Daily Xtra: How did Trixie Mattel come to exist?
Trixie Mattel: I never really wanted to do drag. It started when I was in a production of Rocky Horror. I was filling in for someone who was sick. It turns out I really liked drag because it was fun and creative so I did it a bunch of more times. I loved it because it was an environment where you could do whatever you wanted. For me, I started to look like a doll. The character swung into a kid’s toy that was all about off-colour jokes and messed up things. When I first started drag, visually I did look like a human being but as I kept going, I didn’t want to look like a real person. I started to research how 1950s and 1960s’ dolls were painted. I drew inspiration from that and I was happier with the results. I started doing drag in Milwaukee and the city was so strange. They didn’t get me. So I started working in Chicago. In Chicago, you can do whatever the hell you wanted. They are great audiences. They don’t care what you do, as long as you are giving it your 100 percent. That was a turning point for me.
Did you feel completely robbed when you were sent home?
My interview answer to this question is: it’s just an honour to be nominated! But honestly, I was so bitter. I felt the same way viewers did. I didn’t think my performance was bad and my runway wasn’t bad and when it comes down to it, performing and lip-synching are my skills. I was completely shocked to go home. I just didn’t understand what happened to me. I watched the elimination in Germany at a viewing party and I felt like a sedated woman. It felt comforting when the internet exploded with support and it worked out for me because let’s face it, I owned the internet. I think what people want with Drag Race is to see justified eliminations. My elimination just didn’t make sense. Blondie is my all time favorite band so when that was the song I thought, “I’m fine.” But at the end of the day you sign up for a TV show. It’s a reality show. You can’t be mad or bitter because you sign on dotted line. Anything can happen and you signed up for it.
What did you think of the #JusticeforTrixie twitter movement?
I couldn’t believe it. Drag Race as a show always tries to make hashtags happen. Justice for Trixie was fan generated and trended higher than any other hashtag in Drag Race history. It was so great to create Trixie and have her received so well. I was worried that the elimination was going to make me look bad but instead people were like, “Why did this happen?” It’s only fun to watch the Olympics of drag if it’s making total sense. My elimination got my name in people’s minds more if I had been there the whole time and that was a good thing.
Any Ru-grets from competing on Drag Race?
Before Drag Race, I did whatever I wanted without other people’s opinions affecting me. For the first time ever with Drag Race, I had to worry about the opinions of judges and audiences. At home I never had to worry about that and that’s part of being creative. Now I have to carry the weight of others’ opinions when I’m creating and focusing on what I’m trying to do. I would tell anyone doing the show to not read about themselves online. Fifty percent of people hate me. My look is not easily digestible. My look and makeup are so specific and extreme. Some people don’t get it but everything is a choice. I am very conceptual. My comedy is deadpan and in poor taste. It’s like niche drag. I’d rather hang in an art gallery than in a dentist’s office! I’d rather be a Picasso than a Thomas Kinkade.
Everyone watching the show is a critic. What do you think the viewers simply don’t understand about competing on the show?
Viewers are seeing 41 minutes of two days of taping. Everything is edited and they are seeing broken up pieces of two days. I love that drag is something that is now been brought into living rooms of the world, but you are not a true fan of drag if all you’ve done is watch a reality show. Support your local drag queens. Go out to local clubs. The drag that makes it on TV isn’t a reflection of the world. The queens that make it on the show are often reality TV personalities. There are amazing queens who will never be on Drag Race and there are also terrible queens who’ve been on the show. I did Drag Race to travel and meet my fans. I was not really appreciated and accepted and to have put out how weird I am and be celebrated for that, it’s so amazing.
You’re coming to Toronto. What are you looking forward to?
I love Canada. I always heard growing up that Canada is a lot like US but safer, nicer and more beautiful. There is a long time I wanted to move to Canada. I can’t wait to meet lots of people, tell horrible jokes, swear lots and meet an uncut guy with a job. I love performing and making people laugh. I can’t wait to be at Toronto Pride. Everyone in the states is like, “You’re going to Toronto Pride, you’re going to die.” I also want to see the CN Tower. I’m doing Vancouver later this year too . . . so I’m basically Canadian. I always wanted to travel the world but I was always too poor. Now I’m living the life I’ve always imagined. Toronto is an extension of that.
On the show there was a beautiful moment where you talked about being called a “Trixie” and taking that term, spinning it and owning it. What does Trixie mean to you now?
The biggest prize is being put through hell and back on the show and then figuring out what you want and who and what you are as an artist. I never thought being funny was my thing but then I got cast and Ru said it was the funniest auditions tapes he’d ever seen. I’m in the Olympics of drag and the feedback I kept getting was, you need to do comedy and stand up is your thing. I’m supposed to be funny. I don’t know if I completely knew that before. But now I know that Trixie is humor and that is huge. She’s basically a Cabbage Patch doll who likes to tell rimming dad jokes. I know exactly what comedy works. I figured out what my super power is and now I can use it . . . I also learned that I don’t always have to talk about rimming my dad. Sometimes I can talk about rimming homeless guys, too. Can I say that? Happy gay Pride!
Anything else we should know?
I was on Grindr as Trixie and people kept sending me gifs of myself on Drag Race, which is exactly what I wanted to see when I’m on a gay hookup app. Then Grindr kicked me off because I was violating their guidelines and they said I was promoting myself, which I wasn’t. I mean someone can send an unsolicited picture of their rosebud but Trixie can’t be on Grindr. Get with the program, Grindr.
Trixie Mattel performs at Starry Night
Thursday, June 25, 2015
519 GreenSpace, 519 Church St, Toronto