Season 1 of RuPaul's Drag Race featured an eclectic cast of queens: lavish showgirls, sharp-edged genderfuckers, and... Tammie Brown. But Season 2 narrowed the focus on fishier queens who could rock both the runway and the lip sync. Pandora Boxx stood out from the cast and brought something different, a contribution of camp and comedy.
I was lucky enough to chat with Pandora about her time on the show and the years since it aired:
CHAD: In recent seasons of the Drag Race, the show has celebrated a wide variety of approaches to drag. But you stood out in Season 2 with your comedic skills and campier sense of fashion. When you first met the other queens of that season, did you feel like the odd one out, or not?
PANDORA: I so did! I felt like I had walked into a room full of women. Everyone looked gorgeous. I quickly realized I was the campy queen. I didn't realize how much I'd stand out as a campy queen but everyone was real, real fishy. The Season of the Fish!
CHAD: Do you consider yourself shy or introverted? What was it like to be filmed for the weeks of shooting under so much pressure and competition?
PANDORA: I feel like I'm an extroverted introvert, if that makes any sense. I can be quite quiet at times. Can you be funny and on 24 hours a day? That would be exhausting to me, and fake. There is a lot of pressure being shot that much. Plus, you want to stand out so you can last longer BUT still come across as genuine. It's tough, but still exciting and fun.
CHAD: In every season of the Drag Race, queens struggle to find the right character for the Snatch Game--but your depiction of Carol Channing for the first one ever still stands as one of the most unforgettable Snatch performances in Drag Race herstory! How much were you told about the format of the game, and how did you prepare?
PANDORA: We knew NOTHING about the game until the day of the challenge. All we knew is that we might have to do a celebrity impersonation. Ru says it every season, "Make it funny." Some queens choose people they do well in a lip synced show, but it's harder to do for a few hours with NO lip syncing. I felt like, with Carol, I had the most leeway to do anything I wanted. Plus, Carol has the most amazing voice.
CHAD: It seemed like Santino always had something to say about your runway looks. How has your sense of style changed since the show?
PANDORA: He most certainly did. He literally said, "I don't like your style." How do you go anywhere from that? I think my style has evolved and certainly I have a little more money to invest back into drag. Drag is expensive! But now it's also a full time job, so I can rationalize spending some nickels on sequins.
CHAD: It took a while for the Drag Race to build an audience and permeate queer culture. Did you feel like everything changed for you after Season 2 aired, or did it take a while for people to catch on to the show and catch up on past seasons before your career really took off?
PANDORA: It really took off after Season 2. There are certainly more viewers now, but from the beginning the audience was really passionate about the show. Certainly now, all the queens know what they are getting into and thus have really stepped up the game.
CHAD: Do you still feel like the Susan Lucci of the Drag Race?
PANDORA: I did win Miss Congeniality, which was voted on by fans, and that was a little bit of sweet justice. I'm very proud and thankful to have been voted fan favorite.
CHAD: Where can I get one of those amazing Pandora Boxx tank tops I've seen all over??
Prints of my new Pandora illustrations are available for sale here!
[Chad's note: I made some very minor punctuation changes to the interview for clarity. No content was altered or omitted.]