Joining me to talk DRAG RACE this week is Trannika Rex! She's a towering figure in the Chicago drag scene and a close friend of Trixie Mattel. I joined her at Scarlet Bar, where she hosts a weekly viewing party for the show. --------------------------------------------------
Chad: So, Season 7. Everyone's wondering how long this show can last. If they're at the point where they're letting someone like Trixie Mattel on, it can't be long, right?
Trannika: I think the show switched things up at the right time, but I always do wonder how long this can go on. It should also be said that Drag Race doesn't really exist to have a winner or loser, it's more just a series of GIFs that I can use as responses on tumblr threads. Anyone who thinks this is a serious competition hasn't been following along at home. Eventually, it'll just devolve into a prank show where RuPaul just does mean stuff to drag queens, and there isn't even a prize anymore.
Chad: But tell me what you really think.
Trannika: The only reason last season existed, as far as I'm concerned, was so that someone would make the Adore Delano / Lumpy Space Princess mashup, and the only reason this season exists is so that people can photoshop Pearl making a stank face onto the moon from the Teletubbies.
Chad: Yeah. Worth it. I agree that, aside from a hefty cash prize, it really doesn't matter who wins each season. But I do love that it provides a platform for some talented queens. I mean, you MUST be surprised by the reactions Trixie has gotten, right?
Trannika: Trixie is one of the most talented queens I've ever known. And drag aside, one of the most considerate, kind people I'll ever know. With that said, she also has a fucking repulsive, disgusting sense of humor that not everyone can appreciate. We saw that this week with Jasmine. In Chicago, me, Trixie, Kim Chi, & Shea Coulee would just sit downstairs painting at Berlin and call each other garbage clowns and make fun of each other's beards and have a good ole time. The audience is used to me making fart sounds while the girls perform, and Trixie would tell dead baby jokes on the mic, and it's totally normal, but I guess that level of severity isn't normal everywhere. But everyone is going to end up loving her because she is lovable. She's kind. She's insane, but she just speaks in a different language. On her planet, people paint like that and talk in puns.
Chad: So, I think you do have an amazing group of queens here in Chicago. And I love you for helping to foster that.
Trannika: Thank you!
Chad: It must be strange to see a good friend depicted through the surreal lens of reality TV. But as long as she's fairly true to herself and is received well, both of which seem to be the case, isn't that overall a good thing?
Trannika: It's fucking weird to see anyone that you know on TV, especially a show that makes everyone look like a cartoon stereotype. But the most important thing here is that she still posts pictures with me on on Instagram, so let's all be thankful.
Chad: Truly, a kind and generous soul, that Trixie.
Chad: So, last question about her: She was team leader this episode. Should she ever be put in charge of other drag queens?
Trannika: Some people are better foremen than worker bees, and I think she might be a better worker bee.
Chad: I did love her schoolteacher response to Violet in the workroom, though!
Trannika: I would have responded the same way. Violet has kind of an immature way of answering questions. "Violet, how was your day today?" "Well I'm so skinny I forgot it was Tuesday." Like... You didn't really give me any information in your response, but you did brag about something totally unrelated.
Chad: Violet is definitely one of the most visible and polarizing queens so far. She's getting major "bitch edit" despite being crazy talented. You've worked with her, right? Can she turn it out?
Trannika: Every one of Violet's looks are fucking insane. Her eye is impeccable. I brought her to the Drag Matinee at Berlin, and she was perfectly well behaved and looked amazing. The audience was way into it.
Chad: Yeah, I'm into it. Maybe she'll do something irredeemable further down the line, but I'm digging her. I may not want to be on a TEAM with her, but I'll watch her and draw her.
Chad: One of the other really standout queens so far is Ginger. She's clearly going to win, right?
Trannika: Ginger is getting the Jinkx/ Sharon/ Bianca edit, so I think she's top three, easily. Even though her dress didn't really apply to the challenge, she won. Even though the mini challenge was in no way a competition, she wins. The show has never been subtle about pushing a storyline.
Chad: Yeah, I think she's a really well-rounded entertainer -- she's funny, she sings, she gives a lot of the best one-liners. Her runway looks aren't ASTOUNDING, but they're often cute and colorful and really well-suited to her. I think she's lovable, and she's going to win.
Trannika: I think she has a good shot. I wanna hang out with her.
Chad: One of my other absolute favorites is Katya, who has a gleefully demented sense of humor and style. I was actually kind of surprised that the judges liked her runway look -- I loved it, but it was crazy. How much floral print is too much floral print?
Trannika: I would wear that outfit, but it also looked like a glorified separates set from Forever 21. I'm from Florida – floral print is, like, the little black dress of the south.
Chad: Were you at all amused by the Glamazonian Airways performances, or is that when you were bringing in the buckets of Fireball from the back?
Trannika: I thought the songs were funny, but Ginger's team got the way funnier one. I was also drunker by the time the second one came on, though.
Chad: I really loved Trixie, Kasha, and Ginger in the challenge.
Chad: I thought Kasha was a standout, possibly because this is the first time she stood out at all, but I dug her campy/crazy schtick.
Trannika: Kasha is cool, but she's so quiet outside of the challenges. Maybe she's not funny in interviews, because I feel like I only see her on the runway for ten minutes each episode.
Chad: The extended fart joke was lame. I think you're the only queen who can get away with fart jokes.
Trannika: Farts are funny, but I'm from Florida, and I didn't have any friends when I was little, so you learn to laugh alone.
Chad: See, the sad irony is that it's so much more fun to laugh at the farts of others than at your own.
Trannika: Farts are funniest when they're short, not when they go on too long and sound like they're asking a question at the end. We get it, you're a fart, stop hammering the joke.
Chad: You really are a comic genius. So, the last queen I wanted to discuss was Sasha. Poor Sasha, who tragically overthunk her strategy for snatching the crown. Or, uh, what do you think that strategy was?
Trannika: She said that she thought she was too ambitious, or that she overthunk it, and I feel like that's the opposite of what happened. There wasn't really anything going on. It was neither here nor there. That being said, I would still kick it with her. I mean the challenge wasn't a Midwest approachability challenge, so she didn't nail it, but I think she'll grow from this. She just seemed out of her element.
Chad: Yeah, I think she's a cool queen, but she just didn't really know what she was bringing to the competition. I'm going to puke in my mouth a little, but she needs to brand herself better.
Trannika: I feel like she could match me in Fireball shots.
Chad: Did you have any other thoughts on the show, the queens, or drag in general?
Trannika: I still miss "she mail," I'm glad Moby could get his shift covered at Starbucks so he could be there for ten minutes, Trixie needs to try harder to remove lip stain two days later, where was Ross?
Chad: What do we need to tell the children about where to find you and the trail of destruction you leave in your wake?
Trannika: Drag Matinee is every Saturday at Berlin at 10. #Ridikulous is at Scarlet every Friday. Drag Race double viewings are every Monday at Scarlet at 8. Trannika's Most Wanted is every third Monday at Scarlet with Kim Chi, Valentine, Shea Coulee, and Kahmora Hall after Drag Race. The Piss & Vinegar comedy show is every second Wednesday at Berlin at 9. I'm co-hosting the Milwaukee Pride dance pavilion with Trixie June 5, 6, & 7. & I haven't talked to my dad since he died.