Widow Von'Du departed Drag Race, but her spirit (and kitten heels) ain't dead
RuPaul's Drag Race season 12's latest eliminated queen tells EW how she'd revamp the American political system into a drag pageant (and reveals where in her home Leslie Jones' infamous signed shoe is).
Her name might be Widow Von'Du, but it's RuPaul's Drag Race that's lost a significant, otherworldly talent.
The Emmy-winning reality competition series has divorced itself from one of the most exciting queens of season 12, as the Kansas City-based performer took her final bow following a fiery performance during this week's mock presidential debate challenge. Though she previously described herself as a "ratchet ass queen in high-class fashion," Widow Von'Du showed us so much more across her limited run, performing killer lip-syncs and launching meme-able moments (we could watch her drink through a straw for days on end) into the permanent Drag Race canon.
Below, EW chats with season 12's latest eliminated queen in a Q&A that touches on how this challenge inspired her to comically revamp American politics, why she called debate moderator Jeff Goldblum "uneducated," where she's put her infamous yellow kitten heel that guest judge Leslie Jones inscribed with a playfully shady message, and the story behind dressing the stars-and-stripes runway theme in powerful Black Lives Matter couture. Read on for the full conversation, and tune in to RuPaul's Drag Race when it continues Friday at 8 p.m. on VH1.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I loved every minute of you on this show, but this week it felt strange watching you. Did your low moment last week do your confidence in ahead of the debate?
WIDOW VON'DU: I was already shaken by Ru saying I hadn’t been in the top for a while and not doing well in front of my idol [Chaka Khan]. It shook my confidence. Hearing all the girls say I should be the one to go home, it shocked my ego. The whole challenge fell apart.
We needed Chaka Khan to be a guest on every episode, then you would’ve won!
I wouldn’t be mad about it!
Jan looked terrified in Untucked after Chaka talked to you guys, because you perked up so quickly. I could see the fear in Jan’s eyes.
It didn’t matter who went up against me that night, I was slaying!
You got into a little back-and-forth with Ru on the runway over your confidence this week. What was running through your mind when Ru told you not to sabotage yourself? Did you agree with his evaluation of your state of mind?
I agree with Ru now, knowing what I know, but just, oh God, it feels like I blocked it out. I remember having a moment with Ru, I just don’t remember everything that was said.
Was it at least somewhat less intimidating because Michelle Visage wasn’t there this week?
I kind of wish she was! I had a connection with her way before the show. I met her at my first DragCon and she gave me inspirational words and told me she hoped to see me on the show, then I got on the show!
I feel like every season, there are queens who aren’t bad artists, but have trouble fitting their personal aesthetic into the Drag Race mold. Was that you this season?
I never wanted to be someone that everyone expected, because they always expect a big girl to be covered up and be a centerpiece or a prop. I didn’t want to be viewed like I was just an extra on the show!
You’ve always championed big girls, and you made that part of your platform in the debate, but some of the other queens made jokes about weight in their acts. Did that piss you off?
It did. It’s f—ed up that everybody goes for a cheap shot over people’s weight. I’ve had to deal with that my whole life.
You took a more serious approach to presenting the issues in the debate, so did that throw you off in the moment?
I was trying to stay in character as an angry politician, so I felt like it was working with what I was doing. It was breaking me out of character though. [But] I thought I did well. I thought I was doing a great job.
What I wasn’t expecting you to do was starting off a presidential debate with walking us through the hokey pokey though. Girl, what inspired that?
I used to work with a parody theater company, and one night I forgot my lines, but the spotlight was on me and two others. I was just like, “Well, you put your right foot in, you put your right foot out. You put your left foot in, and you shake it all about!” My scene partner just came in and said, “and THAT’S what it’s all about!” The crowd went wild. So, I used it!
I knew what I was saying wasn’t correct, and I felt like we were on the same page. He was playing his role and I was playing mine; no one knew what the f— was going on!
These debates were more entertaining than actual presidential debates we’ve seen this year. Can you think of a democratic candidate who could go against you girls?
Elizabeth Warren, because she is shady and knows how to roast people!
Do you think real political conflict would be solved more easily if candidates were allowed to call each other bitches and whores in a debate like you guys did?
I think if everybody talked the way they wanted to talk to people, everything would be better. If I saw a presidential candidate saying, “This f—ing bitch!” I’d be here for it!
There’s too much rigidity in politics!
I don’t think politics should be that rigid. They can liven it up! What if we did it like a pageant; They hold their reign for a year and then we get another bitch to do it?
You have my vote to revamp the American political system to be a drag pageant.
You’re president for a year, you come out in your presidential suit or gown, and the talent portion is how you’re going to reform the country!
Is there a swimsuit segment of America’s Next Top President?
Yes! What will you look like at the Presidential Pool?
Ok, let’s submit this as part of the democratic platform. Speaking of political, your runway outfit this week was magnificent. What was the inspiration?
All of my outfits were made by GB Couture. When we found out the theme, I was like, everybody is going to do red, white, and blue, so I wanted to honor Black Lives Matter, because we f—ing do! That’s why I wore an afro and a black-and-white gown. No matter how it is, [society] still feels black and white. It shouldn’t feel like that.
And the way you deconstructed the dress in the lip-sync, it was amazing. Did you plan to do that or did the spirit of the moment take over?
I wanted the stars to come off. It was built to look as if I’m trying to tear down the chains and oppressions of the current society. Let’s tear it down and rebuild! I got to show a lot of things and I got to at least wear my Black Lives Matter outfit, even if it was my last one. I went out on a powerful statement.
I have to know, after all the s— you got from Leslie Jones and the fans about your shoes, have you since retired the kitten heels for new footwear?
I’m trying to find some better ones!
Some cuter kitten heels?
They are not kitten! Kitten are two inches. These are three-and-a-half!
We’re getting technical.
Yes, we’re getting technical!
Even Raven asked if you had a prescription for them. Why those shoes!?
I’ve been big my whole life and I can’t do all those flips in some stiletto! I’m two-hundred and some odd pounds and trying to flip around in a stiletto is not a thing! One wrong move, there goes my ankle! These shoes are real close to the ground.
Everybody needs to lay off Aiden Zhane’s short wig and your short heels!
Hey, at least I wore different-colored shoes! You can’t compare my shoes to Aiden’s hair!
Very true. Where is the shoe that Leslie signed?
It’s sitting on top of this cabinet in my kitchen, with all of my crowns and titles! Not only do I have legendary lip-syncs, I have a legendary shoe!