Sashaying Away With Vivienne Pinay And Honey Mahogany
I talked with Vivienne and Honey about Monday's unexpected double elimination and life after RuPaul's Drag Race.
Saeed Jones: What surprised you the most about being on the show? I'm sure you had ideas going into the season about what it would be like, but what threw you the most?
Vivienne Pinay: I've been a big fan of the show for the last five years, and it's been a dream of mine to be on it. When I got there, though, it was kind of a culture shock. I didn't know anybody. And even though, obviously, it was a television show, I didn't really know anything about doing television. I didn't know it was such a big production. So, I think for me that was the biggest surprise because I was in a completely different environment.
SJ: Did you feel like as a result of the show being such an elaborate production, it was difficult for you to be your normal, fabulous self?
VP: Definitely, but at the same time, I was there long enough to loosen up. My problem was that I was so focused on the competition and impressing the judges and Ru. And I think, in my mind, that I was maybe a little too focused on the competition. I didn't really give myself time to enjoy being in the moment more. I think I would've been happier and less stressed.
SJ: I know it has to be jarring experiencing the show for yourself and then seeing how it's portrayed after editing. Is there an aspect of your personality you wish viewers had gotten to see more of?
VP: It is a little frustrating when fans or people who don't like you tweet or message you and tell you everything that they didn't like about how you handled the situation. And they don't realize that a lot of it is just editing. For instance, when I was talking about Roxxxy, it made me seem like I was very bitter about the challenge last week, and that was not the case. I was clearly stating how I felt about how Roxxxy handled the challenge, but everything that I was saying about her was a personal thing I had with her. It definitely was not her drag. I wasn't bitter. I actually think Roxxxy is gorgeous and good at what she does.
My problem with her is with her energy, and it was a personal problem. I happen to be a fun person. I'm sarcastic and bubbly too. I feel like my personality was pretty much just cut out, and I don't know if that was just the story being told or what, but yeah.
And the last thing I feel they cut out was my story. A lot of the queens have a story to tell. And I went through a lot growing up, ranging from abandonment issues with my father, domestic violence, dealing with alcoholism in a relationship and in my family, growing up in a small town in the South. There are so many things I went through and overcame and now I have such a beautiful life; I wish that they would've put that in there to be able to help anyone going through that situation.
SJ: How do you deal with all the feedback from critics and fans online?
VP: It takes a lot. And I do take it somewhat personal because I am a human being and I'm so passionate about my art and so passionate about my career. I've gotten better about it. Now I don't read the blogs. I swore to myself back in November actually that I wouldn't read any of the blogs because I know I'd just be asking for it. The hard part is when people actually take the time out of their lives to tweet me something nasty or "like" my page on Facebook and then write something nasty on my wall. It makes me feel sorry for them. And, sometimes, it makes me want to reply, but what's the good in that anyways? It's clearly not me they're upset with. I think they're upset with their own lives, so I just brush it off.
SJ: Obviously you're touring now. I know you were just in San Francisco last week, but how else has the show impacted your life and your career?
VP: It's impacted my life tremendously. I had been in the beauty industry for nine years, and I've quit doing hair. I used to live in New York. My boyfriend and I moved to L.A. in October. So, a lot has definitely changed. I'm traveling and doing more shows. Originally, I was not the type of queen who was out performing every single week or every night. That was not my love, and it still isn't my main passion. It's just what's kind of expected of me at this point. And I do enjoy getting to meet the fans. I do go through my hard times — I think all of us girls do. It's an emotional roller coaster, but I couldn't ask for anything more than I have right now.
SJ: And one last question: What queen who's still in the competition are you rooting for?
VP: There's just so much talent in the competition. I don't know if I can pick just one. Can I pick two or three?
SJ: Alright, give me two.
VP: I would definitely have to say Alyssa Edwards, because we had a very good connection. I think she is gorgeous and talented. And she's funny as hell. And the second one I would say — just because I see so much potential in her — is Jinx Monsoon. She's completely talented, and she's such a sweetheart. And I wish her all the best.
SJ: Great. Well, thank you, Vivienne. It was wonderful talking with you.
VP: You too! And the next time I'm in San Francisco, you should come out.
SJ: Hi, Honey! So, I just have a few questions about the show.
HM: I can actually talk about it now!
SJ: Ha. I went to see you host the viewing party at Midnight Sun last week and you were pretty good about spilling tea without giving away too much. One thing I was curious about as I was re-watching the episode is the issue of picking out the right outfit and trying to strategize when to break out the big looks. Is there anything you want to say about that?
HM: Well, I think it's interesting the way that they edited that conversation. What I actually said was that yes, I am happy with this outfit. Is it the best thing in my arsenal? No. But you can't wear your best thing every day. They were like, "Oh, you should've worn your best outfit." All my outfits are good. Is this THE one best? No. It's not the best outfit. You know what I'm saying? I think it got portrayed in a different light. I wasn't making an excuse. It's just — if I wear my best this week, can I wear it next week? No. I don't know. I just thought it was a weird critique. Also I asked the girls if they were wearing their best outfits and they said no. So I didn't really understand why they were saying it to me.
SJ: What did you think about Ru's decision to send you both home after the lip sync?
HM: It was shocking. I definitely wasn't expecting it. It's TV. They need some drama. I don't think we deserved it. I think it would be fair if only one of us was chosen to stay. If Vivienne had been chosen to stay, I would've been more than happy to go home. But the way it happened felt a little bit like a slap in the face. It felt weird.
SJ: A slap in the face how?
HM: Well, you know, because as far as I'm concerned — or as far as I knew — you lip-synch and one of you stays and one of you goes because one of you was better. Or in terms of what you've done on the show, one of you stood out more or something like that. So, I guess, for both of us to be sent home, it felt like she was saying "neither of you is better," and that felt like a slap in the face.
SJ: Has your time on the show impacted your performance style? Have you picked up anything from the other queens?
HM: I don't know that I learned a lot from the other queens while I was there. But being on the show does influence how you perform because you're suddenly on a different level. Once you're on the show, you're up against queens who are all really at the top of their game. So I think in a sense, it has encouraged me to step mine up.
SJ: And in what ways?
HM: Just making sure everything is always together. I pay more attention to the details of costume and hair and all that stuff.
SJ: When you were on the show, you were always so composed and nice.
HM: I think, in a way, that was part of my downfall. I made a conscious decision (and maybe it was the wrong one) to not represent myself in a way that isn't true to who I am. I try in life to always act with dignity and respect and treat others that way. And I think as a result, it cost me camera time because I wasn't acting a fool and reading people all the time and causing drama. But that's not who I am. That's not how I wanted to be known, so that's a decision I made. And whether it helped me or hurt me, you can be the judge.
SJ: How have things changed the most for you since the show?
HM: It's definitely given me a platform to be able to jump off of. And I have a whole new audience now. I'm always working now. It's made my life a lot more hectic, mostly for the better. I'm always preparing a show or working a show. And I'm still doing my day job as a social worker, so I never have a dull moment.
SJ: And finally, which queens are you rooting for? And what would you say to them now?
HM: I'm rooting for Detox and Jinyx, but that being said, there's so many of them that I love. Alyssa and Lynesha and Jade and Alaska. They're all great. It's anyone's game because — not to be cliché — but it's a fiercely talented group of queens. And I would tell them that I hope they are true to themselves and that, at the end of the day, it really is just a game and we are all in it together.