Move over, Chad Michaels and Alaska Thunderf*ck, because there’s a new inductee to the RuPaul’s Drag Race Hall of Fame, and it’s none other than the plastic, fantastic Trixie Mattel. After pulling a stellar comeback in the back half of this All Stars season, she officially snatched the crown and scepter in Thursday night’s season finale. Vulture chatted with her the next day to talk about the surprise jury format, her new music, and her vision of what All Stars 4 should look like.
Congratulations! How are you feeling today?
Oh, I’m feeling great. Feeling like I can’t believe that happened. All last night I was saying on a loop, “I can’t believe that just happened.”
The video circulating of you watching the finale last night, was that you finding out you were the winner, right then and there?
Oh, bitch. To quote Chad Michaels, “Ooooohh, bitch.” No idea. No idea. I mean, I knew it was gonna come down to two. But Kennedy is so good, and watching that lip-sync I was like, “this could go either way.” When that fuckin’ truck snapped open during “Kitty Girl” and she did her cartwheel? I was like, “oh, she could win.” She was so fierce. I was like, “I’m at peace with that.” When that “Kitty Girl” thing happened, I got not nervous. I was, like, crying because everyone was so good. I wasn’t gonna feel like a loser if it didn’t happen because everyone was so good.
It actually was really emotional to watch. It was the first time “Kitty Girl” has made us cry.
Literally crying. That “Kitty Girl” thing was so fucking good.
It was amazing and, you’re right, “Read U, Wrote U” is canceled.
Canceled. Ours was cooler, and it was in one take.
A lot of people felt you were the front-runner going into this season when the cast was announced. Did you feel that way and was that a lot of pressure going in?
Did I feel that way? No. Was I aware that everyone would feel that way? Yes. So I had all of the pressure but none of the confidence. I knew that everyone would see my name and say, “it’s hers to lose.” And not because I think I’m the end-all, be-all, because I knew what I’ve gotten to accomplish outside of Drag Race. I knew that people were gonna think I’d be some juggernaut who’d slam every challenge. But I never said I was a great competitor. I’m not a competitor by nature, and I’m certainly not used to being evaluated. So, I think you could tell in the beginning that the pressure of people’s expectations was on my shoulders. I also knew that the other queens in the room, in the back of their mind, were thinking, “she probably thinks she’s gonna win.” Which I fully didn’t think. If you think you’re gonna win every day on Drag Race, you’re a fucking sociopath. Everyone’s so good. Kennedy cartwheeling, Shangela popping out of a box, Bebe covering her face in jewels, Thorgy playing the violin, Aja snapping her vertebrae on the first episode. How can you think you’re gonna win when everyone’s so good?
That talent show in the first episode had to be intimidating.
Yeah. I’m an optimistic realist. I’ve lost Drag Race twice. I know how, with one bad day, it could just end. So, day to day, I was confident and hopeful, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to win.
What would you say was your primary motivator for the season? The title, the money, just showing you could compete well in the Drag Race space …
In that room of queens, I probably had the worst “report card” of Drag Race. I had zero challenge wins and two lost lip-syncs. I went home twice. And for me it wasn’t about proving anything to the audience as much as it was proving it to myself. It sounds cheesy, but I always felt so good about myself outside of Drag Race, and then, my first season, it really just stripped me of all my confidence and I felt like a total piece of shit loser who could not handle pressure. I got told two times, “you are not America’s Next Drag Superstar.” And I guess I went out in the world and figured out how to make that an alternative fact.
How Kellyanne of you.
Yes, I am very Kellyanne Conway.
A lot of people today are feeling some kind of way about Shangela not being in the Top Two. What are we not seeing that the other queens were taking into consideration when they voted? They released bonus footage of the voting, and she got no love from the eliminated queens.
