Nicky Doll might be an acolyte of the New York City downtown club scene, but during her tenure on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12, she showed that she is much more than a look queen. Stepping out of her comfort zone was the order of the day for this doll, and while she has left the competition, she has plenty more up her Parisian sleeve. I sat down with her to chat about her Drag Race experience, what it’s like performing virtually in these unprecedented times, and how she is working to merge both her American and French sensibilities to become an even more fully formed performer.
Michael Cook: Nicky, many fans are disappointed to see the Parisian stunner from this season go so soon!
Nicky Doll: Girl, trust me, same (laughs)!
MC: So the season has ended, and now you can sit back and watch your Season 12 sisters battling it out for the crown. Looking back, what was the experience like for you?
ND: The whole experience was definitely intense. I was ready to go on a crazy ride, but I did not realize how crazy the ride really was. It’s a very intense experience and the hours are very long. When they call it “The Hunger Games of Drag”, it really does feel like The Hunger Games. You have to kill to entertain the people behind the judges panel (laughs)! It was intense, but it was also one of the best experiences of my life. You get to do everything that you love. Fashion, beauty, comedy, and you learn a lot. You think that you are about to deliver so much and have people discover who you are, but you also end up learning who you are by actually doing all of those things. They push you so far off of your limits that you start to have power that you did not think you had. Or you start seeing limits that you did not know that you had at that level. It is a really good learning experience and I don’t regret anything.
MC: You were one of the bombshells of the season and you were looked at as one of the girls to watch this season. Was it hard being looked at by both your competitors and the audience as the doll who would have all the looks?
ND: You know, the funny thing about drag is that when Drag Race started, not having a strong fashion look or having strong makeup skills was not a good thing. Now it starts to shift, and it’s like “oh she’s a pretty queen, we are gonna poke at her to see what else she has”. I think that people need to stop labeling. It’s not because I paint like a superstar that I can’t be a clown. And if someone paints like a clown, they can be a superstar. We have the experience this season, I think this season is so incredibly diverse; I actually think we are one of the most diverse casts since Season 6. You cannot really put people in a box; Jada is not just a fashion queen, I am not just a European pretty queen, Crystal is not just a clown, we have so many layers. The show has provided so much content for us queens to learn and extend our persona, poking at someone because she delivers something is not a good thing. I think you should let the person just blossom and show the different layers that they have. So no, I am not just a fashion queen, but I am pretty damn good one (laughs)!
MC: The group this year is, as you said diverse and very multi layered. Who do you think could possibly snag the crown this year.
ND: I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea who was leaving first. That is how strong the cast is. I cannot even tell you who is going to end up being the winner; what I can tell you is that I could stand behind every single one of them. Whoever wins will be way more than deserving. This season was a mother fucking race!
MC : Our world is in a form of suspended animation and it is crucial right now for us to be supporting and tipping our performers while we are in this state in the county? How are you supporting your art and your creativity while we quarantined?
ND: It is going to sound so “Miss Universe”, but at the end of the day, when you do Drag Race, you want to of course capitalize on it, but I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we love to perform. We love to hug and kiss the fans and we love to be that representation on television that we did not have growing up. So being able to go on a live stream and being able to perform, even if it feels awkward to perform in front of an iPhone, or being able to go live with your Drag Race sisters like I do three times a week, is important. I know that even if it is three hours of my time doing it for free-even though people can tip and it’s really nice when they do-I know that on the other side of that live stream is a kid laying in bed, quarantined and bored, watching queens having fun and being their true selves. That is helping my own quarantine be better because at the end of the day, even if I am not performing, I am still doing drag and being that person that inspires people. I don’t have to tuck either, that’s the best part (laughs)!
MC: You have told me how Parisian drag and American drag is different, with the biggest difference being the tipping aspect. What aspect of Parisian drag did you want to bring to America?
ND: I come from a club scene that is very different from the United States bar scene. It is changing though, because of the whole Drag Race culture and the lip synch is slowly penetrating the French culture. We are beautiful visual performers and doing glamorous go-go drag in France. I grew up watching beautiful trans drag artists do go-go drag, kind of like what Raja used to do in Los Angeles before Drag Race. I come from this background where beauty, fashion and opulence is really the first thing that people see. Then you have to have rhythm and dance. I managed to incorporate that and learn how to create a whole show with the lip sync. I want to keep the beauty and the fashion, and doing your homework when it comes to the references with the look.
MC: So it’s very clear, that drag is much more about just turning a look.
ND: When you have a look that tells a story, it is already doing fifty percent of the job. This is really what Nicky Doll is really all about. I want to come on stage and have people already know what I am doing, and then just deliver the performance. You can’t just be a pretty queen. I also want to educate French culture and French drag queens that being pretty and wearing Mugler is not enough. You need to be able to have that camp element and be able to perform and tell a a story and not just be beautiful and dance. It was so educating in America when it came to fashion, and educating for France when it comes to content. I think that both cultures can really help each other. I am proud to be the first French queen on the show and to be that person.
MC: What is next for Nicky Doll?
ND: Before I even started doing drag,I was actually a singer in a band and I was touring around France doing cover songs. Since my verse in Episode 3 on “I’m That Bitch”, people have been harassing me to release some music. I may or may not work on music, but I am also going to keep working on makeup, makeup really is my passion. I am also a makeup artist outside of drag. Being able to do makeup, fashion is definitely something that I am obsessed with. And to perform-at the end of the day I am a performer and I don’t want to give up being at the bar and perform for people and get drunk with them, and to keep spreading that love and that message. You are going to see me everywhere!
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs Friday night on VH1 (check local listings)