Trixie Mattel on Why Drag is Like Porn

The former RuPaul’s Drag Race front runner rises to the occasion, marking an important shift in pop culture.

The world itself is changing. Images in our newsfeeds often show a true juxtaposition of ideals that exist in this world, but drag has always risen when we needed it. 

Drag Queens/Kings/Things all carry the legacy of strengthening and rallying our community. Through a cacophony of gay fuckery, RuPaul’s Drag Race is doing it via a new platform, in a way that is undeniably unapologetic. It’s essential that we heal the divide that exists within our communities while simultaneously reaching out and building a new framework for the silly hats to have a better more understanding viewpoint.

The show itself has had many stars and stand out creatures, but there is one weirdo that has risen from the primordial queer goo and their name is Trixie Mattel. At first glance you see intense contour, gigantic eye makeup, and unnaturally massive blonde hair. If you find yourself hearing them first it would probably be their insane gay scream/cackle laugh that, sometimes, only dogs can hear. Mattel is a multifaceted drag performer with accolades also in stand-up comedy, live music, and songwriting.

“Trixie is a place where all my talents can connect.”

“Trixie is a place where all my talents can connect,” Mattel says in their deadpan voice over the phone. The rising talent started performing when they were 18 and never looked back. “At 21, I started doing clubs, hosting it and doing stand up. It was here I just started adding layers to the character, started refining the look and the comedy got darker.” 

At 25, Trixie Mattel participated in Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, an experience that shot them to the top of the fandom mind. Two years later and a television show of their own, The Trixie and Katya Show — something that grew from a silly YouTube video series — now airs on VICELAND. The rapid growth from all of this certainly helped with the rise of some incredible opportunities.

“I spent a few years proving things to myself. Just because RuPaul said I wasn’t America’s next drag superstar, I wasn’t gonna let that be the truth for me.” And they clearly didn’t let that step on the ambition they’d been growing and nurturing since their late teen years. “It was cool because, you know, when I won [RuPaul’s Drag Race] All Stars [earlier this year] it was a cool bonus, however, I was living proof that you don’t need to be a winner to do whatever you want.”

Their entire image is based around the name Trixie, a word they reclaimed — its origin came from a slur that their stepfather would call them while growing up. From that hurt came a public figure that many now look up to and admire. “All of my best material comes from bad things that happen, so for me when I am happiest that’s when I am the least expired. Trixie and Katya Show is on TV, just won Drag Race, my album is number one… As a drag queen you’re always just waiting for the other jelly sandal to drop, ya know? Like where is the cancer? Am I gonna get hit by a car? What’s going on?”

Mattel is absolutely hilarious. Anyone who knows anything about them knows this. They are the reason we all bellow, ‘OH HONEYYYYY’ at the top of our gay lungs.

Trixie Mattel winning All Stars marks the beginning of something interesting in mainstream pop culture. This is the first time where someone who is not visibly playing the gender illusion game is winning a very public and sought after title. Drag itself began as an act of rebellion, rooted deeply in transgender culture, which is why there are so many misunderstandings around it. 

Sheer ignorance and disregard for the rich history of drag is starting to reveal that now, more than ever, we need new drag idols to rise. Old ideals and minds that sit outdated with an unwillingness to grow need to step aside as the new generation opens up an even bigger conversation of love and acceptance. Mattel sits as a fulcrum for that because of the way they have situated themselves in this pop-culture machine.

Mattel’s final nugget of wisdom for us? “Drag is like porn. Once you do it, you’re kinda just stuck in it. Next thing you know you’re hugging emotionally disturbed children in a meet and greet.”

— This article was originally published in the print edition of BeatRoute in July 2018.