We may be in a global pandemic, but Heidi N Closet is feeling as soft, sssupple, blessed and highly favoured as ever. The self-described “dancing disco diva” sashayed away on the 12th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race earlier this year in sixth place, missing out on a position on the coveted top five, but her quick wit, bubbly personality and high-energy lip-syncs saw her become the franchise’s new fan-favourite.
“Going into the competition, I was so nervous of how I would be received by fans,” Heidi tells GAY TIMES, “because we have seen time and time again that queens of colour, as well as pageant queens, are not as well received as others.” Thanks to her underdog storyline and no-holds-barred approach to her fellow contestants – “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, and FUCK YOU!” is art and deserves to be exhibited in The Louvre – Heidi was hailed the “heart of season 12” by fans, which ultimately led to her succeeding Nina West as the reigning Miss Congeniality.
“Fortunately, people were able to see who I am and fell in love with the person I am.” Since her stint on the Emmy-winning series, the star has taken RuPaul’s advice to move from her humble beginnings in Ramseur, North Carolina, to Los Angeles, so she can showcase her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent on a much larger scale. So yeah, Heidi’s pussy has officially been on fire this year.
In celebration, we caught up with Heidi to discuss her time on Drag Race season 12, being unable to experience the “typical RuGirl lifestyle” because of COVID-19 and 2020’s HERstory-making achievements for Black entertainers on the series. Oh, and due to widespread backlash from fans across the world at the lack of information for a Heidi Hydrates release date, we interrogated the star for an answer. We got you.
Honestly, going into the competition I was so nervous of how I would be received by fans because we have seen it time and time again that queens of colour, as well as pageant queens, are not as well received as others
Thank you for chatting with me today Heidi! Are you feeling soft and supple or blessed and highly favoured?
Always feeling blessed and highly favoured… and soft and sssupple! It’s really a way of life.
I’m glad you haven’t changed your name yet – are you sticking with Heidi N Closet?
Heidi N Closet has been my name for almost six years now, and I’ve always been fond of it. To see so many “Closet Cases” enjoy and rally behind the name has made me very happy, so I think it’s fair to say that Heidi N Closet will be around for a while!
You recently moved to LA, right? What inspired the move?
Yes! I’ve been in my apartment in LA for two weeks now and I love it so far. Hearing what Mama Ru said in my elimination really resonated with me, and as many people saw, I take her advice. So, I had been mowing over this move for a while and it wasn’t until recently that I felt like the time had finally come. Now that I’m here, I can take full advantage of all the opportunities that may come my way!
How are you settling in?
I’m settling in very well! My furniture came in, so I’m no longer living like a frat boy, but now I’m just waiting for the internet to be turned on so I can live the high life.
It’s been a whirlwind of a year for you – what has it been like to make your television debut, on the Olympics of Drag to boot, and experience a huge rise to fame during a global pandemic?
Getting on RuPaul’s Drag Race has been a goal of mine for many years, and to have made it feels incredible, but with it happening during this pandemic, I am a little sad that I haven’t been able to experience the typical RuGirl lifestyle. But, I do know that I have been fortunate during this time, as well as being a light for many during this craziness.
What are you looking forward to the most about living the “typical RuGirl lifestyle” when it’s safe to do so?
I’m really looking forward to travelling and seeing the world because I’ve never really travelled before. My first time on a plane was to go film the show! I’m also really looking forward to meeting all the fans that have shown me so much love and support on this journey. Oh, and to try many types of food.
How have you adapted to the new digital age for online performances, especially as a drag queen?
I feel like all of this has pushed entertainers, myself included, out of our comfort zone and really think outside of the box. I think once everything goes back to normal there will still be digital shows to help reach people that are not able to get out, but also reinvigorate all of us once we are able to get back to the stage.
What have you learnt about Heidi N Closet throughout lockdown?
I’ve learned that I am a lot more capable of doing things on my own than I ever thought. I never thought I would be putting on shows in my basement, creating a stage, as well as lighting cues! I’ve basically been putting on a full production by myself.
Getting on RuPaul’s Drag Race has been a goal of mine for many years, and to have made it feels incredible, but with it happening during this pandemic, I am a little sad that I haven’t been able to experience the typical RuGirl lifestyle.
How are you keeping connected with the rest of the season 12 cast during this time?
We actually have a group chat that we all message on a nearly daily basis called ‘The Season 12 Hoes.’ It’s helped us all keep in touch and keep up with what we’ve been up to, and just to support one other.
You were so well received on Drag Race season 12, so much so that you were awarded the title of Miss Congeniality – going into the show, did you expect to become such a huge fan-favourite?
Honestly, going into the competition I was so nervous of how I would be received by fans because we have seen it time and time again that queens of colour, as well as pageant queens, are not as well received as others. Being both, I was very well aware that there was a chance that I would not be well received. Fortunately, people were able to see who I am and fell in love with the person I am.
RuPaul was also a big fan of yours, despite wanting to change your name! What was it like to have such immense support from a drag icon?
RuPaul has been someone I looked up to for many years, and to have received such support from her absolutely means the world to me. I honestly didn’t realise how well we got along until other queens pointed it out to me! Every time we would talk, it was like talking to that one good Judy that you go to when you need some advice.
Not only are you Miss Congeniality and beloved by RuPaul, but you have an admirer in Rihanna! Have either of you exchanged words yet?
No, we have not exchanged pleasantries yet, but fingers crossed one day we will! I’ve been a big fan of her for many years. Her music was some of the first I ever performed, and when I was in high school in a dance company called Catalyst Dance Company, I did a same-sex hip-hop and ballroom number to Pon De Replay. It was very scandalous for little ol’ Ramseur at the time.
How do you feel when you look back on your Drag Race stint?
When I look back on my journey on the show, I always say that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, as well as the funnest thing I’ve ever done. I’m proud of the journey and progression I made on the show, as well as the stories I was able to store with others. I look back on it as one of the best things that’s ever happened to me and something that has changed my life forever.
What was the best part of your Drag Race experience?
There are two things that I really enjoyed that I would consider the best part of my Drag Race experience. One, getting to meet so many people like my season 12 sisters, RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, Carson Kressley and the many amazing guest judges. Two, being able to share my story with so many and seeing that people were touched by it, and could relate and be helped by my story being told.
This year has been remarkable for Black entertainers on the series, as it’s the first time the winner and the Miss Congeniality were Black queens. On top of that, Shea Coulee won All Stars – what kind of message do you think this sends?
I feel like it shows that talent is everywhere and comes from all walks of life. I feel like everything happens for a reason and everything happens when it’s meant to happen. I honestly don’t think there could have been a better time than now, especially with the Black Lives Matter movement finally being pushed to the forefront.
How have you been processing everything that’s going on at the moment with police brutality and Black Lives Matter?
All the things that are finally being addressed should already have happened, so I’m just trying to continuously use my platform to make sure that we keep pushing to have a better tomorrow.
I’m just trying to continuously use my platform to make sure that we keep pushing to have a better tomorrow.
Pride has been cancelled all around the world this year, but the spirit is still very much alive – how have you been celebrating?
I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing that I do all year around, which is to show love and spread positivity. It’s very much needed in the world today.
Can we expect you to sashay back into the werkroom at some point in the future?
Hopefully one day I will sashay my way back into the werkroom! I really enjoyed my first experience and hopefully one day… I’ll have another.
When will Heidi Hydrates be available for pre-order?
Unfortunately, there is not a set-in-stone date, but just make sure you all keep an eye open because it might be sooner than you think. If possible, could we insert a little wink at the end of this question?
The 12th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race is available to stream on Netflix.