluation, so I was already doing things that I was so preoccupied with. Facebook and Twitter were not on my mind at all. It was more like [asking myself]: “What is happening? You remember this, so what’s wrong?” And that was more fearful to me than what anybody could say on social media — including Drag Race girls.