There’s two things RuPaul’s Drag Race has always excelled at — creating memorable musical moments, and being deeply weird.
On last week’s episode (aired Friday, February 3), the gaggle of remaining girls were tasked with doing both of those things at the same time. The queens were split up and asked to create three Golden Girl-groups — a.k.a. dressing in old lady drag while performing a musical number — around the genres of country, heavy metal and hip-hop.
Aura Mayari finally earned her first challenge win of the season for a truly unhinged performance as a death metal-loving grandma, while Jax and Robin Fierce found themselves at the bottom of the barrel for a pair of fine-but-forgettable performances as twerking nans. Lip synching to The Bangles’ 1988 power-pop hit “In Your Room,” Jax managed to dance her way out of an elimination, leaving Robin to get the chop.
Billboard chatted with Robin following her elimination about becoming a Twitter meme following the season’s premiere, what she thought of the judges’ critiques, and why she was “playing Switzerland” in this episode’s work room battle between the queens.
Congratulations on making it to episode 6! How have you felt about watching your run on the show?
I’ve loved it! We’re drag queens, we watch ourselves through Instagram all of the time. But it’s been interesting watching myself out of drag, that was the weirdest part for me; I’m not used to seeing boy me on the camera super often. But it’s been a great time.
I want to congratulate you on becoming one of the first-memed queens of the season — that photo of you running in the premiere has been all over my timeline. What has that been like experiencing the Drag Race meme machine?
[Laughs.] I am not shocked, if we’re being honest. For a long time, my friends have told me that if I ever got on Drag Race, I would be a meme — because I might not say a lot all of the time, but everything is literally right there on my face at all times. Whether I’m shocked, or excited, or thinking “what the f–k is going on?” it’s there. It’s not something I can control, it just happens. All of these reaction memes are genuine — so no, I was not shocked by this. And I live for it! It’s funny and fun, and most of the time it’s about having fun.
It also helps that in the screen-grabs fans are using, you look phenomenal.
Well, that also helps, for sure.
At the outset of this episode, we had some work room drama when the two other teams began fighting over who got to perform the heavy metal number, led mostly by Malaysia and Luxx. For those of you who were uninvolved, what were you thinking as this was unfolding?
It was basically like we were watching tennis — our heads just kept bouncing back and forth in this conversation. Like, “OK, they said this. Ooh, they threw this shade. They said they’re not getting walked all over. They said they’re not doing rock, paper, scissors.” It was a whole thing. We, the viewers in our hip-hop group, were just happy to not be involved, truly sitting with our popcorn and watching the girls go through their go-through.
We’ve seen these kinds of fights happen more and more on Drag Race, where it feels like such a small thing to be going at each others throats over.
I mean, I understand both sides, to be honest — I love to play Switzerland. On one hand, you have girls saying, “This is what I want to do, and this is a competition, so I am going to do it.” But then on the other side, “This is a competition, and you do not get to be the decider of my fate.” So, pointless? Yes, but also no.
It definitely didn’t have to be as dramatic, but it’s Drag Race — you put a bunch of queers in a room, we’re going to be dramatic. Some folks were shocked, and I don’t know why. It’s wild, but when you meet drag queens in real life, this happens. We get into it, and then we move on.
As a singer yourself, you mentioned on this episode that doing a rap verse was not necessarily your strong suit. With this being a music challenge, how much were you in your own head about not getting to sing?
It was definitely a hard moment. I am a singer, but it’s hard to sing stuff when you don’t have a whole bunch of time to learn it. It was definitely a challenge in that aspect, so I was just trying to roll with the punches. I’m not a rapper; before this instance, I had never rapped in my life. It definitely pushed me more than I thought it was going to. I have written before, but it’s just hard to do in the amount of time that you’re given. But that’s the challenge! Either your rise to it or you don’t, and in that moment, some of us didn’t rise as much as others.
Ru literally said that she was “splitting hairs” when it came to the judging, which to me shows how strong everybody’s writing and performing was.
Yes, exactly. Like, does it suck to go home? Absolutely. Am I happy that I could be part of a season where I am going up against the best of the best? Absolutely. It’s amazing to be around such talented performers that judges do regularly have to split hairs to figure out who’s staying — I just wish my hairs weren’t the ones being split. [Laughs.]
I felt very frustrated for you this episode, because you were getting your first critique of the season and being told that you’re coasting and fading a little into the background, and then immediately getting sent home on said critique.
It was definitely not the easiest, but it’s a moment of growth for me! I can definitely see what they’re talking about and where I could have pushed more in certain portions of the show. I am not a person who can’t take critiques if it’s actually helpful, so I was for sure ready to take that and run with it.
You did take the critique, and you explained very eloquently that you know what it is that you’re good at, and you try to highlight that instead of taking a big risk, which feels fair to me.
I know what I can do! That’s not to say I can’t grow — I’ve been doing this for six years and am still trying new things as I go along my journey. Just for me, in that competition setting, this is not the time to do something where I don’t know whether it will work or not. Also, I’ve never rapped before, and I still did it! It might not have been great. [Laughs.] But I did it!