As a journalist, an interview normally means turning up to some mundane location like an office unit, conference room, back seat of a car (don’t ask), then rattling off a few questions while you pretend to be enthralled, nod in all the right places, plan dinner in your head before shaking hands with the person then going about your day (if anyone I’ve interviewed in the past is reading this – I’m not referring to you, of course).
When I interviewed Alaska in her hotel room she was splayed across the bed like it was a chaise lounge, kicking her legs around like the girl waiting by the telephone for the boy to call on a Friday night.
We interviewed for about an hour then spent the rest of the afternoon watching awful daytime television together and chatting. It didn’t matter that I had deadlines and dinner waiting – who cares about deadlines when you’re watching Come Dine With Me in bed with Alaska?
Alaska's debut album arrives this summer – see http://www.alaskathunderfuck.com for news on the album and to see if she’s coming to a city near you.
You’re here in the UK so the most important question is: what do you think of our boys?
AT: We were just walking around in Manchester today and we noticed there’s a lot of, like, really nice-looking gingers, which is nice, and then Willam got a soda called Gingerella which I think would be a really good drag name.
Are you into gingers?
AT: I think all men are nice looking.
British men are mostly uncut – are you a foreskin fan?
AT: Sure – I think it’s great. I don’t mind it, I think it’s nice. I think if it’s like if I like the person it’s attached to, it’s nice.
So you’re a feelings person – not a massive whore like Willam?
AT: Well I can’t comment on Willam’s proclivities, but I can say for myself that I believe in hearts not parts.
How did AAA come about?
AT: Jonny Szymanski, who’s the director of special projects from American Apparel, sent me an email and asked me if I wanted to do an ad campaign for American Apparel and I was like ‘yeah…obviously, yes, I would love to’ so we did it.
Was the group part of that?
AT: It was sort of Willam’s idea. It was such a great opportunity and it was like, we wanted to get as much bang from our buck out of it as we could so we were like ‘why don’t we make a song and we can make a video and then hopefully we can tour with it a little bit?’ and so it all just worked out really well and people really responded to it and so here we are -- we’re in the UK dahhhling.
Are there plans for another single or an album?
AT: I don’t know about an album but there’s more stuff coming. I like to be really surprising about things, but yeah there are more things -- there are more things coming.
What’s it like travelling with Willam and Courtney?
AT: It’s really nice but the thing is when you travel with other drag queens, I mean for myself I tend to get really jealous of like, really trivial things -- for example: Courtney today got a corner room in the hotel and she has a couch and like, we’re in my hotel room right now and there’s no couch; it’s like really tiny and there’s a tiny window. It’s really nice but this is the thing – you have other people to compare it to when you’re with other queens and it’s like ‘oh, well why did I get the aisle seat and not the window seat?’. It’s so stupid but aside from that it’s nice – it’s nice to have company – it’s nice to do a show with other queens that are your friends.
Are you the Beyoncé of the group?
AT: No, absolutely not – I’m like the LaTavia of the group. I think they’re gonna replace me with a model at some point but it hasn’t gotten to that point yet.
What is it that makes you endearing when a lot of others from Drag Race have faded into the background?
AT: I think it’s a mixture of things. Luck has a lot to do with it of course because if the timing matches up and you do well on the show then people get to see more of you and they get to know more of you – that’s really great but I also think it’s like the work that you’re willing to put into it. It is a lot of work doing what we do; we make it look easy that taking a poop but it’s actually really hard. I believe that if you have a really good work ethic and you put a lot of work into it then you can make it happen for yourself, like look at someone like Shangela -- she got kicked off first from the show but she has a huge longevity and a huge following so it just depends.
A lot of people are saying Season 7 is not all that – we have no catchphrases this season!
AT: Well darling we have ‘no tee, no shade, no pink lemonade’, we have something about flooding my basement from Ginger Minj… I mean, people are such cunts aren’t they. This is a show, brought to you by RuPaul, and it’s about drag queens and EVERY WEEK they do a different challenge and a different runway look and it’s the most stunning, amazing show that’s ever been on television so get into it. We’re so spoiled, I guess, what do you expect – it’s amazing, it’s amazing…go back and re-watch it bitch, it’s good!
