Ross Mathews on all things RuPaul’s Drag Race
We know his face and we’ve seen him on countless red carpets talking about fashion on E! covering the Emmys, the Golden Globes and the Oscars, but in recent years we’ve been treated to the divine Ross Mathews joining the panel of judges on RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s this season where Mathews says he truly felt he has come into his own as a judge and we enjoyed watching the Bossy Rossy challenge as much as he did.
I had a quick chat with Mathews to talk all thing RuPaul’s Drag Race and the closest thing to gay TV he had growing up….
Ross, you’ve done red carpets, you’ve done The Tonight Show and you’re on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the show that keeps on growing. What is it like being a part of that?
It’s what I wish existed when I was little and growing up on a farm town and not knowing what a grown up gay person looked like. I see myself on the show, contributing to it, being a part of the family, being part of the DragCon family. I get the feeling that being on the show, watching the show, and being at DragCon, it’s like Thank God that this all exists on this mainstream level and that is exists for people. I’m really proud to be on it.
What did you have growing up?
The gayest thing I watched was Saved By The Bell, but that’s just because I was really into AC and Zack. It wasn’t gay at all, but I was into both of them.
There really wasn’t anything with a gay grown up living the normal life. There wasn’t anything I could point at and say, “Oh look, I’ll be fine.” That didn’t exist and it’s always driven me to provide that example that I didn’t have. Even as far back as 2001 when I was on The Tonight Show.
How on earth did RuPaul’s Drag Race happen for you because, from The Tonight Show to Drag Race and everything in between, it’s a whole different world?
I had done the Tonight Show and have been on TV for eighteen years. I went from that to Chelsea Lately to E! Red Carpet and I was a guest judge on Drag Race. It was a dream come true because I loved the show and then they asked me back to be a guest judge and then they asked if I wanted to stick around. I didn’t really understand it at first and was willing to go whenever they needed me and then I just never really left.
There wasn’t ever a really formal meeting, sit down thing. It just happened. It wasn’t even a season into it. I look back and wonder when I got the golden ticket. Like, how did this even happen? It just clicked.
What has the journey for you been like because now we’re on Season 10?
Something about Season 10 for me feels like I really came into my own as a judge. Sometimes you feel annoying and in the past I’ve felt like, “Shut up who asked you? These people are way more talented than you.” This season, I really feel like I’ve done it long enough that I’ve earned a spot at the table and I feel like my contribution is really strong this season in particular. Bossy Rossy was a really good challenge. It was tough for some and good for others and I thought it was good TV. I feel really comfortable in my seat now.
I feel qualified to be giving the queens advice now. I’ve seen what it takes to win the show and to travel with the crown if you have won the show. I know what it takes to be the next superstar.
The show at the end of the day is about artists trying to create something and putting their whole selves into it outside of their comfort zone and in the context of a different challenge every week. It is really tough for them.
Some of these queens are amazing, but they might not be the best sewer or they might not do the best celebrity impression in a Snatch Game or they might not be at that challenge that week and they’re sent home. You really have to be the full package in order to win Drag Race. It is tough and I bow to these queens.
Ross, I am so haunted by the Fish Mask.
It’s something else right.
What comes to mind when you hear that?
I’m OK with a little weird and unexpected. I love a queen that tried.
What have some of your highlights been then?
Vanjie was a moment that came out of something so funny and so simple and bizarre. I loved that it took off and caught fire.
I loved that Eureka came back and I love that our show continues to do that and brings back queens who deserve another chance.
Oh duh, Bossy Rossy was a big highlight.
So, what can we expect now?
We’re getting down to where every cut is really brutal right? We just said goodbye to Monet X Change who’s extraordinary.
I know. That was devastating.
I loved her. You could have seen her winning and once you get down to the top six any of these queens could win. Every single one of them has a huge fan base that’s going to be furious when they don’t win. We’re lucky to see them and everyone of them has a chance to take it home.
Why do you think the show resonates?
The contestants are really cool and say things and wear things that are ahead of the curve. People look to our show to be a trendsetter, it’s earned a reputation for that.
I think anyone who is on our show or watches the show comes from the same table at the cafeteria in High School. We all know what it’s like to be off from center. The truth is we’re all off from center in our own ways, I think so many people relate to people celebrating the thing that makes them different.
The show has a new fan, Leslie Jones. You know she’s been tweeting all about it. She has to be a judge on the next season.
Oh my God! She has to be a guest judge on the next season.
What’s your favorite catchphrase to come out of the show?
Oh, the fact that Vanjie is said on every episode of season ten makes me laugh so hard. We were at a gay bar not that long ago and I walked into the bathroom and Miss Vanjie was written on the wall. It’s gone beyond a meme, it’s a verb, a noun, it’s an adjective it’s whatever you want it to be and it’s so funny.