The run of India Ferrah on “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” season 5 was a rollercoaster.
After winning the first challenge while simultaneously dealing with a lingering feud with Derrick Barry, she seemed destined for an underdog run.
Alas, it was not meant to be. She constantly found herself in the bottom and a dramatic disagreement with Alexis Mateo surrounding the fate of Shea Couleé led to her eventual elimination.
Daniel Trainor and Sam Stone talked to India about the Alexis drama, who she really wanted to play in Snatch Game and why a friendship with the aforementioned Barry isn’t off the table.
AwardsWatch: Hi India! How are you?
India Ferrah: I’m good! I’m actually really, really good. I’m in the middle of packing. We are moving into a new house next week, so quarantine is keeping me busy!
AW: Glad to hear that! Let’s just get into it. We need to discuss the elephant in the room. You and Alexis Mateo had a disagreement about the truth. What exactly went down?
IF: I did not want to leave the competition with any dark cloud over my shoulder. I didn’t want it to be a bad experience like Season 3. Then, I left very upset and angry at myself and with a lot of stuff on my shoulders. So, few weeks prior, when Shea [Couleé] was in the bottom, Alexis and Mayhem had talked to me on the side over on the chairs. They were like ‘So, did you vote her out?’ I was like ‘What?’ They said ‘Shea! Are you voting her out?’ I said ‘No, absolutely not, she’s competition, why would I do that?’ So, I didn’t want to leave without Shea knowing that the people who were still there were claiming to be her friend. You know what I’m saying?
IF: I wasn’t trying to be a villain. I just wanted to leave my truth there so I could leave happily.
AW: Have you talked to Alexis about it since filming wrapped?
IF: Not very much. She actually lives in Las Vegas, but she works at Charlie’s and I’m pretty much just doing drag brunches. So, we haven’t talked too much about it. I wasn’t throwing her under the bus or anything. I just couldn’t sit there and see Alexis play this fake character anymore. I respect Shea so much and I wanted competition there. I respect Shea for actually sending me home because it proves she was real. Because I deserved to go home.
AW: Let’s talk about Snatch Game. It was your first time. How nervous were you and, on second thought, would you have done somebody other than Jeffree Star?
IF: Oh, absolutely! Jeffree was not my first choice by any means. My first choice was Vicki Lawrence from ‘Mama’s Family.’
AW: Why didn’t you do her?
IF: Good ol’ copyright! It’s a copyrighted character. So, sadly, I had been preparing for that and then it wasn’t an option. So I had to do a back-up, which was Jeffree.
AW: Was he somebody you had in your back pocket, or did you have to scramble?
IF: It was definitely in the back pocket, but I never wanted to really do it. He was trending at the time. This was filmed a year ago. Everybody was talking about him. So I was like ‘Hey, why not, maybe I can make it funny!’ But it was my very first Snatch Game and nerves were insane.
AW: How did you prepare yourself to play him?
IF: I printed off pictures of his make-up and stuff, I looked at his tattoos. I scrambled to get the jumpsuit together, the blonde wig with the dark roots. It was very scatterbrained. It was not planned out. It was a last minute thing.
AW: Your drag has really changed over time. There was a definite elegance to you this season. How do you think your drag has evolved and what did you bring to the show during All Stars that you hadn’t been able to previously?
IF: Well, thank you! I appreciate the kind words. Seriously. I’ve definitely grown over the years. I’ve matured. I’m 33 years old now. When I filmed Season 3, I think I was 22? I started drag when I was 12, so I’ve been in the business a long, long time. Growing and maturing has been a recent thing, probably the past six or seven years. Moving to Vegas has really shaped me into the entertainer and performer that I am. On All Stars, I was able to show my drag finally. I was able to present sickening runways and open up in challenges. I thought I did really good in the SheMZ challenge. It was fun to be able to showcase that. It was nice to be able to show the new Drag Race fandom exactly who India is.
AW: What was drag like when you were 12?
IF: It was very hush hush. You really had to know people and you had to have connections to meet other queens. You had to be in the pageant world or the ballroom scene, things like that. To get your name out there, you had to compete in pageants. Social media wasn’t a big thing back then. I believe I had MySpace and Facebook was only for college students back then? It’s so crazy.
AW: I think we need to go back to MySpace, for the record.
IF: Yes, absolutely!
AW: Were you performing in clubs at the age of 12?
IF: No, I did what we called ‘home health parties.’ They taught safe sex education. We would have a little food buffet, we would do a little drag show. It would three or four queens and we’d perform at people’s houses. It was with the Council of Community Services in Roanoke, Virginia. They’re the ones that got me started with Pride events that were outside and AIDS benefits at local colleges. I performed at random places and then clubs when I turned 18.
AW: Wow, that is not the story we typically hear about coming up in drag. That’s so interesting to learn about you.
IF: Aw, thank you.
AW: This season, it feels like the rules are changing everyday, certainly with the invention of a lip sync assassin. Did the format throw you off your game?
IF: It wasn’t the lip sync assassin that really threw me off, but the rules changing week-to-week messed with me mentally because I got to the point where, no matter what I did, I was in the bottom. I was never going to be celebrated for being good. During the SheMZ challenge, I finally broke out of my character and all the judges’ critiques were good. Then, all of a sudden it’s a bottom two instead of a bottom three and I’m like ‘well, okay.’ Every day, something was different. It was definitely mentally exhausting.
AW: As big ‘Real Housewives’ fans, we’re going to put on our Andy Cohen hats here for second. India, is there any world in which you and Derrick Barry can be friends again?
IF: Uh, I would say there’s a little bit of potential there. I have respect for him. There’s nothing that’s so bad that can’t be fixed or that we wouldn’t be able to patch up. There would just need to be a mutual level of respect.
AW: Will he be invited to the housewarming party?
IF: I’m not sure about that yet. [laughs]
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.