"My mentality in this game was not to send Shea Couleé home, it was to send everybody home," Mateo tells EW.

By Joey Nolfi
July 13, 2020 at 08:00 AM EDT
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Bam! Like a firecracker booming from the annals of RuPaul's Drag Race history, season 3 queen Alexis Mateo stormed back into the All-Stars 5 competition with a kick of fire from her iconic chorizo. With an impeccable showgirl drag aesthetic and natural comedic chops, Mateo had no trouble positioning herself as a fierce competitor among newer Drag Race stars vying for the crown alongside her. But, Mateo's mission in sashaying back into the Werk Room nine years after her original run was simple: Be memorable. And her dramatic showdown with India Ferrah (after the latter accused her of mounting a shady campaign to eliminate fan-favorite contender Shea Couleé) prior to her untimely exit Friday night, served as a lasting tribute to her spectacular power to shake up the competition and leave a mark with, in her own words, her mammoth-sized balls.

"She’s a liar," Mateo tells EW of Ferrah's accusation, which caused a rift among the remaining cast members and ultimately led to a unanimous group vote to oust Mateo from the race over a lack of trust. "My mentality in this game was not to send Shea Couleé home, it was to send everybody home. I went there to win the contest. I wasn’t there to get Shea to pack and go home. It was not about Shea or India, it was about me. It’s all about me in the competition."

Still, while Mateo has received death threats and intense backlash from show "fans" over her alleged plot, the 40-year-old is fully subscribed to RuPaul's long-standing, no-nonsense policy when it comes to indulging haters: "I was thinking to myself about how this is such a memorable moment, and I didn’t do this in my previous season. I was a competitive person and I was great on the show, but I never got to be memorable with the fans," she says. "So, going into this season, I spoke my mind, I showed up with the body I wanted to show off, and I did whatever I wanted to do. This is the first time I can say people are talking about me, and I love it!"

Below, read on for EW's full exit interview with Mateo, which features the Puerto Rican beauty's real thoughts on the Ferrah fiasco, and why launching Alexis Mateo's Drag Race might be in the cards. Tune in to the next new episode of RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars 5 Friday at 8:00 p.m. on VH1.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I love that your impact is so strong that Netflix released its Walter Mercado documentary a few days after your Snatch Game.

ALEXIS MATEO: Yes! They were working with VH1 and already knew I did Walter for Snatch Game. So, they contacted me before the episode and told me they were going to air it the following week. I was in shock. What I didn’t know is that Walter Mercado used the same exact jacket [I wore]. I’m Puerto Rican and we always believe in spiritual stuff. But I was like, “No! I just got this at JC Penney!” I didn’t want to look like I was making fun of him!

You weren't! It's one of the many reasons I’m sad we’re doing your elimination interview and not your winner interview. Do you feel more disappointed leaving All-Stars 5 knowing you didn’t make it as far as you did on season 3?

It’s a different feeling. Season 3 was more natural. Going on All-Stars, I knew I wasn’t just playing with new girls from around the country, I was playing with fan-favorites. You already know what these girls are good at. It was more intense, so being in the top five was a bigger accomplishment than season 3. It was better competition and, in my case, better drama!

You showed a bolder side of yourself, especially with the India drama. When I interviewed her last week, she was adamant that you did campaign against Shea when you and Mayhem approached her. Do you maintain that India is lying?

She’s a liar. From the beginning of the show, you could tell Derrick was angry about India’s actions.... It wasn’t a surprise that India threw me under the bus in desperation. She did lie. I didn’t campaign against Shea at any point and I didn’t tell India what to do. I was actually trying to help her through the challenges, because we’ve worked together in Vegas, so I wouldn’t want to carry any animosity into our work…. People tell me that maybe India misunderstood me somehow, but, listen, my English is not that bad, bitch! I speak a lot of languages and I know how to communicate. My vote for Shea, I thought she was the worst one in the challenge and got the worst critiques, and everyone else was my friend! I've got big balls, baby! It was nothing personal.

Did this kill your relationship with India?

