A bubble bath and pasta are not two facets of a talent we have ever seen before on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but that is exactly what helped showcase that talent that Willow Pill is, and ultimately the kind of originality that helped propel her victory on Season 14. Willow Pill is now officially ‘America’s Next Drag Superstar’ and with that, comes a great deal of attention and a suddenly packed touring schedule. Willow Pill sat down with me recently post-win to chat about snagging the crown this season, the responsibility that she definitely feels, and what she may have planned coming up (and yes, it may involve something with Kornbread)!
Michael Cook: Condragulations on winning Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and becoming ‘America’s Next Drag Superstar’! With this year’s $150,000 prize, what are you buying first?
Willow Pill: Well I already bought something, I bought a Philly cheesesteak off the side of the road. Once the check actually hits, I’ll buy another one! (laughs).
MC:You have broken ground in a number of ways, but you are also the first out trans winner to win the United States version of the original RuPaul’s Drag Race. This victory must come with an enormous amount of responsibility, is that fair to say?
WP: Oh absolutely; I feel a great deal of responsibility. It is overwhelming at times. I don’t really do I get a lot of recognition for being trans, but for being a voice for chronically ill people, that one I probably get even more.That has been the one that has weighed a little bit heavier on my shoulders. It feels fantastic because I get so many people that come to my shows, and tell me how much it means to them, and how happy they are to have that kind of representation right now. It is also a big responsibility and it can weigh on the brain a lot. Like “is every move I make going be analyzed by Twitter and the drag fans, it is good enough how I am representing these groups of people”? It can be a lot and sometimes you need to step away and know you cannot be the savior of the world.
MC: You entered RuPaul’s Drag Race and showcased a massive amount of your talents, but you also discussed being a trans woman and your chronic illness at length. Did you go into Drag Race with the intent to discuss those massively important issues or did you simply want to go on Drag Race and showcase what you could do?
WP: The trans issue I did not intend to speak about at all. The chronic illness issue I did want to be part of my Drag Race journey, I think I talked about it more than I thought it would come up. What I did realize though, and did not put two and two together on, was how much my illness affects me every day. It was affecting me every day when I was at Drag Race. I couldn’t talk about how much I was struggling in the sewing challenge without talking about why. I couldn’t talk about the talent show and some dark comedy without talking about why. These things came up more than I thought they would and it made me realize how much my drag attributes itself to my illness. Which I think isn’t just really interesting, but a really beautiful thing.
MC: Hearing you speak about your illness was crucial representation for so many, as it is not something discussed that often, is that fair to say do you think?
WP: Certainly not on television, and on reality television specifically.
MC: You and Kornbread really hit it off and your close friendship was one of the best things to come out of Drag Race this season. What do you attribute it to? And when are we seeing the Willow Pill/Kornbread road trip spin-off that the world needs?
WP: First of all, people can stay tuned, we are working on a little project together. We don’t have any plans yet, but eventually we would absolutely love to tour together. That won’t be for a little while since we are both booked and busy for the next forty- five years, but hopefully soon we can coordinate a tour together.
I think the reason that we clicked is because we both are the type of people that have a whimsical, funky, or absurd style of drag or drag personality. Behind it all, we are all sad and rotten. People don’t always know that about Kornbread, but she is certainly sad and certainly rotten behind the facade of drag jewels and her gorgeous tits. I think we both looked at each other and said “oh..you’re messed up in the head too, aren’t you?-okay friends”!
MC:Now that you have this massive platform, what do you think you want to do next? The world is truly yours.
WP: Honestly, I have no fucking clue what I wanna do. I want to keep it very open, I want to keep the opportunities very open. I would love to act, I would love to sing some, I am already working on a little bit of music. I don’t really know…I would be lying if I said that I had some sort of master plan. I do know that whatever I am going to do, it is going to be special. I just want things to be very unfiltered and fun and kinda nasty.
MC: Coming from the family of Yvie Oddly, who is your drag mother, what has Yvie said since your big win.
WP: I actually haven’t talked to Yvie yet, I haven’t even talking to my own mother yet. I have had time to sleep, eat, and that is it; to be honest, I am running on fumes right now (laughs).
MC: What do you think Yvie taught you that you were able to apply to your own Drag Race journey?
WP: I met Yvie about six years ago. I always admired how out there she was and how it always looked like she was having so much more fun than some of the other drag queens in town. I was kind of jealous, like “I wanna be having that amount of fun” and “I wanna feel that unabashed about my drag and my feelings”. I learned from her slowly over time and right before I left for Drag Race, I asked her to give me something, I need help. She said “whatever decisions you make on Drag Race make sure you are choosing what is going to be the most fun for you”. I wrote that down and kept it in my hotel room. Every time I would look at it, some of the mantras that I would try to live by, and that is the one that stuck out the most every time. Whatever I do on the show, I wanted it to be what was going to be the most fun for me and that would shine through.
MC: You walked into the Drag Race workroom in a now-iconic ‘Angle’ t-shirt and flip flops, and then totally turned many people’s first impression of you on it’s side. What do you think your own drag reveals about you?
WP: I think my drag is very in touch with what it means to be a human. That sounds real “artsy fartsy”, but I think it is a real representation of what I am feeling and what I am going through. you know, a lot of people think that I did that (entrance) look to throw people off, and in a sense it was, but moreso it was an accurate representation of who I was; I knew that in a sense, that would throw people off. For me, drag is about getting in the clothes and having fun and creating characters. Just feeling alive from all of that. I can create fun and create fabulous drag out of something gorgeous and polished and also out of something ugly and dumb; and they are both equally valid.
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