Throughout the eighth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Huffington Post Queer Voices will interview each departing queen on the Tuesday following the air date of their elimination episode. Check HuffPost Queer Voices weekly to hear these queens reflect on their time on the show and their legacy as queer artists and performers. Check out the previous interviews with Dax Exclamationpoint, Laila McQueen, Naysha Lopez, Cynthia Lee Fontain and Acid Betty.
Last night's episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race" saw the exit of this season's sixth queen -- meaning half of the season eight girls have now left the workroom after making varying levels of impact on the competition.
During last night's lip-sync, Vegas showgirl Derrick Barry sent Robbie Turner packing. During her exit interview with The Huffington Post today, Turner, a sharp-witted queen with a vintage aesthetic who certainly shone throughout her time on the show, revealed that she and Barry were actually extremely close friends pre-"Drag Race," though the show's editing didn't reveal that fact to viewers.
The Huffington Post also chatted with Turner about what the future holds for her as an artist and a larger conversation about the role of "Drag Race" in mainstreaming and changing the landscape of drag. Check it out below.
The Huffington Post: You made it halfway through the competition -- how do you feel about your performance on the show? Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
Robbie Turner: Well, I would’ve roller skated more -- you know that went over really well -- and spitting water at the audience during the punk challenge went well. I’d probably do those things as much as I could [laughs]. You know, you get in your head and you get intimidated by the drag queen that made good. Being a drag queen has never been able to be a substantial career before RuPaul made it so. She really changed the game and so when you’re in the presence of honestly greatness, you’re like, "I don’t want to fuck this up!" So, of course, when you feel yourself doing that you want to just scream. It happened so fast and they’re asking very truly simple changes for you to make in order for you to succeed -- but at the end of the day somebody has to go home and sometimes it’s you and that sucks. But if I could I would tell myself to be calm and trust myself because I think I got too panicked and in my head.
Who did you feel most connected with on the show? Is there anyone you feel like you especially gained as a friend?
From day one Kim Chi, Naomi and I were kind of inseparable. You can barely see it on the show but we really get along -- we really respect each other as people and as artists. So that was really exciting. You don’t really go into "Drag Race" thinking, “I’m going to make REAL friends,” but it was a great bonus. We’ve actually gone to Disney Land together and we were just in Chicago. We’re going to be in Florida next week. So it’s fun for that reason because we’re working and we’re getting paid to be together! And, also, you can barely see it [on the show] but Derrick and I knew each other before the show and are quite close, but you wouldn’t know [laughs]. And especially the lip-syncing against each other -- we kind’ve just looked at each other with an all-knowing “well… this is just the way the cookie crumbles.” The people that actually know each other working against each other.
I’d like to go back to something you touched on at the beginning of our discussion about what RuPaul has done for drag artists and allowing them to formulate substantial careers based on their craft. Can you talk a bit more about that, as well as how "Drag Race" has changed the landscape of queer performance?
Absolutely. You know, it’s fascinating because drag has always been a subculture under the radar -- it’s there but we don’t really talk about it and people are always afraid of what they don’t know. I mean, there’s so many things. And the gay community is still kind’ve just becoming “OK” – and then if you go ever deeper into the drag community, drag queens are feared. What you see of them on TV is loud and obnoxious and they’re at a Pride parade screaming -- they’re intimidating and they’re a spectacle. And a lot of people don’t necessarily want something thrust down their throat, if you will. Like, I don’t think [the producers] ever planned or thought that ["Drag Race"] would go over this well. I think they might’ve thought it was going to be one or two seasons and aren’t we lucky that we have the opportunity, but it turned into a cultural phenomenon and now everyone you meet wants to be a drag queen and/or tries. This is kind of an exhilarating time; the pendulum swing is going in a great way for drag queens and people aren't afraid of them anymore… I can’t wait for the nest generation of drag queens where they won’t know it was such a struggle because people are going to become more and more accepting of it.
Do you worry that drag may lose some of its essential qualities as a transgressive art form as it becomes more and more mainstream in that way?
Well, truly, as dumb as this analogy might be, it’s like being afraid of transportation. Like once upon a time we didn’t have cars, we didn’t have planes, and RuPaul is kind’ve the best example of [this idea] with drag. If you look at old pictures of her she has completely changed with the times and she also creates the change by giving you something you didn’t know you wanted and that the world wasn’t necessarily prepared for. And then once it happened they were like, "Thank you, RuPaul!" So, no, I’m not afraid that drag is changing because it just means that you’re going to have to reinvent yourself like Madonna, but that’s something that Ru does very well. And it appears effortless but drag is not easy -- it takes a lot of work. It’s kind of exhilarating when people are changing the rules, making new rules and moving forward. It’s a struggle, of course, but I think it will feel better in the end.
What do you want the legacy of Robbie Turner to be? What do you see the future holding for you?
Well I love to work hard so I really think this was a stepping stone. My goal is to have my own TV show, whether that is like "The Carol Burnett Show," my Hard Rock Café show or if that’s like an actual sitcom, I think that would be kind of great. I think the world is ready for a drag queen to be perceived as a normal human being and a normal character on mainstream television. So I’m ready to take that step and work my ass off to make it happen.
Want to catch up with the previous winners of “Drag Race”? Head here and check out the slideshow below for interviews with the previously eliminated season eight queens.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race“ airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Logo.