Instinct Interviews The Eliminated Queen From RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6: Week 1 [Spoiler]
It's never easy being first. But, if anyone can sashay away after the season premiere and still go on to be a Hollywood succes, it's Kelly Mantle. The successful (and professional) performer spent the first episode of RuPaul's Drag Race season six giving FACE while falling flawlessly into a foam pool before being fried like bacon by the judges (a panel that included Adam Lambert) on the catwalk. Plunged to the bottom two alongside the first seven's other "most seasoned" contestant, Vivacious, Kelly gave her everything lip syncing for her life to Madonna's "Express Yourself." Her performance was effervescent, affable and everything her fan base has grown to love about Kelly Mantle, but, ultimately, wasn't enough.
Though thousands of diehard fans (myself included) are bummed, Kelly's advice provides solace. "When life eliminates you," she tells me, "you make eliminade."
The one good thing about Kelly being eliminated from RuPaul's Drag Race this week? I get some delicious phone time with one of my favorite performers! I was served a heaping glass of eliminade and even asked for seconds as I caught up with the RPDR season sixer shortly after the premiere episode aired.
Jonathan Higbee: Hi Kelly, how are you?
Kelly Mantle: I’m fantastic. Just lounging by the pool at the Ritz Carlton. It’s a beautiful sunny day.
You were robbed!
I was robbed, darling! They just mugged me and left me on the side of the street in a gutter.
Why do you think you were the one to go this week?
Well, because I can’t sew. [Laughs]
Darling, I shop at Neiman Marcus and I have sweatshops in Van Nuys making outfits for me. I don’t know the first thing about constructing an outfit. I’m used to having my people do my hair and makeup for me so I’m not skilled at that either. So, I think that’s it, when it really comes down to it.
I've paid stricter attention to your social media feed the past few weeks. You've been capitalizing on Michelle Visage's "bacon dress" critique left and right, and I love it!
That’s the great thing about showbiz, and I’ve been in it for a long time. It’s like the song I released last night [video above], “When life eliminates you, you make eliminade.”
Michelle and I do an exit interview together, I think it’s going to be on Logo online. She showed up to my hotel room and I literally offered her bacon. You just have to twist and turn things around and use them to your advantage. So, I’m just having fun with it. What am I going to do? Sit around and wallow in my tears? That would be ugly!
Judging from your Facebook, Twitter and IMDB, you are on set working all the time. So why do Drag Race?
They had asked me to be on the first two seasons. I discussed it with my manager and agents then and our response was "We appreciate it, but I’m an actor and I don’t do reality television." Of course, I became a huge fan of the show and I watched it grow. Then a lot of my friends and my peers like Willam and Detox started going on the show. I thought, "Why not. It seems like a fun challenge."
What’s interesting is I keep being pegged as a quote/unquote “seasoned queen.” The thing is—I'm a seasoned actor, a seasoned singer/songwriter and a seasoned comedian, but when it comes to the art of drag, performing in clubs four or five nights a week like some of these girls do, constructing hundreds of costumes and wigs and makeup and looks for a specific number, I’ve never done that. Ever. In reality, I’m not a seasoned queen; I’m a seasoned performer. So, I thought it was going to be an interesting challenge. I thought, "Let’s try this. Let’s see if I can swim with the sharks." I just wanted to do something different and fun, and enjoy the exposure.
What’s the one thing RPDR fans should know about you?
They should know I’ve got a new album coming out this year. I’m excited about that; it’s got a lot of awesome songs on it. I’ve got great movies that are being released this year. Confessions of a Womanizer with Gary Busey and C. Thomas Howell is going to premiere at the Oscar-affiliated Cinaquest Film Festival March 8. So yeah, I have fun projects coming out, so I’m excited.
I heard through the gayvine that you're shooting a movie right now...
I am. I was shooting a movie last night actually when the episode aired. I tweeted, "Did I win?" What’s the score? [Laughs]
But, yeah, it’s an amazing film from a director who’s been at Sundance twice now, so I have high hopes for it.
Who do you think from your initial group of seven RPDR girls can go all the way?
Well, me. I’ll go all the way with anyone, honey. [Laughs]
Let’s see, out of that seven … not her, not her… not her, her or her.
If I had to pick one, I would say that probably Adore [Delano] will. Adore has a lot of raw talent, and she’s going to make for good TV. She just has that right amount of drama to her. And I adore Adore, so I hope she goes all the way.
Did you know her previously from L.A. at all?
We had met once, and she said very nice things to me. I think it was at Sassy Prom, but we didn’t know each other or hang out.
Who from your seven will be the next to leave?
If it were up to me it would be Gia [Gunn]. Some fish need to be thrown back in the water and learn how to swim, I’ll tell you what. Otherwise, she’ll just be eaten alive. But yeah, I would say she would probably be next to go home, she’s very unoriginal.
Would you have done anything differently for the challenges?
Well, I would’ve hot glued more. [Laughs]
I was so proud of the fact that I actually did use the sewing machine. It was funny that Santino was reading me for my fabric. I was like, "Honey, I didn’t go down to Santee Alley and buy this and bring it with me. It was given to me in the damn box. I would never wear white polyester.” [Laughs]
But, yeah, I was so proud of the fact that I actually used the sewing machine because it’s called a “sewing challenge.” Then BenDeLaCreme goes and whims it, and she’s like "I hot glued everything!" I’m like, dammit!
So, I would’ve hot glued more and I would’ve shown some leg. That’s what I would’ve done.
Do you have any favorite behind-the-scenes moments?
One of the funniest moments was with Vivacious—I adore Vivacious, she’s hilarious—who was so upset about the inexpensive sewing machines. She used other words for them, but I’ll say “inexpensive.” Every five minutes when someone would read her about her outfit whether it was Ru or one of the girls, she would say, “Mama—these sewing machines do not work!” She was over there yelling at her sewing machine. I thought it was going to be this whole through line that they were going to use but they left it all out. It was hilarious!
What’s the story behind the ear pull goodbye you and Ru shared?
Are you familiar with the Carol Burnett Show or are you a young one?
I guess I'm a young one...
Carol Burnett at the end of all her shows would sing this song, [sings] “I’m so glad we had this time together.” At the end of it she would tug on her ear to the audience. It was something her and her grandmother used to do with each other when they would say goodbye. Ru had told me in the workroom that I reminded him of Carol Burnett, which was such music to my ears. I thought that was such a beautiful moment at the end for him to bring back the Carol Burnett moment.
Wow, I'm going to need a Kleenex over here!
I know. I love Ru. She’s just such an amazing spirit.
So, we know about your upcoming films and album, but what's the next big step for Kelly Mantle?
I’m going to gun for the Oscar! I’m going to go from elimination to the Oscar, darling. I deserve it. [Laughs]
Big love and hugs and thank you to all my new fans for the support. Everyone’s being so awesome!