Leave RuPaul's Drag Race queen Aiden Zhane's short wig alone!
The horror-glam queen tells EW about claims she "gave up" on RuPaul's Drag Race and defends her beloved season 12 sisters against bullying accusations.
RuPaul's Drag Race loves a good wig controversy. While the Federal Bureau of Investigation has — despite evidence presented at last year's season 11 reunion — yet to definitively close the Case of Ariel Versace's Missing Wigs, there's another ongoing matter of hair-based calamity riling up the fandom: Aiden Zhane's teeny, tiny, midnight-hued pussycat.
After enduring endless critiques and shade from fans and fellow queens alike, the small-town Georgian has switched up her wig game in recent weeks, rocking a huge blonde concoction atop her head as a campy interpretation of a claymation yeti for this week's Frozen-inspired runway. But, it wasn't enough to save her from a disastrous performance as Rocky Horror Picture Show actress Patricia Quinn in the perennial Snatch Game celebrity impersonation challenge, and the horror-glam goddess was sent packing after fellow competitor Brita literally brought fireworks to the stage during a lip-sync to "Let It Go."
In the wake of Aiden's sashay away, she had a chat with EW about failing to do Quinn justice during the Snatch Game (which included forgetting to give the Irish actress... well... an Irish accent), viewers' volatile reaction to her introverted approach to the competition, and why she doesn't feel her season 12 sisters bullied her into submission during last week's intense Untucked. Read on for the full interview, and be sure to tune in to the next new episode of RuPaul's Drag Race Friday at 8 p.m. on VH1.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hello Aiden, it’s nice to talk with you again, especially after you told me I was your first interview ever last year! Now I can see how much fame has changed you.
AIDEN ZHANE: Funny how that works; now you’re my last interview of the day!
Hopefully not your last one ever, because it feels like you didn’t enjoy this process! Girl, you caused some controversy — the biggest being that damn short wig! I don’t think we’ve had this much drama over a wig since Ariel Versace. Have you burned the short wig yet or are we rocking that forever?
[Laughs] Really? I haven’t heard. I will never burn my short wig! The public is just going to have to get f—ing used to that wig because it ain’t going nowhere!
Does it have a name? You should sell a line of short Aiden wigs!
No, but it probably should at this point! I had to release a wig shirt after the season started.
Even Bob the Drag Queen got into it with you on Twitter over this wig. That was all playful, right?
Yeah, both of us talked in private messages since then, it was just drag queens throwing shade!
Still, I imagine this is such a weird time for you given how the fans and even some other queens have reacted to you on the show. Do you feel like you were treated unfairly by fans and queens this season — especially by Brita on Untucked?
I’m not somebody who cares to read into a situation, like, “Is this fair or unfair?” Life’s not f—ing fair! For me, it’s about recognizing that no matter what level I’m at, there are always people who don’t understand the drag that I do or who want to tear me down. There are always going to be haters. There’s plenty of love, and that’s what I’m here for.
The word I’ve seen thrown around by fans is “bullied.” Did you feel bullied on Untucked?
I definitely think “bullying” is inaccurate. This competition is high-stakes and high-stress. We all want to be No. 1. It’s only normal that tempers flare. If you’re not doing well, you’re going to find reasons or excuses for that happening, and that means pointing at someone else. I don’t think it was bullying as much as people’s individual struggles with wanting to be the last one standing.
In this week’s Untucked, the queens were coming at you again, saying that they didn’t feel like you wanted to be there. From a viewer’s perspective, it did seem like you maybe gave up. Did you?
I definitely wasn’t giving up. I came into the competition already insecure, because I knew from that I wasn’t coming in with the flashy drag pieces that some of these girls have or with years of experience being on a stage in front of people and having the confidence that that builds. It had nothing to do with giving up or a lack of ambition. I had a lot of insecurities, and having the other girls there to validate those insecurities and be picking at me throughout the season broke me down.
How does it feel now that that’s so misunderstood by viewers, that it was more about internal insecurities than giving up?
