Few queens have gone out with as much of a bang as BenDeLaCreme did on Thursday night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season three. After winning a record fifth challenge of the season, Ben chose to bring back the queen she eliminated first, Morgan McMichaels and in exchange, eliminate herself from the competition.
It’s the kind of gag it takes you a minute to process, but you know instantly will be a legendary scene. So we wanted to get as much information about it as possible directly from the source.
INTO talked with Ben about her time on (and exit from!) All Stars, when she made the decision to eliminate herself, and why she decided Morgan McMichaels was worthy of a second chance.
INTO: You hold the record not just for most wins on a single season, but most wins of a Drag Race career, with seven, beating out Alaska who had six. Do you feel satisfied walking away with that record, if not the crown?
BenDeLaCreme (BDLC): Absolutely. If I had not been able to accomplish that, I wouldn’t have been able to make the decision that I made to walk away. It’s so satisfying. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m also the first girl to win two Snatch Games and win four [challenges] consecutively. I got to accomplish a lot. What more do you want?
Some would say $100,00, but it seems like that wasn’t top-of-mind for you.
BDLC: I started doing drag 15 years ago. There was no Drag Race. You were really lucky to get $50 to dance in a dark corner somewhere. If you started doing drag more than a decade ago, you didn’t get in it because you’re motivated by money. That’s the reality. There’s something deeper.
You’ve been openly critical of Drag Race and reality TV as a whole in the past, even telling The Stranger, “Those TV producers are willing to ruin friendships, professional relationships, feelings of self-worth all for some cheap entertainment.” But you also called yourself a Drag Race success story in your self-elimination speech. Do you think it’s possible to be critical of something, and still love it?
BDLC: When I gave that initial interview, it was in a very passionate moment, when All Stars season two, episode two had just come out, and Adore [Delano] had just been eliminated. I was feeling very upset for my friend. So yes, I would like to see entertainment less based on conflict, genuine conflict between real humans. But at the same time, that is not the only thing about Drag Race. Drag Race is also an incredible cultural force that is doing a lot of good to change the world in a current America that needs a lot of change in that direction.
It’s important to be able to love something, and respect something, and also critique it. When we get so devout that we’re not able to say, ‘I love and respect this thing, but there’s an aspect of it I don’t feel great about,’ that’s a dangerous mindset. We all have to be willing to look at ourselves and the things that we care about in that way.
So I want a tick-tock of how you made your decision to self-eliminate. When in the process of filming the episode did you know that this was what you wanted to do?
BDLC: It’s hard to remember. By the time I was sitting down on the couch with the three with Trixie, Shangela, and Kennedy I had pretty much made my decision. The decision had not occurred to me, because I wasn’t expecting to do well in that challenge, and I was not expecting to win. So it was sometime between the time that I was announced as one of the two winners of the challenge and the time I sat down with the girls. My brain had rolled through all the possible scenarios. When the idea hit, it was so clear to me that it was the right decision. It was the first time I wasn’t feeling conflicted.
You mentioned at your watch party last night that you asked Thorgy Thor for the Wite-Out when was that?
BDLC: It was during the deliberation in the moment between [deliberation] and changing outfits to go up for the lip sync. It was right when I was about to go change. I was like, ‘Thorgy, do you still have that Wite-Out in your bag from episode two?’ And she did!
Did you tell Bebe Zahara Benet what was happening when you guys were picking your lip sticks? I wondered if she might’ve seen you using the Wite-Out.
BDLC: She didn’t see anything. She was totally unaware. Literally no one knew what I was going to do. I didn’t tell anyone. The first person to find out about it was the cameraman who was looking at me while I did it. I knew if I let on, someone might try to stop me. And I knew what I wanted to do at that point.
Do you think RuPaul knows who has what lip stick in their dress during the lip sync?
BDLC: I have no idea. We’re all so busy just trying to do the challenges, I don’t have any idea about the production side. Certainly, in the episode last night, having been there, I don’t believe that any of Ru’s response was theatre. I think that she was fully gobsmacked when I showed her my lip stick.
Had you not won the lip sync, did you have plans to still quit?
BDLC: Somebody else asked this earlier today, and I was like, ‘Oh, crap, I have no idea.’ During the lip sync, I was like, ‘I have to bring this as hard as I can.’ Because what am I gonna do if I don’t win? I don’t know what I would have done. I would’ve had to fly by the seat of my pants, which is what I had been doing all season anyway.
You chose to bring back Morgan, saying you wanted to give her more of a chance to show herself. Was there any part of you that chose her as a kind of reckoning with your decision to eliminate her?
BDLC: It was the easiest choice to make because of both of those elements. I had now had an interaction with Morgan where I see her as a more fully fleshed-out queen who I understand more, and who I think has more to show and to bring. People should get to see it. And also, yeah, that was the decision that I was always the most, ‘Eh, what if I’d made a different decision on that one?’ It was an opportunity to resolve both of those things.