Queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race “Wannabe” in the top every week — and with the latest episode’s girl group challenge, the contestants had to prove they were “Worth It,” begging the host not to “Say My Name.”
Friday’s episode (Feb. 2) saw the 12 remaining drag stars tasked with writing, recording, choreographing and performing in their own versions of songs off RuPaul’s Black Butta as a series of girl groups. Testing their teamwork and their ability to stand out amongst a crowd, the challenge forced the girls to flex multiple performance muscles at once in order to earn another week in the competition.
With a show-stopping rendition of “A.S.M.R. Lover,” the queens of Thicc and Stick — Mhi’ya Iman LePaige, Geneva Karr, Megami and Nymphia Wind — dominated the challenge and earned themselves a four-way win for the week. As for the bottom two, Ru selected Q, whose dancing left something to be desired, and Amanda Tori Meating, whose pussycat wig runway look fell short in the judges’ estimations.
Lip synching to guest judges Icona Pop’s “Emergency,” Q and Amanda pulled out all of the stops — dancing, emoting and selling every beat of the song to convince Ru that they deserved a second chance. Ultimately, Ru wanted to hear some more A’s from Q, granting her another week in the competition, and determined that Amanda Tori Meating could’ve just been an email, sending her home.
Below, Billboard chats with Amanda about her time on the show, coming out as trans, becoming a meme and why she’s ready for her feud with fellow contestant Plane Jane to end.
How are you doing after watching your run on Drag Race?
You know, to quote my sister Dawn, I feel so p—y right now!
Love to hear it. Before we get into the episode, I wanted to say I’m so happy for you after talking about your transition this week! How are you feeling after putting that out into the world?
Thank you! Yeah, it’s been a mix — it’s a very personal part of my identity that I have been not necessarily sure of, until coming back from filming Drag Race. That was when I really said, “Oh, I’m trans.” To be on the show and not have a full understanding and acceptance of that, and then gaining that after filming was crazy; I felt like the Amanda that people were seeing on TV was … they were making assumptions about who that is, and what my pronouns are out of drag, so it just felt very nice to just kind of clear it up. The interactions I’ve been having with fans since then, whether it’s online or IRL, it’s just felt a lot more genuine and complete. People can just sort of see me a bit more fully.
I also wanted to talk a bit about the look heard around the world from the premiere episode — I love that you have leaned as hard as you have into meme-ing yourself.
Well, you know what, baby? I was like, “If people are going to clown me for this purple face, then I’d better make some money off of it so I can pay for FFS!”
Period! What’s it been like to watch your face become a meme in real time?
You know, it was something I was kind of expecting after the day on set, and I think I was really dreading to see how it actually looked on camera. All I had were my memories on set, which can get very foggy over the months. But I ended up beating myself up about the whole purple alien situation, and I was expecting it to be so much worse. By the time I actually saw the runway, I was like, “Oh … it’s not good, but it’s not that bad!” At that point, I was like, “People can have their fun and make their jokes — I’m gonna make my coin with this.”
Throughout this episode, things get pretty heated between you and your “affiliate,” as you called her, Plane Jane. I appreciate that you have kept it 100% real with how you’ve been feeling about it online, because sometimes the on-screen fights spill over into real life. Where are you at with the Plane drama today?
I went into this, before we left for filming, by saying that all I could do was be honest. All I know how to really do is say exactly how I feel. So I said, “If I can do that, I’ll probably be fine.” Plane and I did not really communicate much after filming, to be honest. Through the rest of the summer and the fall, the extent of our relationship was pretty much what you saw on camera. Then, in more recent weeks, we’ve been in talks, we’ve been in negotiations, we’ve been in custody battles offline.
We had a rocky moment with each other in our texts, about two weeks ago. But I do think, after that, we were able to have a dialogue where we were discussing our feelings in an open, honest, genuine way, and not trying to play anything up for cameras that weren’t there.
I also think that the fan base needs to normalize queens on the show being co-workers, not necessarily friends. You don’t have to be friends with everyone!
Yes! It’s interesting because there has been so much discourse around our relationship. There are a lot of fans who think they can just jump online and send a bunch of random hate to people, which is not OK. The response from the girls to a lot of that is usually, “We’re all friends! We all love each other!” And I was sitting in my trailer, reading those tweets going, “Well … I don’t know that we’re all friends!” But, just because we’re not necessarily “friends” doesn’t mean we can’t be co-workers who respect each other.
So, in terms of the relationship with Plane, that’s where she and I have arrived — we might not be “friends” at the moment, though I don’t think either of us has written that off. But, we can be cordial and respectful and mature adults in the workplace, and I’m grateful for that.
I’ll be honest, I have a bone to pick with the judges in this episode, because I loved your robin’s nest look. It was conceptual, the message came across, and it fit the theme — what were you thinking when you were receiving those critiques on the runway?
Can I be honest?
Please be honest.
I was standing there on that stage thinking, “Are they blind? Are they looking at what I’m looking at? This is camp, this is concept, this is cool!” I didn’t necessarily feel very pretty in it, but I thought it was cool! Yeah, I did not agree with them on the critiques. But here we are!
Before I have to let you go, we’re asking all the girls this season — what music, other than “My Kitty,” have you been listening to in recent weeks?
Well, “My Kitty” is available on Spotify and Apple Music [Laughs]. To be honest, I’m still hooked on Renaissance, I cannot and will not let it go. Because of Drag Race I had to miss the concert this summer, which was one of the devastating losses of my life. I’d give it all back! Take me off the season and put me on season 17 just so I can go see the Renaissance Tour! Every single time I get in drag, I have the album on repeat, and it’s gotten to the point where instead of checking what time it is, I can tell how long it’s been by hearing what song we’re at on the album.
Okay, but importantly, is there any particular song on the album that you find yourself gravitating toward?
“Church Girl.” Now, I love Beyoncé because she’s an album artist, and you know she’s going to give you a body of work that should be listened to in full. Every song on that album is a banger. But there is something about “Church Girl” that just moves my spirit — when I listen to it, I’m crying, and then I am throwing my a–.
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