Throughout the second season of “/www.logotv.com/shows/rupauls-all-stars-drag-race"}}">RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race,” Huffington Post Queer Voices will interview each departing queen on the Friday 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.
After arguably the most intense and unpredictable season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to date, we finally have our winner ― and it’s the queen that most of us thought would snatch the crown all along: Alaska.
Ru announced her top three at the end of the finale episode of the second season of “All Stars”: Alaska, Katya and Detox. And while many people thought that Katya might edge out Alaska at the tail end of the competition, Alaska was the one leaving the World of Wonder studio with a shiny crown and rhinestone-encrusted scepter.
Alaska auditioned for every season of the show since season one before eventually making it on for season five (after her then-boyfriend Sharon Needles won season four). She is one of the most universally-loved queens to emerge from the “Drag Race” franchise, and there are few performers we can think of who are more deserving of this title.
The Huffington Post chatted with Alaska about her victory, the social responsibility attached to winning this title and what, in her mind, the legacy and impact of “Drag Race” will be years after the show eventually ends.
The Huffington Post: With “All Stars,” everyone gets a second chance to show the world who they are and who they want to be. When you were coming into this season, how did you want to go about this? Do you think that you accomplished what you set out to show?
Alaska: Well, I think I went into it – I wanted to Bianca Del Rio the fuck out of it. I wanted to win every challenge, every mini-challenge, every lip sync ― any opportunity, I wanted to hit it out of the park. And I mean, that kind of worked out. But sometimes the way we plan things doesn’t always go how we think it’s going to. But I guess my journey sort of had it all – it had the great victory, it had the agony of defeat and I guess I won so I wouldn’t change any of it!
You dealt with negative fan reactions in a really impressive way by creating videos where you made fun of yourself and announcing that you were going to donate $10,000 to charity. So many other queens couldn’t recover from a controversy like this. How self-aware are you in the way you received fan feedback?
Well – you just have to get in front of it. I mean, [it’s like] Melania Trump when she got accused of stealing that speech. I would have dealt with it by just saying, “yeah bitch I stole it! It’s a speech of course I stole it!” You know what I mean? So you do just have to own it and get in front of it and then you take the power back from it.
I know that when I was at “Drag Race” I was not making any decisions out of malice or cunning or trying to fuck somebody over. I was merely taking the information I had and I was trying to make the best decision. But then it airs and people interpret it however they want to interpret it so I have to accept that and get in front of it and say, yeah, I’m the queen of the snakes! #QueenOfSnakes
In terms of the idea of drag queen likability, you were a really fierce competitor the entire season and then suddenly began receiving backlash for that. It reminds me a bit of the conversation surrounding the way women are treated in Hollywood and how they’re held to unrealistic expectations. What do you think makes a queen likable on this show? Is there a constant pressure to appear that way and is it fair?
I was aware of that and I knew that, especially because winning on “All Stars” is not really winning because if you win the lip sync you have to send somebody home, which is a really difficult situation to be in. So it’s very complex but I didn’t go there with all of that in mind. I think that was more season five me was worried about that – I went to “All Stars” because I had one goal in mind and that was winning the fucking thing! I wanted to win everything that I could. So I guess I did that and if people are mad at me for that, ok that’s fine but I have a giant, shiny new hat and a stick made of rhinestones and I really like it.
When it comes to speaking out about social causes, you’ve advocated for equal pay for women and you’ve spoken out about Black Lives Matter. Do you think queer entertainers and performers have a responsibility to use their platforms to speak out about stuff like this?
I don’t think it’s a responsibility but I think it’s an opportunity. We’re given a platform and people are listening. I’m still doing the same work basically that I was doing when I was a 22-year-old kid who moved to West Hollywood doing drag and getting peed on onstage. It’s not that different but the difference now is people are paying attention and people are listening. So I like to use that opportunity to get people excited about things that actually matter. So instead of putting snake emojis in my comment section ― I’m never going to see them because I don’t read the comments ― I think you can use that energy for something that’s actually important.
You’ve been very public about your sobriety. How this has impacted your journey as an entertainer and public figure?
Well, I’m not sober ― I’m not in the program. But something that happened at a pivotal point in my life was I was going through a really big breakup and I was sort of uncertain about what my future was going to be so I wanted to be really clearheaded about what I was going to do next. So I stopped doing drugs, I stopped drinking for awhile and I sort of rediscovered my love for actually performing and being onstage. I’d never gone out on stage without being blackout drunk so it was sort of a rediscovery of my love for drag. Now it’s like, I’m not going to drink before I go onstage because that nervousness that I feel transmutes into improve and energy and being on your feet and adrenaline. So I think I just got a chance to rediscover my love for being onstage.
When “Drag Race” eventually does end, what do you hope this show and your contributions to it will represent and have added to the history of queer entertainment in Hollywood?
I think “Drag Race” is a remarkable phenomenon and we won’t even be able to see the impact of it until many years later. But I was watching it the other night and I was like ― this is a bunch of gay men in a giant pink room and they’re calling each other “she” and “girl.” As far as breaking down the gender binary, that’s doing it! And it’s doing it in a way that’s fresh and exciting and entertaining and beautiful to watch. So I think the impact of this show is really far-reaching and I can’t imagine being a kid and having a show like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to watch. I literally can’t imagine! I’m really excited for the future because a new generation of kids will have this show to grow up with.
Check out a behind the scenes from World of Wonder below.