As the first winner on RuPaul's Drag Race U.K., the Vivienne has already made herstory.
Now she's doing it again, as she competes to be crowned the "Queen of all Queens" on the first all-winners season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.
The Vivienne is the only international queen this season, going up against some of the most legendary contestants from Drag Race past — but if she was intimidated you wouldn't know it. The Welsh queen has proved to be fierce competition week after week, serving some phenomenal looks — like her weighted blanket "Knitty Knitty Bang Bang" runway — acting skills, and some savage reads during the roast challenge.
The Vivienne spoke with Logo about her time on All Stars, including the difference between the U.S. and U.K. workrooms, how she almost passed out on the Drag Race set, and how she ended up doing a song with the legend, Diane Warren.
Before we talk about the latest episode, I've been curious all season to know, when you walk into the workroom for the first time on All Stars, what were the biggest differences between the U.K. and U.S. workrooms?
Obviously, apart from the décor and the size of the place. The funny thing is, it was like being in the U.K. set but not, because everything is done so meticulously and it's such a well-oiled machine, it felt like being in the same room, but it wasn't. It was crazy. Then obviously seeing seven other winners staring you in the face.
I'm guessing the same for the runway too?
Yeah. Crazy. I think the U.S. runway felt maybe slightly a bit bigger, but it's exactly the same. There's the exact same feeling. There's the same buzz. The way you walk the runway is the same.
How did you pack your "Knitty Knitty Bang Bang" runway look? Did it take up an entire suitcase?
I had to go on Amazon and get a Christmas tree duffle bag, because it was the biggest thing I could find, and the dress weighed an absolute ton. I think I shared on my social that I did actually pass out. I was going and I had to get out of that dress. It's the biggest thing I've ever worn. The hottest thing I've ever worn. It was a struggle getting it over from England, I'll just say that.
I thought because the Drag Race stages are famously freezing that maybe you'd be comfortable. But you were still hot?
Yeah, I think it's the fact that when you're in drag you have seven pairs of tights on, you have three inches of foam on each side of your body, you have a corset on, you have a cincher catcher, or whatever is flowing over the top of the corset, and then you have a wig on, and you're literally in the thickest wool you could get. It was huge, it was hot, it was heavy. I'm actually surprised when I watched the runway because when I was walking the runway it felt like I was trudging through mud. It felt like I was dragging a body.
You said you passed out?
I think I was second or third in the lineup for the critiques and as it was getting further down the line, I looked into my camera and I can't remember which crew member it was, but they were so great. They got me a stool. They took me backstage. We took it off, and then I rejoined for the end. So really nice of them to let me have a breather, take off the dress, and get some air back into my lungs.
Well, you looked fabulous.
I also saw you were tweeting about the roast and some jokes that didn't make it into the episode. You mentioned there was some Trinity joke about a tire fire?
Oh, I can't remember how the joke went, but it was something to do with comparing me to a tire fire. I can't remember. I'm going to have to get it off Trinity. It was a plastic surgery filler joke. It's a TV show and we only have a certain amount of time. We all did a 10-minute roast, but to me it doesn't mean 45 minutes to fill, or an hour episode. Maybe one day we'll take it on tour.
So let's talk about the latest episode. When Ru reveals the three stars twist, by this point in the competition are you feeling whiplash? How are you feeling with all these twists and rule changes?
We'd just become accustomed to the block thing. Then there was the charity star. And now you got this big kick in the balls. What do you say to that? I either win this talent show or it's "Good night Vivienne." It was a hard pill to swallow. You've done so well through the season. You've surprised yourself. You've won three challenges. Especially for me being up against these powerhouses and I was already doubting myself when I got there. It took me to episode three to really break out of my shell and realize that I deserved to be there and I could have a shot at this.
Was there a certain challenge that made you realize you deserved to be there?
