Interview: ‘Drag Race All Stars 5’ queen Mayhem Miller is ready to get back to her true self
Mayhem Miller entered “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” just over two years removed from her appearance on season 10. Despite her own high hopes, her All Stars run was uneven and fraught with controversy.
Mayhem spoke to Daniel Trainor and Sam Stone about the shock she felt about being eliminated, her refusal to fight to stay in the competition, the disagreement she had with Carson & Michelle on the runway and why she doesn’t regret voting for Shea Couleé to get sent home.
AwardsWatch: Hi Mayhem! How are you?
Mayhem Miller: I’m blessed and beautiful!
AW: Thanks for being here. We’re excited to talk to you.
MM: Oh, thank you for joining me and asking me questions and stuff!
AW: For the second week in a row, you were on a two-person team during the Maxi Challenge. Do you think that had an impact on your performance and what was your reaction to being given that fate again?
MM: It’s a good thing and a bad thing, I guess, depending on what the challenge is and what the roles are within it. With me and Blair [St. Clair], we had so much fun because I love working with Blair and we vibe really well with each other and that showed. Working with India [Farrah], I had an amazing time working with her! I had a great time with it. For me, the less people, the better. Other situations in life? Hey, more the better! When it comes to the challenges, you can just give me one other person and I’m good.
AW: Sometimes a one-on-one is all you need. For the second week in a row, too, we had an improv challenge. Were you expecting this many improv challenges when you signed up for All Stars?
MM: Yes! [laughs] I now know what the gig is over there at Drag Race. They want you to think on your toes and make a fool out of yourself. So, I was very prepared for those things to be thrown my way.
AW: It seemed like you and India really did enjoy the process. You guys seemed surprised to be in the bottom. What went through your mind when you found out you were?
MM: Rigga Morris! [laughs] I needed to speak to someone’s manager. I wanted to be a Karen. I really strongly believe that me and India did great. I was very surprised that we were in the bottom. I never expect to ever be the winner, but I know I wasn’t bad! I definitely was shocked.
AW: It was an interesting judging session. There was some tension between you and Carson [Kressley] and then you and Michelle Visage. What was going on with that?
MM: It was a battle between old, cunty queens. I was like ‘why am I in the bottom?,’ so I was already upset. They were letting me have it about my appearance and the way I look. I’m already on guard. So I was like ‘you know what…I don’t care no more!’ I’m not going to hold back, I’m actually going to let my emotions speak for themselves. People know my face doesn’t hide my emotions. I was just being in the moment and hurt by what was going on, and also pissed off.
AW: Some of the other queens criticized you a little bit for not fighting enough to stay. It seems like you were very resigned to your fate. How do you respond to the critique that you should have fought harder for yourself?
MM: I know my sisters and I know that they wanted me to fight harder to remain in the competition because they knew that I probably deserved to be there and that I had more to give. But they respected my wishes at the end of the day. I was comfortable with whatever was going to happen. I was like ‘you know what, I’m tapping out.’ I was not going to campaign against my scene partner. I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I stand firm in believing that we did great and didn’t deserve to be in the bottom. I wasn’t going to campaign against her. I would rather say ‘I tap out.’
AW: Going back a week, do you stand by your decision to send Shea Couleé home?
MM: Oh, I stand by my decision! At the end of the day, Mariah [Paris Balenciaga] is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other for over ten years. When she first moved to LA from Atlanta, we were inseparable. We still are inseparable. I used to hang out with Mariah a couple of times a week. I don’t think a lot of people realize how close we really are. I would never vote my sister off that show because I know her heart and I know her talent. I know her range of greatness. So, that was a definite no. India, I made a deal with her! We were going to have each other’s backs. I was not going to go back on my word with her. That’s not who I am. I told that girl ‘I got you, you got me.’ What would it look like if I was like ‘just kidding?!’ No, that was not going to happen. That left Shea. So that was my only option. I love Shea to death and I think she’s an amazing entertainer, a great queen. But that’s all I was left with.
AW: How much dealmaking is going on behind the scenes? We get hints of it, but is it happening more than we might think?
MM: [laughs] I don’t know, maybe…
AW: We’re not trying to get you in trouble here! Just looking for a little dirt.
MM: We are all friends outside of this. We are all very well acquainted. Do I believe some people may have had some love for each other and they kept it throughout the competition? Probably. [laughs] I honored my decision that I made with India. I was just going to hold steady with that.
AW: Were you shocked when RuPaul announced two winners for the lip sync or were you like ’this is Drag Race, I’ve done this before…?’
MM: I was definitely like ‘well, we all know this is Drag Race!’ But, I already knew that I was going to go home. I had made peace with it. I asked for them to do it, and they honored it.
AW: What are you up to post-Drag Race? It’s such an unprecedented time, especially for the drag community. You rely so much on being in front of crowds and getting that adulation. How difficult has this transition been for you?
MM: It’s terrible! We need the applause, we live for it! To be blatantly honest, I have taken this time away as time for growth as a person outside of my drag persona and being the queen of the party. I felt, for many years, that I neglected myself in the name of advancing in my career. This break and departure from drag has been a blessing in disguise. It’s given me time to continue to grow as a person as my true self, Dequan.
AW: That’s really great to hear! Thanks so much for taking some time today, we really appreciate it.
MM: I appreciate you guys, thank you so much!