Warning: This episode contains spoilers for the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11. Read at your own risk!
Between dodging Buckwild’s soaring shoe and casually chilling on a plush sofa as a literal stampede of angry women charged toward her, reality TV’s resident HBIC, Tiffany “New York” Pollard, was called a “drag queen” by a fellow competitor during the iconic Flavor of Love 2 reunion in 2006. Tensions ran high after the 21 ladies vying for Flavor Flav’s affections butted heads (and fists) on the iconic one-hour special, but New York stayed cool, embracing her “drag queen” aesthetic by thanking her detractors and rebranding the intended dig as “fabulous.”
Now, 13 years later, Pollard’s literally sitting pretty on the RuPaul’s Drag Race judging panel in an effort to bring her love for the queer community full circle.
“I am such a drag queen! Literally, I am! I used to have purple hair in high school; I was putting on long claw nails in, like, second grade; I drew and shaved my eyebrows! I am a drag queen,” she tells EW of her appreciation for the art form. “So, when Bootz said that, I was like, ‘Yeah, girl! Finally somebody recognized it!’”
Following the 37-year-old’s long-awaited panel appearance next to RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Ross Mathews, and fellow guest judge Joel McHale, EW chatted with Pollard about her time on the Emmy-winning reality competition series. Read on for the full episode breakdown, during which Pollard discusses her affinity for the Trump-themed challenge’s political satire, her previously expressed fantasy of “sitting on Rosie O’Donnell’s face,” whether she gave McHale (who consistently roasted her as the host of The Soup) a hard time for his past jabs, her peculiar friendship with Omarosa, and why this week’s orange-themed runway had her “seeing red” by recalling her infamous spat with Flavor of Love nemesis Pumkin.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: New York! We’ve been waiting for this moment for ages. You being on this panel is a total match made in heaven, right?
TIFFANY “NEW YORK” POLLARD: That’s what everyone’s saying! I had such a wonderful time. I was mesmerized by the performances and how much effort the queens put into their outfits!
It’s also great because on the Flavor of Love 2 reunion, Bootz called you a drag queen as an insult, but you embraced it and called it fabulous. How does it feel coming full circle as a Drag Race judge, and why do you think you feel such a connection to the drag community?
[Laughs] Yes! I am such a drag queen! Literally, I am! I used to have purple hair in high school; I was putting on long claw nails in, like, second grade; I drew and shaved my eyebrows! I am a drag queen. So, when Bootz said that I was like, “Yeah, girl! Finally somebody recognized it!”
Why do you think you’re such an icon in the community?
I’m so honored they see me as an icon because what I think resonates the most is the heart. We have heart. You can go through so much adversity and still be true to yourself, and that’s going to translate. We both know struggle, and we know how important it is to still stay true to yourself through the struggle and tell the haters they can shove it. We’re going to do us regardless!
Can you give me some adjectives to describe your Drag Race experience? How did it feel being there?
I was mesmerized and in awe. It was legendary! I was sitting there with Ru, Michele, and Ross, I felt honored and privileged to be on that panel because I know a lot of people have been waiting for me to do it.
You said in Untucked that you cried when you got the invite?
I just screamed and dropped my phone. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy. I was leaking! I was crying! I was wet! Everything got a little bit excited!
Had you met Ru before?
I met Ru about three times before guest-judging…. I even went to the Drag Race premiere a few years ago.
So it was pure sisterhood on set?
It was total sisterhood. It was like, “Hey, girl! You lookin’ good, girl! Give me some pointers because I need to shed 10 pounds!” I was asking her because she’s always looking so snatched. It was a girlfriend sisterhood immediately.
Wait, this episode actually isn’t your first time on RuPaul’s Drag Race; Naomi Smalls impersonated you during the season 8 Snatch Game!
[Laughs] I like the way you look at that. Yes, this is not my first time! I got clips of that performance left and right, and I thought she did an amazing job. It was really spot-on. Any time anybody impersonates me, I don’t care if they get it right or wrong — I’m so flattered that I’m going to love it anyway.
I was going to say: The general consensus is that she didn’t do such a good job because that performance landed her in the bottom two!
Oh, trust me [laughs] — I was getting messages like, “Oh, girl, no!” But the fact that she put it on and did the HBIC the best she could, I’m always going to say she really smashed it and did it right.
It’s also funny that you were on the panel with Joel McHale after he spent years cutting up on your older shows when he hosted The Soup. Did you give him some sh— for that?
Joel will get a pass just because he’s so sexy. But he gave me a lot of love because our dressing rooms were literally next door to one another. We talked, we hashed it out, we shook hands, and hugged. He loved me on television and vice versa, so it was respectful!
I was worried that might not be the case! On the other hand, how did you feel about the Rusical and what it said about Donald Trump and the women in his life?
First, I was a little bit scared because I thought somebody was going to ask me to get up and dance. Once I got past that, I felt like we needed to see it and things got brought to light. It was lighthearted, but I feel like in the temperature of what’s going on in the world, it was a perfect challenge for the girls, and they nailed it.
