With a headful of natural, luscious blond locks cascading over her shoulders and genuine, home-grown lashes adorning her eyes, you can tell Trixie Mattel is a woman of her word just by looking at her. So you’d better believe her when she says her upcoming reunion with her Trixie & Katya Show cohost at RuPaul’s DragCon New York won’t be as meticulously drawn as the contour on her cheeks.
“Katya’s probably going to give a presentation on timeshares…. I’d be lying if I said we’d planned anything,” the RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3 champion tells EW of the impending panel, which is set to mark the duo’s first performance together since Katya announced earlier this year she’d take a break from performing — including temporarily vacating her cohosting gig on the pair’s Viceland talk show — after struggling with relapsed substance abuse. “It’s essentially a live version of The Trixie & Katya Show. What’s different is we incorporate current events or we get to answer fan questions. Most of the time we just do fan questions like a panel where people ask us about our characters or the genesis of the show or what topics we’d like to do but never got to do. And this year Katya and I had some semi-public ups and downs. I’ve had most of the ups; she’s had most of the downs…. The best thing we can get out of it is to come up with something in the moment.”
In other words, they’ll cover a range of topics via their signature mode of improvised, back-and-forth dialogue. And perhaps with a new perspective guiding Katya’s brand of humor.
“It’s the difference between going to work on your own terms and going to work when you’re maybe not necessarily in control of your own vehicle,” Mattel adds of working with Katya after her break. “We’ve both resolved to do drag at our own speed and do whatever we want. But obviously her operating and doing drag in a healthier state is both easier and harder, I’m sure.”
Fans can find out for themselves at RuPaul’s DragCon NYC, which runs Sept. 28-30 at the Javits Center in Manhattan. Head to the event’s official website for ticket information and a full list of attendees, panels, and more, and read on for EW’s full preview with Mattel, during which she discusses what to expect from DragCon this year (alert: Blair St. Clair will put Hairspray star Nikki Blonsky in drag on stage), and offers tips to rabid fans who want to make a good impression at their favorite queen’s meet-and-greet.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m so excited to see you at DragCon — it’s going to be my first time going so I’m not quite sure what to expect!
TRIXIE MATTEL: It’s very overwhelming but it’s very fun. If you want to see me, you’re going to have to Mortal Kombat through hundreds of crying teenage girls. I’m like the Justin Bieber of the drag world.
That’s a lovely comparison. You’re so humble!
Yeah. But DragCon is fine! You have to know what you’re going to do. You have to have a plan. You can’t just walk in there and be like, “Hmmm, I guess I’ll stop by RuPaul’s booth and wave.” You need to be like, “This day I’m meeting so and so, and this day I want to go shopping and I have a list of all the booths I want to go to.”
So I have to start making a list?
Otherwise, you’re going to get there and feel overwhelmed. By the way, the food always sucks. Make sure you bring some Kind bars.
Or some mozzarella sticks like Kim-Chi at a strip club?
Yeah, that’s clearly more of a striptease food.
Is your little Jeep coming back?
No, I kind of retired that. In the drag world if you do something once you’re good, but otherwise you’re an outfit repeater. Teenage girls will fight you on YouTube. God forbid you wear a wig twice. It’s always some f—ing bitch from Iowa like, “Wow, you must really like that f—ing wig.” Okay, Carol. It’s always Carol.
We have to avoid pissing her off. One thing everyone’s happy about, though, is your reunion with Katya. I hear it’s going to be a five-hour discussion on the feminist themes in the 1997 cinema classic Contact.
Oh my God. You know that song “If I Had a Hammer”? If I had a hammer I would go to my garage and start smashing… I probably have 15 DVDs, five VHS tapes, a Blu-Ray… I have so many copies of Contact against my will.
So that won’t be a topic of discussion?
No, I don’t feature that film. I’ve never even seen it. At this point, I’m too angry to watch it because it’s been ruined for me. This reunion, we’re seeing each other and doing a panel. Katya and I, both times we’ve had a panel we’ve had the most attended one every year.
It’s billed as “coverage you can count on from women you can trust.” What kind of coverage is this?
It’s a full coverage. [Long pause] Are you talking about foundation? You can trust us to go out there and not lead anybody astray. She and I solely trust our laurels. We trust fall onto each other. And we usually end up doing the funniest and/or most interesting thing we can come up with.
Is this a presentation in the vein of what we’ve seen from you guys on the show?
I’m going to be doing blending tips and Katya’s probably going to give a presentation on timeshares.
Oh God. Give me something!
Do you want the RuPaul answer? We’re going to talk about love. That’s the Drag Race answer. I mean, I’d be lying if I said we’d planned anything.
So, it’s like improv?
