Ahead of taking the stage for Dragfest in Auckland, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner Trinity the Tuck spills the tea on All Stars, Caitlyn Jenner, and the truth behind Taylor Swift’s new music video.
Trinity the Tuck can do it all. She can lipsync, she can dance, she can serve looks, and for a pageant queen, she can be pretty damn funny too.
She didn’t win her season RuPaul’s Drag Race (that crown went to Sasha Velour), so she was invited back to compete a second time round on the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. From the beginning, she made it clear that she was there to win: her comedy routine on getting the perfect tuck landed her in the top spot in week one, while her impersonation of Caitlyn Jenner ended up being the best Snatch Game performance of the season.
She was doing well – really well – but her competitor Manila Luzon was doing better. But then Manila got the boot, and Trinity became the one to beat.
No one beat her though – she made it to the end and managed to win the whole damn thing. So did Monét X Change, who was also declared a winner: it was the first shared win in Drag Race herstory.
I remember watching your live reaction to winning All Stars with Monét X Change at the time and you looked a bit shell shocked. But once you heard you were both getting $100,000, that was when you seemed to get really excited. What was your mind going through at the time?
For All Stars, we knew who the top two were since they filmed me getting crowned and Monét getting crowned. But they never filmed a double crowning, so we thought it was one of us for sure. We had no clue it was going to be both of us winning.
It’s definitely shocking when you think it’s going to be one outcome and then something completely different happens. It’s like going to the doctor for a sick stomach and then finding out you’re pregnant! It’s completely from left field.
When Monet and I were sitting next to each other, I was like, ‘Okay, either I’m going to win or you’re going to win’. And then when [RuPaul] said we were both winners, at first I thought, ‘What did she say?’ It was really hard to hear in there, and because I didn’t even think it was an outcome, I thought [I heard wrong]. Then when she reiterated it saying that we were both getting $100,000, that’s when I realised.
I can imagine. After all, your background is in pageants and you never get ties in pageants.
Yes, there’s never ever a tie. There’s always one winner. Being a competitor, obviously, you want to win. But thinking outside of that and thinking of the bigger picture, I think it’s definitely a positive there are two winners. There are so many positive things that it represents on a larger scale than just yourself.
It was definitely shocking, but it was also shocking seeing some of the angry comments on the internet over the result.
Drag Race has some amazing fans that are incredibly supportive of the show and the queens that are on it. But also with [the show] becoming more mainstream, you get these really nasty, negative people. I don’t even want to call them fans because they’re obviously not fans if they’re acting the way they’re acting.
That’s one of my problems with social media and these ‘keyboard warriors’ who get on there and think that they’re so brave to critique someone they don’t even know. They’re probably either children who don’t know better yet or adults who… instead of going out and trying to reach their own goals, they’re critiquing people for stuff that doesn’t even matter. Instead of celebrating the fact that there are two gay men on an international platform that have done a great job, they’re trying to tear them down.
In the US, there’s a big political divide with race, so to show a black man and a white man as equals is so important right now. People love to feed off of something that they can turn into a negative instead of celebrating a positive.
It’s just drag after all. There are a lot more important things to get worked up.
Exactly. Right now we’re in the process of seeing the Democratic debates. They really need to be registering to vote instead of being online.
Since you bring it up, do you have a favourite in the Democratic race at all?
I think one of the problems with the Democratic party is that there seem to be so many people running instead of there being support behind fewer people. I’m going to support whoever gets the nomination. I just want Trump out of office. I just think everything he represents is terrible, so I support whoever the Democratic nominee is.
That’s a very diplomatic answer.
It’s not even to do with Democrats or Republicans. If there was a Republican that I thought would be a good leader, I’d choose almost anybody over Trump. It’s just so awful that he’s a representation of our country because I don’t feel the majority of us are like him.
To get back to Drag Race, I think one of your defining moments on All Stars was your Snatch Game performance as Caitlyn Jenner. Do you know if Caitlyn’s seen it?
I’m not sure. She’s definitely never posted anything on social media about it. I was actually at an event in Tenerife, Spain for an award ceremony for the LGBT community that she was supposed to attend, but apparently, she hurt her shoulder or something so she couldn’t come. That would’ve been a cool crossing of paths. But yeah, I don’t know how she feels about it. I’d hope that as a person in the spotlight and who has an understanding of this business that she’d know it was all in fun.
