“Nothing is off topic, nothing is taboo, you can ask me about the show, you can ask me about politics!”
Story by Namrata Prakash
Photos by Emma Hollingsworth
The Vixen stopped by the University of Texas at Austin on Oct. 11, on her very first college tour of the country and made it clear she is an open book, ready to pounce on any subject. Since her time on season ten of RuPaul's Drag Race, the Vixen has become one of the most popular contestants, turning heads and sparking discussion about anti-blackness in drag culture.
Hosted by Augustine Martinez and Quyen Nguyen of the Queer and Trans People of Color Agency at the Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom, the Q&A followed the Vixen’s rise and tumultuous experience on Drag Race, which was littered with microaggressions and misconceptions. Things came to a head at the reunion episode which she famously walked out of.
“Leading up to the finale reunion week, I already knew how things were gonna go,” the Vixen said. When asked what if she had any regrets, she responded saying she wouldn’t do anything differently. “My mother couldn't be prouder, I'm on Pride.com’s 50 Most Influential list, people I respect are tweeting [at] me. To correct anything from that experience would erase the accomplishment. Why are we trying to push this story? I get about two death threats out of a million positive messages. Those are good odds!”
Since leaving the show, her overall response and camaraderie with her fellow contestants began to improve as people realized she started some much-needed conversations about Drag Race. The Vixen fiercely condemned respectability politics and the idea that she should be forced into submission due to criticism. “It's kind of a long game,” she said. “When I was eliminated a lot of people still had negative ideas about me, but the summer after people were like Vixen was kind of right. I knew they weren’t gonna like this and I shouldn't be ‘that girl’ but I know people at home waiting for a change! I felt like I saw so many queens of color on the show and wished they call bullshit so I was like here I am, it’s my turn!”
However, the Vixen’s legacy hasn’t ended with the show. She continues to be vocal on Twitter about racism in the drag community and her political consciousness is always evolving. While she does have a big following, she is still aware of the toxicity of social media. “In dealing with media, Twitter and fandoms, some people have no intention of being right or honest, they just wanna keep me from making a difference,” she said. “That's where I've grown, I have a new superpower to discern if I am having an argument or if I’m having a fight. On social media they don’t care what point I bring, just ‘how dare you come for my queen!’ It’s realizing, is this fight even worthwhile? A year ago I picked every battle and thought I could argue with everyone at the table. I have the great fortune and misfortune of being too aware, too much.”
Along with being booked all over the country and releasing her own music, the Vixen has co-created her own show called Black Girl Magic along with her close friends Dida Ritz, Lucy Stoole and Shea Coulee. The Vixen’s top priority is bringing black queens to the
forefront in her hometown Chicago.“Black Girl Magic is my baby,” she said. “A lot of us started hosting shows and started to book girls who looked like us and finally I pitched a show to a club where girls can pick a theme, do 20 minute numbers with no break and make it a whole production. It was one of the largest audiences the club has ever seen and it sparked this thought of ‘What if all black girls are showstoppers?’ People had to admit black queens in Chicago kill it, you will have a better show if you have more people of color because we have rhythm! I don't own Black Girl Magic, I just want the show to go everywhere! Black queens are valuable.”
In addition to the bare-all discussion, the Vixen graced the audience with a performance of “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves and a powerful poem called “Angry Black Woman” by Porsha Olayiwola. Both very poignant pieces for the situations in her life and her experiences on the show, the Vixen takes this mindset with her wherever she goes and always makes an impression.