‘Now with Moving Parts’
Thursday, May 3
1215 U St., N.W.
Trixie Mattel’s “Now With Moving Parts Tour” is aptly named for the drag queen who hasn’t stopped moving since her debut on season seven of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Mattel, real name Brian Michael Firkus, was eliminated from that season but embarked on a drag journey not every queen gets to have.
Mattel, 28, became co-host of the WOWPresents web series “UNHhhh” along with her fellow season seven sister Katya Zamolodchikova. The mini episodes, which featured the duo talking about everything from dating to plastic surgery, received millions of views. Viceland picked up a spinoff series to the YouTube sensation with “The Trixie & Katya Show.” While in its first season, Katya relapsed on methamphetamine and suffered a psychotic break. Mattel’s friend and season eight “Drag Race” winner Bob the Drag Queen filled in for Katya during her recovery.
Mattel also released two folk/country albums, an uncommon choice in a drag world dominated by pop and R&B, with “Two Birds” in 2017 and “One Stone” in March.
Finally, Mattel solidified her spot among the “Drag Race” royalty of Chad Michaels and Alaska by winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season three.
Chatting from her bathroom in Los Angeles, Mattel dished on clashing with Adam Lambert, imparted a few choice words to Shangela stans and spilled her real plans for the $100,000 prize.
WASHINGTON BLADE: Between your season seven “Drag Race” appearance and “All Stars” you were arguably one of the most successful queens. Do you feel the Hall of Fame title validated your success?
TRIXIE MATTEL: It was sort of like I was already going to prom and this crown is like my corsage. I really think part of what makes me an all star is I never relied on a title or a crown. I never even relied on RuPaul telling me I was a winner or a superstar. I just was like, “I’m going to do whatever I want and I’m going to find a way to do it.” Winning is great but it’s always been really important to me to open all the doors I want to open whether or not anybody said I was a winner.
BLADE: During the “All Stars” season one of your weaker points was during the Snatch Game when you portrayed RuPaul. Why do you think it didn’t work?
MATTEL: I was just like, “I want to swing big.” It wasn’t the choice that made it not work; it was just me. I was scared. I just messed up because I choked. It’s sort of like when you prepare something and then you get up there and you blank. That’s what happened. It was more of an artist having a bad day. It was my only low point of “Drag Race.” I feel like “Drag Race” tried to paint this picture like, “Trixie, you really stumbled in the competition.” I’m like, “Bitch, where?” It was literally once. I was in the bottom as many times as Shangela. Let’s all calm down.
BLADE: During the Kitty Girls challenge, Adam Lambert didn’t like your attitude. Did you realize at the time he had a problem with you?
MATTEL: I think he’s threatened by anyone who wears more makeup than him. No, I have a deep, dark, dry sense of humor. I mean if a drag queen makes a joke about gender and you don’t catch it, I don’t know what happened to you. I don’t know who hurt you. But he thought I was standoffish and so if I ever see him in Hollywood I’m going to show him what standoffish looks like. But he’s so hot. I never thought he was hot in pictures. In real life, he was so sexual looking. He was probably just picking up on me being legitimately afraid of how beautiful he was.
BLADE: Obviously one of the most shocking moments of the season was Ben De La Creme pulling out the lipstick with her name on it. What was going through your head?
MATTEL: For me, it’s a competition so if somebody doesn’t want to be there I’m like, “Great, leave.” But on a friend level in front of the camera I’m like, “No, girl. Stay.” But on the inside I’m like, “Bitch, get out. I don’t need you to make this harder for me than it already is.” I know this is probably not a popular opinion but I wanted the fucking money, Stephanie. For me, I had already proven to myself that I don’t have to win “Drag Race” to do whatever I want to do. So I was like I’d rather win the cash and prizes. Doing a summer of shows and I probably spent like $20,000-30,000 to get costumes. I’m like, “I’m trying to make my investment back Brenda.”
BLADE: What are you going to do with the $100,000?
