Violet Chachki has been called a lot of things since her season: skinniest waist in Drag Race history, bitchy, unpolished, overly confident. But the Atlanta native has proved all her critics wrong by rising to the top and being crowned the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 7. Since her coronation, Chachki has released her own EP, Gagged, been featured in the pages of Vogue Italia and is now joining the RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons-Extravaganza Tour this year, which makes its Missouri stops in St. Louis and Kansas City this June.
I spoke with Violet about joining the tour, her role speaking out for all sections of the LGBTQ community and what she would like to be remembered for as winner.
Matt Jamieson: This is your first year joining the BOTS tour, are you excited?
Violet Chachki: I’m so excited. I’m really excited to get to hang out and kiki with all the girls and to travel the world. But I’m also a little nervous - there’s a lot going on. There’s group numbers, there’s solo numbers, there’s meet-and-greets. It’s a lot of traveling, it’s a lot of work, and I don’t think people realize how much work really goes into it. I’m ac-tually rhinestoning one of my costumes for the tour right now. I think people get to see the finished product, the finished package, they get to see the Instagram posts, but there’s so much going on behind the scenes. I mean, just my bags alone, I’m gonna have three bags that are 70 pounds each. I’m lugging 200 pounds of drag around the world! It’s a lot to deal with, for sure, but I’m so excited to have it all come together.
MJ: What I love about the tour, is that it brings together all different types of drag. You’ve got live vocals, you’ve got lip-sync. Are you bringing any of your aerial talents to the stage?
VC: Yes I am actually. That’s what’s been kind of tricky – getting insurance figured out and figuring out all the different venues and rigging and safety –there’s a ton that goes into it. I’m sacrificing a lot to be able to showcase what I actually did, before Drag Race and what I’ve been working on. It’s a lot of work to coordinate everything, but yes I’m planning to. If everything works out like it’s supposed to, I’m planning to bring my lyra and my aerial stilts.
MJ: You said at the end of the season that you’re representative of the new and old style of drag. Right after you won you did an interview with the Advocate. You talked about landing in Australia and some kids met you and asked about Demi Lovato. And you said “what about John Waters?” - and they just looked at you blankly. What is it like to be an old soul in a new school kind of world?
VC: It’s interesting. I have so many references and sometimes people don’t get them. People associate Bettie Page hair, like a black, thin Bettie Page wig with me. And I go “No! You’re supposed to associate that with Bettie Page!” It’s interesting to me as someone who approaches old school and kind of puts a twist on it and makes it new school and it goes over a bunch of peoples’ heads. It can be frustrating sometimes, but it’s kind of my job to keep those references alive. So it’s rewarding and frustrating at the same time.
MJ: What I admire about you Violet is that you identify as genderqueer. Your “Bettie” video focused a lot of wonderful, positive light on the fetish community and you’ve also spoken a lot about gender expression and gender identity. How important is that with the more mainstream the show and drag is becoming to put focus on the entire LGBTQ community?
VC: I think it’s getting even more important for me. I talk about it a lot, I love talking about it. There still seems to be a disconnect between the trans community, and like what I do as drag. I saw this article from this white male presenting gay guy talking about how language is affecting, we shouldn’t be using the word “girl”. It definitely re-lates to this as “God there’s such a disconnect.” I need to talk about it more I feel like, I need to like cause an uproar. I think it’s important for what I do, because there’s differ-ent types of trans. Not everyone is trans in the way Laverne Cox is trans, not everyone is trans the way Andreja Pejić is trans or Caitlyn Jenner is trans. There needs to be more gender variant role models and I am so happy to take on that role and be gender-queer and gender non-conforming in a different way. I feel like there’s not enough re-presentation of different trans stories. I consider myself trans in a gender fluid way and that’s just one of the many categories of the umbrella that is trans. It’s interesting and I want to talk more about it. You get pigeonholed as a man in a dress, you get pigeon-holed as whatever norm, whatever word they want to use. And I want to be more of a visual for people who are somewhere in between. I’m sick of having to decide “Am I gonna dress up as a boy or am I gonna dress up as a girl?” And the article I read today about the language - some people are so one-sided. You’re either heteronormative and masculine presenting or you’re full on trans woman post-op. Well that’s not true, there are a lot of people in between and I identify with those people. And there’s other queens like me too - Raja is tri-spirited, Jinkx is gender non conforming and so is Courtney Act. I would really love for all of us to get together and do some sort of project or documentary or something. It just seems like there’s not enough representation for people like us. There's a trend for trans women in the public eye right now with Caitlyn and Laverne and Andreja. All the beautiful trans representation, that story, but there’s a lot of in between and that’s why I wanna talk about it.
