*This post contains spoilers from RuPaul's Drag Race season 12, episode five.
Nicky Doll is not necessarily new to a certain amount of fame. While her historic stint on RuPaul's Drag Race as the first French queen to compete has no doubt brought that to new heights, the 28-year-old boasted almost 30,000 followers on Instagram before she was ever announced as a contestant. That number rose to 84,000 by the time the show began to air. But also, as far back as 2018 we were covering the queen. Drag Race has still brought her into an entirely new world.
Doll made an early impression on the judges and audiences as a look queen. She hones and recreates fashion references to turn out more than a few stunning looks. But on the runway, while there wasn't much substantive critique on the aesthetics, her personality seemed to ring hollow, something that Doll tells Out she can see in the footage.
Post show, the New York-based performer has had a bit of a breakout with support from RuPaul herself. Ru handpicked Doll for a job on her Saturday Night Live hosting gig, doing Pete Davidson's makeup. Since she's appeared on French TV and filmed a video for Vogue France. Sounds like our reigning fashion queens might have to make some space on the front row.
Here we talked to Nicky Doll about her experience on the show, how she felt about the critiques, and what it was like working with Pete Davidson.
You lip synced twice, what do you feel you showed the world in those performances?
I would say that you need to choose the outfits wisely that you bring on the show to compete if you want to deliver a lip sync that you’re used to doing at the club. My first lip sync with Dahlia was painful to watch because I was wearing probably the most uncomfortable dress and hair I brought for the entire season. I really loved lip-syncing against Heidi because we both took two different directions when it comes to Kim Petras'' “Heart to Break." I will always remember that time on stage with my sister.
How do you feel about the decision to send you home?
As much as I want to say that I didn’t agree with it, I think that it was for the best. I was facing a wall with the judges and couldn’t figure out what they needed from me. I realize now that my European politeness got the best of me when I was on the main stage. Being in their shoes, I can understand how they did not see who I was. It is also an incredibly talented season. It wasn’t my time yet, and I’m at peace with it.
One thing that you mentioned a few times in the competition was you felt that you were at a disadvantage because you are French, do you still feel that way?
Sadly for me, in my heart, I was ready but I never realized I had to face such deep insecurities when it comes to the language barrier. I am truly a fully-rounded queen in French but being able to bring spontaneity to the table on command in English was way harder than I thought it would be. When it’s called RuPaul’s Drag RACE, they were not joking. Now looking back, I should have never said my name and kept pushing, but at that time that’s what felt right and I don’t like to have any regrets. It made me grow so much, and I think only the positive out of this incredible experience!
Having watched the show do you see the difference in what the judges were seeing onstage and the personality that your fellow queens saw?
I do see a more shy Nicky Doll facing the judges compared to the Nicky in the Werk Room. The more and more I was getting used to the whole experience, the more I opened up on the runway. It took me extra time to adjust to all this, but I don’t regret anything. My biggest accomplishment so far on the show was to open up to my sisters and to the rest of the world. If I ever get the chance to be on All Stars, baby, this will be a WHOLE different story. The judges will understand who I am finally.
How did you get into drag? Did you have a drag mother?
Like I said on the show, I have built my persona from scratch. I do not belong to any drag family and haven’t learned from my elders. I do have a drag best friend who taught me a lot in Paris. Her name is Sylvia Slut, and she really helped me finesse my makeup and elevate my drag. It was incredible to get ready with her. She’s still to this day one of the most amazing drag makeup artists I’ve met!
Before the season had even premiered, you worked with Ru to do Pete Davidson's drag makeup for SNL; what was that experience like?
When I got the call I could not believe Ru specifically asked me to come on set and do Pete’s makeup. Not only did I get to transform Pete to this beautiful Glamazon, but I got to see Ru apply all the tricks she’s trying to teach us in the competition. Watching her get the job done was probably one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. I just wish I would have seen it before competing. Pete is also a dream to work with!
You also have a lot of relationships in the fashion industry and are endlessly inspired by the industry. What has been the most surreal fashion-related experience you've had since the show?
Fashion is really a field where both Karl and Nicky thrive. Out of drag, I am a freelance makeup artist and work a lot in the industry but behind the scenes. As Nicky, I get to become this muse and apply everything that I love directly to her. Since the show, I got to do an amazing video with Vogue Paris that really helped me to be introduced and spread the message of drag to France. As much as America did a tremendous work on making drag mainstream, France still has a lot of work to do to get that point. Which is why I am honored to be the one that shared the message as the first French queen on the show. Doing this video has been a surreal experience that I will never forget!
What's next for Nicky Doll?
Nicky Doll is far from leaving your screens. I had the incredible opportunity to be introduced to the American audience and the world, and I am first and foremost super excited to come meet everyone at my shows. I have a lot of projects in the making. You can expect a lot of fashion and a lot of touring, but also some things you wouldn’t expect me to do. I am excited and you should too!