Drag Race queen India Ferrah is living her truth whether you like it or not
During the episode's lipstick deliberation, the season 3 queen finished at the bottom of the pack for the fourth consecutive week after a lackluster performance as Jeffree Star in the Snatch Game of Love celebrity impersonation challenge. Fighting for a chance to remain in the competition, Ferrah snatched the nation's collective wig upon revealing to the week's top all-star, Shea Couleé, that fellow contestants Alexis Mateo and Mayhem Miller had mounted a secret campaign to oust the front-running queen from the race. With no verifiable proof to either confirm or dispute Ferrah's claims, fans became engaged in a bitter war over which queen was telling the truth, but Ferrah maintains that the chilled-out headspace she's honed since her original season has allowed her to make peace with her decision, regardless of the consequences.
Below, read on for EW's full exit interview with Ferrah, during which she fleshes out the moment she says Mateo approached her to eliminate Couleé, her upcoming wedding plans, what she thinks of Derrick Barry publicly shading her, and how she invested in a glow-up that, across All-Stars 5, proved Ferrah's might as a spectacular showgirl even outside Las Vegas city limits.
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: Can you compare what you felt like leaving season 3 versus how you feel leaving All-Stars 5?
INDIA FERRAH: On season 3 I was young and immature. I was 21 or 22 years old. I left very bitter, upset, and mad. I had so much built-up hate towards Drag Race and others. I was young and stupid and didn’t know how to handle criticism at that age. Once I grew and matured, Ru and World of Wonder saw that, and allowed me to come back. Leaving All-Stars 5 is an incredible feeling because I got to showcase who I am now, that I’m a performer, that I’m an entertainer, and my love for the art of drag finally got to show on national television.
And you finally got a challenge win!
And it was the talent show, bitch! I was happy. That was a win of all wins for me. I got to leave my heart on the stage.
You previously told me you felt misunderstood after season 3. I had no idea the Mimi Imfurst pickup situation played a dark part in your career afterward. Do you feel confident in what you’ve shown these past few weeks that it’s finally taken you away from that association?
I think so! Sadly, season 3, that’s all I was known for, and that’s all people kept reminding me of. Now, I’ve given the fandom a whole new light of India. I didn’t want to be known for the Derrick Barry drama this season. I didn’t want to be known as anything other than being an artist and an amazing drag queen. That’s what people can say about me now. I know there was tension on this episode, but I left on my truth.
You caused a stir after publicly criticizing the show years ago, and you’ve been open about changing, but were you surprised they asked you back after that?
I know that sounds funny, but every season of All-Stars, I wanted to be on it. I kept working and changing, and luckily WOW invited me to all of the RuPaul’s DragCons, they invited me to the season 8 opening performance, and I built that relationship back.
Those initial reservations you had about the show that made you speak out, did that make you skeptical about coming back?
It’s always in the back of your head, if you went through an experience and it wasn’t that great, but I had to erase it. It was a new ball game, and I had to realize that Drag Race has become a phenomenon now, and the production value was totally different. It was a much better experience this time around.
And you prepared appropriately. You went so big on the runway. How much time and money did you invest?
Lots of money. Like, thousands of dollars…. I knew I was going full force to serve looks and show them what I can do. It’s crazy going back. You want to show the fans how hard you’ve worked, and I was working down to the day before I flew out. Two designers screwed me over, so I ended up having to make my three-looks-in-one two nights before. The designer that made my camouflage couture flew in the day before I flew out to finish that costume and bring it to me.
It seemed like you had nine lives because you landed in the bottom four times and also survived an elimination where two queens could’ve potentially gone home. But it didn’t seem like you performed poorly, it was just that the judges felt others did better. Was that more or less frustrating?
Starting off so strong but landing in the bottom the following episode, it messed with me. I didn’t want to go into that dark space. I had the judges saying I finally broke out of my character, but, I was in the bottom…. I didn’t know how to handle it, but I’m happy that I performed as well as I did. I was really happy with the SHEMZ challenge.
Dropping glass vases out of your p—y? It doesn’t get better than that.
Nothing better than glass in your ass!
Was that real glass or sugar glass you were licking?
They said it was sugar glass, but, I don’t know, it didn’t taste like sugar to me. I love the image with me with all the shopping bags, too. The memes are crazy.
I’m so glad you’re getting memes that aren’t just of that one moment, finally!
Right! Thank you!
But the nail in the coffin for you was Snatch Game. You said you were taking a risk doing Jeffree, and it didn’t pay off. Do you regret taking that risk, and who were your backup choices?
Jeffree wasn’t my first choice. That was the backup! My first choice was Vicki Lawrence from Mama’s Family… because of copyright laws, I ended up doing Jeffree. I’m glad I took a risk instead of playing it safe.
The big moment from this episode was the bomb you dropped, that Alexis and Mayhem asked you to vote Shea out of the competition. Alexis adamantly denies it, but you stand by it?
It's absolutely the truth. I will live that truth until the day I die. On the side of the stage, Mayhem and Alexis — it was mainly Alexis. Mayhem didn’t say much other than that she voted for Shea as well — came to me on the side of the stage and said “So, did you vote her out? Are we getting rid of her?” I was like, “What, who?” And she said Shea, and I said “Shea doesn’t deserve to go home, she’s competition. Why would I send her home?” It was a weird moment. Sitting in Untucked and hearing Alexis talk to Shea, telling her she was her family, I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew I was going home, but I wasn’t going to leave with another dark cloud over me. I wanted Shea to hear my truth and know who she was playing against.
You whipped that scenario out very quickly, exactly how it happened, where she approached you, exactly what she said…
I went to Shea and held her hand at the three-looks-in-one runway, and I said, “Shea, I got you.” She didn’t know what it meant back then, but I had just come from the talk with Alexis and Mayhem.
Many people are having a tough time deciding who to believe!
Alexis is a good actress!
She was so upset over you saying this and voted for you to go home. Did that moment hurt your relationship?
It didn’t really hurt the relationship. I don’t know if people think we’re best friends because we were on season 3, but we weren’t that close. We did bookings together and crossed paths, but it was never a best friend scenario. Her getting that upset over it, like, that was a fool, girl. This was a scene and a stunt. I just wanted Shea to know that Alexis and Mayhem voted to get rid of her because she’s competition, don’t say it’s because you wanted your best friend Mariah there. That’s not the tea!
Shea voted for you and eliminated you, so did you take that as Shea not believing you?
I took it as Shea being completely real with me from day one. I remember talking with the girls about how we would vote, but it was always about wanting competition in the final, and if you deserve to go home, we’re voting you off. I knew my Snatch Game was bad and I didn’t deserve to be there anymore. I can accept that. When Shea pulled my lipstick, it was like a thank you, because she’d been real with me.
One person you also clashed with was Derrick, and he hasn't missed an opportunity to talk s— in the press. Do you pay attention to that?
I haven’t seen any of it. People try to bring it to my attention, but I just ignore it and don’t watch the videos. I thought Derrick and I were on a respectful level with each other. Apparently, there are still hard feelings, but I’m not going to use my time or my stardom to talk about Derrick, and the fact that she’s still doing that blows my mind. Good for her, it’s just getting my name out there.
Where do you go from here?
Next would be my wedding! We were planning it this year, but due to the pandemic that was impossible. We’re moving into a new house next week! As far as India, I want to go back to touring and see the world. I want to go back to doing eight shows a weekend at drag brunch. I miss performing!
RuPaul — as host, mentor, and creative inspiration — decides who's in and who's out.