Thom Filicia on His 'Secret Celebrity Drag Race' Transformation: "I Was Completely Terrified"

And did Carson Kressley really not know that his former 'Queer Eye' co-star was underneath that wig?

When the glitter and spandex settled on the latest episode of Secret Celebrity Drag Race, it was time for Jackie Would to take the wig off and reveal her true identity. And the person underneath the wig, foundation, and eyeliner? None other than OG Queer Eye Fab Five member, Thom Filicia.

Donna Bellisima and Jackie Would were in the bottom two in the new episode, and after performing a lip-sync to Gwen Guthrie's "Ain't Nothing Goin' on But the Rent", Ru declared Donna the winner, and asked Jackie to RuVeal herself. Once his identity was RuVealed, Filicia thanked Ru and the judges for "this amazing opportunity, working with this incredible team" to not only get in drag, but also earn $5,000 for his charity of choice, the Bone Marrow Foundation.

"My brother and I actually did a bone marrow transplant [years ago] and he is healthy and alive and doing very well," Filicia told the judges. "The idea of helping the Bone Marrow Foundation hopefully do that for someone else and someone else's family, that's reason enough."

Even though Filicia knew he wasn't the best dancer in the competition — and this was his first time in drag — he put everything into his drag persona, Jackie Would. But with his friend and Queer Eye co-star Carson Kressley as one of the Secret Celebrity judges, was Filicia ever worried that he would be found out before he had a chance to step out of his heels?

Logo spoke with Filicia about getting into drag for the first time, disguising his voice so Kressley wouldn't clock him, and if Jackie Would will ever make a return to the stage.

Was this your first time in drag?

It was absolutely my first time in drag. I was completely terrified. I was a total newbie, but it was so much fun. It was amazing actually.

You landed on the name Jackie Would, but were there other names in the running?

So I narrowed it down to two names. I decided to do it [Secret Celebrity Drag Race], so I was coming up with the names, and I have to have a name that fits my personality. I'm not a dancer. I'm not a performer. I'm not a stage person. That's not my jam. I was just coming up with names and the first one I came up with was Anita Prosecco. I imagined if I were a woman, I would probably look like my name could be Anita Prosecco. I thought that would be funny, but it was very literal and kind of tongue-in-cheek. But the name Jackie is just, I don't know, just fit the concept of when I think of a cool name for a woman. I think Jackie's a great name. It's classic and it's cool and sporty. I also like how it's Jackie Would as opposed to it being W-O-O-D, which is also kind of funny. I thought like "Jackie Would do it." You know what I mean? So then there were three names because it was Anita Prosecco, Jackie Wood, and then Jackie Would. I just thought that Jackie Would, W-O-U-L-D was leaning into it, was a little bit smarter and less obvious. And then the funny thing is when I was on set, they were making t-shirts and stuff. They would say, "I wouldn't, but Jackie would." It was hilarious. That was awesome. The whole team that works on Drag Race and Celebrity Drag Race, and Ru's whole team is just, they're just so cool.

Since this was your first time in drag, what surprised you the most about the drag transformation? Was something more difficult than you thought it was going to be?

I think what was really surprising to me was just getting to know all of the people that were on our hair and makeup team. It's a real art form. When you watch a performance, you're identifying or connecting with the playfulness of it and all of that. I didn't really think a lot about when you think of abstract art or modern, you're looking at abstract impressionism and you understand the history of it and what started it and how things grow and ebb and flow and what they're influenced by. It was really interesting for me to connect with all of the different professionals that we were working with and understand the history of drag and where things came from and why things are so exaggerated. I was like, "Wow, this just, there are so many more layers to it that I didn't really understand." 

In the first episode, I was just a deer in the headlights. I didn't know what was going on. They asked me not to speak a lot. And if I did, to use an accent because they didn't want Carson to know who I was and I was just like, "Wait, what? I don't know how to do this. What's happening? I can't talk?"

By the second episode, I was like, "Okay, I kind of know who Jackie is. She's kind of a mess. I love her, and she's not a great dancer." And it was more fun for her to be a little quirky. I think she got more brassy. In the original concept, she was a little classy and a lot brassy. Jackie was supposed to be this Midwestern travel agent who lives in Aspen because she actually went there for a ski vacation and she got so drunk on the plane that the airlines would not let her fly back. So she just moved there.

And you mentioned your dancing, what did you think of Michelle [Visage] throwing shade at you, saying, "We know you're not a trained dancer."

I was thrilled that she said that because Jackie's not a classically trained dancer. She's not doing a music video. That's not Jackie. She dances at the local bar to the jukebox with her besties. She probably looks great when you're drunk, but...

You mentioned disguising your voice so Carson wouldn't recognize you. Were you afraid that he would clock you?

Well, it wasn't that I was afraid of it. It was just the longer that we could keep him from knowing I was there, the funnier and more hilarious it would be. And the interesting thing is, I will tell you, he didn't know. I thought he had figured it out. I was in my dressing room thinking, "He totally knows it's me."

He wasn't sure. He looked at me and he goes, "Of everyone I know, you're literally the absolute last person that I would have thought would ever consider doing this. So I just did not put you in this category." But he said there were a couple things that I said that he started to clue in on it, but it took him a lot longer than I thought. I was shocked. That's so not what he would imagine I would do. And that's actually why I was so excited about it. I was just like, there are certain moments in your life where you just say to yourself, "This is a one-time offer." I love doing things that make other people say, "Oh, I wouldn't have expected that." I've always loved when anybody said it still happens almost every week, whenever I am in an airport, someone will come up to me and say, "You know, you and the other [Queer Eye] guys really made it comfortable for me to come out to my family or just be comfortable in my own skin or feel comfortable in college or in high school."

I think that's really cool about what Celebrity Drag Race is doing. The world of drag has been embraced by so many different people. Families enjoy it, kids enjoy it, straight people, gay people, trans, everyone's just has found the magic. It's the empowerment that comes with this art form. And I think where it came from years ago and where it is now is so different, but it still does the same thing, even though the need is different. It used to be done for different reasons.

Would you ever do drag again?

I think Jackie would. I think she's going to surface again at some place, at some level, in some way, because I think that she's a fun character and I think that she's non-threatening. She is just about everybody coming together and having a good time. I know that my drag ability as I call it is probably a C... And by the way, I'm super proud of that. I love it because it's exactly the character that I would want to be in that space because it allows me the freedom to have fun with it, and support other people that are really, really good. I think Jackie will resurface because I think that she's a great supporter of the real artists in that space and the real talent in that space. 

And the fact that when I go see drag now, I've actually gone to a couple of drag shows in my neighborhood, in New York, when I clap for the drag, I basically high-five them now. Because I'm like, "Holy shit, I know what you're going through. And I know what you had to do to get yourself in those shoes and dance. You're dying and you're dancing and you're singing and you're entertaining people and you're connecting with the audience and you're making people smile and laugh and have a great time."

You realize it's not just somebody in a funny outfit up on stage, there are so many more layers to it. I think that was what I didn't expect, to really understand all of that.

Secret Celebrity Drag Race airs Fridays at 8/7c on VH1.

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