What was your backup to doing Caitlyn Jenner?
Caitlyn was always my first choice, but there’s a long story behind it. In season nine, I wanted to do Caitlyn but I was told by production I couldn’t because she was a very polarising character to do and they just didn’t want to touch on that. Yet they let me do Amanda Lepore, who’s another trans person. [My performance] showed them that I didn’t have to do my character around the fact that they’re trans: I didn’t do that with Amanda and I wouldn’t have done that with Caitlyn.
When season 10 came around, I heard that Aquaria wanted to do her and they said no. Then when season 11 rolled around, Brooke Lynn Hytes asked to do her and they said no. When All Stars came around, they told me no [again]. And then a few days before [leaving for Drag Race], they said that somebody else was wanting to do her so I was allowed to bring her as an option. Sure enough, it was Gia (Gunn) who ended up wanting to do it.
It just seemed a little odd that they were okay with the fact that a trans person wanted to play a trans character, yet they didn’t want me to but ended up letting me. I don’t know, the whole thing was just very odd. But I ended up getting to do it and I had a good time doing it.
But to answer your question, my backups were Jennifer Coolidge and Iris Apfel. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Iris Apfel, but she’s a very old socialite in New York.
Yes, she’s a fashionista! There’s a documentary about her.
Yeah, it’s a great movie. If people haven’t seen it they should definitely check it out.
Well, maybe we can see your Iris Apfel impersonation one day.
Maybe! Maybe for an All Star, All Stars.
Would you even want to do an All Star, All Stars? The possibility of one has definitely been discussed among fans.
It would have to be way in the future and it would have to be an amount of prize money that would be worth going back for. But yeah, I’m not 100% closed off to the idea.
Let’s talk about your cameo in the new Taylor Swift music video. What was that experience like?
Yes, that was an exciting thing to be part of it. It was a very last minute proposal but it was fun. She’s super nice and really down to earth. She came and hung out with all of [the drag queens] literally for like two hours before we shot the scene. She took really good care of us.
You played Lady Gaga. Were you assigned that role or were you allowed to pick?
When it was presented to me I was actually out of town filming a pilot for something. Her people contacted my management and my management was like, ‘Hey, I know this is last minute but Taylor Swift specifically asked for you if you were interested in doing Lady Gaga in her new music video’. I was like, ‘Yeah, but I have nothing [Lady Gaga] related with me!’ But they said not to worry about it – they’d sort out wardrobe and everything.
That’s cool that she asked for you specifically. I guess she must’ve selected each queen for each role personally.
Yeah, I think she so. She’s really good friends with Todrick Hall and Todrick is really close to a lot of Drag Race girls so I think he helped her pick out which girls would be best for which role.
Did you get to hang out with anyone of the celebs that featured in the video?
No, I think they shot it over three days and we were only there for like half a day. RuPaul with the crown was actually superimposed on there. She wasn’t even there that day and we didn’t even know she was going to be in the video! I think she maybe shot it on green screen, but it looked like we were all together.
It’s really cool what they were able to do, the space for her music video was humongous. They literally build like a trailer park.
What can audience members expect to see at Dragfest?
People should come expecting to have a good time. That’s what drag is about. The cast is so diverse so if I’m not their cup of tea, somebody else will be. There are so many great entertainers so just come and have a good time! Expect to be entertained.
How is it travelling with the other drag queens?
My experience travelling with other Drag Race girls has been interesting. So many big personalities, so many divas. But unlike what people think of me from the show, I pretty much keep to myself when I’m not on camera. I’m not a social butterfly at all. I actually have major social anxiety so I just keep to myself, get ready, do the show, go back to the hotel and go to bed. That’s what I generally do. But I get along with pretty much everybody.
I get that. It’s hard being around people all the time.
It really is. The good thing about the experience of Drag Race and doing meet-and-greets with fans is that it’s made me learn how to control it and learn how to, at least, fake it til’ you make it. It’s just part of the job.
Dragfest is on tonight, July 2, at Auckland’s Logan Campbell Centre.
Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.