The Drag Race alum tap dances in ‘Little Baby Beauty Queen’, a twisted take on stage moms from Jawbreaker director Darren Stein
Despite looking like they’ve stepped out of an advert for Saint Laurent Paris, Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy of rock band Deap Vally met in a crochet class in LA. Not only did they bond over loop stitches, the pair found common ground in their love of rock’n’roll. With their first album, 2013’s Sistrionix, Deap Vally tore up the girl rock rulebook. Now they fill the void left by bands like Hole and L7. Their brand of rock is both growly and unashamedly feminist.
For their recently released follow-up, Femejism, they take that one step further. The duo tapped the director of Jawbreaker and G.B.F., Darren Stein, to lend his sugary schadenfreude to their video for the single “Little Baby Beauty Queen”. The video stars RuPaul’s Drag Race season seven favourite Trixie Mattel, dolled up in her signature borderless cotton candy lips and mile high blonde wig.
A mash-up of 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and the unsolved mystery of American beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, “Little Baby Beauty Queen” is the story of a young girl and her overbearing mum, who coerces her into the limelight. Trixie channels the Ramsey-like daughter, tap dancing for their trailer park neighbours and working on her tan against her will. The ending is left ambiguous, but it’s a visceral display of trailer park savagery that fits well with the brash, feedback-filled sound of Deap Vally. Here, Trixie Mattel discusses working on the video, meeting legendary Alien actress Veronica Cartwright, and how she felt about Alaska slithering her way to the crown of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 2.
How did you end up working on “Little Baby Beauty Queen”?
Trixie Mattel: I met Darren Stein at DragCon, which is a drag convention. I know his work because Jawbreaker was part of the formative years of my life with that movie on loop. I mean life changing. So when I met him I was in drag and I literally, on this pink carpet, in front of God and everyone, fell down to my knees and grabbed his hand and was like, ‘Oh my God, Jawbreaker affected me strongly. You were so great, thank you for creating that.’ Then we became friends and I got a call from him because he got my number from a friend. He said, ‘I’m working on this video for Deap Vally and it’s a JonBenét Ramsey type of story.’ Any time anyone wants me to put on a corset and a wig in the sunlight in California in a trailer park, I say yes – that’s my rule.
JonBenét Ramsey? Like the unsolved mystery of the 6-year-old beauty queen who was murdered?
Trixie Mattel: Yeah. I was very strongly influenced by JonBenét Ramsey because I was young. I’m 27, so when she was in the papers, I was a little too young to really read what had happened. But I knew that this beautiful young girl that looked like a Barbie doll was on every single news article and I was like wow, she’s so famous but I didn’t know why because I couldn’t really read.
Darren explained to me that Veronica Cartwright’s character was based on a sort of crazy stage mum and you were a Baby Jane type character. Did he go into that with you?
Trixie Mattel: Yeah, pretty much. He was like, ‘Whether or not you actually enjoy being a performer is irrelevant because it’s all about your mum controlling you and trying to make you into something.’ She has that intensity. You know, like she has those big beautiful blue eyes and she’s kind of scary. Like between scenes, I was talking to Darren and I was like ‘Veronica’s scary.’
“You can’t just look cool in drag, you have to also be good at something […] Bianca Del Rio doesn’t do kick flips, you know what I mean?” – Trixie Mattel
Veronica Cartwright’s career is incredible. Did you quiz her on some of her famous roles?
Trixie Mattel: No, I didn’t want to bring it up. I try not to. Whenever I work with famous people, I start to picture people naked. I try to forget that that person is that person and that’s the only way I can get through it. Anytime I work with RuPaul I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a statue.’ She looks so perfect and tall and beautiful. I saw Dolly Parton at the Hollywood Bowl and we didn’t meet or anything, but I was watching from on stage, and it took me until halfway through the show to be like, ‘That’s really Dolly Parton! That’s not someone else.’ Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, for sure.
