And now, it’s over.
The 11th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has ended and the crafty, inventive, and double jointed queen from Denver, Colorado, Yvie Oddly has reigned supreme. After giving us one of the best lip syncs in the show’s history, knocking it out of the park on a few acting challenges (OK so there were some low points but no one is perfect) and consistently turning aesthetics on the runway that painted her as uniquely individual, Miss Oddly (and Papa Oddly tbqh) has taken home the crown. The win made her one of at least eight Black queer and trans people to occupy major titleholder slots currently.
“I’m happy to be a part of that legacy,” Oddly told Out of that latter news. “I feel like our contributions, specifically to queer culture, have been just picked up and not given any credit. I’m even more proud to be a part of this because there’s been so much debate on my race: whether or not I’m Black, whether or not colorism is at play.
“Growing up, it was always made clear to me, exactly how Black I was and that was always something that was at the back of my head,” she continued. “That’s part of the reason I started drag, because I was pissed that the gay community never respected me because I was Black. So to see so much representation across the board is so delicious. It’s like this day of reckoning where everybody has the face the fact that we have beautiful stories, beautiful voices, we are valid individuals, and we have contributed so much to this community and you can’t erase us.”
Here, we talk to Yvie Oddly about feeling like the odd ball on the show, the difference between drag as art and drag as business, and how winning $100,000 will match up with being a “dollar store queen.”
First up, before we really get started obviously your parents came to the finale. I wanted to know if you have been online and seen the reaction to your dad?
I actually haven’t been online but I am not surprised because I know who my dad is — I’ve had to live with it my whole life.
Yea, it’s a lot of thirst. We did a story about it actually!
Well thank you but like I said, I’m not surprised!
So on to the actual interview: going back to the beginning of this season of Drag Race what was it like coming into the show as a more inventive, creative, or crafty queen as opposed to a classical drag beauty?
I really didn’t have a whole lot to anticipate except for I thought that at some point the judges were going to get sick of my crafty BS. So I knew eventually I would have to turn out some glamour which is what my last runway was about. But other than that I just came prepared to show them some of my favorite drag and what I could pull off if I get to do whatever I want.
Well even when you did glamour, it was your version of glamour. But I’m interested in knowing how you felt about that look: I think we all thought it was the perfect marriage of Yvie and glamorous but I wonder if you felt that you were compromising in any way?
No, I really loved that look! The funny thing is the show only gives you a little glimpse into one side of my drag. Most of what I do is, for all intents and purposes, just dressing up glamorous, and just being a female impersonator, and living that truth. But when I was given the opportunity to put my art down the runways, I put my art down the runways. So I wasn’t shocked by how people didn’t understand that I could do glamour too, but I was excited to show them.
So for you there’s two aspects of your drag: drag as a business, which is more female impersonation and drag as an art, which is what we saw on the show?
Yeah, exactly. I have plenty of sparkly bodysuits and beautiful hair. I’m just not going to put that down the runway as who I really am.
Did you have a favorite moment on the show?
My favorite week in general was the last week because all five of us who were there had worked so hard. So there was finally this general mutual respect amongst everyone in the room that everyone deserves to be here and now it’s just any woman’s game. We really got to throw ourselves into the raps and the performances. I had so much fun.
When we chatted before about Ehlers-Danlos, I remember you mentioned that generally your performances are high intensity and acrobatic, and that semi-final was really one of the only times you got to show that.
Yeah, you’re right. The only time on the show you get to see the things that I enjoy doing, are in that last performance where we really got to direct our performances and in the lip sync for your life. I do give those like, high energy, crazy acrobatics, and contorted performances. There just wasn't always the space for that on the show. I could have pulled some stunts earlier but I didn’t want to blow my load too soon.
Speaking of Ehlers, before you had said that after speaking about it on the show, a lot of people had reached out to you and I’m wondering if you are partnering with any organizations or anything like that?
Not as of yet but I’m trying to do my part by just being visible and being a voice. I want to be more open with my journey and where I’m at and what my body can and can’t do. I think that people don’t get to see other people with chronic pain or conditions like mine, going through what it takes to go through just to survive. So I just want to continue to be a voice right now and show all the people who I’ve found along the way that you can do some really amazing things.
So let’s talk about the finale performance, which wasn’t as outwardly acrobatic as some of your others.
I just wanted to end on a high, glamorous note. I think what people all expect from these finales, especially from Sasha Velour’s rose reveal, is we expect lots of gags or we expect people to do all of their stuntiest stunts and throw their bodies on the floor. So since the audience had already seen that from me, I just wanted to come out, really connect to the song, and deliver a strong artistic performance that would hopefully still get my voice out as an artist without having to resort to any cheap tricks.
And what about the actual look?
I wanted the actual shock to be that there’s always a different side of me. Most of the looks from the season, I [either] made or was the head of the team designing them. But I work with a collective of artists in Denver and they really help me with almost everything. The designer who made the dress, her name is Kristi Siedow-Thompson and the headpiece was made by Darrell Thorne.
As we all know the show is as much a reality show as it is a competition, and at some points you became visibly emotional on screen. I’m wondering how that all ways, and how it now is after the fact.
That was the most difficult about it for me: the intrapersonal part. A lot of those queens walked in and had somebody to relate to already, whether it was a friend that they had known before the show or someone who does their style of drag or a similar background as them. And everybody basically found their place or cliques within the first two weeks and I really did feel like the oddball out because no one was doing the type of drag I was doing, and plenty of people were, already from the jump, calling what I did trash and invalidating it. So it was hard for me to go through that show because I felt alone a lot of the time.
Watching it back I could see that a little bit of that just me being in my own head but a lot of that was just me not having a space within the context of all the girls there. But now I’ve gotten really close with everyone after the show. I think that’s what happens when you are willing and able to address things head on.
You released a video following the win! Should we expect some more music?
Now that I’ve dabbled in it, I really like it. I wouldn’t say you can expect more but I do have more projects in the works.
But for this song I was inspired by the rap I heard on the radio growing up. So it was a bunch of flashy rappers talking about their cars and how much money they had spent. I love the bravado that they have. I love how much swagger and confidence is packed into rap music so I just wanted to emulate that but also poke fun at it a little bit because I realize that I’m a dollar store queen.
How will being a dollar store queen square with winning $100,000 and the undoubted future deals that come with winning?
It honestly won’t change a lot! I’m excited to get to work with new people and try these new experiences, so of course i’m going to take these opportunities and make the best of them. But if people think I’m not going to walk into a dollar store again and walk out with an outfit, they clearly did not get my drag.