Who are your Season 7 favourites?
AT: I was really pulling for Miss Fame because she’s one of the queens that I met really early on in the process like before the show even started and I was just so enamoured with her. She has this look that’s really striking but it’s her personality; she’s like this goofy, weird kid from the farm which you don’t see from her YouTube videos. I’m really into Miss Fame – I think she’s amazing – but she's not on the show any more. Who do I want to win? I think I’m Team Violet and I never thought that at the beginning but she’s grown on me like a fungus!
Do you think a lot of the show is changed in editing?
AT: Everything that happens on there actually happens, but you can transform how people respond to things really easily with things like music and soundtrack; if I make a joke with you and everybody laughs then it’s a joke but if I make a joke but then you can play serial killer music behind it then I’m gonna look like an evil person – like Courtney Act.
Is any of the show scripted?
AT: Scripted? Noooo. You’d have to hire writers for that – these are drag queens, they’ll make it up themselves.
Are the emotional stories we see in the show all true?
AT: When you’re in that process, your emotions bubble to the surface very quickly because you’re over-worked, you’re stressed out, you’re under-rested and you’re in a competition and the stakes are really high so it’s just a really dramatic time in your life so if there’s any issue that might be bothering you in your life it’s probably gonna come to the surface…if you’re there long enough. And if you’re not there that long then usually you make a point to bring it up so that you can share it with the world and stay on TV longer.
Do you have RuPaul’s number in your phone?
AT: No. I don’t. I’d be too scared to use it even if I did though. What would I say, what would I do – text RuPaul? You don’t text Ghandi – you worship from afar and when he reaches out to you, you respond.
Does RuPaul wash his hands of you once the show is over?
AT: No – I’m sure if I reached out to him if I needed him - if I needed something from him - I’m sure that he would be there to talk to me about it but I don’t know. I like to keep a religious distance and I think that’s ok.
Do you get tired of people greeting you with ‘hiiiii’?
AT: No, I don’t get tired of that. I get tired of people trying to take pictures in a dark room without their flash on – that’s tiring because of course I take a hundred pictures a night so this happens to me all the time, but maybe to you it doesn’t make a difference but if we’re in a dark room just turn the flash on and I will look beautiful, it’s very easy, but if you don’t have the flash on we’re going to look like mutants.
I read that Jinkx gets shit sometimes from people when she’s at airports in half drag going from show to show. Does that happen to you?
AT: I feel terrible that people would be abusive to Jinkx– she’s like my sister and I’ve travelled with her a lot because we did Battle Of The Seasons and I never noticed any trouble that she was facing in those settings. She just seems really comfortable with herself and really strong and really like all that just rolls off…’like water of a duck’s back. So that’s really sad for me to hear because I go through that all the time - whether I’m in public, whether I’m in the airport, I’m always sort of like…I stand out and I’m kind of weird – I kind of fall between typical genders so that’s hard for people to deal with. If they can’t profile you immediately then it takes them an extra second and sometimes it in that extra second they make a snap judgement and they act like a dick, so I do deal with that a lot…and it’s hard.
Have you ever been propositioned for sex by a rich Arab prince?
AT: Nooo – how can we get that to happen? Would they give me money? If I was going to sleep with an Arab prince for money I would want it to be like a million dollars….USD - then it would be like a story. It would be like he’s a really rich Arab prince; he could have any woman in the world he wants but he wanted to be with me so he gave me a million dollars. If it’s like $20 for a handjob then that’s not as good a story.
Do you get people asking to sleep with you in drag?
AT: No. No. Never, hardly ever. That’s not really the product that I’m selling, I’m not selling a like ‘ooh come and fuck me, I’m a woman’ sort of product, it’s more like bizarre and funny and weird than it is like ‘I wanna give straight guys boners all night’ – that’s not my primary intention.
