Trixie Mattel Marks an Important Shift in Pop Culture

Saturday 14th, July 2018 / 07:00

By David Cutting

VANCOUVER – It is 2018. Kids are being put in camps in the U.S., politics are twisted and a joke, the pop culture tides have turned, and now a man in a dress judging other people in dresses is arguably the hottest sensation on the planet. This cacophony of gay fuckery is of course RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality TV show on VH1.

The world itself is changing. Finally, we have images in our news that help show a true juxtaposition that exists in this world, but drag has always risen when we needed it. Drag Queens/Kings/Things all carry the legacy of strengthening and rallying our community. Drag Race is doing it via a new platform, in a way that is undeniably unapologetic. It’s essential that we heal the divide that exists within our own community while simultaneously reaching out and building a new framework for the silly hats to have a better more understanding viewpoint.

The show itself has had many stars and stand out creatures, but there is one weirdo that has risen from the primordial queer goo and their name is Trixie Mattel. At first glance you see intense contour, gigantic eye makeup, and unnaturally massive blonde hair. If you find yourself hearing them first it would probably be their insane gay scream/cackle laugh that, sometimes, only dogs can hear. Mattel is a multifaceted drag performer with accolades also in stand up comedy, live music, and songwriting.

“Trixie is a place where all my talents can connect,” Mattel says in their deadpan voice over the phone from Seattle where they are performing for a show that evening. I start by introducing myself and sharing where I am and they deadpan again. “Oh Vancouver, yeah I am coming there, who wants to know?” They are actually stopping in twice this summer — July 17 and August 5.

Mattel started drag when they were 18 and never looked back. “At 21, I started doing clubs, hosting it and doing stand up. It was here I just started adding layers to the character, started refining the look and the comedy got darker.” At 25, Trixie Mattel participated in Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, an experience that shot them to the top of the fandom mind.

Two years later and a television show of their own, The Trixie and Katya Show — something that grew from a silly YouTube video series — now airs on VICELAND. The rapid growth from all of this certainly helped with the rise of some incredible opportunities.

“I spent a few years proving things to myself. Just because RuPaul said I wasn’t America’s next drag superstar, I wasn’t gonna let that be the truth for me.” And they obviously didn’t let that step on the ambition they’d been growing and nurturing since their late teen years. “It was cool because, you know, when I won [RuPaul’s Drag Race] All Stars [earlier this year] it was a cool bonus, however I was living proof that you don’t need to be a winner to do whatever you want.”

Their entire image is based around the name Trixie, a word they reclaimed — its origin came from a slur that their stepfather would call them while growing up. From that hurt came a public figure that many now look up to and admire. “All of my best material comes from bad things that happen, so for me when I am happiest that’s when I am the least expired. Trixie and Katya Show is on TV, just won Drag Race, my album is number one… As a drag queen you’re always just waiting for the other jelly sandal to drop, ya know? Like where is the cancer? Am I gonna get hit by a car? What’s going on?”

Mattel is absolutely hilarious. Anyone who knows anything about them knows this. They are the reason we all bellow, ‘OH HONEYYYYY’ at the top of our gay lungs.

I shared with Mattel that I took this interview from someone else as I had to interview them because of the inspiration they have lent me in my own drag journey. I joked that it was probably a cisgendered white woman, to which Mattel quipped, “97% of my fans are white women with emotional trauma, so you maybe stole something very important from her.”

Trixie Mattel winning All Stars marks the beginning of something interesting in mainstream pop culture. This is the first time where someone who is not visibly playing the gender illusion game is winning a very public and sought after title. Drag itself began as an act of rebellion, rooted deeply in transgender culture, which is why there are so many misunderstandings around it. This year has marked a lot of controversy around this subject with RuPaul weighing in on trans individuals and their involvement in the art of drag; sheer ignorance and disregard for the rich history of drag is starting to reveal that now, more than ever, we need new drag idols to rise. Old ideals and minds that sit outdated with an unwillingness to grow need to step aside as the new generation opens up an even bigger conversation of love and acceptance. Mattel sits as a fulcrum for that because of the way they have situated themselves in this pop culture machine.
Mattel’s final nugget of wisdom for us? “Drag is like porn. Once you do it, you’re kinda just stuck in it. Next thing you know you’re hugging emotionally disturbed children in a meet and greet.”

Trixie Mattel performs July 18 at the Vogue Theatre and August 5 at Bute Street and Davie.