“Everyone needs to feel pussy bitch. Are you feeling your pussy, bitch?”
Earlier this year, Bebe Zahara Benet left fans mother-tucking gooped and gagged when she became the first crowned queen to return for another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, undeniably a massive risk due to her position in the Emmy-winning show’s Hall of Fame.
Week after week, the Cameroon queen reminded us of the C.U.N.T. that won her the coveted title of America’s Next Drag Superstar nine years ago. She may have not snatched a second crown on All Stars 3 – because of that questionable final twist – but honey, she provided fans with one of the most iconic and sickening moments in Drag Race HERstory. “Ra-ka-ta-ti-ti-ta-ta, yeah I’m pussy bitch!” – need we say more? “C’est bon, c’est bon!” Sorry, we had to…
The success of her Drag Up Your Life verse inspired Bebe to turn the insanely quotable moment into a solo assault on the charts with her fierce new single, Jungle Kitty, one of the best singles – and videos – from a Drag Race contestant ever.
Here, Gay Times sit down for a hilarious, in-depth T-spilling session with the legendary queen. We discuss her experience on All Stars, passionate fans, Ornacia, her upcoming documentary, and whether she’ll appear for a third time on that rumoured winners’ season. See? In-depth.
Hi Bebe! Are you feeling pussy bitch?
Honey, I wake up in the morning feeling very pussy bitch, okay? It’s a state of mind. You have to get up and arm yourself in the morning before you get out and deal with the world. So you better be feeling your pussy, bitch! Everyone needs to feel pussy bitch. Are you feeling your pussy, bitch?
I’m feeling motherfucking pussy bitch.
Well that’s a good thing!
I just have to say, we’re still obsessed with your verse on Drag Up Your Life.
Thank you! We didn’t know it was gonna take off and go so viral like that. On Drag Race, everyone said I should be Jungle Kitty. Then I had this frame of mind, ‘What is Jungle Kitty? Who is this person?’ It allowed me to be very ferocious and very raw, and unapologetic. Something in me knew it was going to be a really cool verse, but I didn’t know that when the fans watched it they’d be like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh’. After it, we were like, ‘Okay, let’s make a full-out song, and then create a really cool video to go with it’. I hope you’re all happy, because I am very happy!
We love how self-aware it is. Why did you feel the need to call out your haters on the track?
The point is to not apologise for who you are, and what you do, and how you do it. You should not dim your light because you wanna make other people comfortable or you wanna make other people accept you. I think a lot of us do that, not just in drag, but just as human beings. We seek so much acceptance, and we will do whatever it takes to get that acceptance. We should not apologise for being unique. When I was on Drag Race season one, there was no social media. But that was all different on All Stars 3. I feel like social media is amazing because it lets us connect with our fans, and people show us love, but the downside of it is that it’s become very vicious. People go out of their way to bully the girls, and to be so hateful. I’ve been doing this for many years, and I’ve been surrounded by really good mentors, and I have a good self-awareness of who I am and my brand.
The hate got especially intense for you after Aja’s elimination…
Yeah, that’s when it got really mean. What’s sad about it is, the whole fandom didn’t understand the entire picture. Reality TV is created to entertain you, and yes I do understand that because we have this platform, people create relationships and people are inspired. But the bottom line is that the show is created to entertain. Take it for what it is. People already had issues with me coming back as a winner, and people thought I was a mole. When I started winning challenges, sending Aja home or whatever, that’s when I could feel everyone had issues with me being on the show and doing well. Like I said, I’m very self-aware and I have a foundation. The hate doesn’t bother me, but it’s so disappointing that it comes to that. When we started this journey years ago with the season one girls, this is not where I saw the fandom going. Our drag community is so small, this is what we have and this is what we need to cherish. We are ambassadors for the community and we are waving the flag, we are saying ‘We are here, this is what we do, and we are not going anywhere’. It has to change. Also, it’s funny how many emails I get from fans, apologising for being mean, which is very interesting. The turnaround is severe, honey!
Yeah, younger Drag Race fans get very, erm… passionate.
Passion is a good thing, but the younger generation now have a sense of entitlement. When you go on the show – even if they do not know who you are – before you open your mouth, they already create what kind of person they want you to be in their mind. If you do the opposite of what that is, it becomes an issue. Second of all, a lot of this generation have not gone through the history, and educated themselves on how drag culture started. Now, you can go on social media and become this famous person in 3.5 seconds, and that’s it. You go on YouTube and can find makeup tutorials, which you never had back in the day. All of a sudden, in one year or a couple months, you’re this thing. But what are you, as this thing, when you haven’t gone all the way back to see how it started?
On reflection, was your All Stars experience easier or harder than you expected?
To me, doing All Stars allowed me to go back in the show as a white canvas. I wanted to go back into the show as my true authentic self, and it was exciting because I got to do so many different challenges that we didn’t have on season one, such as Snatch Game and some of the acting challenges, like the Bitchelor. Oh, and for crying out loud, you could see my face on HD television! I tell people that season one was a little more difficult than All Stars, in my humble opinion. The reason why is because when we originally went in, we didn’t know anything. Absolutely nothing. We had to be so versatile, so present, and have an understanding of pop culture, because we had no idea what the challenges would be. They didn’t allow you to prepare for anything. Now, as the seasons move forward, you know that there’s gonna be Snatch Game, an acting challenge, a music challenge, so if you’re not able to fully prepare, you’re at least aware of what’s coming.
On the show, there was a big fiasco about you not knowing the iconic Ornacia. Have you become acquainted with the legendary queen yet?
