Alternative Drag Queens Are Doing More Than Just Bending The Rules Of Gender
Drag queens are no longer just playing with gender, they are doing so much more. Acid Betty, a contestant on the eight season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, introduced America to another type of drag during her run on the show. Her alternative style of drag made jaws drop each week as she walked the runway on the main stage, so her recent elimination is going to leave a bit of a void in the show’s diversity.
Following her elimination, we had the pleasure of speaking with Acid to learn more about her as a character and her time on the show. Enjoy the full interview below.
Queerty: Hi Acid, how are you? How’s everything been since your elimination?
Acid Betty: It hasn’t been all that bad; it was good. I actually watched it with some friends and it was actually kind of fun to watch their faces because they didn’t know, [laughs] so to watch them gag and aww was actually kind of fun. I thought I would have a breakdown and start crying or something, but I didn’t.
How has the response been online?
It’s been really great. I thought I was going to see a lot more “Ding dong, the witch is dead,” but I didn’t see a lot of that, so that was good. I mean, maybe there is a lot of it and I’m just blind.
You were portrayed as a villain on season 8, but I know you have a soft side as well. I’m wondering why it felt like we only got to see your acid-side on the show…
Yeah, you know, you’re probably talking to the wrong person. [Laughs] Actually, the segue to the “being fat” conversation started with me and so did the segue into our mother’s being dead, but unfortunately none of it was shown. I don’t know why…
All you really saw were things like my reaction to Chi Chi quitting the group and things like that, so that’s why I look frustrated and upset, but it’s the nature of good TV!
Right, that’s for sure! On that same note, is there anything that wasn’t aired but wish the producers put into an episode?
I’m glad they showed my moment with Chi Chi because you couldn’t hide the fact that we had a relationship. And I wanted to see the time when they first started the Shade Tree how excited we were about this new element of the show. Chi Chi and I were actually best friends at the moment and we went and christened it ourselves together by being shady to everybody. We were excited, expecting that to be shown, but it was never seen. I would have really loved to see what we said about people! [laughs]
Your look is so unique and iconic. Who or what has been the inspiration for your drag character?
I’ve always drawn from the old greats like Leigh Bowery and Joey Arias. Even Kevin Aviance was in my nightmares as a kid. As a kid, I had a thing for horror movies and fantasy movies, so I think I’ve always wanted to be more of a fantasy character than a woman. That’s why, when I do drag, I’m always trying to be an X-Men or some kind of fantasy character beyond just gender, messing with gender.
Not a lot of queens with your sort of look and character have been cast on the show. Why do you think you were cast this season?
I’m hoping that they see what I see: that in the drag community there is now a large amount of alternative drag queens that are not just gender-bending. They’re doing fantasy characters and cosplay and I think they realized that it was time to introduce that because drag is going beyond what it was six years ago.
There’s so much more out there than what has been seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Right. And maybe I think they were just trying to capture and expose the children of America to that. After season seven, c’mon, they needed to put some clowns on that show.
This season is definitely one of the most talented.
And colorful! Don’t you think we’re colorful? We are all different and we kept gagging on each other. We were like, “We’re so different, this is so fabulous.” We just loved it! [laughs]
If you could go back and do Snatch Game over again, is there another character you would choose to do instead?
I had Pepper prepared, which is what I auditioned with, so maybe I would have done Pepper from American Horror Story. I had some other characters that I was going to do, but if I had another chance maybe I would just do Nancy Grace again, honestly. I’d let her go a little more crazy.
During the earlier part of the season, editing made it seem like you and Thorgy had a little bit of tension from something that happened before you got on the show. Is there more to that story or is that just editing?
That’s definitely a beautiful edit. We never worked with each other and we were always just friends. I would go see her see her at her shows and she would be like, “Oh my god, gurl,” and then tell me all these fun stories. And then she would come to my shows and I would get her drunk and we would just kind of gag that way. We never worked together and didn’t have anything evil, and, actually, since working with her and touring, we’ve had such a blast.
The New York queens seem to be one of the closest groups to ever be on the show together.
Yeah, we are. It’s because we know where we’re coming from and what we had to deal with in New York, so it’s kind of like an unsaid sisterhood. We look at each other, be like, “Yup,” and we just connect.
Do you have any advice for the queens who get on season nine and any future contestants?
Do not be like anybody else. If you think it’s a good idea to do something that you saw before or think you could do it a little bit better, that’s not you. Do you. Do what you think will be entertaining. Do what you think will be interesting and exciting and I guarantee that will get you far. That’s what I think got me on season eight.
Who are you rooting for to win the season? I think you might be rooting for Bob and Thorgy, the New York queens.
Well, I would say Thorgy first, because I think she’s worked hard and she deserves it. She’s auditioned every season and, god damn it, she’s fabulous at everything.
But after being on the show, I really am Chi Chi’s number one supporter. I mean, I got Bob’s back, but I don’t think he needs my support because he’s a queen for the people and there’s a lot of people in this world. I think Chi Chi needed it on the set and still needs it, so I’m her number one fan.
It’s so interesting to see Chi Chi’s character be the blossoming rose of the season. She came in and maybe you underestimated her and then she’s just blowing everyone away.
Yup! We called it when I first met her. I was like, “You’re her. You’re that Tyra Snachez, gurl.”
Like a Drag Race pool shark.
It is! You had nothing and you came out looking like a diva, disco mama. I don’t know how you do it, but that’s what it’s about.
She was doing it. She was hot-gluing this and doing that, and I was just like, “You are it, gurl. You better stop complaining. You are fancy. You are doing it.”
I’m looking what she turns into after the show because when she’s at home there’s only like three queens and she said they all treat her not poorly, but kind of the same. I just can’t wait ’til she gags the children all over the country, then she’ll finally be confident and understand that she is special. She really is.
Thorgy has also been getting the “have more confidence in yourself” edit.
Yeah, well Thorgy triple-questions everything. They’re not even showing you the half of it! She literally changes her costume all they way up until the runway. [laughs] She was going to do “Frozen” from Madonna because everyone had kimonos, and that at the last minute she was like, “Oh fine, I just put my kimono on like everyone else.”
So what’s in the future for Acid Betty now that you are part of the Drag Race royalty?
I hope to become more of an artist and expand drag beyond just the clubs and the bars. I hope to put some shows together, like art galleries with live performance and environmental stuff. I’m just hoping to get more theatrical and expand people’s brains on where drag should be and where it’s going.
Catch new episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race, every Monday night at 9/8c on Logo.