For her third run on RuPaul’s Drag Race (and her second All Stars venture) Alexis Mateo came back to remind the fans why she made it to top three on her original Season 3 outing. Roaring into the competition (to the the joy of guest judge Ricky Martin) Mateo tangled with several cast mates and served unique and served eye popping runway looks (showing a kiddie pool under the tule of her hoop skirt)! I caught up with Mateo post elimination and we chatted about former competitor (and current colleague) India Ferrah, her controversial and important photographic commentary on bullying, and what it is like unleashing Vanessa Vanjie Mateo into the Drag Race universe.
Michael Cook: What was your third RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars experience like?
Alexis Mateo: I loved it. It was so much more of a better experience than my first two times on Drag Race. for Season 3 and All Stars 1. From production to the challenges to the cast, I had an absolutely great time.
MC: From the first episode talent show, you got to perform in the talent show for Ricky Martin, and having a Puerto Rican superstar like that be the first guest judge visibly gagged you, right?
AM: Oh my God, I won the season right there! I grew up with Menudo, it was my entire inspiration to perform. Having him in front of me, immediately when he saw that I was wearing the Puerto Rican flag he connected with me and it was great. Performing in front of him in Spanish was amazing; it was a great moment. I would have loved to have won that challenge and been able to lip sync “Livin’ La Vida Loca” in front of him, that would have been the finish, the gold moment for that first episode!
MC: You made it to top three on your own season and had a strong showing on this season of All Stars. Do you think you got the “Ru-demption” that you may have wanted?
AM: I don’t think I went there for a “Ru-demption”. I think I went there to remind people who I was. I went on Season 1 of All Stars and Season 3 and even though I was a great contender, people tend to forget about me. I don’t know if its the pageant stigma or what, but this time around my purpose was to get there, do great drag, and make myself memorable and I think that is what I did.
MC: Watching your relationship with India Ferrah fall apart was unfortunate, as you went to bat for her several times during the season, including during voting. Where do you think all of this came from?
AM: I really don’t know. I just moved to Las Vegas and we work together every day at Señor Frogs brunch. We are not best friends, but we are very good co-workers and we have our friendship from Season 3 of Drag Race. We are also titleholders from the same title, All American Goddess pageant. We have a lot of attachment to each other; I feel like she is an amazing drag queen and entertainer and I feel like I wanted to make sure she got as far as she could go so she could have the fame that I think was stolen from her in Season 3.
MC: There were several of you from Season 3 on this season of All Stars, so there was likely to be a kinship of sorts.
AM: When I saw them on the show, I said that my girls were going to be Mariah and India, I am riding these girls all the way to the top with me because we have something to prove. Mariah and I are very good friends and there was no doubt that I would not vote for India at any moment. Plus, India’s runways were amazing. Even though she is not an actor, she tends to really be a good entertainer. I have never thought she was the “worst” at anything, which is why I always kept it real with her and never voted her out. As for what she did, I was very disappointed in her. Even though I knew what she said was a lie, I knew that it would affect me as far as the future of the show. She didnt have any proof that I lied and I did not have any proof that I was telling the truth, so that is even worse.
MC: One thing we can always thank you for is that you unleashed your drag daughter Vanessa Vanjie Mateo onto the world, and things have never been the same. What is it like seeing “Miss Vanjie” rocket into the world of Drag Race the way that she has?
AF: Vanessa was special since I did my auditions for dancers for my tour for All Stars 1. He was not the best dancer, but he had the personality on stage. I immediately clicked with him and he went everywhere with me, including my companions and pageants. We became very good friends and then he became part of my drag family. I used to tell him all the time, that his personality is so fierce, I would say “you are going to be a fierce drag queen”! He would always say he would “never” do it, and I guess I won that; he has become one of the most favorite drag queens from Drag Race! It was crazy to me to see how famous he became from just that one episode. To have him have my last name, it was an even bigger deal for me. We always talk about leaving a legacy, but we never really understand it; I understood it at that point, what Vanessa was doing with my last name. Seeing him back on All Stars as a lip sync assassin was amazing, even though I was so scared that she was holding my lipstick. I couldn’t even think straight at that point. What could be more humiliating than your daughter winning the lip sync and having your lipstick and sending you home?! It was all going through my head and was one of the complete craziest moments ever.
MC: You spoke out very publicly and vocally about the fandom of Drag Race this year, including a stunning and stirring photograph that you posted. What made you want to speak out so vocally about that?
AM: Since I was a little boy, my mother would always say to me “don’t say anything that you don’t really mean.” When I was getting all of those attacks and the hate mail, I was wondering how these people could wish someone would kill themselves or that they would die? I kept asking myself how they would feel if I really did die? I decided to do a picture and write all of the hate words around my face and body and the fans could see what they were saying. It was like, do you see what you are saying to this person? Is it this serious? I think it was a very important moment for drag period. It is getting out of control, we are going on a television show to be judged by a panel of judges, but the real judges are outside at home. It has become very free for people who don’t even do what I do, to judge me and punish me about anything. I wanted them to know that I am listening to every word that they are saying and that I do not accept it in my life. It was a moment of literally, desperation for me.
MC: Much has been made about some of the online bullying the queens can get, and that much of it is from younger fans.
AM: So much of it is kids who are using social media to literally spread hate. The bullying is so free right now; everybody can be a bully. Now you are doing it to celebrities or to people that are famous?-No. I want you to see it and I want you to really believe it. India and I had not spoken since the show happened, and I texted her to see if she was okay because I knew she had been going through it. We did speak about it and I told her to not pay too much attention to them; we are the new Velma and Roxie from Chicago (laughs). We should be enjoying a good television moment, and it has become a very difficult part of our drag career. Sometimes when I go out, people come up to try and talk to me and I don’t know if they are coming up to say hello to me because they like me or to tell me some crazy thing to my face. I don’t know if they like me or if they are not my fans. At this point, I sometimes don’t know what fans want from me. It used to be a picture or to say hello, now you don’t know.
MC: Post All Stars, what is next for Alexis Mateo?
AM: I have so many goals. I really want to travel the world, I never got the chance during my season. The fandom of Drag Race was not international yet. I would love to be one of those girls that gets to go to the UK, Australia, and Canada and all of those places. I would love to work on movies and I would love to work on music. I would love COVID to finsh so I can get out of my house (laughs). I would love to continue introducing Latin America to Drag Race. I would love to be part of World of Wonder and do something in Spanish with them. I would maybe even love to do a Latin Drag Race, you never know. Drag Race Canada just started, Drag Race UK and Philippines have aired, why not Latin America? I would love to judge, that is a big dream of mine. I read and am bitchy in English, but I do it so much better in Spanish (laughs).
MC: How are you staying creative and inspired during the pandemic?
AM: COVID-19 has woken up a side of me that I did not know that I had; I have become more than just a drag queen. Now I am a professional videographer, an editor, a producer, a lighting tech, I have become everything that I needed to become. Normally a lot of people around me are doing this for me, but COVID has obligated me to be part of the whole show. Now I know how to put a whole show together, work with the Internet and social media. It has literally prepared me for what is probably going to be the future of drag right now. It was a long learning process, but I think we did really good! There is nothing like the contact and the magic of being there live though!
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs Friday night on VH1 (check local listings)