Drag Race icon Heidi N Closet snatched names, RuPaul's ideas, and hearts
There's a gap in our hearts as big as the one between Heidi N Closet's adorable front teeth.
Months before RuPaul's Drag Race season 12 premiered, the cast of queens assured EW Heidi was the lady most likely to literally snatch your wig for her own. True to their word, across the Emmy-winning franchise's current season, the North Carolina native "borrowed" everything from advice on how to approach challenges to (several) new names RuPaul suggested for her — but the most important thing she stole during season 12 were the hearts of fans who fell in love with her from the moment she entered the Werk Room literally shrieking at the top of her lungs.
Until her untimely elimination from the competition on Friday night, Heidi served up one of the freshest personalities Drag Race has ever seen, coupled with her unique harnessing of the English language ("leprosy print," "korrography," and "civil rights hair" are now officially part of the collective American vocabulary) and a genuinely kind soul that made her an instant frontrunner for the Miss Congeniality title. While her chutzpah carried her through the first half of the competition, her approach to this week's one-woman show challenge got the best of her, as her ambitious recreation of a family cookout burned her and she was sent packing as season 12's loveable lip-sync assassin.
EW caught up with the queen shortly after her elimination for a discussion about her proudest moments on TV, what it was like confronting guest judge Nicki Minaj over her pointed critique of Heidi's makeup, whether she plans on officially changing her drag name per RuPaul's suggestion, and reveals the real story behind the failure of her infamous super fan makeover look. Read on for the full Q&A below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: From the moment I met you last year, you cracked me up, but your Werk Room entrance with that whistle thing you did with your tongue took it to a new level. What in the hell was that?
HEIDI N CLOSET: I’ve always made a bunch of weird noises. Sometimes I just sit around and see what noises I can make. One day I came across it and I dubbed it my mating call. It doesn’t work!
It’s not that deep, you just like making noises?
It’s literally just that I love making weird noises. It’s a nice joy in life!
You also caught people’s attention when you looked Nicki Minaj in the eye and asked her why she didn’t like your makeup. Was that as terrifying of an experience as it appeared to be? [Gasps] For who? I wasn’t scared. [Laughs] My grandmother raised me to never be scared to ask questions. She raised me to only be scared of two things in this world: God and her!
So there were no mysterious cars from Nicki’s squad following you after the show?
They better not. They don’t know who they’re messing with. I think she answered the question very well and calmly. It was a nice little exchange. I don’t think she expected to answer that question. She was more surprised than anything!
Was that moment was a shift for you? Your makeup got better after that.
Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever done the exact same face ever. I kept trying to change shades, shapes, and blushes. It started an amazing journey.
Has being on the show changed your approach to drag in general?
It opened my eyes up to what more I can do. Before the show, I’d never done comedy or that much hosting!
I can’t believe you’d never done comedy before, because you’re so naturally hilarious. Especially when you coined many terms this season: Leprosy print, "watch the wall dry," civil rights hair, korrography… Where does the dictionary of Heidi N Closet originate?
Honey, it’s that good old Randolph County education. I’m just having fun! I talk, curse... whatever’s in my head flows out of my mouth. There’s no filter. I was having fun the whole season. It was just nonsense flowing out of my mouth.
The one that I love the most is “civil rights hair.” Where did that come from?
I was watching a YouTube video and someone said that their civil rights hair was showing, and I was like, yes, this is what I came here for. This is the content I deserve and needed in my life right now, so I started saying it. It’s that good, old hair that you don’t show off. It’s your au naturel hair that you're not supposed to let anybody else see. If someone comes over to your house, you put a rag on your head or a headscarf. That’s my next drag daughter’s name: Heidi Underthewig.
Well, yes, you’re a wizard with names. You had, what, seven names this season?
Yes, I’ve had [whistles through teeth] ssseveral.
Had anyone before RuPaul told you that your name was bad?
No! It never came up!
Are you genuinely thinking of changing your name?
It’s floated in my mind here and there, so maybe it will come to fruition to what we settle upon.
In addition to your name, some of your competitors voiced their doubts about how far you’d go this season, but you proved them wrong. The way you defended Aiden in Untucked, was that a byproduct of you feeling like the other queens doubted you, so when you saw them doing that to Aiden, you stood up for her?
It was definitely part of it. I knew exactly how she was feeling in that moment. The girls had been doubting me as well, so I knew what she felt like being a small-town queen going up against big-city queens. I was like, this is not right at all and a switch flipped!
Brita actually quit social media after that moment led to people calling her a bully. What do you think of that?
I think fans are entitled to their opinion, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. When people take a moment to send death threats to someone, or hateful, awful speech you wouldn’t even wish on your worst enemy, that’s just wrong and unnecessary. Instead of sending negativity because they were projecting insecurity onto your favorites, maybe send the person who was on the receiving end of that negativity some love instead of spreading more negativity?
Let’s move on to this week. The first question I have is: Can I please get an invite to your next family cookout when quarantine lifts?
Come on! Let’s go! I’m planning on having a cookout at my house as soon as it’s lifted, so if you want to come, come on!
Your family seems like such characters.
You have no idea!
Have you prepared them for how you portrayed them on the episode? Did you tell them that you laid out all the family secrets and the truth behind their potato salad being disgusting?
Nope! They’re just going to have to take it. They don’t pay my bills!
Is the potato salad really that bad?
Oh, you think that’s bad… you have no idea! I kept it tame for the show. Maybe if I’d gone all the way, maybe I would’ve stayed.
The concept was great, but why don’t you think this challenge worked out for you?
I think it was just, in the short amount of time we had, a tad bit too ambitious. At that point, I thought I had to go big or go home. So I went big and went home. I did both. I’d rather go home for playing to win than staying for playing it safe.
Do you think Jackie Cox was sabotaging Jaida by making her go last, or was Jaida’s going to flop no matter where it came in the lineup because of how bad her show was?
It was going to be bad no matter what place it was going to be in. It was awful, it was terrible. Justice for Heidi! [Laughs] I’m just kidding! It wasn’t sabotage. But Jaida’s performance, it could’ve been first, last... it was going to be bad no matter where it was.
The moment where you blew a kiss to Jaida during the lip-sync was so sweet. Was that a goodbye kiss? Did you feel, in that moment, like you were going to be eliminated?
Oh, I knew I was going to get eliminated before the lip-sync. There’s no way I was going to stay. I’ve lip-synced four times! But I went out here and entertained like I always do. It was a farewell kiss. It was like “I love you and I'm glad it's you."
I also want to ask you about last week, because your look was so good for the makeover, but Nicole’s look felt like you ran into unforeseen circumstances because she ended up wearing someone else’s dress. What’s the real story behind that?
I was supposed to wear two totally different garments, but Nicole was more voluptuous in some regions, and I wasn’t going to take [her] down. In order for her to feel comfortable and confident, I made sure she felt beautiful. I think the outfit itself was cute, it just didn’t go with what I was wearing. I feel like I still won because she felt so beautiful and confident. We talk all the time, and she says it was a life-changing experience. When I can touch somebody in a way that helps them change their life for the better, that’s worth more than a $5,000 cash prize for winning a makeover challenge.
What do you want people to remember most about you from this season, before you’re on All-Stars 6, that is?
[Screams]. They haven’t called yet, so I don’t know! But I want people to know it doesn’t matter where you come from, as long as you have that drive and determination and willingness to continue to grow, you can do whatever you put your mind to!