Willam is by far one of the most memorable contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race who has infamously gone down in herstory for being disqualified from Season 4 of the show with a cult following. At the time, it was possibly the biggest gag the show had ever seen and it skyrocketed Willam into notoriety as being one of the baddest bitches around. He is known for his one-of-a-kind styling, humor and frank nature. He doesn’t avoid any drama and his extroverted personality is addicting. Willam isn’t a scripted, fake reality TV personality, what you see is authentically Willam—there is no exception.
Fast forward many seasons later, we have gotten to know Willam Belli in more detail and have learned that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of Drag Race that fans would be shocked to know. Willam has been very open about his own experience with the show and asserts that he is not the only one who has had negative experiences with the show and RuPaul himself.
Willam’s opinions of the show and mother Ru do not disqualify him from his professional life, however. His love of drag and close connection to many of the Ru girls has led him to produce and co-host the podcast Race Chaser next to All Stars 2 winner Alaska Thunderf*ck. The two have deconstructed every episode of the show, starting from season one, and have given their insight and play-by-play with the occasional guest popping in to add to the shenanigans and bafoonery.
Prior to being on Drag Race, Willam was already a working actor with a padded resume. He has appeared in Nip/Tuck (2005), The Kominsky Method (2018), Difficult People (2015) and Eastsiders (2019). Life after the race has elevated Willam’s career as an actor, independent recording artist, and drag entertainer. Aside from his music, Willam has landed roles on Netflix’s animated series Super Drags, Hurricane Bianca, and in Oscar-nominated A Star is Born alongside Lady Gaga. Earlier this year, Willam starred as Willam George in the Peaches Christ production of Mean Gays where she snatched audiences with her best Plastics sensibilities. This month, Willam will be featured on the HBO documentary Wig, which gives a new perspective on Lady Bunny’s legendary Wigstock that is celebrating it’s 35th anniversary. Last month, during DragCon weekend, Willam was also one of the judges for Alaska’s Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition.
On top of all that Willam has multiple pop hits from his #1 Billboard charting comedy album “Now That’s What I Call Drag Music”; he has performed on six continents. His book, “SUCK LESS: Where There’s a Willam, There’s a Way”, has sold over 41,000 copies–I mean, she’s BIZ-ZAY!
Whatever your opinion of Willam may be, there is one thing that you cannot deny–he is a major advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and uses his platform as a drag performer to tell it like it is–holding no prisoners.
June is Pride month and like virtually every drag queen in the nation, Willam is a busy bee, flying from place to place being one with the queer children. Willam is known for taking a strong stance and being a visual and heard activist for the LGBTQ community.
This year, Willam will be making a special appearance in my hometown at Orange County Pride where he will be a part of the Stand Up Stand Out Concert at a day-long festival featuring live music, drag story times, leather demonstrations, a dedicated Family Zone, in addition to the crowning of the Mr./Ms./Miss/Mx. Gay Pride Orange County winners. The festival takes place on Saturday, June 22nd and is only one of the many prides Willam will rear his wigged-head this pride season.
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Orange County LGBT Pride presented by @sdccu is only 4 short days away and tickets are running out! Grab yours today and help us celebrate 30 years of serving the community with Pride with an incredible Stand Up Stand Out concert with amazing stars like @willam Stand Up Stand Out Concert begins at 6pm inside The @yosttheater Tickets are selling fast so make sure you grab them before they're gone! #OCPride2019 #StandUpStandOut #WillamBelli #ThatsWhatICallDragMusic #PrideConcert #LGBTQ #PrideMonth #June22
I had a chat with Willam to find out what he has planned for Pride season as well as to catch up on the great things he’s been doing on and off camera.
David Lopez: So, Willam–what does Pride mean to you?
Being as visible as possible because there are obviously more assholes than we thought in the world that we have to take down. We just have to be visible and show these people that we are not second class citizens. It’s not just about eating funnel cake and sucking dick—we need to do our jobs as individuals. Plus I really love funnel cake and sucking dick.
