No one wants to be the first to sashay away on a new season of RuPaul's Drag Race, but you can't say that Irene Dubois didn't make an impression during her short stint on Season 15.
The Seattle sci-fi queen was the first to stomp into the workroom on the season premiere, and wasted no time reading the other girls — like calling out Luxx Noir London's hair length — as they joined her on set. She was a great talking head in the confessionals, and she was not afraid to make frenemies, but in the end, she found herself in the bottom two with Amethyst, who was ultimately declared the winner of the lip sync for your life.
Even though Irene was sent packin' at the end of the two-part premiere, she didn't go home empty-handed. She won the photoshoot mini-challenge, which earned her a cash tip of $2,500, and she also got to meet pop icon Ariana Grande, who was the celebrity guest judge for the episode.
Irene spoke with Logo about her time on Drag Race, including if her elimination was a surprise, if she thinks today's queens are too sensitive, her love for Star Wars, and if she thinks we are alone in the universe.
I'm sure you're disappointed, but how's it feel to be the first one out? Some of Drag Race's most iconic queens have been the first ones eliminated. So how are you feeling?
I think in a world where our value is measured by our success both nominally and financially, it can be easy to surrender to the idea that going home first is a seed of failure. But I'm very proud of myself for making it on the show. I'm very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and I'm very proud of myself for keeping my chin up. I think that there is a certain gravity to that. As much as I would like to say that it feels humiliating and I feel like a failure, honestly, it sort of feels right. I think that going on the show, making a glass of ice water which leads to me being the lowest ranked queen in the entire history of the franchise is sort of iconic and camp. So if that's the label that I'm going to have, I'll wear it proudly.
Yeah, you definitely made an impression. During the lip sync, I couldn't tell who Ru was going to pick. I thought it was pretty close. Were you surprised when you were asked to sashay away? Did you think you had a leg up because you won the mini-challenge?
I was not surprised, mainly because "7 Rings" is probably as far away from my wheelhouse as you can get when picking a lip sync song. We had several other songs on the iPod that I thought if I had this, it doesn't matter who I'm in the bottom against, I'm sending their ass home. "7 Rings" was not one of those songs. So when it started playing and I was sitting next to the girl [Amethyst] who thinks herself to be a pop star, I was like, "There's a high chance that this bitch is going to send my ass home." And then as we were lip-syncing and I saw out of the corner of my eye, she land herself into a perfect jump split, I was like, "You know what? I think that this girl might have just served my ass and I'm not even mad about it."
Well, that's one of my favorite things about drag queens is how shady they are, how reading is a form of affection.
That's why I loved how you were just reading these girls. I thought it was so funny. Do you think these younger queens are too sensitive and can't take a good read? What do you think about that?
I don't know. Drag queens in my generation who came up 10-15 years ago, I think a lot of us pursue drag because we have a campy side, a quick wit. We have something we want to share. I think a lot of drag queens who've started in recent years have seen the girls go on the show and go on to live that rockstar lifestyle. They want to go on the show and be pop stars, and pop stars aren't known for being shady. They aren't known for being witty. It's why you have queens who go on and they're beautiful, they're stunning, they can do all these amazing things on stage, but you throw them in a comedy challenge and they fall flat as a pancake. They fall flat as Amethyst's pads. You know what I mean? It's just one of those things that's a generational divide. I'm not super thrown off by it, I'm just more disappointed.
Then what was it like when Ariana walked into the workroom? Did you think it was her at first? What was happening in that moment?
The first thing I thought was damn, someone needs to work on their drag because if their first impression that they choose to present to the world is an impression of somebody else, then they obviously don't have a strong enough brand. But when it was Ariana, I was just like, "Okay, I'm at Drag Race now, baby." No, she's such a sweet person. She's so humble. She clearly gets what we're doing and appreciates it and it was just such a lovely moment to have a human interaction with her, make eye contact and have her say my name and really let us all know that she is a fan. It's lovely. Honestly, I have to say thank you to Drag Race for giving me that opportunity.
You recreated your ice water talent show demonstration in your new music video, "Take a Sip." Tell me about that song.
It was one of those things where I realized that my tenure on Drag Race, although short, was marked by interactions with water. I won the mini-challenge after being sprayed with water. And then I went home after making a glass of water and I was like, "Okay, well every Drag Race girl has to find their sort of moniker, their brand, their piece of iconography that they take with them for the rest of their career. It seems like mine's going to be water." So I'll use water and wetness metaphors to sort of do the lip sync song that I should have done for the talent show.
I love all your sci-fi and alien looks and your runway look was inspired by H.R. Giger and Aliens, correct?
What are some other pop culture aliens or sci-fi movies that inspire you?
I'm very, very, very big into Star Wars. Huge Star Wars fan. George Lucas' universe is fantastic to me and keeps my imagination fueled constantly. I also really like the Terminator series, the Predator series, and Star Trek obviously is iconic, so I keep up with what's going on there. Then just things like Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, all that stuff. Just things that imagine a future where humanity is interacting with technology in ways that both enhance and hinder our growth as a species.
I saw your tweet about going to see Avatar: The Way of Water. How was that experience?
Well, I took mushrooms before I went into the theater, so the visit to Pandora was quite exceptional.
Speaking of aliens and science fiction, have you ever seen a UFO or had an alien encounter?
I haven't. And I don't believe that they're out there. I think that we're alone in this universe, at least in this block of the Milky Way galaxy. I think if there were aliens out there, they would be here by now and they'd be intermingling with us. I think that we probably have a lot more uniqueness in our intelligence than we realize.
So you think we're alone?
I think that as far as sentient beings, I think that it takes a long time for sentience to evolve and it has to be in perfect conditions for a very long time. I think that the likelihood of that happening anywhere near us in this galaxy is pretty low.
RuPaul's Drag Race airs Fridays at 8/7c on MTV.
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