A Conversation About Everything and Nothing With Trixie and Katya
Katya Zamolodchikova and Trixie Mattel are the hosts of the smart, poignant, and totally unscripted series UNHhhh. They also happen to be international drag superstars. Both queens appeared in the 7th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drag Race All Stars. Today, Mattel and Zamolodchikova are celebrating the sixth season of their wildly popular show, as well as the order of three more seasons—90 episodes in total, on World of Wonder’s streaming platform WOW Presents Plus. Outside of the show, Mattel is a full-blown country star; she’s releasing Full Coverage later this month, an EP of covers, including a collaboration with the queer cowboy Orville Peck. Zamolodchikova, meanwhile, is releasing Vampire Fitness Remix, out Friday, featuring a song with the Italian rapper M¥SS KETA. In the midst of a booked and busy week for the super drag entertainers, they found time to speak with Interview about everything and nothing.
ERNESTO MACIAS: How are you both doing today?
KATYA ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: We’re doing well. How are you?
TRIXIE MATTEL: We’re disgusted by the systematic flaws in this country and the way it does not protect all people, and also the way that the people celebrate and worship fame and money, but otherwise I’m fine.
MACIAS: Period. I wasn’t prepared for that one.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Neither was I…
MATTEL: Ernesto, you better get prepared. You are not ready. Get ready, because the diva and the doll are ready to spill!
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Get ready, because this sickening doll diva is here.
MATTEL: Ernesto, if you didn’t think it was going to get fierce, well honey, we’ve got some surprises for you!
MACIAS: Great energy. If you would indulge me, what is the original story behind the name of the show?
MATTEL: It’s actually from Norse mythology. And way back then, it was a term that was a colloquial term to describe when a woman’s menses would last more than three weeks.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: We only found out about it because it was drawn on the inside, actually etched on the inside of a piece of birch bark.
MATTEL: That I found under my skin one day.
MACIAS: This is such a wonderful origin story.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Well, we had other ideas, but Saved by the Bell was taken.
MATTEL: I think the second choice was The Sopranos. That was taken. Leave it to Beaver, and then Holes.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Yeah, and then we were Nip Tuck.
MATTEL: We wanted to do something post-verbal, because we’re really the future of drag.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Looking back, I can’t tell if it helped or hurt us to have that name. At least it made people go, “What did she just say?” Like, “What is it called? How do you say it?” And then people would be in a conversation trying to do it.
MATTEL: But for the first three years she spelled it wrong, and for the next year I said it wrong. So…
MACIAS: So what is the correct spelling now and the correct way to say it?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: B-I-C-T-H. How is it really spelled?
MATTEL: Capital U, capital N, capital H, lowercase h-h-h. UNHhhh.
MACIAS: You’re going on your sixth season now. Has the concept of the show shifted?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: I think we have less of a grasp on what the show actually is now than we ever did.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: There are a few that just are really good. I try to think like, “Well why was that so good?” A lot of times we were just in that mood, and we knew very little about the topic. Also, I love small talk, or the idea of small talk, especially small talk taking center stage. So an episode about the weather is hysterical to me.
MATTEL: And showing up looking good with nothing prepared is the only thing you can count on us for.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Mama, that’s drag. That is literally the definition of drag—show up looking good and completely unprepared. You know, we joke about the lack of preparation, but I feel like we both are pretty balanced—one of us will go above and beyond, and the other of us kind of won’t.
MATTEL: She also gets ready on set listening to music, kind of vibing. I usually walk in ready.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: She shows up with her suitcase literally camera ready.
MATTEL: Who the fuck could ever take me?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: But I’ve shown up kind of trolling the audience where I’m in a ripped crop top and bugle boy jeans.
MATTEL: A nice pair of JNCOs.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: This season, I feel like I really tried to turn it because I’ve had so much time at home alone, making outfits by myself.
MATTEL: This is the season of looks, for sure.
MACIAS: You talk about this chemistry where you just show up to do the show. How easily did you get into that groove? Was it natural or did you have to work on it a bit?
MATTEL: Nothing about this has ever felt natural.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Or easy. There’s just not a lot to talk about. The more we know each other, we kind of run out of stories.
MATTEL: And she’s got four jokes. That is the problem, Ernesto. We’re at the point where we’re like, “Well, we’ve talked about the doctor. We’ve never talked about the waiting room!”