I think it would definitely be the improv challenge. I think that was my first win. Especially up against Jinkx, it was like, "Oh my God, okay." I admire Jinkx. She is so talented and just an absolute powerhouse of drag. We're so similar in ways and even Jinkx said, "I had no idea how much we were going to get on and how similar we are in our references and what we like and what we enjoy doing, and our style of drag. A lot of people see me on Instagram and they've never seen me perform. They forget that I'm a stupid actor and I do stupid characters and stuff like that, so being able to do that and seeing everyone go, "Oh, okay." I think that was when I woke up and went, "Okay, right, now I've become a sufficient star and I got my first star. Bring on the rest of it."
For the talent show, you performed "Bitch on Heels," written by Diane Warren. How did that come about?
I don't know and I still gasp every time I hear her name. I'm the biggest Diane Warren fan. I'm a huge Cher fan, Aerosmith, Celine Dion, you name it, she wrote the hit, the biggest number ones in the world. My manager phoned me one day and was like, "Oh, do you know who Diane Warren is?" I was like, "Yes, why?" He said to me, "Just chatting with Diane Warren. Here's a song." And then within a week we were in the studio doing it. There was a chance that she didn't like it. We sent it to her and we didn't hear back for two weeks and then all of a sudden she just went, "Yeah, do it."
So she was a fan and she just reached out?
I don't know how it happened. I still don't know how or why or why the hell Diane Warren even knows who I am. We were actually supposed to go to dinner just after we wrapped All Stars but she couldn't come, she had to go to the dentist, unfortunately, but I'm in L.A. next week, so hopefully I'll see her.
Why were you brought to tears by Monét's singing during the talent show?
Just because I'm a big old Mary. If I go to any kind of performance or watch a movie in the theater, the house lights go down, the orchestra strikes up and I'm already in tears. I think because I'm a performer myself I can see how much it means to people being on stage and how my effort and work they put into it, so I think I'm just really empathetic toward performers. I know how much it means to them and I know the work that's gone into it. I'll cry, if I love something. My husband always laughs at me because he's like, "Oh my God, he's cryin' again." I've seen Mary Poppins on the West End 10 times, and from the minute the music starts, I'm gone through the whole thing, crying my eyes out.
And then Raja talking about her dad has everyone crying up on stage. Were you all just emotionally exhausted by this point in the competition? Do you think that played a role in it?
Definitely. You're in this pressure cooker of drag. I think the biggest thing was, I don't think any of us realized how much of a family was going to be created on this season. We became the closest of friends in such a short amount of time. I already knew a couple of the girls, but me and Raja really, really got so close. We were the smokers and we'd chill and we'd always sit together by the pool outside, so when you see your friends in a vulnerable position, again it goes back to empathy. If I see someone going through something I just can't help but feel that for them. They're just amazing people. They're amazing people. I don't think we could've got a better cast. They're just fabulous. I can't say just how fabulous, I'll start crying.
On Untucked it was suggested you should take an all-girls vacation together...
Well, there was talk. There is talk of doing New Year's Eve in Puerto Vallarta. If we can all get the time together, I think we should do it. It would be mayhem. Could you imagine?
Yeah, that sounds fun. Have you thought about getting a tattoo to represent your time on All Stars?
I have been thinking about it. I've got a crown on my thumb for my first season win, so maybe I'll get two Legendary Legend stars on the other knuckles. Maybe I can get a plunger on my ring finger. Oh my God, you just chose my tattoos. I'm going to do it today. I've got a day off. You did this! This is your fault!
I love it. I also love that you got married at Heaven nightclub in London.
Yes, we got married there. We were never supposed to get married at G-A-Y [Heaven]. We had big ideas of doing it somewhere gorgeous and elaborate. It was never how it was supposed to happen, but everything happens for a reason. [The owner] Jeremy got the marriage license for the venue and we're such good friends, he said, "I'd be honored to have you as the first wedding." We were like, "Well, we don't know." But he turned it out and it looked stunning, and Chad Michaels came and performed. Just after the wedding, COVID hit. If it wasn't for Jeremy suggesting that, we might not be married yet, or at least we would've had to wait a good two years. So yeah, everything happens for a reason.