Queenstion Time #11: Alaska
Hiiiee! Ahead of her return to DragWorld, and her performance in Liverpool, Alaska talks to Andrew Nicholls about season 11, where the scene is today and who she wants in Drag Race UK.
Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 – often known simply as Alaska – was born Justin Andrew Honard and a runner up on season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race, before winning All Stars 2 (otherwise known as “the good All Stars season”).
Having studied theatre at the University of Pittsburgh, Alaska moved to Los Angeles following graduation in order to concentrate on her acting career. This is where she began doing drag professionally. She famously auditioned for Drag Race every season until she finally made the cut in 2013, becoming a fast fan favourite.
Since then, Alaska has appeared in several stage productions, one woman shows, modelled for American Apparel and released her albums Anus, Poundcake and Amethyst, the latter with her musical partner “Handsome” Jeremy Mikush. She also hosts the Race Chaser with season four contestant Willam Belli, which is “devoted to the discussion and dissection of every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.” She even had a cameo in Sharknado 6!
She comes to DragWorld UK between the 17th – 18th August.
This interview took place while season 11 was still ongoing.
Planet Slop: Hi Alaska!
PS: You’ve done a lot of things post drag race; your music, being in films. Was this something you always wanted to do?
A: Yeah! I mean, it’s great. It’s something I love about drag, is that we get to dip our fingers into everything. So we get to do a little bit of music, I get to do merchandise design, be in films, in stage plays. It’s great and it’s fantastic. I can never just do one thing, I have to do everything and drag is perfect for that.
PS: What has been your favourite part?
A: Oh my Gosh, I think it comes down to drag queens. It always comes back to drag for me. My favourite part of travelling the world is that I get to meet drag queens everywhere I go. I always feel immediately at home when I’m in the dressing room with drag queens. It doesn’t matter if I’m exhausted or jetlagged, as soon as I get in that room with the drag queens I feel like I’m at home.
PS: How do you think drag has changed since you started?
A: The biggest change is everyone does it now and everyone wants to do it. There’s some people who don’t like that, but I’m like “Girl, the more the merrier!” This is amazing. That’s the reason I love Halloween so much, it’s the one time of year everyone acts like a drag queen. Everyone dresses up in preposterous costumes and parades around. I think it’s very liberating and obviously a phenomenon because that’s why RuPaul’s Drag Race is successful and keeps growing.
PS: Do you see a difference between American drag and say UK drag?
A: I think there are slight differences. I think in the UK there’s a lot more appreciation for camp and live singing, which isn’t as prominent in American drag. I love it. I’m excited to see RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
PS: That was going to be one of my questions! You’re looking forward to it, then?
A: Oh my God, I can’t wait. I’m going to have to take a vacation to watch all these different Drag Race’s that are going on around the world. But I am happy to do so!
PS: Are you going to be doing your Race Chaser podcast for Drag Race UK?
A: Wellllllll, I don’t know! You’ll have to stay tuned!
PS: [Laughs] You’re not giving anything away!
A: Nooo. I mean it really just means I don’t know yet [laughs].
PS: I hope so! Where do you see the future of drag going, with it becoming more mainstream?
A: I mean that’s the thing, we just don’t know. As soon as you think you know what drag is, you can define it or say ‘this is drag’, it changes on you. That’s why it keeps surviving as an art form. I don’t know what the future of drag will be and I think it’ll keep changing and evolving. I’m glad I get to be a part of it.
PS: You are going to be at DragWorld again this year!
A: Oh yes, of course I am. You couldn’t keep me away!
PS: How important do you think it is to have a safe space like DragWorld?
A: I think it’s great! I think the best part is getting to meet the kids you don’t usually meet at a drag show, as they’re sometimes too young or their parents won’t let them. For DragWorld, they get to bring their Mom to the convention and they get to enjoy it together and that’s great. I love connecting with the fans and the kids.
PS: Where are you hoping to go with your drag career now?
A: Well I’m excited to now add to my drag resume, the title of pageant director. I’m throwing this pageant, which is going to be so insane. These queens are all different types of drag performers, they come from all over the place, all over the world. I’m like “Girl, I don’t even want to know too much about what they’re going to do as I just want to sit there and watch this show”. It’s going to be so different.
PS: Is it going to be similar to a traditional pageant, with the different rounds?
A: Yeah, pretty much but you know, nothing I really do if traditional, soooo.
PS: Who would you say your biggest inspirations were for you when you started drag?
A: Divine, I love Divine so much. RuPaul, I mean he opened so many doors for so many people. Jackie Beat was, and still is, a huge inspiration and huge mentor to me. So yeah, I love drag!
PS: Is there anyone you have met you have been completely starstruck by?
A: I get starstruck by drag queens! I did a show right after the cast announcement of Season 11, and Yvie Oddly was in the show and I was like ‘Oh my God, oh my God, Yvie’ and she was like ‘Girl, we’ve already met several times’ but yeah, drag queens.
PS: Who would you like to win Season 11?
A: [Laughs] Well…. I don’t know, it’s really hard to say. You have these queens which represent drag excellence, like Brooke Lynn Heights, Nina West, A’Keria Davenport and they oddball characters who are completely turning it like Yvie Oddly and Silky Ganache. I have no idea how it’s going to go, but I’m very excited to see it happen.
PS: Same! Who would you like to see on a future All Stars?
A: Oh my God there’s so many! There’s like 3000 Ru Girls now. But I would to see Ongina, Laganja, Derrick Barry, Rajah O’Hara. And Gia Gunn, why not?!
PS: What Privilege! Are there any queens you’d like to see on Drag Race UK?
A: Baga Chipz of course! I’m team Baga all the way, honey!
PS: Baga was the first London queen I met when I first moved there.
A: You’re lucky!
PS: What’re you currently doing at the moment?
A: At this very moment I’m currently putting make up on my face as I have a little shoot to do today! I’m going to New York City in a few days as we’re doing as how called A Star is Born This Way and it’s basically a drag show about A Star is Born as I’m still obsessed with the movie, I can’t get over it. I’m going to Helsinki to do a drag festival with some really major names. I’m busy, bless and I’m excited.
PS: You definitely are busy! Where is one of your favourite places you’ve visited?
A: Oh god, too many. Recently we got to go to Helsinki and I’m heading back there in a few days. Helsinki wasn’t really a place that was on my radar, and we had just such an amazing time. We landed late, Jeremy [Mikush] and I, and so we were like ‘I don’t know girl, it’s late, it’s Europe, we’re not going to be able to get any fucking food at this hour’. But the people at the hotel were just like ‘Go to this place, they’ll give you food’. We’re vegetarians and we’re really picky about our food, but girl, they fed us and they fed up well and gave us wine. It was fantastic! I would highly recommend it!
PS: Are you planning on releasing new music?
A: Ermmm, maybe…. You’ll have to wait and see.
PS: Your new music is quite a bit different to what you initially released, was there any reason for this change?
A: Well Jeremy and I put out an album that is reflective of us and our friendship. It was just a different side to ourselves. But I look forward to singing about pussies, assholes and hair and make-up. I do look forward to that.
PS: Same! Thank you for talking to me, it’s been great!
A: Have an amazing day, and remember ‘anusthing is possible’
Alaska returns to DragWorld UK between the 17th – 18th August at the Olympia, London. She also plays Grand Central, Liverpool with Handsome Jeremy on Friday 5th July.
Lead image: Artist’s Facebook page