Whether you’re a seasoned super-fan regularly scouring the darkest, dustiest corners of Drag Race Reddit boards, or simply an owner of cable television who has happened to catch a glimpse of RuPaul’s gorgeous face while feverishly flipping channels on a week night, chances are, you’ve heard of Alaska Thunderfuck. As a runner-up on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the champion of RPDR: All Stars 2, Alaska, arguably more-so than any other alumni of the Emmy Award-winning reality show, has built a seemingly unshakable dynasty, and has amassed a cult-like following in the process. Have you ever heard someone say “hiiiiiiiieeeeee” in an endearingly nasally tone? Alaska invented that. Ever seen a drag queen roll up to a gig rocking a garbage bag as if it were a thousand-dollar garment? Yeah, Alaska invented that, too. She has also released two critically-acclaimed dance pop albums – Anus (2015) and Poundcake (2016) – hosted a hilarious web series with her brother, and has even claimed the title of "Queen of the Snakes" (sorry, Taylor Swift). And that’s to name only a handful of her outstanding accomplishments.
Really, there are few adjectives that accurately describe Alaska as well as the word “iconic.” She can act, she can sing, she can make people laugh (in fact, all she has to do is say the word “anus” and RuPaul himself is on the floor gagging), she’s sharp-witted, and she’s absolutely stunning. In other words, Alaska is the whole package, and it’s no wonder she’s one of the most successful and beloved drag queens on the planet.
Despite her hectic tour schedule (she’s currently touring the U.S. with fellow Drag Race royalty, Courtney Act and Willam Belli as the AAA Girls), Alaska generously carved out some spare time to chat with me for BUST – and I’m beyond honored. So, check out the interview below, in which we discuss the current tour, the fluidity of queer identity, feminism, and more.
How’s the AAA Girls tour going so far? Are there any highlights that come to mind?
The show is really fun. I love seeing people's reaction to it because no one really knows what to expect. We have giant glittery letter A's which I find to be rather impressive.
I know it’s been a pretty loaded schedule – how do you take care of yourself while you’re on tour? Do you have any self-care rituals that you practice?
The first thing I do when we get to a new city is find the nearest Starbucks. Then I take naps. And we've been on a scavenger hunt to find bars with naked guys dancing in every city we go to.
You’re going to be starring on VH1’s new reality series “Scared Famous” that’ll be premiering in a few weeks. Can you spill any details about that show or the experience you had participating in it?
Basically, a bunch of reality TV celebrities get shoved into a sweltering hot mansion an hour outside of Savannah that is infested with flies, mosquitoes, wasps and ghosts. And I'm in drag a lot.
I read an interview that you did with Time Out Magazine in which you open up about the fluidity of your sexuality. How did you come to the realization that gender is not a primary determinant for you in a relationship? What made you decide to be vocal about it?
I think the more we realize and accept that some dudes have vaginas and some girls have dicks, the more harmonious we'll be a species. It's a hang-up that I hope more people will come to get over so we can move past it. As far as sexuality, I'm more and more open the older I get. I have things I'm looking for in a relationship. Who's to say a woman or a man can't give them to me?
I’m also queer, but don’t identify with any kind of rigid binary. Oftentimes, I feel like this kind of sexual fluidity is frowned upon, even (or especially) within the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve been told on innumerable occasions that my queerness wasn’t legitimate, whether re: my preferences or outward presentation. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming that, based off traditional ideas and “rules” of drag culture, it can sometimes be difficult for drag artists who don’t identify as cis-gendered, homosexual men to feel totally welcome in the scene. Do you feel that drag performers who identify outside of this narrative face backlash? Do you have any firsthand experiences of the sort?
There's discrimination in every community, and the drag world is no exception. I wasn't welcomed with open arms when I first started drag. I was into gender fuckery and swinging my dick around and singing live — which wasn't the norm in West Hollywood 10 years ago, believe it or not. But for me, when I go to see a drag show, I don't care who the performer is or who they sleep with or what their genitals are like. If they're fierce, they're fierce. And that's really all that counts onstage.
Along those same lines, how do you think the drag scene can work to become a more inclusive space for folks who don’t fit into those kinds of norms?
We all need to move beyond our petty hang-ups. Drag especially is about breaking rules, not setting them up. Don't be shady, just fierce.
In our current political climate, I think most of us can agree that visibility for members of marginalized communities is essential. I would argue that simply the act of putting on drag and being present in that context is a political act in of itself, but do you think [in 2017] performers should be taking it even further? For example: I’ve seen videos of you proclaiming important messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and demanding equal wages for women. Do you think drag artists are, in a way, obligated to conduct these conversations?
They're important conversations to have — so if people are listening, we should definitely speak about them. It's 2017. Women need to get paid the same as men. Our country at large needs to reckon with its horrific past and come to terms with the fact that racism still exists and is still a problem. Period.
Similarly, have you – as an artist – ever been criticized for not being “political enough?” If so, how do you respond?
No. I'm not afraid of losing fans or followers by saying that the president is a reckless asshole.
Assuming that you identify as a feminist, how did you come to identify as such? What does feminism mean to you, and how do you work to incorporate those ideologies into your art?
Men have thoroughly fucked up our planet. It's time that women take over. Drag is the ritualistic worship of the divine feminine, and I'm happy to be a high priestess.
What’s next for Alaska?
The book. The movie.
Are you looking forward to Season 10 of Drag Race, or All Stars 3?
If you could only lip sync to one song for the rest of your life, what song would it be?
"I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston.
And finally, are there any questions you’re dying to be asked in an interview? Or is there anything else you would like to say to readers of BUST?
I'm very pleased with the questions you asked. Thank you!!
Images/gif via Twitter/Facebook
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An excessively queer Aquarius with a LOT of opinions. Things I'm passionate about include, but are not limited to: writing (duh), my pet bunnies/animals in general, LGBTQIA+ issues, Sleater-Kinney, massive helpings of spaghetti, RuPaul's Drag Race, tacky horror movies, never shutting up about astrology/how gay I am, et cetera.
Feel free to reach out to me on social media!