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Mayhem Miller Talks Being a Black Queen, Authenticity and ‘Celebrity Skin’

Mayhem Miller certainly created mayhem during her stint on Drag Race. She won the season’s very first maxi challenge and stunned with a totally original glove-inspired “Drag on a Dime” look. In her very first lip sync, she absolutely slayed to Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” in a stunning pink and black feather gown.

Unfortunately, Mayhem’s time on the show was cut short on the season’s fifth episode, where queens displayed their improv chops on a fictional daytime talk show, Bossy Rossy.

INTO caught up with Mayhem after her elimination and discussed the heavy expectations on her after the first episode and what it means to see so many black queens walk into the workroom.

You came out really strong out of the gate! Did you feel the weight of expectations after winning the very first week?

Um, not really. Of course, I was excited that I took the first win of the season, and I felt like I cemented my presence in the competition right out the gate, so I was cool with that. But I don’t feel like I needed to continue at that level because I feel I always present at that level.

How many times had you tried out for Drag Race prior to making it on the show?
It’s weird because I think it’s been countless. I can’t even remember how many times exactly, but ever since Season 2.

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Ever since you saw Morgan McMichaels on the show?
Ever since all those bitches made it on the show before me, I’ve been trying. [laughs]

You really slayed that lip sync for “Celebrity Skin,” and so many people loved it. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t expect you to be able to turn out that kind of song. What was your approach to that?
Um, you know it’s funny you say that because no one’s asked that. I was excited to do that song, and the one thing about Drag Race that I do like is if you’re in the bottom, that’s your opportunity to show the world how good of an entertainer you are. And I was like, “OK, I’m in the bottom and it’s a song I’m pretty sure a lot of people would not expect me to turn out, but they obviously don’t know my drag.” So now I’m like, “Now it’s time to do it up!” As soon as that beat dropped, I didn’t care what I was going to have to do; I was ready to show the world that I’m a fierce drag queen.

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What was the advice Morgan McMichaels gave you before you went on the show?Morgan, knowing me for almost 20 years now, and I think her journey with Drag Race and All Stars,the best advice she gave me, as well as everyone else I’m friends with who are my family, was to be myself. They all encouraged me to stay true to me and to enjoy my time there. And embrace the whole experience, because you get this moment and within no time it’s over. So it was the best advice I got from her and everyone else, was to be yourself, because it was like, “Hey, we all love you, and now it’s time for the world to fall in love with you.” Don’t go with trying to be a character.

Have you spoken to her or anyone in your family since your elimination?
Well, luckily Morgan took off work last night and watched last night at with me at my viewing party, and I’ve spoken to Delta today and Detox today. I ran into Jinkx in the airport today and she congratulated me on doing really well in the competition. The consensus across the board with my friends was that my heart and the essence of who I am was well represented.

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Your season has had more queens of color, especially black queens, than have been on the show in a long time. What was it like to get to share that experience with so many other black queens?
It was very shocking for me because you know, when you watch the show, you know there’s not always going to be a lot of representation of queens of color. And so when one came through then another one it was like, “Oh my God, this is going to be awesome.” A lot of people think, especially when it comes to black queens, they think all black queens are the sameone note, we all do the same thing. Now the world gets to see that we all are different. We’re like fingerprints, all different, and bring a totally different vibe to the stage.

During this week’s Untucked, Asia O’Hara said that she felt that she had not felt that fire from you the way she saw it in some other contestants. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Um, you know what? No, I didn’t think it was a fair assessment. I think a lot of the girls saw me as competition, and they were afraid of me being there longer than I made it. If you notice with the selection of group challenges, I was always being picked toward the last because they didn’t want me to progress in the competition, because they knew how fierce I was. When I felt the girls weren’t feeling me, it was like, “Well, I guess i’ll be a lone ranger for the time there.” There was fire there, they wouldn’t even give me a chance to show my fire.

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I’m sure everything feels so fresh right now, but a lot of people want to see you return for All Stars 4. Would you consider an invitation?
If they ask, I’m doing it.

Who did you get closest to during your time on the show?
I was really cool with The Vixen because we got ready together every day and in my corner it was me, her, Eureka, and Aquaria until Vixen ran Aquaria off. But those are girls I’d talk to everyday. I felt comfortable with them and felt a connection with them.

Who would you have done if you were on Snatch Game?
I’m going to hold that a secret just in case I make it to season 4 of All Stars.


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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