Tue. Oct 27th, 2020

Interview: ‘Drag Race All Stars 5’ queen Blair St. Clair on representing the Midwest and how Reba McEntire helped shape her childhood

Blair St. Clair was just 22 years old when she first sauntered onto the “Drag Race” stage during Season 10. A timid performer, she let nerves and inexperience get the best of her, finishing in 9th place.

Just two years later on All Stars, however, she emerged a fully formed queen. During a run to the final four, St. Clair showed off extraordinary growth and poise, leaving veteran queens in her dust.

The impressive journey came to a screeching halt with a stand-up performance that left much to be desired and, ultimately, sent her packing. But not before she cemented her status as a queen to be reckoned with.

Daniel Trainor and Sam Stone chatted with Blair about that ill-fated routine, her Reba McEntire fandom, how she feels about Miz Cracker and the evolution of drag in the Midwest.

St. Clair has also recorded her second studio album, “Identity,” set for release on July 21st.

Daniel Trainor: I do declare! Blair St. Clair, thank you so much for taking some time today.

Blair St. Clair: Absolutely, thank you so much!

Sam Stone: Let’s start with the stand-up challenge. You were so confident after your session with Ross Matthews and Jane Krakowski. What happened between then and when you took the stage?

BSC: I think it all just came down to the pressure. I think you can see in my session with Ross and Jane that I was confident and I felt really strong about my material. I was really excited and I was delivering some laughs. But it just came down to the pressure of knowing that I was either going to win the challenge or I was going to go home. I was thinking about that negativity, rather than thinking about succeeding. I put so much pressure on myself. Obviously it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. 

DT: Did you try memorizing your jokes? Do you regret having your notebook on stage with you?

BSC: I actually did have it memorized. We were all told we could use our notes on stage and I figured, any time somebody tells me in an audition that you can have your notes available, I always have them available just in case I need to rely on them. When I got up there, I froze. Instead of using my notes as a crutch, I used them to completely rely on. It definitely was the major downfall of the flow and delivery of all of my jokes. Jokes are all about timing and delivery. That’s what really impacted my demise. 

SS: It was also funny to hear you say on “Untucked” that your acrylics were getting in the way of your notebook. 

BSC: Oh yeah. We never had a dress rehearsal for the challenge, so I didn’t even think about the notebook being affected by having nails and turning the pages. So, here I am, trying to be head-to-toe ready and I have these long nails. In the moment, I’m thinking ‘oh my gosh, you didn’t think about the stupid nails!’ 

SS: I am not being facetious, turning pages even without acrylic nails on is genuinely difficult for me. 

BSC: Yes!

SS: With the acrylics, I can’t even imagine!

BSC: It was ridiculous. 

DT: You got some feedback that your material was too mean. It was odd, because the challenge walked the line between stand-up and a roast. What was your reaction to that criticism?

BSC: Yeah, we were told just do your best, fun, stand-up, five minute…it could be a roast, it could be stand-up, a story you want to tell, an anecdote, it could be about anything at all. I had done a lot of preparing and planning for All Stars, so I had written a skeleton roast where I could plug in specific jokes. I knew there had been roast challenges before, so I was like ‘oh, I already have a lot of material prepared, how can I best organize this into a five minute stand-up?’ I wanted to really roast Ross, I thought that would be fun. And then I just wanted to roast everybody, because I’m not known to be a mean roast-y type queen. I thought it would add a really fun juxtaposition of who I am as a person. 

SS: So, later we’re treated to Miz Cracker lip syncing to Reba McEntire.

BSC: You mean the song where she didn’t know any of the words? 

DT: Something tells me you would have known all of the words to “Fancy.” 

BSC: Yeah, I knew all the words. Because I was prepared for every lip sync. 

SS: Is this you coming out as a country queen? 

BSC: No! I’m a Reba McEntire stan, though. I love Reba McEntire. I was obsessed with the ‘Reba’ show growing up.

SS: Me too!

BSC: Literally, it helped shape my childhood. I had never memorized ‘Fancy’ before knowing that it was going to be the lip sync song. I made sure that I memorized every single lip sync song to a T before every single challenge, especially this one because I knew it was the top four and I thought maybe Ru would want to see us all lip sync for shits and giggles, because what if we all did really well in the challenge? Before going into the challenge, I felt very confident. The other three are known for being funny, so I thought maybe they’d want us all to lip sync. I knew the words really well. 

DT: I’m sensing some disdain for Miz Cracker coming from you, Blair. Were you pulling for her in the lip sync and did you think she might save you?

BSC: Oh, I knew none of the girls were going to save me. I knew that because I bombed so badly and I was willing to accept that, that I was going to go home. But I was also not willing to give up, so I was not going to vote for myself. I believe in myself. I’m willing to fight. So I was not willing to pick my own lipstick. I was willing to send myself home.  I had to pick somebody and the only reason I picked Jujubee was because she’s such a good friend of mine and I knew that the other girls were most likely going to vote for me and she would forgive me for picking her lipstick. After the competition was said and done, I knew she would forgive me. I have no disdain for Miz Cracker. There’s no hostility or hard feelings. But I do feel that she probably felt a little satisfied getting the chance to be the one to send me home. 

DT: I’m from the Midwest originally and I want to get your read on how drag has evolved in the middle of the country. You’re from Indiana, Jaida Essence Hall just won “Drag Race” and is from Milwaukee, there are queens like Nina West and Crystal Methyd who are from the Midwest. Even since your first appearance on the show, it feels like drag is being accepted as more of an art form in those places. Has that been your experience?

BSC: It’s absolutely so much more accepted today than it ever was before. I have family from Bloomsburg [Pennsylvania] and they just passed a law that says drag can no longer be banned. 

DT: Wow!

BSC: I’ve been asked to be on different radio stations and different TV stations in my hometown of Indianapolis and, knowing that I was a really performative person before “Drag Race” in the theater community, people are like ‘I didn’t understand drag, but I understand it now.’ It’s just a person’s sense of creativity and art being expressed in another way. I think people are just more willing to love and understand who I am. 

SS: It’s been incredible talking to you Blair. We can set up a separate call where we talk through ‘Reba’ episodes. 

BSC: [laughs] For sure!

Daniel Trainor is writer, podcaster, son and friend from Los Angeles, California. Originally from Michigan, his love for all things pop culture started early, once using pancakes to bribe his way onto the Oscars red carpet bleachers with his mother. In addition to writing for AwardsWatch, he is an huge sports fan and hosts the LGBTQ sports podcast “Same Team.” One day, he hopes Jane Krakowski will win an Emmy.

Sam Stone is a writer and actor based in Brooklyn, New York. He writes humor, culture, and travel among other things, and spends his free time reading about all those things. You can find him on twitter @sam_the_stone or on Instagram @samstone000.

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