The Into Interview

Q&A: Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 Is The Queen of Books, Bops and Booze

If you’ve never heard of Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, are you even gay? The legendary queen, best known for competing on Season 5 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and later winning Season 2 of “All Stars,” is one of the drag industry’s hardest working artists. Her current projects include a brand new memoir, a new era of music complete with a North American tour, producing a podcast with her “Drag Race” sister Willam, and even putting her face on a bottle of vodka. INTO sat down with Alaska to dish about it all.


INTO: First, I want to talk about your memoir, “My Name Is Yours, What’s Alaska?” What inspired you to take on writing a memoir? It’s a little different from what you usually do.

ALASKA: Um, yeah, definitely. Usually I just speak in an assertive voice over electronic beats. So it was very different for me. But it was really challenging. I don’t know — doing a book was something I always wanted to do. And when it came down to what kind of book I wanted to do, I was like, “Well, I want it to have words in it. I want it to be an actual book.” And so that involved going back and going over my life over and over and making sure all the commas were in the right place and the periods. So it was like a really long therapy session. But I think it’s really good.

The cover of
The cover of “My Name’s Yours, What’s Alaska?” Courtesy of Ken Phillips Publicity Group.

INTO: Good! How did you end up deciding what to include? I mean, you can’t include everything.

ALASKA: … We did. No, we did! We included everything! It’s 36 years of life condensed into a book, but no, I didn’t really want to gloss over anything. I’m like Lisa Rinna: These lips are legendary, but they will never gloss over the truth.

INTO: In that case, what truths can your fans learn that they might not have heard from you before?

ALASKA: My favorite part of the book is the early years of starting out in drag, because I feel like a lot of people came to the party when I was on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” And not everybody knows, really, the nitty-gritty of my life before that, and discovering drag and getting into drag. We really go into it. That was a really fun part of the book to write.

INTO: Gotcha. Because of course, you rose to fame when you were cast on Season 5, but you were also a presence on “Drag Race” even before your season. You were on all the casting specials — you were auditioning from the very beginning of “Drag Race,” right?

ALASKA: Yeah. And I talk about that process as well. And how Season 1, I was scouted by the casting people for this wild new show featuring, remember RuPaul? From the ‘90s? It was like that! It was a wild time. And it’s hard to even imagine a world before “Drag Race” because it’s so the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s wild.

INTO: For sure. I also want to talk about your new music. What do you see as the vision for your “Red 4 Filth” era? How’s it different or similar from what you’ve done before?

ALASKA: Well, we went into it with a really specific vision, which was to make all the music sound and be reminiscent of the ‘90s and early 2000s, which significantly was when I started to really love music. That was when I attached to artists like No Doubt and Ace of Base and Toni Braxton, and so we’re really going into that direction. We wanted to leave no box unchecked as far as genres and sounds and styles. We put out a song called “wow,” which is the pop punk fantasy of life. We’ve got some songs like “Red” that are just super pop, almost Britney, Christina kind of moment. We’re gonna keep releasing the songs and we’re gonna cover that whole time period.

Alaska.
Photo by Albert Sanchez. Courtesy of Ken Phillips Publicity Group.

INTO: That’s very exciting. I’d love to talk more about “wow,” because I’m obsessed with the pop punk sound of it. Were you a big pop punk person in that era?

ALASKA: Oh, yeah! I mean, one of the first times I ever technically did drag was I did Avril Levine for Halloween. Angsty, dark eyeliner, socks on the arms, neck tie, come on! Ugh, I love it.

INTO: And what was the inspiration for the story of the song?

ALASKA: We were like, if we’re going to go into this pop punk direction, that’d be kinda angsty and kinda mad. So it’s a breakup song!

INTO: Gotcha. And if you had to choose a favorite lyric from the song, what would it be?

ALASKA: Oh my gosh, it’s like a quiz! No, they’re all really good. Oh, I love the visual of, “I know everything you ever did, and everyone you did it to. We’ll show up at your house and then I’ll let ‘em have a piece of you.” Like, just the visual of this person who has fucked over so many people and all the girls getting together and being like, “You know what, we’re going to this motherfucker’s house, and we’re just gonna have a party on the lawn!” Like, that was the visual in my mind when we wrote it.

INTO: And then of course, you’re touring with this as well on the “Red 4 Filth” tour. This is your first headlining North American tour, right?

ALASKA: Can you believe it? I’ve been all over the world doing drag. But this is my first official headlining, getting in a bus with dancers, going to a whole bunch of cities all across North America. We’re starting in January. The tickets are going fast, and the tickets are on sale. So you can go to alaskathunderfuck.com, and I’ll see you on the tour.

INTO: Naturally, naturally. And what should audiences expect from this show? What is the concert experience gonna be like?

ALASKA: Well, I want it to be like time travel. I want to feel that vibe of the ‘90s and the 2000s, and I want to take people there. So we’re gonna have dancers, we’re gonna have storytelling, we’re gonna have music, beauty, fashion, drag. 

INTO: Amazing. 

ALASKA: Yeah, and the color red is gonna be just too fucking much. Too much red.

INTO: There’s no such thing as too much red! I fucking love red. 

ALASKA: Thank you! 

Alaksa.
Photo by Albert Sanchez. Courtesy of Ken Phillips Publicity Group.

INTO: I also wanted to talk a little bit about “Race Chaser,” your podcast with Willam where you recap seasons of “Drag Race” — you two are covering Season 7 now, right? 

ALASKA: Yeah, we are. You know, there’s like 45 versions of “Drag Race” on around the world at any given time. But we’re like, you know what, let’s talk about the old seasons, ‘cause that’s what we like to do.

Just thinking back, at the time, Season 7 was sort of the cursed season. Everyone was like, “Ahh, ‘Drag Race’ is over, this is horrible, this is the worst season ever!” And now you look at it, and you’re like, no, some of the biggest names of ‘Drag Race’ came out of Season 7, and ‘Drag Race’ is still going strong after all these years. So it’s fun to go back into it. 

INTO: I was also wondering, of the seasons you’ve covered prior to this, which one was your favorite to dive back into?

ALASKA: We just did Season 6, and oh my god. Talk about too many talented icons. Laganja. Gia. Trinity K. Bonet. Not to mention the Final Four! I mean, Bianca, Adore, Courtney Act, Darienne Lake — literally every person on that season was an icon. It was too stacked.

INTO: An amazing season. Is there anything else you’ve been working on recently?

ALASKA: I guess vodka.

INTO: There’s always vodka!

ALASKA: There really is. (Mrs. Kasha Davis voice) “There’s always time for a cocktail!” We just did this project called Serv Vodka, where a bunch of drag queens got together and said, “How come drag queens have never put their face on vodka? It really goes hand in hand.” So it’s called Serv. The vodka is really good. Everybody has a different flavor. My flavor is unflavored, because I like the taste of vodka.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Alaska (@theonlyalaska5000)

INTO: I saw these ads on Instagram when you all posted about it, and I thought, “Wow, unflavored. How dramatic.”

ALASKA: It tastes like alcohol!

INTO: I’ll say, when I was getting ready for this interview, I was like, “Damn, this bitch has so many fucking projects!” How do you manage?

ALASKA: Jeez Louise. I don’t know! I’m gonna take a vacation in like five years. It’s gonna be great.

“My Name’s Yours, What’s Alaska?” is available now from Chronicle Books. Tickets for the “Red 4 Filth” tour are also on sale now.

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