RuPaul’s Drag Race just got weird (in the best way possible).
Thursday night’s season 11 grand finale saw RuPaul crown Yvie Oddly — one of the most delightfully bonkers artists to ever grace the main stage, who transformed into everything from a glamorous jellyfish to a cyber lion on the runway — as America’s Drag Superstar, putting a verified stamp on the Denver-based queen’s boundary-pushing brand of drag.
But, Yvie’s final Drag Race bow (an epic lip-sync to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” alongside fellow finalist Brooke Lynn Hytes) proved there’s both bark and bite to her visionary aesthetic, as she stepped out onto the stage in a flowing gown with an ornate headpiece that (surprise!) included a second face on the back — one that didn’t appear until the closing moments of the song, when Yvie slowly flipped over backward, turning herself (and Drag Race standards) upside-down. In other words, it was a simple, immensely satisfying, emotional reveal that complimented the song and celebrated the classic theatricality of drag.
Shortly after her victory, EW caught up with the cutting-edge queen to talk about everyone thirsting over her dad (who was in the audience during the finale), the inspiration behind her incredible finale look, why she chose to splash “Free Britney!” across her underwear during her first lip-sync, and her final, show-stopping lip-sync moment that gooped a nation and put a crown on her head. Read on for the full conversation.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hello Yvie! Congratulations, girl! I’m so thrilled that you won and that you’re dropping music videos, but I can’t imagine what it feels like for you. How did it feel waking up this morning knowing you really did that, girl?
YVIE ODDLY: It’s crazy! It hasn’t all hit me. Every now and then I’ll get a text or a call and just burst out in giggles. [Signature Yvie laugh]
What did you do to celebrate?
After the crowning party, I celebrated by eating some good, old-fashioned Applebee’s and going straight to bed.
I can’t even tell you the last time I went to an Applebee’s!
Me either, but it was suggested and it sounded really good. It sounded like a winner’s dinner!
Who the hell suggested Applebee’s for America’s Drag Superstar?
Somebody who had my best interests at heart!
I love that in your Instagram video last night, you genuinely thanked people you’ve connected with, but also people you’ve argued and fought with. Why did you thank those people, too?
It’s important to acknowledge all the ways we grow and the people who’ve forced that change in our lives. You never really get to see a diamond unless it’s pressed down in its coal state, first. I wanted to make sure those who’ve touched my life, even in not necessarily the most positive ways, know that they’ve changed me and turned me into the human being I am today.
I mean, that final lip-sync was so breathtaking. You told a story and connected with the emotion of the song instead of present pure spectacle. And that face reveal was so simple, tasteful, and so opposite of what we expect from reveals on the show. What were you trying to say, thematically, with the dress and the head on the back?
When I knew I got this far, I had a million ideas in my head of what I’d want and what I’d be able to pull off. The one that kept coming back to me was having an outfit that looked like there was a person on the front and the back. I knew it had to be simple and delicate. First and foremost, I’m a fan of the show, and I’m sick of seeing pointless reveals. Now that Sasha Velour broke that gate open, I knew we’d see a million forever. My goal going into this finale was to show people I could give a performance and connect to a song without relying on those gimmicks or the stunts and shenanigans that people have seen from me before.
Was there any significance to there being two faces? Was that a comment on anything?
Not really, other than I just wanted to be this all-seeing deity. I wanted eyes on every side of my head, and I wanted to feel like I made a full, 360-degree turn, so everywhere you looked, you’d be getting a piece of me. The back of my head was made from a mold of my head, anyway. That was all me on there. [Signature Yvie laugh]
Ornacia was shaking. In the same vein as Ornacia, does this woman have a name?
I haven’t had time to name her, so I guess I’ll just call her America’s Next Drag Superstar. She actually won. I was just subbing in her for that night!
I also loved your Free Britney message on your underwear in the first lip-sync against A’Keria. And I love that, again you tried to make a statement with your reveal: It had a purpose beyond just being a reveal for a reveal’s sake. Why did you choose to do that to “SOS” in particular?
I thought about how, at the time, the biggest person I could think of in the public eye who needed help and wasn’t able to get help for themselves was Britney. I kind of wanted a tongue-in-cheek, half joke, half serious [move]. Obviously her story has progressed a little bit since then, but that was the meaning behind it. I wanted to take a second to show people that I’m culturally aware. If you’re going to have a gimmick in the lip-sync, it should tie to that song. If I didn’t get that song, I wasn’t going to show people my underwear!
It was so fitting that she spent some of that lip-sync upside-down, because you turned Drag Race standards on their head. How do you think you changed or disrupted the art form on the show?
I won’t be able to see any impact I’ve had immediately; I’ll have to tune into season 12 to find out if I really did anything. As far as my impact on the show goes, I think where I made the most impact was with my actions and behavior. I’m hoping that other people who get onto the show now [think], “Should I be addressing this girl to her face?” I hope people are more honest and critical with themselves going onto the show. And I hope the fans are, too. Just be self-aware!
Why was it hard for people to grasp that you were being real and not abrasive this season, that you were speaking your mind and that constructive criticism doesn’t always mean negativity?
Because I broke a lot of social mores. You’re not supposed to be that real with people going through life. You’re supposed to let them live their life and ignore the fact that they have spinach on their teeth. It’s an uncomfortable situation to expose the truth to somebody, even if it’s not necessarily positive. A lot of people feel like it’s from an aggressive, attacking place, but that’s just how I view the world. I was never delusional about where I was in the competition. When I was failing, the other girls knew I was failing, and I knew I was failing. I made the other girls aware that I knew I was failing. The other girls put up these defense mechanisms and weren’t prepared for somebody to attack them, because we’re taught to just ignore it, nod our head, and talk s— behind their back.
That’s so toxic and it’s not just on the show, it’s in life. People can learn a lesson in honesty and truth from you.
Especially since I do have a good relationship with all these girls after the show. It just proves that, even if it is uncomfortable to get over that first hurdle, it’s going to build a stronger, healthier relationship.
Switching gears, a lot of people were also very taken by Papa Oddly, who definitely has some fans now. There were viral threads with people thirsting after him. What does it feel like to know that people had that reaction to your dad?
I already knew it was going to be this way [signature Yvie laugh]. People have always told me I have a hot dad. Every friend who’s ever met him, every class day that he came to, he’s been drooled over his whole life. Naturally, with all the platform and scale I was given, I knew if he was even on TV for half a second, he was going to have his own PornHub site!
Does it feel strange that it’s happening on such a big level now?
No, now I have no excuse to eyeroll because everybody feels that way. There’s no safe space for me anymore!
He looks like a sweet man. I love that he showed his motorcycle group your episodes!
Yeah, he is really sweet and it was dope to see him there and see RuPaul call him out and force him to be vulnerable in front of everybody!
The last thing I want to ask you about is the music video you dropped today! Is that of a bigger project?
For the time being, this is just my experiment into the musical land. I enjoyed this process so much that I would like to start working on an album. I just can’t guarantee it’ll be out any moment soon now that I’ve got responsibilities. [Signature Yvie laugh]
I love the image of you walking backward down the aisle of a dollar store, so if this ends up being the only thing we get for a year, I’m totally cool with it.
There’s still some more down the road. We always have a little more!
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