DL: What are you plans for your appearances at Pride festivals around the nation?
Last year I kept it really simple, I just stood in front of all the protestors with a sign that said “SEND NUDES” because I wanted to detract from them and at the same time get a laugh. They took up a whole intersection and I was just on a hoverboard rolling back and forth with a big sign making them all look like fools and infuriating them because they couldn’t do anything about it. So when people would look at all this hate around the parade route, they’d also see this tall drag queen rolling around on a hoverboard—so I try to do my best to put a rainbow over a turd. And this year I’m gonna be doing the same. I’m in a couple different prides: Boise, El Paso, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, the OC, World Pride, and LA Pride—so I plan to be a big spectacle.
DL: What are some of your favorite cities to perform in?
Gosh, there are so many! I love Dallas because they have amazing stages and a great appreciation for drag and four different dick bars. That’s somewhere you can’t be bothered for pictures ever because there are strippers there and you aren’t allowed to take pictures—so I go there to relax. I fucking love Dallas! And then Chicago because there is an awesome bar called Roscoe’s, San Fran is great, Vegas is always great! Southern Nights and Parliament House in Orlando are super fun just because there’s a pool and it’s Florida—and who doesn’t want to get soaking wet? And Hamburger Mary’s, I’ve been doing brunch there for so many years—It’s my “I’m not going to hell” gig.
DL: I know you were at DragCon this year—what was your favorite thing about it?
Just meeting all the fans. I’m not one of the girls who charges for pictures because after five years of going to DragCon, everybody’s already met me. So I sit there and hang out and take pictures with people. I’ve been lucky enough that I can use the weekend as a chance to show my good will toward the fans and my thanks. Some of these girls need to get a hold of themselves. Stop hiding behind these mazes and get out and meet some people.
DL: How was it being a judge at Alaska’s Drag Queen of the Year pageant?
It was kind of thrilling for me. We got to see a lot of people that wouldn’t typically be eligible for RuPaul’s Drag Race or even some of these pageants that are still going on. There were AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) queens—we don’t say Bio Queen anymore—and then we had some trans contestants. It was nice to see them all doing what they do best and being allowed to compete in our chosen field of business, which is drag. RuPaul’s Drag Race, so far, has not invited any trans contestants to participate in the show. It’s sad because they have worked side-by-side in the drag community forever. So seeing someone like Alaska putting on a pageant—my fucking wig is OFF to her. Alaska is one of the most amazing people I know.
DL: I know Abhora ended up taking home the crown, but did you have any personal favorites?
Abhora gagged me the most. Her talent was sick’ning, her gown was cool! Astrud was also pretty great, Aurora was wonderful. Everybody was killer. I saw those score sheets and it was really close.
DL: Any plans for new music?
Yeah, Latrice and I are gonna be releasing some music. I’m gonna be doing some videos from my album released in October. One song called Derrick all about Derrick Barry and a song with Rhea Litre called Fries—all about french fries, cuz a bitch gotta eat. All coming out this Summer.
DL: What are some of your current or upcoming projects?
I’m in the HBO documentary Wig, which is all about Wigstock. That comes out on HBO June 18th. I’m in Eastsiders on Netflix which is a show about gay Hollywood life—that starts in July. And I’m the first drag queen on House Hunters on HGTV—the first drag queen on the whole network from what I hear. It’s a show that follows people buying property and I buy something in Palm Springs. That comes out June 27th and June 28th—World Pride weekend.
DL: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers at Instinct?
Listen to my podcast with Alaska called Race Chaser. We recap every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race one-by-one. In reality TV shows you don’t get paid the same as you do in a regular television show where if you’re on it you get residuals. So Alaska and I figured out a way to keep making money off the show without being on it by just talking about it. It’s our favorite show and we just shoot the shit and have insider dish and a little bit of T for our listeners.
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