Being a part of this sorority, of this family, of course I have watched all the seasons. But there have been so many seasons, okay? So you don’t think of every single detail from the entire show. Now, when I look back, I’m like ‘Ahh, that’s what she was talking about!’ And to be honest, Ornacia did not look like that! I mean, I could see what she meant but honey, that red for filth look, I was giving you so much, okay?
We’ve touched upon it briefly, but do you think “Ra-ka-ta-ti-ti-ta-ta” is one of the most iconic Drag Race moments ever?
I’m not a judge, but a lot of people have said it’s one of the most iconic moments in Drag Race history. For some reason, people resonate with Jungle Kitty, and I think it’s because, honey, it’s “Ra-ka-ta-ti-ti-ta-ta!” for crying out loud! It wasn’t necessarily about the words or the language, I think it was the energy. It was different. It was weird. It was ferocious. I am Jungle Kitty! The funny thing is, when we were all writing the verse, Kennedy tells Shangela, “Girl, you should probably take the bridge honey.” So Shangela’s like, “Miss Bebe girl, you want me to take the bridge?” They kept insisting on doing the bridge! When everyone was saying their rap, or whatever, I didn’t say it like I recorded it because I was still working on it. Kennedy turned to Shangela and said, “Guuuuuurl, Miss Bebe is gonna land us in the bottom.” I said, “Do not worry about this bridge! I got it! Okay? I was the first person to release a single from Drag Race”. When we went to record it, Adam Lambert advised us on the way we should sing it, but bitch, when I went on that mic, Adam… gagged. Literally. He was like, ‘Perfection’. Shangela and Kennedy looked at each other like, ‘Really?’
You must’ve felt so smug.
Right?! The queens were like, “Are we talking about the same girl who wrote ‘Ra-ka-ta-ti-ti-ta-ta’?” They swore I was going to take them to that bottom!
I have to ask – would you ever consider coming back for a winners’ season?
Many years ago, if I was asked to go back for All Stars 3, it would’ve been a no. For a winners’ season… never say never. It would depend on where I am, and what I’m doing. Right now, that’s my frame of mind. Do you want me to come back for an all winners season?
Absolutely. You’re the OG.
By the way, what did you think of that finale of All Stars 3?
The final four was perfect, as well as the Kitty Girl performance. After that…
If they do an All Stars 4, we’ve done them a favour. We’ve sacrificed a lot for All Stars 4. There a lot of things that I don’t think will be done again, or repeated again. We sure carried that heavy cross, honey! It was a gag for sure, but it discredited all the work we did on the show, because it turned it into a popularity contest. What’s the point of us winning challenges if it was just going to be discredited? That’s the honest truth about it.
Shangela said she had something special planned for the final lip-sync. Did you have anything planned?
Oh no baby, because I don’t have to. Like, when people ask me why I took my wig off, it was how I was feeling in the moment. I do not need tricks, and I took off my hair because I felt like it. I was so submerged in the song, and I’ve done Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here for many many years, it’s one of my songs. It’s like being in church, and torn apart. That’s what I was feeling in the moment. I felt ferocious. When I lip-sync, I don’t do what everybody does – and good for them for doing what they do – but honey, you just don’t wanna lip-sync against me. It’s not ego, but you just don’t want to. My favourite lip-sync ever is from season one between me and Nina Flowers because of the energy and attitude, and it was so effortless. It wasn’t like we were competing against each other, it felt like we were performing together. We were one unit. Lip-syncs are your opportunity to show who you are, as a performer. Just do it how you would do it.
What are your other favourite lip-syncs from the show?
The one with Latrice and You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman. Was it Kenya? That was good. I liked the one with Dida Ritz and some other person to This Will Be by Natalie Cole. Another one I really liked was with Jinkx and the Broadway song – I thought that was really cool!
Is there any queen you’d be scared to go up against in a lip-sync?
No! (Laughs) You might think this bitch is grand when I say that, but no. The honest truth, there is no one because I don’t allow myself to fear. Maybe it can come across as being too confident, but it’s all about not letting yourself feel fear. Fear is a distraction. It hinders you from everything and anything. So guess what? If I need to lip-sync against you, let’s do it!
Would you be happy with season 10 doing the lip-sync for the crown again?
Who doesn’t love a live battle? Entertain me honey! I would just love it because I love drag so much. I would love to see the girls bring it to the ball! That would be really cool.
Oh, and congratulations on your documentary. We’re so excited to see it.
I feel very grateful and humbled that supporters rallied behind it. Of course, the money we raised from the kickstarter is not even close to what we need to complete the whole film. I’m talking about a film that has been 12 years in the making. It’s a lot of history, a lot of story, and self-discovery for me. It’s not just a journey about me as a performer, it’s about me as a person. Coming from a different culture, and going to through that journey of self-discovery, it’s exciting to see this story come to fruition. That is the most rewarding thing. Money is money. I am grateful that we were able to raise the money, but what it told us was that people want to hear the story. They are invested, because when I do my meet and greet, people cannot wait for the documentary to come out. They want to know about Marshall, to see these layers, and see how it unfolds. You get to go back and see, ‘Bebe’s grand. Why is Bebe grand?’ You get to see all these layers unfold, and most of all, a lot of storytelling. It has universal messages, coming from Cameroon, but it’s not just an African story. Whether you’re caucasian, African, whatever you are, you’ll be able to identify with my journey.
Bebe will appear at DragWorld 2018 in London from 18 – 19 August. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.