MATTEL: Well, I haven’t received it yet. But, I grew up poor and will have a poor people mentality forever so I’m just going to do what I’ve done with every cent I’ve ever had. I’m just going to save it. I’m the fable about the grasshopper who parties all summer and then has no food. I don’t want to be the grasshopper.
BLADE: It very easily could have come down between you and Ben De La Creme if she hadn’t self-eliminated. Do you think you still would have had a shot at the crown?
MATTEL: Oh yeah, sure. I mean, I beat Kennedy Davenport in a lip sync which means I could probably beat anybody. She’s the best lip-syncer there is.
BLADE: Shangela fans were pretty vocal on social media that she deserved the title. Did the backlash damper your win?
MATTEL: There’s exactly one queen in the episode who vocalized that Shangela should be in the top two. Do you know who that queen was? Me. I walked in and they said, “Who do you think should be in the top?” and I said “100 percent Shangela. She is and always will be an all star.” I’m the one who wanted her to come. So whatever reason the other queens didn’t pick her, I mean, my hands are clean. I was rooting for her. I literally told the group of people voting to vote for her. “Drag Race” is a game of what you do today comes back to bite you tomorrow. I can’t get into the minds of the people who voted but obviously they felt some type of way. I feel like the perception is that because she sent people home but it’s like Thorgy voted for her, who she sent home. Chi Chi didn’t vote for her who is like one of her best friends. I’ve known Shangela didn’t make it to the top two for a year and I was gagged. I would have picked her lipstick. I was disappointed, on behalf of her, to watch her heart break like that. But it’s been done and over for us like a long time.
BLADE: Did anything ever happen with that backup dancer you were attracted to during the final challenge?
MATTEL: I follow him on Instagram which is how I think every great love story begins. He was so hot, it was stupid. He had pouty lips. He looked like an extra in “Pearl Harbor” or like a swing dancer in Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” video. I also have a boyfriend so that’s complicated. But this is L.A. so I’ll wait for the right moment and then have a scandal. I’ll wait until my next album comes out and then leak my nudes or something.
BLADE: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has gotten a much bigger audience since switching to VH1. People are having “Drag Race’ viewing parties at bars like sports games. Has that diversified your fanbase?
MATTEL: Drag is like this great, kept secret. Gay people are like, “Yes, bitch. We been knew that drag was cool.” But, it’s fun to watch the rest of the world keep up with it and be like, “This is cool.” Drag is for everyone. I know that drag is inherently political. For me, it’s not so political. It’s just Halloween every day. If anything, “Drag Race” humanizes us and just shows it’s just costumes. It’s not like this crazy, gay, gender agenda. It’s just dressing up and having fun and everyone likes to dress up. I don’t care who you are. If you just put on a wig and look in the mirror, you’ll have a laugh. There’s a queen for everyone in the same way everyone has a favorite comedian, favorite movie. You don’t have to like everyone but I promise there will be one that just makes you chuckle or you think is so pretty. We’re not just gay people putting on gowns. We’re human beings who take our work very seriously and I think that’s what’s inspiring to audiences.
BLADE:“The Trixie & Katya” show suffered a setback in its debut season because Katya had to take time off. Did you think you would stop filming the show?
MATTEL: I automatically was like call Bob the Drag Queen. Literally, same day we had him on the phone. Bob is so funny, not just as a drag queen. He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I have a great friendship and repertoire with him. I knew that if he showed up with zero warning he would turn the party.
BLADE: Is there going to be a second season with Katya?
MATTEL: I can neither confirm nor deny.
BLADE: What can people expect from your show?
MATTEL: My show is 60 percent stand up and 40 percent music. There’s video elements. There’s costume changes, wig changes. There’s some great jokes, plenty of bad jokes. I’m really proud of the show. I think it’s really going to open people’s minds to what drag is capable of. It’s not just a dress and a wig. It goes by for me in the blink of an eye. I look forward to it all day and then doing it, I’m just in heaven. Then I just can’t wait to do it the next day.