Trixie Mattel has more hustle than you. By the time you finish this sentence, she’ll be in a different zip code and putting on her heels to perform for another crowd. After making a name for herself across the Midwest, the Milwaukee-based drag queen landed a spot on the coveted RuPaul’s Drag Race. For those who are uninformed: Drag queens are male-identified performers who perform as female, and RuPaul’s Drag Race is the Super Bowl Sunday of drag performances. Her signature look is strikingly similar to a doll's, and her signature move is comedy. A talented performer in her own right, Mattel takes to the stage and weaves surprising and hilarious comedy bits into her routine which will leave audiences simultaneously gagging and laughing.
This week, she comes to Roscoe’s Tavern with the rest of the Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 7 cast. Unlike most of the cast, she has performed in Chicago numerous times before. For a time, she was a regular at Berlin Nightclub’s Drag Matinee and the epic Neverland parties. I asked her a few questions about her drag-spiration, traveling philosophy and how she made a name for herself out of a slur.
I had never seen an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race before it graced your subtly made-up mug. Now I'm hooked and I blame you.
Listen, people say that I wear too much makeup. But I see people every single day who could use more makeup. I JUST LIKE IT GET OFF MY BACK OK I'M A PERSON. In all seriousness, who wouldn't get hooked on Drag Race? It's truly a show that has everything.
On the current season, your exaggerated make-up surprised some of the other Drag Race contestants. How often are people confused that you're intentionally doing a character or caricature?
People very often assume that my makeup is a reflection of underdeveloped makeup skill. But I think it takes just as much skill to achieve the look of Jackie Beat/Divine/Trixie Mattel as it does to look like a fishy queen.
Conversely, have you ever been addressed as a lady while in drag?
Yeah there was one guy. Of course, he had a glass eye. And the glass eye also had glaucoma.
Let's go back. How did Trixie come about?
Well I had to fill in for a drag role last-minute in a production of Rocky Horror. It was fun so I kept doing it. The longer I did it, the bolder I got with my strokes of the character. Trixie is now a marriage of my off-color comedy and the little girl toys I coveted as a child but couldn't have.
How did you decide on the name Trixie?
When I was a kid, I had a bad home life. And my stepdad would call me a "Trixie" when I was acting too feminine or crying. It used to be the worst word for me. But because of Trixie Mattel it's now my favorite word.
When you were added to Drag Race, you left beauty school. Grease soundtrack aside, it seemed like a real crossroads. Any regrets?
When RuPaul tells you to go to Drag Race, you go to Drag Race. Basically the only regret is that people think they're clever by bringing up Grease.
Has Milwaukee ever produced a world-touring drag queen or reality TV star before?
Milwaukee produces fantastic beers and cheeses. But I definitely do not represent Wisconsin's type of drag. Wisconsin has very pageant, very "Top 40," very commercial drag. I'm the pink sheep.
Although you're a Milwaukee-based drag queen, you've always been very mobile. Even before Drag Race, you performed almost as much in Chicago and Madison as you did in Milwaukee. Was this Midwest performance circuit in existence before you?
I started working in Chicago because I was too weird to get regular bookings in Milwaukee. In Chicago, the drag scene is so vibrant and diverse. Audiences in Chicago don't care what kind of drag you do as long as you do the hell out of it.
Out of all of the current season's Drag Race contestants, you traveled abroad first and possibly the most. Did your constant touring pre-Drag Race prepare you to do as many world tours?
Oh, definitely. I'm jumping from plane to plane, but at least I'm not taking the Greyhound bus and public transit just to get to my gigs in Chicago. I used to take the $9 Greyhound ride to Chicago. One time it broke down and I had to walk in half-drag with all my suitcases to the nearest bus stop.
Other than continuing touring, what can we look forward to from Trixie?
This year, you can see my one-doll show Trixie Mattel: Ages 3 and Up. It has tap dancing, crying and, most importantly, laughing.
Don’t miss Trixie Mattel this Wednesday, June 10 and Thursday, June 11 at Roscoe’s Tavern with the rest of Season 7’s contestants. Roscoe’s is located at 3356 N Halsted St. For showtimes and advance tickets, visit Roscoes.com.