One week after reading fellow contestant Farrah Moan, saying "this is a show about talent and looking pretty isn't enough," the Regina George of All Stars 4, Gia Gunn, fell victim to her own proclamation when she was sent packing on week three of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars season 4. She may not have won Drag Race, the competition, but when it comes to Drag Race the reality show -- which she made clear in a recent YouTube video was the actual show she came to be a part of -- no ones bested the boom-boom-Gunn. After Manila Luzon and Trinity the Tuck wound up the challenge winners, it was Valentina who was able to maintain her safety.
"I thought maybe I wasn't getting the jokes," Ross Mathews said in his critique of Gia's turn as Cardi B's nail artist Jenny Bui during the much-anticipated Snatch Game of Love. The I-will-cut-a-bitch confidence we'd come to expect from her seemed nowhere in sight during Snatch Game, where Gunn seemed unfocused, even to the detriment of her fellow competitors including (and especially) Latrice Royale, who called Gunn's behavior "unsportsmanlike." She even seems to admit it on the main stage, agreeing with guest judge Gus Kenworthy that she couldn't get behind the performance either.
The typically unbothered Gia finally cracked back in the workroom during her 1-on-1 with Manila Luzon, who in the previous week had mentioned seeing a lot of herself in Gia. "I just wish that there was another way for me to do this," Gia tearfully remarked. "As a trans woman, I don't feel good about being looked at as a man dressed up as a woman, because that's not who I am."
She continued keeping it real in the confessional explaining that once upon a time, drag for her was a way to connect with who she really was. "But now that I've connected with who I am, it becomes very confusing to me" to be back in the workroom," calling her mean girl demeanor a "defense mechanism."
Here, we talk to her about the elimination, her "villain edit" and what's next for her career.
Let's start by revisiting last week. Upon Farrah's exit, you tried to tell her you love her and she told you, "you actually don't love me." During our chat with Farrah last week it seemed clear the relationship still had not been repaired. Where do things stand between the two of you?
Well, she unfollowed me and so I then went and unfollowed her and I think we're just going to leave it at that. Nowadays, in 2018, when you unfollow someone that's serious. I really don't look forward to sharing any more energy with those that don't wish to reciprocate it and I only wish to share my love with those who do actually really love me.
Any regrets on how it all went down?
No, not at all. It was all very genuine on my behalf. I think she knows exactly where I was coming from but was avoiding confrontation especially on national television which I can completely understand. I think it was all fun and games. People should be laughing at it 'cause I sure am.
Now onto this week: Snatch Game. You apologized in a way that seemed quite sincere to Latrice after the fact, but I want to know what was going through your mind during and whether or not you had any inclination that the other girls were being pushed to their limit?
Going into Snatch Game, I was a little upset and I just really wasn't thinking about anything besides getting through that challenge already knowing that it was a weak spot for me because I'm not good at impersonating other people, as you can imagine. I've worked so hard to break out of having to be like other people so playing another character for me is just difficult. But yeah, I was a little emotionally unstable in that moment and I was really trying to get through it, trying to still be funny and trying to create attention as my heart was still in the competition even though I was feeling sad.
When audiences last saw you on the show, you had not yet come out publicly as a trans woman. The show has had a myriad of transgender and gender nonconforming queens besides yourself to step through the workroom, from Sonique in season 2 to Peppermint in season 9, but your presence this go-round felt groundbreaking all over again. Did you feel that?
Everybody can say whatever they want but I know that I am the very first openly trans women to walk into the workroom -- maybe not mentally as a woman but definitely embodying and chemically transitioning while on the show, I think I am the first. For me that's the only reason that I really went on the show to be completely honest with you. I didn't really go on there to become a famous drag queen or to be able to retire from doing drag like a lot of other people that have gone on there. I truly, fully went on there to represent my community and create some good TV.
This was your first time presenting female in both confessionals and in the workroom. "I didn't really expect that competing in a drag competition as a transgender woman to be so hard and so emotional," you said in one of your confessionals. What did you mean by that?
It was definitely nerve-wracking because I didn't know everybody fully supported my presence there and if everybody full agreed with me being there. It's a feeling of being very alone and by yourself. But I have grown to be very strong. My journey has allowed me to become very comfortable with myself and also very comfortable with where I stand in this world. I was very happy to just have the opportunity to be there, living my truth and standing up against the boys [laughs].
You talked about "the old bad habits" of Gia Gunn season 6 coming back, like being shady, being negative, being cutthroat, but I think a lot of these qualities are what people love about you. Being that this is a reality show and you really delivered on the drama. Do you see it that way at all?
Oh I do 110%. That's the only reason why I feel that the show gets ratings or is even viewed because there's drama, because there's cattiness, because there's real drag moments. Drag for me, at least where I come from which is the Midwest where people are super shady, is all very cutthroat just like any entertainment business. I truly went in there to create some good TV because the thing is Gia Gunn is very different from Gia Ichikawa and I was not casted as Gia Ichikawa on this show so they got Gia Gunn 2.0 which I think people were expecting to be this lovely, flowery, blossom, everything's coming up roses, kumbaya type of woman which in reality for me trans is a state of mind not a state of being. So yes, I have changed in the fact that I do live my reality every single day as a woman now but that doesn't change who I am as a person and I think that's so important for people to remember and it's unfair for people to expect certain things of people just because they are making a second appearance on a television show.
You're being dubbed the villain of the season by many, and I want to note that many Drag Race villains are some of the most beloved queens in the series history, and I'm curious if there was any strategy there, knowing the importance of that role?
No. Completely not. Everything that we see on the sixty minute episode is not everything that we filmed during the sixteen hour day or whatever. It is what it is. I take full responsibility for my actions: I'm not here to blame the edit. I'm not here to blame anybody because I don't think anybody is at fault. I think it's about sitting back, relaxing and realizing it's not personal, it's drag, and it's a reality television show so let's have fun, let's laugh, let's create memes and let's just continue making history -- and that's what I feel like I'm doing.
Between the fan GIF and "this is a place for legends," you've created a handful of iconic moments on the show in just three episodes. What are you most proud of?
I'm definitely most proud of episode 1, my talent show, because it is my natural born talent and also I was able to bring representation to my Japanese heritage which, along with transgender people, I also feel is super unseen in this world, especially in the drag world. So I was really proud to be able to show the world not only this is who I am but this is where I come from.
Who are you rooting for this season now that you're gone?
I'm definitely rooting for Trinity, Manila and Naomi Smalls because they are super talented, they're also people that I consider true friends outside of Drag Race and I think each and every one of them deserves it.
Anyone you became unexpectedly close with?
I would say Trinity. I had only really worked with her one other time before seeing her on All Stars and she was just a very sincere, very genuine person. She was definitely rooting for me. She comes from the pageant world where trans women are very abundant and their presence is put on a pedestal so she honored my journey and had a sense of what I was going through and the emotional state that I was in.
What's next for Gia Gunn?
So 2019 I'll be launching the "This Is Me' tour which is going to be my one-woman show where I will be inviting those that are willing to get to know the real me to come and have the Gia experience where I will be telling my story through dance, through drag, through visuals, through speech and through theatre and doing what I do best which is to continue to inspire people to be themselves and share more of my story.