Trixie Mattel: Maybe I’ve worked in drag too long. I’m like, ‘That’s not the real person.’ Like if I saw Cher, I’d probably be like, that’s Chad Michaels.
What was it about Deap Vally that really made you want to get involved?
Trixie Mattel: Well I love the Donnas, I love Heart, I love Veruca Salt. I love chick rock bands and when I started listening to Deap Vally I was so into it. Plus, if you could see those girls in real life. Oh my god! They’re actual rockstars. Once the stylist got a hold of them and they were in full hair and makeup and the costumes, I was like, ‘Woah, you guys are real celebrities.’
Also, shout out to that hot ginger guy with no shirt ironing in the background if you haven’t caught that yet.
I need to go back and watch again.
Trixie Mattel: Big ginger daddy who’s all muscular and ironing his t-shirt in the background.
And you never got his number?
Trixie Mattel: No, come on. You can’t get numbers when you’re dressed like a carnival clown. It’s terrible.
Do you think it’s important for drag queens to have talent?
Trixie Mattel: You can’t just look cool in drag, you have to also be good at something. Or if you’re Bob (the Drag Queen), you don’t have to look cool, you can just be good at something. I think drag is all about celebrating drag queens for what they can do. So if you’re going to be Carmen Carrera you can be the most beautiful naked drag queen in the world. Or if you’re going to be a Courtney Act, she’s not hilarious, she’s a pop singer. So celebrate people for what they’re good at. Bianca Del Rio doesn’t do kick flips, you know what I mean?
Can you do a split?
Trixie Mattel: I can’t split. I can’t death drop. I can’t drag queen for shit, I’m worthless.
I always get so nervous watching queens do a death drop.
Trixie Mattel: Well Kennedy Davenport told me that the reason you can do it is because she wears those big hairs and pads so you kind of fall on the padding of your butt and your wig; that’s what breaks the fall.
That makes so much sense.
Trixie Mattel: There is a YouTube video of a drag queen doing a death drop and she knocks herself out. It’s pretty cool. They think she’s kidding and she keeps trying to stand up and she’s so dizzy from being knocked out that she keeps falling over. And the audience is laughing because they think it’s a bit. It’s pretty cool. But I did get to tap dance in the video so that was cool.
“I don’t even think Katya thought she was going to win. She didn’t. She was like, ‘It’s Alaska, she did the best.’ You know, if it’s an actual sport, why should the person with the second most points get first prize?” – Trixie Mattel
Why weren’t you asked to be in RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 2?
Trixie Mattel: I don’t know. I was bummed at first but I’ve already lost Drag Race twice, I don’t need another one.
How did it feel to watch Katya lose out to Alaska Thunderfuck?
Trixie Mattel: Well it’s weird because Katya and I are very, very publicly close friends. People come up to me and ask, ‘Aren’t you bummed? She was robbed.’ And I’m like, ‘Why would you say that?’ Trashing another drag queen is never a way to get like close to me. Like that’s never, it’s possible to root for two at one time. It’s possible to be happy with either outcome. Just because people are mad when Kim chi didn’t win or mad when Ginger didn’t win. People love to flip their shit about who didn’t win. It’s like, why don’t you just be happy for who did win?
But, people watch that show, do you love Katya because she did the best in the challenges or do you love her because of what she said out of drag in the interview room? Which one of those things would make you a winner? Like, pay attention to which person actually won the most challenges. Alaska. I don’t even think Katya thought she was going to win. She didn’t. She was like, ‘It’s Alaska, she did the best.’ You know, if it’s an actual sport, why should the person with the second most points get first prize?
I read somewhere that you have a Buffy the Vampire statue?
Trixie Mattel: Oh my god how did you know? well I have some figurines yeh, because I used to be very obsessed. I have Buffy, I have Angel, I have Giles, I have another Buffy, I have Willow, I have Faith, Spike. They’re in a box, this was in high school, this was like 10 years ago. Let me live.