I have no fucking idea. You can watch, in the deliberation, they asked, “who should be lip-syncing with you?” I said “Shangela.” She was my choice. For me, for a lot of reasons, she was the one to beat. Especially because, off Drag Race, Shangela and I are like passing ships, or mirror images, in that we took a small “15 minutes” and made it into a career. And I really respect that about her. I really thought she would be there. That’s why I honestly said it should be her lip-syncing. Even though, strategically, Shangela is an amazing lip-syncer and if I really wanted to win … but then again I was probably the worst lip-syncer left.
You don’t give yourself enough credit with lipsyncing.
Yeah, well neither does Drag Race! But I don’t know why they didn’t pick Shangela. In a weird way, when they announced the jury, I was like, “I think this is really fair. If I lose, I really trust the judgment of these girls who’ve been in the room the whole time.” These girls were there when I lost Snatch Game and I bombed. These girls were there when I was helping Shangela with her costume. They were there for everything. No one knows better than them. But I also hadn’t pissed anyone off. Apparently, some people were feeling some type of way. I mean, I gotta tell ya, I was cracked when Shangela wasn’t in the Top Two. Even last night watching it, I was tearing up because my heart broke. When she was talking about coming that close. That could have been me giving that same statement. My heart was broken. Ask me any day of the week, who’s a real, living, breathing All Star … and as a reality TV champion? She’s like the Tiffany Pollard of Drag Race.
Kennedy Davenport obviously has a lot of respect in the drag community. It almost seems like she was chosen for the Top Two out of reverence.
The feeling in the room, it seems, watching it, is that Kennedy communicates a certain authenticity that I don’t know if Bebe or Shangela or even I are capable of. Kennedy is so real. And in a room of eliminated queens, her sitting down and being like, “everyone else here will be fine. Shangela and Trixie already have great careers. I need this.” She really was pleading. She was really putting her hands together and saying, “please give this to me.” In a room of eliminated queens, that’s really effective.
Speaking of the jury, some people are being critical of the season for prioritizing stunts over the drag and the performance element of drag.
Well, honestly, who pulled the stunts? Ben left on her own accord. Drag Race didn’t make her leave. And then the queens are the ones who voted for who they voted for. For me, knowing this day was coming, I knew at least it was out of my hands. At least I was a chess piece. People will love Shangela, or love Bebe, or love Kennedy. They won’t be mad at me. I just try to do a great job.
Your new album One Stone is so good. We’re glad we have a Kacey Musgraves of drag.
(Laughs) Have you seen her costumes? She might be the Kacey Musgraves of drag!
On “Break Your Heart” you’re giving us a little One Of the Boys-era Katy Perry. Is Trixie Mattel interested in other musical genres or are you sticking to a singer-songwriter vibe?
Well, on “Break Your Heart” I was listening to a lot of The Click Five.
Oh my God, The Click Five, you bitch.
I really wanted it to sound like Radio Disney. I wanted the handclaps and the purposeful cheesy pop chorus. I love catchy earworm music, and I wanted to challenge myself to make an earworm, and I think I did. It’s super, super fun.
Speaking of music, could you lyrically interpret Bebe’s famous Jungle Kitty Ratakatititata verse?
(Laughs) You know what’s funny? We were all like, “okay girl, sure.” That’s the mark of Bebe’s excellence. The whole room of people being like, “girl you can’t say that.” But she fuckin’ knew. She followed her artistic confidence. It was so good. I wouldn’t say the character was terribly memorable, but the rap was obviously amazing.
Who do you have your eye on for season ten?
I love Monet X Change. I love Aquaria. And I’ve really come to be a Eureka fan. I think she has a lot to offer.
Who will you be looking out for on All Stars 4?
Oh my God, Tammie Brown. Every person is Tammie Brown. The judges are Tammie Brown. That’s what I want.
What are you most excited about careerwise going forward?
It’s been really cool for the album to come out. It’s been mentally overshadowed by the anxiety of the last day, but the album going to number one on iTunes yesterday, I mean, [my first album] Two Birds was at number two, and I thought that was once in a lifetime. And people like it for what it is, not because it’s drag music or it’s connected to a reality show.