Some people are saying that one episode of drag race this season, “Ru Hollywood Stories”, was a low ebb of drag as one team were simulating sex. Do you agree?
AT: If you go back and watch, not everyone took it to a crude place. Like that one team it was like Merle was the coffee table and Michelle was having tea with RuPaul or something like that and that’s funny! Crudeness is a part of what we do - look at Divine. Divine would be like ‘fuck you very much motherfuckers’ and she was like the filthiest person alive so I think drag is really enrooted in crudeness. Whatever – people in England love rude humour!
Do you have your own stalker yet?
AT: I don’t really think of them as stalkers - I just think of them as fans. It’s not stalking me if I put myself out there in the way. It’s like: ‘go buy my things on my website and go to my website and find out what city I’m gonna be in’ – that doesn’t make you a stalker, it just makes you a fan. I have tonnes of stalkers but I love them.
What would you call the royal baby?
AT: Penelope? Something cute and girly. Sharon and I were going to name our first son Travis but I like classic names, Bible names.
Do you have two lives – one as Alaska and one as Justin?
AT: Justin is like the mad scientist behind the histrionic famous woman that is Alaska so if I’m dealing something really business-ey then I will sign it as Justin. It’s like: ‘Is this a job for Justin or is this a job for Alaska?’ like the superheroes; which one are you sending on the mission.
If you go to a show and if Justin showed up instead of Alaska you’d be like ‘what the fuck did I pay this ticket price for?’ so it’s like, whose job is it? They’re intertwined and they’re one and the same. Alaska is there for you to look at and to gawk at and to what to know more about.
Do you still have the dungarees you wore in the challenge where you were in boy drag?
AT: I don’t even know whose those are – they might have been Detox’s, they might have been Roxy’s…I have no idea who they belonged to.
What’s your favourite thing about visiting the UK?
AT: I think your money’s pretty because it has the Queen on it…I love the Full English Breakfast.
Do you like Black Pudding? It’s a kind of blood sausage.
AT: Black Pudding, Blood Sausage…There’s nothing that doesn’t make me want to throw up about that phrase. I don’t eat the meat portion but everything else.
You like to stay in your room when you travel rather than hit the town?
AT: I love hotel rooms. I love room service, I love TV in hotel rooms and also travel really takes it out of you so I’m very a recharging my batteries type of person and I always have been. I’m like a cat – I need to sleep in the sunlight a lot of the day and plus I work really weird hours at night so I do just like to lay in my bed and watch TV in hotel rooms.
How do you come up with your performances?
AT: They come to me in various ways and when an idea strikes me like lightning I know I have to do it. I was hanging out in San Antonio and I don’t know what happened but for some reason someone joking said something about 'Do You Wanna Build A Snowman' and at the time I had never seen Frozen, I didn’t know the song and I was like ‘what is that – is it like a children’s song or something?’ so I looked it up and I was like ‘oh that’s great, I can do this!’.
Since appearing on Drag Race, has this changed your life on the gay scene?
AT: I can’t really just go out anymore. If I’m working and if I have all of the armour on that is Alaska, that’s what she’s there for - she’s there to draw attention to herself but for me when I’m not working I like to just sort of chill out and I can’t do that if I go out to a gay bar. It becomes a receiving line and everybody wants a picture – which is cool but I just like to chill out.
What do you do when you’re not working?
AT: I love laundry; being on the road so much it’s like a fetish because I never get to do laundry. I love making my bed, I like meditating. I love TV
Will you still be doing drag when you’re 50?
AT: I don’t see why not. I want to move behind the camera lens a little bit more as I get older; I want to produce and direct and make films but there’s no rush on that. I love being on stage, I love performing and if drag is the way to do that then sure I’ll do it until I’m 100.
Alaska has her debut album coming this summer – see http://www.alaskathunderfuck.com for news on the album and to see if she’s coming to a city near you.
You can see Alaska’s performance from later that night here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX9GvAheG2k&hd=1