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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: Q Gets Real About the Online Hate That ‘Shaped’ Her Experience of the Show

In the final elimination week of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16, the top four queens were given a crash course in an important part of their post-show lives — the art of branding.

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On Friday’s episode (aired April 5), the remaining contestants showed off their personalities by creating covers and excerpts from their own faux memoirs, before giving a series of interviews with Las Culturistas’ Matt Rogers about their books.

For Nymphia Wind, the challenge turned into a triumph, with the judges praising the star’s vulnerability in her interview, as well as her stunning look she wore for her book cover — the queen earned her long-awaited third challenge win and a spot in the finale. Meanwhile, after much hair-splitting from the judges, queens Plane Jane and Q found themselves in the bottom after performances that didn’t quite stack up to those of Wind and Sapphira Cristál.

Lip synching to Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me,” the queens used every weapon in their respective arsenals to try and win the last spot in the show’s grand finale. Ultimately, Plane Jane landed without too much turbulence, leaving fashion queen Q on the tarmac.

Below, Q chats with Billboard about her time on the show, her approach to making some of the best runway looks on the show, speaking about life with HIV on national television, and how she’s taking online hate from the fanbase “one day at a time.”

You made it all the way to the top four! How does it feel, looking back on your run, knowing you made it as far as you did?

It felt really great — it’s always been a dream to be on the show. Now, you know what happened, and here I am now, and I guess we’ll see what comes from it in the future.

I did want to check in with you — I know the fanbase was pretty rough on you, and you ultimately decide to deactivate your X account a few weeks back. How are you feeling since making that decision?

Honestly? I’m fine. I’m sort of trying to take all of this one day at a time. I have days where it’s not so great, and then other days where it’s truly not bothering me at all. But it definitely has not been nearly as bad since I left X, and deactivated that account. I don’t know, it definitely has … the online part of all of this has definitely shaped a large part of this experience for me. 

People really have to learn to stop taking this show so seriously. 

Yeah, for sure, I agree. Here’s hoping.

On the show, you got to show off your capability as a seamstress. Your approach to fashion, and more importantly style, feels really refreshing for the show — what do you think makes your skills stand out?

Well first, thank you. I guess, what I see as fashion and style is definitely a lot more theatrical than what somebody else would see as fashion and style. It definitely comes from my background in the theater, and so sometimes, I really try to lean into that, and try to make my costumes that much more grand and costume-y. And that’s where a lot of my taste level comes from, I think.

Did you have a favorite look you wore down the runway this season?

Oh, man. Yeah, I really, really liked my floral runway. I think that was my absolute favorite I did all season.

This was a very different kind of challenge for this season, where you essentially were tasked not only with branding yourself, but with being really open and vulnerable. How challenging did that feel in the moment?

Honestly, it didn’t feel that challenging — I thought I did good until I hit the stage and got my critiques. But, because there were only four of us left, we literally all thought that we did really great this week before heading to the main stage. When you get there, that’s really the first time that you actually get a gauge on how you did when it’s that late in the competition.

You also had already shared a lot with your sisters already up to this point in the season — how did it feel speaking publicly about living with HIV back in episode 11?

Yeah, it felt really good! I did that because, I figured if I could help one person who felt the way that I felt when I was going through my diagnosis, then it would absolutely be worth it. Having people come up to me now, saying that it helped them, really helped me realize that speaking up about that on the show was really worth it.

What did you think of Plane’s now-viral response in the moment? 

It really didn’t seem like as big of a thing in the moment as it has since become, to be honest. At that point, we had heard a lot more surprising things come out of Plane Jane’s mouth, so that felt like nothing!

Before we let you go, I wanted to ask — is there any music you’ve found yourself listening to lately?

I mean, I am always the one with Artpop on replay all day since it came out. I’m big on “Venus,” personally.

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