MJ: We have to talk season 8, just a little bit. I know your drag mother, Dax Excla-mationpoint is on this season. (Writer’s note: this interview was conducted prior to the airing of season 8.)
VC: Yes, I love Dax, I love her so much. It’s so funny - you know you’re not supposed to tell anybody when you go away? She didn’t tell me! And I’m like “Why are you playing by the rules, Dax? What the hell?” And I’m on episode one, she walks in and I’m like “What the f*ck?” I was like talking with her, I knew she was auditioning and I didn’t hear anything about. I was like “What the f*ck? Why didn’t you tell me?” She played by the rules, didn’t tell me, and I totally help people. When you’re preparing it’s like “I’ve got two weeks to pack and get these looks and everything together,” and you have to have help. It was like “F*ck I so would have helped you so hard!” She played the rules. It’s funny because her style and my style are not very similar at all. But the reason Dax is my mom is because she was doing drag before Drag Race in Atlanta. She was doing drag before it was a trend, before it was popular. And she was always doing really weird drag - in Atlanta there was a pageant girl/showgirl scene and then there was Dax. And that was it for the longest time: club kid Dax and Atlanta showgirls and it was like this huge divide. And so when I started doing drag, I was like “this is the person who will show me the way. I don’t wanna be with these showgirls, I want to be in the alternative scene.” And Dax was the only person around who was doing anything alternative, as far as gender expression is concerned. She was basically doing what RuPaul was doing: go-going with like androgynous football shoulder pads. Just weird, weird shit for like the longest time. So that’s kind of why Dax adopted me, and then she moved to Savannah and does lots of cosplay and does this whole nerd thing. It’s very much her own and we have very different styles. We’re related on the fact we were two oddballs in a city full of fishy, showgirls.
MJ: What else do you have planned for this year?
VC: To be honest, I’m excited for a new queen to get crowned. I’m thinking about mov-ing to New York, I’m still working on a clothing line, I’ve got lots of designs to get to-gether. I’m trying to avoid the route of a “GoFundMe”, I’m trying to find private investors and it’s a work in progress, it’s something I want to be perfect so I don’t want to rush it. I really want to start performing more in the burlesque community. I’m very polarizing in the drag world, I get a lot more across the board acceptance in the burlesque communi-ty. And before Drag Race that’s where I was aiming: doing lots of burlesque festivals and lots of burlesque shows in the Southeast. I’m trying to pick up where I left off with that, connecting with performers internationally. I’m gonna go see Dita von Teese’s show at Crazy Horse right before I start touring in Paris. I’m super excited to see her show and get inspiration from her. Lots of editorials coming out, something I can’t talk about, but it’s major, it's one of my favorite photoshoots I’ve done. There’s also things like that - keeping steady but resting at the same time.
MJ: Lastly, what would like your legacy as America’s Next Drag Superstar to be?
VC: It’s funny, I got crowned against all odds. I don’t think I was cast as the winner, I don't think the producers thought I was gonna win. Someone leaked my porn going into crowning, kind of, I feel as a way to discredit me. I’m super polarizing and I got a really strange edit on the show, and through all of that I still won. That’s kind of my legacy. Even if the people who were crowning me had no intention of crowning me to begin with, I still did it. I think that’s the message: the only one you can put in your way is yourself. And I didn’t let anybody. There were people really fighting against me to win, and through all of that I still did. I always think about that and giggle that through all of that I still turned out a winner.
Violet Chachki is featured as part of the cast of the BOTS Extravaganza Tour, which makes its stop in St. Louis on June 7 at the Pageant, and Kansas City on June 8 at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland. For more information, including links to ticket sales, please vis-it www.rupaulbots.com.
Photography: Miss Missy Photography