Even before she declared herself so in the “Show Up Queen” challenge, Trinity K. Bonet was the front-runner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season six. Sure, she slipped in the episode-one variety show, when a derailed comedy performance landed her in the bottom. But she quickly picked herself up and proved that she was a captivating, well-rounded performer — not just with her first win for her “Drag Fixers” commercial, but with more near-wins for performing as Beyoncé in the Super Bowl halftime challenge and opening up about being HIV-positive on the “Pink Table Talk” challenge. As avid Drag Race fans know, though, momentum is a tricky thing. So who can blame her for feeling dejected after she thought she had made it to the top four, only to find out the winner of the Lip-Sync Smackdown “game within a game” would return for another challenge — while aware that she was left with the worst track record of the group, at three trips to the bottom?
“I did know for a fact that if I did not win I was going to be going home, and that’s not a pleasing thing to know,” she explains now. “Like, why should I even have to go through the episode when I already know what the outcome is going to be?”
Just as she prophesied, Trinity fell victim to her track record this week — but not without trying for the win, delivering a funny yet moving story about being catfished by a fan during the “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent Monologues” challenge. Following her elimination, she spoke to Vulture about the highs and lows of her All Stars run, from that ill-fated stand-up routine to performing as Beyoncé and meeting Tina Knowles-Lawson.
I was really excited to see you back for All Stars, and then on the first challenge, I admit you gave me a bit of a scare.
I did phenomenal on the first challenge, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was phenomenal. No, it was really my nerves, man. When I walked out there, it just all hit me at once. Oh my God, you’re back. The routine, I would like to say, was funny. It was funny, written. It just didn’t come across that way because of course, I messed up, and then the creepy music starts, and it’s like, “Okay, yeah, she bombing.” But I don’t regret it. I wanted to do comedy. I wanted to try to set myself apart.
A few episodes later, we saw you really come into your own and have this big moment with the Super Bowl halftime challenge and the Beyoncé performance. I know she’s big for you, and you had the shoulders, you had the hair, it was very spot on. Tell me about preparing for that.
There was really no preparation, as far as doing Bey. I’ve been doing her forever. It was just, shit, trying to remember the choreography. Because you only get so long to learn everything, and unless I’m choreographing it, I suck at learning choreography, so it takes me forever. Everybody’s like, “Girl, don’t be stressed out, you do Beyoncé all the time.” Yeah, but I also study and watch and then I do it, I don’t just jump on and do it. I get my time to learn it. So I was more nervous than people were seeing. But I also do Beyoncé, so it was like, I’ll be okay.
One of the other things you’re really known for are your lip-sync performances on season six, but then you went up against some tough lip-sync assassins this season. What was it like to see your fellow season-six queen Laganja back, in that big moment?
Exciting. I love Laganja. I felt like she deserved her Rudemption, too. I honestly thought she was gonna get on All Stars 6 as well, so I was looking forward to seeing her. She was there, she just wasn’t there the way I thought she would be. And the lip-sync was amazing, it was iconic. I lost but I didn’t lose, ’cause you get to see your girl succeed in something, and to be a part of it, it’s a win in itself. So I joke and say she beat my ass, but she did, rightfully so. I couldn’t take it away from her. That was her moment.
Then you had a second win and a second lip sync against Alexis Mateo, where your wig flew off.
Yeah, now that was different.
What was going through your mind then?
So, there’s this theory that I purposefully made my hair come off so I didn’t have to send Jan home. And I’m not gonna say that that’s true or not, but I did not want to send Jan home. So I wasn’t mad that that wig came off, and that’s all I can say. It was like, Girl, it’s okay, I’m still beautiful, fuck this. [Laughs.] Yeah. That’s about all I got to say about that.
And then you had to send Jan home anyway, at the end of it.
And that was the bullshit. [Laughs.] That was the bullshit! I’m out of $10,000, and I still gotta send her home.
I also wanted to dig into two of your runway looks — first being the Black Lives Matter look for the pop art runway, which I thought was a smart pairing and really powerful. Where did that idea come from?
I knew I wanted to do something that was going to be political, and leave a statement. And I meshed two ideas together, because when I think about Black Lives Matter, I think about all Black lives, and that’s our trans community as well. Then I said, How do I showcase the trans community, as well as just anybody else who’s been gunned down by police brutality? To put everybody altogether at once. And with all the names being in the trans flag colors, that was a way that I was able to do that, because we’re all one and the same. We’re all affected in some way. All our lives matter.
On the total flip side of that, you had this moment for “Drag Tots” with “Fierce Furlicia” — with the look, you kind of just went full furry with it, which was fun to see. What was that like?
I honestly, looking back, felt like I could have won that challenge — just as well as Ra’Jah, taking nothing away from her, but if somebody’s next in line, it could’ve been me. Just creativity alone, not to mention the time that I put into making that, and the construction — you’re sewing fur. Then I cut all of those pieces out to do those stripes on the body and made the ears and wrapped yarn around a ball for hours. Like, I made an overcoat. I didn’t even need an overcoat! I didn’t even realize what I was doing, because when you’re there in the moment, you’re thinking, How can I make this better? How can I elevate it? And when I looked back on TV, I was like I fucked that up! I really went in and I showed a campy side of who I am and what I can become. My drag is normally pretty and realistic, but that’s what Drag Race does, it allows you to become all of those other entities that you probably didn’t know you possessed, or you really wanted to but felt like nobody would understand it.
After that episode, you had this moment where you found out about the game within a game and seemed frustrated, and the other queens noticed that. Then it seemed like throughout the next challenge, after the runway, they were talking about getting that vibe from you again. Looking back on that situation, with Eureka returning and everything, could you explain what was going through your mind then?
I knew the end was coming. It had nothing to do with anybody else, you know. I don’t ever take anything away from anybody. We all are in the same competition and we’re all striving for the same exact thing, so you can’t really be focused on anybody else but yourself. And at this point in the competition, there was no way for me to save myself, other than win the challenge. I think that everybody had amazing stories to tell, it was just about who the judges picked, and that will always be the controversy to any reality show.
To end on a higher note, tell me everything about what it was like to be in the same room as Tina Knowles-Lawson, because I know that was big for you.
It was amazing. I mean, you find yourself staring at her the whole time, because you’re like, Let me just take this in, because I may never ever see this woman in person again, ever. It was no different than meeting Khloe Kardashian — I love the Kardashians, that’s where the K. comes from. You’re in the room with these people that you love so much and you just want to take it in. Just to hear her talk in person, to everybody, was captivating and monumental.
Fun fact, I have met just about everybody in Beyoncé’s family but Beyoncé. Her father sat next to me on a flight where I was flying from Houston to Atlanta, and it was Beyoncé Day, and I had a hat on that said B’Day. So I’ve met the mother, I’ve met the father, I’ve met Solange, I’m like, Okay! Can I meet Beyoncé?