“Miss Vanjie. Miss Vanjie. Miss Vaaaanjie.” Those words have been echoing through the internet since Vanessa Vanjie Mateo’s now-iconic exit from RuPaul’s Drag Race on March 22.
While gifs and memes from the reality show regularly populate Gay Twitter™, it’s rare for the first eliminated queen on a season to make such an impact. Not only has Drag Race’s newest “meme queen” shown up on RuPaul’s timeline, but she’s seen love from mainstream celebrities like Katy Perry and Kathy Griffin.
Billboard Pride caught up with Mateo to talk about her favorite Miss Vanjie memes, what’s happened to her infamous floral bodysuit and what was going through her head while she sashayed away: “I was depressed as hell, so that’s why I was looking so damn sad!”
What is the tea, girl, this is out of control!
I’m not mad at it though! I already knew!
Well first, RuPaul tweeted “I wonder what Miss Vanjie is doing right this very moment.” So, what are you doing?
Well at that moment, I was in Denver, Colorado when he tweeted that, and I replied and said, “Girl, I’m in Denver. Are we gonna meet up for lunch?” That’s what I replied to her. But right now, I’m at … I’m trying to get this passport together so I can make my way to Colombia and all of these other places.
Oh, cool! I saw that Kathy Griffin also tweeted you.
I know that’s right. I was gagged. Really what I was thinking was, “Does she even know who Miss Vanjie is?” It’s going viral and everyone’s just riding it, does she even know who I am? That’s what I was thinking!
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) April 3, 2018
Have you seen any other celebrities tweeting it yet?
I saw Katy Perry liked a tweet that was about Miss Vanjie.
That’s awesome. What have been some of your favorite memes?
I like the one where the little kid with the knife is writing Miss Vanjie on the wall with the lipstick. Or something, he’s writing in red, I don’t know if it’s blood or something but it’s funny as hell. I love that one, I love the one where it’s like the phone call from Scream and he’s like “Miss Vanjie” every time the girl picks up the phone. I love that one. And then there was one recently that just came out — it was … I don’t even know how to explain it, it was like some superhero, and they put all of the four elements like water earth and fire, and I was the main avatar that was missing, it was funny as hell.
— Alexandra ?? (@IconicAlexandra) April 2, 2018
I’m curious… Was there a meaning of why you said your name three times while you were leaving, when you were eliminated?
Hell no, there was no fucking meaning. When I tell you I was at the end of the runway and I was thinking … well first of all, I didn’t anticipate getting kicked off first, so I didn’t plan my exit, I didn’t plan what to say, I didn’t plan what to write on the mirror with the lipstick message. I didn’t plan any of that. So literally when I got there, I turned around and saw RuPaul and saw Christina [Aguilera] and saw everyone was looking just at the judges, I decided to give them my name, and I said “Fuck it. Might as well have these bitches remember me.” So I just started screaming at the top of my lungs “Miss Vanjie,” over and over. And I was depressed as hell, so that’s why I was looking so damn sad!
Well it worked, people remembered!
Well I didn’t anticipate it blowing up like that! I thought they would just think it’s funny.
It’s crazy! Do you think queens on future seasons might see the attention this has gotten you and try to create their own moment when they’re eliminated?
I think they might, maybe before they get on the show, they think they’re gonna try and do something like that, but honestly, when you get on the show, it’s such a whirlwind of emotions when you’re there. Half the shit that you think about are in the moment, it’s really hard — at least for me, it was. Maybe it’s just because I’m such a real-ass bitch, that I don’t even try to think, I just go with the flow and say whatever comes to mind and I don’t even think about it twice. So I mean, if someone’s trying this next season to try and come up with something, it won’t come out as natural.
Have you made peace with the fact that for the rest of your life, people are gonna be saying “Miss Vanjie” every time they talk to you?
It is so funny, like, the other day I was standing outside of a venue, and someone drove by and they started screaming “Miss Vanjie!” Everywhere I go, they say “Miss Vanjie.” I was in the airport, and somebody started saying “Miss Vanjie.” I just laugh and find it hysterical. Like, I love it. It’s funny as hell.
Are you gonna love it in three years, though?
I sure the hell will, because Miss Vanjie’s what’s putting me on the map, so I better learn to love it! I mean, if it wasn’t for that, I would’ve been just another first girl off! Thank god for Miss Vanjie!
Totally. Do you still have that floral bodysuit?
Um … maybe. [laughs]
Oh no! What do you mean “maybe”?!
I think I have bits and piece of it.
Well I think those bits and piece belong in the Smithsonian.
Right, I think so! I think this is something, kind of like how Lady Gaga preserves her wigs, I need to preserve that floral bodysuit that Michelle hated.
For sure. So when can we buy Miss Vanjie t-shirts?
I just got off the phone with the person who’s helping me do my merchandise and we are on it. I just wanted to make sure it’s perfect so when it hits the market it takes off like hot cakes. Oh but it’s coming real soon. Probably within a week.
I will definitely be buying one. Before we go, I have to ask: you’re definitely going to be back on the show at some point, right? We need more Vanjie!
I don’t know! I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to see. I mean, regardless of what happens, you will always see me. I’m gonna be on social media, you can follow me on my website, VanessaVanjie.com, I’m gonna be taking over social media like I been doing. I’m trying to retweet all of these crazy-ass memes! Miss Thang is just taking off.