Alaska Thunderfuck auditioned for the very first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but it would be four years before she finally appeared on the show under the more TV-friendly moniker of Alaska. She was easily one of the stand-out drag queens of season five, but despite a performance that kept her from having to lip sync for her life (she’s one of the few contestants in Drag Race herstory to accomplish this), Alaska finished the season as a runner-up while Jinkx Monsoon took the crown. Since then, Alaska’s had a fruitful career as a touring drag queen, social media personality, and recording artist, exhibiting a level of talent that made her an immediate front-runner when it was announced she would return for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2. She slayed the competition, winning more challenges than any other queens while giving the producers plenty of material to create a compelling dramatic narrative for her on screen. She also secured her spot in the Drag Race hall of fame when she was crowned the champion of All Stars 2 last week. Alaska spoke to The A.V. Club about her decision-making on the show, dealing with social media reactions, and what inspired her to come clean in her new confessional single, “The T.”
The A.V. Club: Did you have any hesitation about going back to Drag Race for All Stars 2?
Alaska Thunderfuck: For me, there was no question about it. It’s like, when RuPaul calls, I answer. And so, I was like, “Yes, absolutely.” I had to go back in there, and I had to do it.
AVC: Your Mae West in the Snatch Game was when you really rose to the top of the competition. What inspired that pretty risky choice?
AT: I don’t know. I think it—I mean, I’m obsessed with The Golden Girls. I thought about doing Blanche Devereaux, but I can’t do Blanche Devereaux because she’s a fictional character. So, it was like, Mae West is basically Blanche Devereaux without a Southern accent. So, it was a combination of things. But then I felt really blessed by the lord. Because when we were at the studio, there were all these posters of Mae West everywhere, because it was the studio where Mae West used to make her films in Hollywood. So, I felt like it was a very blessed moment. It was a really lucky moment.
AVC: And how did it feel to have Roxxxy Andrews do a not-that-great impression of you on the Snatch Game?
AT: Oh, I thought she’s never looked more beautiful.
AVC: [Laughs.] Why did you decide to bring Lil’ Pound Cake back? That was one of the best parts of the entire season.
AT: I’m not sure how that came to me, but it was like I was coming up with looks and ideas, because they give you a week or two to figure out what you’re going to bring to All Stars. They tell you, “Okay, you’re coming. Get ready for it.” So, I was just racking my brain trying to just think of things, and I was watching old episodes and what made an impression. I was like, “I don’t know, why not?” That little, fuckin‘ crazy pageant monster Lil’ Pound Cake.
AVC: You didn’t talk too much about your sobriety on the show. It came up when your mom visited, and you address it quite a bit in “The T.” How did being sober change the Drag Race experience this time around?
AT: Well, I mean, I’m not in the program. I’ve never been to an AA meeting. I quit drinking for, like, two years, and that really was a time when I figured out—I got to rediscover drag without being wasted onstage. I think that’s been a huge change for me. I’ll have some drinks every now and then, but not onstage. When I’m doing drag, I get to just be a pure channel for it. That’s something I really got to discover. I think it’s changed my appreciation for the art form a lot.
AVC: Social media is such an interesting double-edged sword, not just for reality TV contestants, but any sort of celebrity. How much were you considering how the world outside was going to react to your decisions while you were on All Stars? Did that come to your mind at all?
AT: I think it was a vague awareness of it, but honestly, it was like we were all there—we were fully there. For myself, I can say I was just trying to make the best decisions that I could while I was there. So, I never made any decisions out of malice or trying to fuck somebody over. I was taking the information I had, and I was making the best decision I could. I never could have anticipated the sort of social media backlash that would have come from any decision that any of us made. I wish that the people who spend so much time and energy putting snake emojis on my page—I’m sure they’re young people, and I would like to see them channel their energy into things that actually matter, like Black Lives Matter, like getting women paid an equal wage, like making sure Donald Trump does not get elected. So, that’s my wish for all the people sending me the lovely snakes.
AVC: The Rolaskatox narrative was super interesting, especially your reluctance to engage with it. When during the show’s filming did you realize that this Rolaskatox beast was reentering the picture?
AT: Well, I mean, it’s funny, because we never said those words. It’s not like we went in chanting, “Rolaskatox! Rolaskatox!” like some sort of absurd, satanic cult, but I think people drew their conclusions, because of some of the decisions that were made. I think people drew their conclusions and sort of projected that. Did I go in and say, “I have a blood-oath alliance with Roxxxy and Detox?” No, I did not. But I don’t feel like—whenever Roxxxy was in the bottom and I sent somebody else home—I didn’t think Roxxxy did the worst. So, I don’t know. Roll back the tapes, and just review the tapes and let me know.
AVC: That’s another thing that was fascinating: how the history of you three from season five gave audiences all these ideas about the intentions of your behavior. Then there’s the deception of what you see on the camera and how it’s edited together.
AT: Well, like Tatianna says, what you see isn’t always the truth.
AVC: Your new music video, “The T,” went up shortly after the finale, and it’s like one big musical confession. What compelled you to make that?
AT: It was definitely a snapshot of feelings I was having at that time. Being in show business, you have to spend a lot of time lying and being completely full of shit. So, it’s like, “No, All Stars didn’t happen. No, I know nothing about the order. No, I don’t know what happens next week.” So now I’m like, “Okay, well, it’s all out there, so let’s just get it all out there.” It totally is just a confessional. It’s just getting everybody up to speed where I’m at. It’s a snapshot of how I was feeling at that time.
AVC: How did you get all the other queens involved? Did you just ask them, and they were down for it?
AT: Yes. I asked them, and they said yes. That’s fucking amazing. It’s a testament to, like—we’re all sisters. So, whatever differences we might have had onstage and on the show, we’re there for each other, and we’ve all gone through it together.
AVC: It was interesting that there’s no Roxxxy or Detox in the video.
AT: Well, because they were off sacrificing a virgin goat as part of our Rolaskatox religion.
AVC: What’s your next step now that you’ve won All Stars? How are you trying to expand Alaska’s influence to the rest of the world?
AT: Well, as the newly crowned queen of Earth, I would like to decree that nails are optional. Heels are also optional. Flats are sexy, and Black Lives Matter. So get into it.