The way something might look on TV isn’t necessarily the way it really was, and it’s not because of editing. It has nothing to do with that. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you don’t get to see, all the way up to what the girls are feeling in their heads. To a viewer it might look like somebody is giving up or they don’t care, but in that moment it’s something completely different for that person. They’re dealing with a lot. It’s important to understand that we’re all in this insane competition that, at the end of the day, you can try to prepare yourself mentally for, but it’s a different experience once you’re there.
Can you elaborate on what you were feeling internally?
It was my entire drag history leading up to the show. I’d been doing drag for eight years and I was, for better or worse, a bedroom queen. I hadn’t accomplished breaking into a big city or found a place in the scene with drag sisters…. My fears were confirmed in knowing that I was being judged by the judges and the other girls. Even in moments like the Gay’s Anatomy episode where Ru singled me out and challenged me to come out of my comfort zone, knowing that I was in the top that week, I felt so great about myself, and to immediately be told that I should’ve been in the bottom, that dragged me back down to square one and took any moment I had to feel good about myself.
So, do you regret anything outside the infamous nap?
[Laughs]. The nap became a situation of its own. There are viewers who saw it the same way the queens did, that I was being lazy or didn’t give enough of a s— to stay awake and fight for my spot. When I was making my garment, I remember racking my brain and saying the outfit was too simple. As much as I tried to think of ways to [improve it], it wasn’t coming to me. I had two options: Confidently walk down the runway in what I thought was cute or too simple, or I could start adding s— that could possibly mess it up. I chose the route of keeping it simple versus screwing it all up!
One thing Jackie kept saying was Snatch Game is the challenge that you guys know is coming and have the most time to prepare for. How much did you prepare, because I think you’ll agree your performance didn’t come together.
Obviously you look back and you’re like, “I wish I’d done this differently” or “Why did I do that?” It’s all about reacting in the moment. I chose Patricia Quinn because I’d met her, and I knew what a kooky, crazy character she is. I remember crying in my hotel room the night before and having a personal breakdown, and that day was an amalgamation of all of that stress, and I didn’t deliver. One of my backup characters was Aileen Wuornos. Looking back, I wish I would’ve done that, but it is what it is. I did her in my audition, so, maybe I’ll post a clip!
You said you had lunch with Patricia, though? I need to hear about this.
I used to be in a group of friends who were into Rocky Horror Picture Show and did a [show] in Atlanta for it, so one year for Dragon Con in Atlanta, Patricia came to open the Rocky Horror Picture Show for all of us, and we went out to eat with her and got to talk. She’s very open and straightforward about her drug use in the past and how it affected her, and she’s got so many stories. When you think of that old, crazy, kooky, batty type of woman, that is Patricia Quinn.
Why did you eliminate her Irish accent, then, if you experienced it in person!?
So, yeah, about that… starting off in the Snatch Game, I was so nervous during that challenge [because] of the Untucked before it. I was mentally screwed up in that moment, and Snatch Game is such a high-pressure challenge, I was nervous out of my mind! I remember accidentally starting out without the accent, and then realizing it partway through but thinking, “S—, I started without it, if I switch now, is that going to be worse?” So, I stuck with what I was doing. It wasn’t a good situation!
Did it sting a bit more that Brita had been vocal about wanting to send you home, and that’s what ended up happening in the lip-sync?
I don’t remember even focusing on the fact that it was Brita. I knew I completely bombed Snatch Game and that it would be on television! I knew all the stress I’d already been through so far telling me that I didn’t deserve to be there and feeling insecure, like, are they right? Do I not deserve to be here? But then I remembered my confidence and that I was there for a reason.
I want to make sure I ask you about your message on Facebook, where you atoned for the comments you made about trans queens back in 2018. Everyone has the right to learn and grow. Why did you want to address that?
I stick by what I said in my [new] Facebook post: I believe that all drag is valid and that’s never something I won’t attest to! Life is a learning process and we all need to take that into account and to always try to be a better version of ourselves!