People come to us for a choreographed, deep intellectual dive into the ethics of drag. Katya and I sort of operate as non-drag queens but we have a community in drag. It’s essentially a live version of The Trixie & Katya Show. What’s different is we incorporate current events or we get to answer fan questions. Most of the time we just do fan questions like a panel where people ask us about our characters or the genesis of the show or what topics we’d like to do but never got to do. And this year Katya and I had some semi-public ups and downs. I’ve had most of the ups; she’s had most of the downs. One year, this girl was like, “I wrote an erotic fan fiction of you!” and I said, “No thank you!” but she proceeded to read it anyway. We don’t have a whole lot of control!
The best thing we can get out of it is to come up with something in the moment. We take the opportunity to interact with fans in a more direct way… it’s normally just us two.
To you, does Katya feel like a different performer or a different person after her hiatus?
I don’t know. It’s the difference between going to work on your own terms and going to work when you’re maybe not necessarily in control of your own vehicle. We’ve both resolved to do drag at our own speed and do whatever we want. But obviously her operating and doing drag in a healthier state is both easier and harder, I’m sure. I’d rather go to work drunk… That’s the great thing about being drag queens is we don’t have pageant answers because we’re not real celebrities because we’re barely human. We get to operate outside of [something] like this interview, for example. But I basically don’t have a good answer for that question because, even though we’re close friends, I don’t feel comfortable [talking about it].
We don’t have to talk about it! What can you say about a potential season 2 of The Trixie & Katya Show though? Is there any news on that front?
RuPaul’s the executive producer of it, so if I say anything out of line he’d have me killed in a minute. He’s got my house bugged, but I bed-bugged his house.
Nice payback! So, you’ve done a few DracCons now. I’m wondering why you think DragCon New York 2018 is the place to be for fans this year?
The New York one is pretty big. I prefer the L.A. one because I’m lazy and it’s down the street from me. The New York one is crazy. It’s so weird because queens and people attending the con will probably be staying in similar hotels, so that’s always weird because you’re in drag in an elevator trying to get up to your room and there’s a girl next to you hyperventilating. I haven’t done all of my research yet, but there seem to be a few different panels. Blair St. Clair is putting Nikki Blonsky in drag for one, I think?
I love the thought of Blair St. Clair and Nikki Blonsky doing a makeover together.
If you don’t go to any panels, you sort of miss out on the experience. In L.A., I went to RuPaul’s keynote sitting next to Michelle Visage listening to him talk about being in the industry as long as he has been. He’s like Yoda. Not that he’s wise, he just wears long dresses and is really wrinkly.
Wait, you can say that but you can’t talk about season 2 of Trixie & Katya?
Yeah, he won’t get me for that. You have to at least pick up one or two official [pieces of] DragCon merchandise because RuPaul’s Drag Race and World of Wonder, they always put out a hoodie or a tote bag or like a set of acrylic pins that are specifically for that. It’s kind of like the ultimate souvenir.
Are there things fans do at meet-and-greets that annoy you? What are your tips for meet-and-greet etiquette?
Don’t touch anybody’s hair! In fact, don’t touch anybody unless you ask first. Also, wear deodorant. I have definitely had guys walk up to me, put their arm around me, and when they walk away my shoulder smells like taco meat. Think of the children! Also, know what you’re going to say when you get up there to the drag queens. Just have an idea. We’re tall and scary, and I’m telling you if you’re in line and you don’t make a plan you’re going to get up there, panic, and blackout. Just because drag queens up close are so scary. It’s not you, it’s us! We’re just horrifying. It ends up being like Jurassic World like, “You know me, Blue. You know me.” Like a standoff.
You’re doing a lot to calm people’s nerves by comparing yourself to a dinosaur.
Yeah, so just [prepare]: “I’m going to say I like your hair” or “have a good day.” The other thing for everybody going to DragCon — I know you want to turn looks, but turn looks with a pair of sandals in your bag because you’re going to be so mad if you’re walking around all day in heels. That’s why at DragCon normally you’ll clock me in cowboy boots or some sort of flat because basically I do meet-and-greets for four to six hours a day, which is a lot. Even the drag queens, we’ll pick looks with no corset. flat shoes, and hair off the neck because it gets so hot sometimes or your feet just hurt!
I know that Charles M. Blow is going to be with RuPaul for a series of talks, which is something RuPaul has never really done before outside of his keynote, right? Why is that important this year?
RuPaul might not broadcast herself as political, but I think she tries to make moves in American history by catching more flies with honey than vinegar. Rather than telling people to vote, maybe she’ll do a mini-challenge on voting. She understands that you can influence people in a good way without preaching. RuPaul, at her core, she’s a force for good, so it’s unsurprising that she would take an opportunity to showcase somebody’s voice!