Um, yeah. But we spoke through text because I feel like the fans were attacking her and she was taking it personally. I even joked with her and said, “You know what, you and I are Velma and Roxie from Chicago. We’re news this week, and next week there will be new news and someone else will be in the spotlight. Don’t let them get you.” I was thinking to myself about how this is such a memorable moment, and I didn’t do this in my previous season. I was a competitive person and I was great on the show, but I never got to be memorable with the fans. So, going into this season, I spoke my mind, I showed up with the body I wanted to show off, and I did whatever I wanted to do. This is the first time I can say people are talking about me, and I love it!

I do want to clarify, though, Cracker said a few weeks ago that you told her Blair was instigating to get her out of the competition, and Blair denied that. Did Cracker make that up?

Cracker made that up about me telling her that it was Blair. I did tell her that a lot of people roll their eyes because when she talked, the girls rolled their eyes behind her back. I can see when a girl is not likable to the other girls. So, that’s what I said when she tried to confront me: “I’m just being your friend, girl. A lot of girls don’t want you here. They think you’re annoying, so, keep it cute with me.”

I think that’s what Cracker used to cover her question and not make it sound like it was coming from her. In war and love, everything is valid. So, it’s ok! I feel like Cracker thought, let me use Alexis’ name because nobody has the balls to go after Alexis. Nobody is going to bring s— to Alexis. I was the wrong bitch to f— with, let’s just put it that way!

Mayhem is the missing piece in the India drama because he wasn’t there to defend himself or dispute India’s claims. What have your discussions with Mayhem been like?

I watched his Whatcha Packin' interview and he said there was no campaigning at all. I knew he was going to vote for Shea. I didn’t even have to ask anybody.... If we would’ve had the old format of All-Stars this season, I would’ve lip-synced at least three or four episodes, having been consistently in the top. My mentality in this game was not to send Shea Couleé home, it was to send everybody home. I went there to win the contest. I wasn’t there to get Shea to pack and go home. It's not about Shea or India, it's about me. It’s all about me in the competition.

The fandom came at you pretty hard. Assuming India is not telling the truth, as you say, do you wish she would’ve considered the position this put you in?

Yes. I feel like I got eliminated unfairly just because the girls still had that question in their heads. As soon as India left, I knew I was going to go home next, because it’s a strong accusation and none of us have proof of who did or who didn’t. I was the next target. I felt like the little kid that nobody wants to play with at the playground. Their relationship with Blair is stronger than their relationship with me, because none of the girls in the top, except for Jujubee, have an early Drag Race fanbase. I was disappointed with the fanbase of the show — not my fanbase. The new generation has been so mean. We do something because we love it so much, and it becomes our biggest nightmare. It has been a difficult time for all of us. I know how stressed out we were to not say the wrong things because the fandom has exploded into a hate generation. It’s scary to hear people you think are your fans saying, “I used to like you last episode, but today I hope you die.”

I hope you hear the love people have for you much louder.

Of course!

Your runways were great this season. A kiddie pool under your dress? Camp brilliance!

It was one of my favorites. I was surprised I was eliminated because it was one of the best dresses there. I kept it in my style and it was well done. I’m a good sewing person! It was a great run on Drag Race, period.

How long did it take you to make that solo cup gown?

Probably like an hour or an hour and a half. I was very slow because I felt like everybody else was going slower than me, so I didn’t want to have a Tyra Sanchez moment finishing my garment and then sleep on the sofa.

Did you like that this challenge was getting back to creating by hand?

I loved it. It reminded me of season 3, the Project Runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race. We made three or four garments per episode!

I’m glad you didn’t leave the Werk Room this time like you did on season 3. Your stress management is better!

I was so mad because we didn’t have any zippers, and I asked for a zipper for a long time and they couldn’t find it, so I was like, I’m leaving, let’s see if they’ll find a f—ing zipper! [Laughs].

What’s next for you?

I haven’t had the experience to travel outside the United States, so I’d love to be part of those girls who travel outside the country. I would love to be more involved with World of Wonder and on the show. We have so many podcasts about Drag Race and reviews and fashions, but we don’t have anything dedicated to the Latin community, and we have a huge fanbase. I want to work in music, and I’d love to go into a new section of Drag Race. It’s moving into Canada, U.K., Thailand, why not do it in Latin America?

Puerto Rico! Alexis Mateo’s Drag Race!

Um, hello! It would be amazing!

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