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: “What about the furniture you sit on while you’re waiting for the doctor? Can we talk about that?”
MATTEL: I’ll say this. I find there are a lot of people who think that it’s somehow scripted, which I find as a compliment. And some people even say like, “Oh my god, you must think about those opening lines all the time.”
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Never. Have you ever noticed how many of them aren’t that great?
MACIAS: What do you hope that people get out of this new season?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: That we’re fly, hot, sexy, and beautiful. Oh, I would like a boyfriend.
MATTEL: She’s looking for love.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: I want to ask you something, Trixie. What’s my birthday? I want month, date, and year.
MATTEL: It’s next Saturday.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: I want month, date, and year.
MATTEL: It’s May 1st.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: What’s the year? And don’t you dare Google it.
MATTEL: Your birthday’s May 1st, 1984.
MATTEL: Damn bitch, you live like this? That’s her birthday. Do you know mine?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: August 23rd, ’89.
MATTEL: Stacy, did Frederica ever mention a… a Jame Gumb or a Jamie Gumb? What about a John Gumb?
MACIAS: What are both your opinions on low-rise jeans?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: Oh, I won’t give you an opinion, but I’ll give you a very short story. I’ll never forget—I went into a basement-level coffee shop on Newbury Street in Boston, this really cute hipster-y coffee shop. It must’ve been about 2004. I saw a woman, a 20-something woman, very beautiful, sexy, hot and fly, a blonde girl. She was wearing jeans that I swear to god, I looked, were maybe a half-inch zipper and then the button. And I saw her entire immaculately shaved mons pubis, and what I assumed to be maybe the first millimeter of her vagina, of her labia. It was incredible.
MATTEL: I like it. Like Christina Aguilera, Stripped, of course. I think of high school, and I think of really low-rise jeans. I remember sitting in class in rows of desks, and this is what you see. [Demonstrates bent-over position on her chair]. It was just kind of a lot. Three inches of crack. No matter how hot you are, that’s not, like, a hot part of someone’s body.
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: If anything, especially on a traditional woman’s classical aesthetic shape, you want a high-waisted jean. Because you don’t want to cut the shape of the hip at a very unflattering and not really geometrically interesting level.
MATTEL: I think of Degrassi when Emma’s like, “I can’t see your panties.” And I think it was Manny who said, “It’s because I’m not wearing any.” It was a big high school drama that she was wearing no panties, no bra. My whole cultural experience is like a moldering of Showtime and HBO movies and television from the ’90s and early 2000s. So there you go.
MACIAS: What about straight men manscaping?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: I say do it. I mean, I’ve had a lot of sex with straight-identified men, especially in drag. And personally, my favorite genre of straight man is the Guido or the townie, for lack of a better word. They always pay incredible attention to that area. The grooming is next level. I appreciate it, because straight men are not necessarily known for the attention to detail of their, you know…
MATTEL: Who is telling these straight men that shaved off everything looks good?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: That’s what the government wants you to think. It’s crazy how many straight guys have shaved dicks. But on the other hand, I would love to let straight men know that shaving your asshole doesn’t mean that you’re gay.
MATTEL: There are straight men who think wiping makes them gay.
MACIAS: An important message. What about drinking water?
MATTEL: We love to drink water. I knew water from back in the clubs in Boston. I loved her then, I love her now. She’s come such a long way. I’m so proud of her for being in the top four, and I hope she wins.
MACIAS: Bratz dolls.
MATTEL: Controversial. It’s very controversial because MGA Entertainment who makes the Bratz doll, the gentleman who invented the Bratz doll invented it while he was working at Mattel. And so there’s been a decade-long ongoing legal battle, because if you invent a toy at a toy company and leave, the toy company still owns your shit. He actually pitched Bratz doll at Mattel and they said no, so when he left Mattel he was like, “Fine, I’m making Bratz dolls.” And Mattel was like, “But you made that up at our building so that’s our idea.” So it’s very crazy.
MATTEL: That being said, I did like that they were kind of ethnically ambiguous. Not all white, they were kind of curvy. The clothes were cool. I don’t like that the shoes come off at the ankle, the whole foot comes off. I mean they were kind of a fad. There’s a reason Barbie will endure. Is that the answer you were looking for?
ZAMOLODCHIKOVA: I love this energy. [Laughs]