Do you fear the wrath of Omarosa after this challenge?
No, I don’t fear that bitch! I fear no bitch! I can’t say what I really want to say. [laughs]
You can say it!
No, I better be good today…. But hell no, I don’t fear that ho!
As a fan, I should’ve known better.
You know what, let me say this because I’m having fun with you today: She’s actually a really good friend to me. People don’t know that, but we talk a lot. She’s so supportive. We’ve had a relationship for six or seven years now.
Why do you have that connection?
There’s just strength. She recognizes my strength, and I recognize her strength. She does what she does, I do what I do. She’s cool.
I never would’ve thought that. She’s a bit of a controversial figure, and I assumed she represented things you wouldn’t stand for.
A lot of people don’t. All that political stuff, I don’t know about that, I don’t want to know anything about it. If you’re my friend, I’ll keep you as a friend when I meet you. I’m not basing it on the White House stuff!
In White House fashion, the runway theme was orange when you were on — dare I say orange like Pumkin? Was that triggering for you to see so much orange in the vein of your Flavor of Love nemesis?
When I saw the bitches hit the stage with all that orange on, I was seeing red in my mind because it just reminded me of Pumkin’s ass, and I was hoping she was going to walk out there because I was going to jump from behind that bitch and whoop her ass. [Laughs] I wanted that bitch to have a cameo…. I was ready for her!
Shuga Cain came out with that short blonde wig and orange skin. She kind of looked like Pumkin!
[Laughs] She did kind of look like Pumkin! I gave her a pass… and I didn’t want to catch a case. This was my first time on Drag Race, and I knew if I would’ve whooped ass, Ru would never have me back!
Or maybe she would’ve had you on every single episode from now until the end of the show, because that’s great TV.
Damn! See, I should have talked to you prior. I would’ve whooped her ass!
I assure to everyone reading: We are kidding! On a lighter note, how did you feel about the runway looks?
When I saw those clothes I was like, “I need to start dressing better.” There were so many outfits I wanted. That orange coat, those dresses, all that bling… I liked all of the outfits!
You were so happy that Silky won the challenge, because you said big girls need their time in the spotlight, too. Why do you feel so strongly about that?
Society always wants to toss it to someone who’s dedicated to staying in the gym and paying attention to their waistline. If you travel a lot and you’re a working gal, you don’t always have time to work out and do all those things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay beautiful or be thought of as a winner! I love when a plus-sized woman gets recognition and snatches it from a gym rat!
Your own look was fabulous. Why did you choose a Scary Spice reference with your hair?
[Laughs] Wow, she did used to wear her hair like that! Now that you pointed it out, I guess I did reference her, but I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I was just thinking that my weave was nappy and I needed to do something to it in the front. When I got the call, I was like, “What do I wear? How do I do my hair?” But I wanted to stand out, so I put that look together myself!
Is it hard dressing yourself for the Drag Race panel? I imagine you want to be fabulous but not overshadow the queens.
Right! But I wish I would’ve shown more cleavage, damn it! One of those babies was on stage helping me with my hair as I was fixing my dress because I was feeling constricted, I was like, “There are no boobs out!” He was like, “Girl, you look good! You look like you’re going to church!” I thought, “Damn, I knew I should have whipped my girls out.”
Who was this?
Ru’s hairdresser! He came and fluffed me!
What an experience. The other big revelation was you saying that you’ve always had a fantasy of… sitting on Rosie O’Donnell’s face? Explain, please.
[Laughs] Well, I mean, the thing with Rosie is, I’ve always liked her. I grew up watching her stand-up and her movies, so I developed a crush on her in my earlier days…. When she left The View, [she got] that haircut where she had hair on the one side and the other side was shaved, I was like, yes… she’s rough and she’s rugged! She looks like she could change a tire with her teeth, and I love that. It’s the masculine energy I love!
That’s not the image that immediately came to my mind. My fondest memories of Rosie are of her in Harriet the Spy, so I immediately thought, “Oh, New York’s gonna sit on Golly’s face.”
Now you’re getting it!
Seeing you back on VH1 was so great, though, and I was going to ask when the hell we’re getting a new season of I Love New York, but you said in Untucked that you have a man!
I’m not ashamed to say it: I’ve been swapping men like I swap my drawers lately. Some women aren’t able to settle down. I think I have so much love in me that I have to have a man in every single area code, because that’s what I’m doing right now! I’ve already cheated on my man since the last interview I gave.
So it could still happen!
It might happen, but I need a little therapy before it happens because I have to learn how to keep my ass settled down and attached to one man. I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen, though.
Or we could just go with the show Silky proposed on the runway: Chocolate Flavor of Love with New York and Silky, where you help her find love.
I would love to do that!
One last question: How is Sister Patterson?
She’s doing fabulous. She’s actually getting ready to shoot a pilot for a TV situation. My mom is still very much active and in the game. I’m going to help her with a few things, so you’ll be hearing from her!
She didn’t come to Drag Race with you?
She couldn’t make it! She would’ve loved to have been there, but she was in New York at the time. She would’ve died!
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