“It was no surprise at all,” says Roem. “I had an entirely different concept for my runway but production strongly recommended me not to do it before the season, because of course, we have to submit all of our runway looks in advance.” The 21-year-old performer, who hails from Urk, Netherlands, became the first queen to receive the (Pork)chop on the first ever season of Drag Race Holland. For their first ever runway, the 10 competitors stomped the runway in a legendary look inspired by their favourite queen. Some of the contestants opted for a more traditional route, while Roem embraced her inner Evil Queen as the iconic villain from Snow White. Sadly, she received harsh critiques from the judging panel and after a lip-sync showdown to Madonna’s Express Yourself against Megan Schoonbrood, sashayed away in 10th place. Roem adds: “I wasn’t feeling it at all. It just wasn’t really what I wanted to bring, especially for the first runway.” We spoke to the self-described “social media queen” after her elimination to discuss her time on the long-awaited Dutch spin-off, her Snatch Game character (of course), and her original look for this week’s runway.
Hi Roem! How are you?
I’m doing amazing actually, how are you?
I’m great thank you! So, Drag Race Holland premieres tonight…
It’s so exciting! I really can’t wait to see what everyone is going to think.
Have you watched the episode back yet?
We actually watched the first two episodes with the entire cast last week! It was very exciting. It wasn’t really like a fully finished edit so it’s exciting to see what they will make of it. But we have an idea of what is coming….
What was it like watching it back with all of your season one sisters?
Dramatic… No, there were so many mixed feelings. I was pretty emotional watching it back because I was in the moment again. They did such such a good job with putting everything together so we just had a great time watching it.
The production is… insane.
I didn’t even expect that myself to be honest, because… Yeah, of course, it’s Drag Race but we didn’t know what to expect when we walked into the pink room. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, it’s actually Drag Race,’ you know?
How does it feel to have made it onto the Olympics of Drag?
I don’t know if you know a lot about me, but I have been a big fan of Drag Race for the last couple of years and I’ve made little parody videos. So, to actually be on the show is a weird, full-circle moment. It’s a dream come true but also like a nightmare come true! It’s so many things at the same time. I still can’t even process it. I think that after this episode I will start to realise that I’m actually a RuGirl now.
Did you expect to fall in the bottom in the first episode?
Well, I know the show, of course. I knew what was going on, so I wasn’t too happy with my runway look. I kind of expected something to happen and I already know that the social media queens don’t really get… It’s not really the best to be named a ‘social media queen’, so there’s always this expectation of you that you’re not going to do well. I was just hoping that it wouldn’t go that way.
How did you feel on the main stage when they called your name?
It was no surprise at all. I had an entirely different concept for my runway but production strongly recommended me not to do it before the season, because of course, we have to submit all of our runway looks in advance. So I was like, ‘Fine.’ Then I did my alternative look and I just wasn’t happy with it so it didn’t come as a surprise. I wasn’t feeling it at all. It just wasn’t really what I wanted to bring, especially for the first runway.
What was the original look you wanted to show?
I was actually going to do a Medusa-inspired look, which was kind of a Medusa warrior. The producers said she’s not a queen? There were little fights about that and I was like, ‘I really want to do it! I already have the costume.’ But yeah, it was a bit of a thing, and I still kind of feel bitter about it. I wish I’d done it, but you can’t change it.
Well I think she’s a queen.
I think she’s a queen too! She’s my queen.
Obviously, you didn’t get to show much on Drag Race, so how would you describe your drag for people who haven’t discovered you yet?
Roem is very fan-fiction inspired and a lot of fantasy and science fiction. I like a little more edgy stuff. I’m not really into being pretty! America only has really beautiful polished blonde white girls and I’m like, ‘Ugh!’ Also the drag scene in general is a little bit more punk, so I would describe Roem as like a cyborg humanoid-type creature.
In your official bio for the series, you said that “drag is so much more than just performing” and over the years, social media queens get a bad rep – why do you think that is?
I think, especially through Drag Race, people have this idea that drag is just lip syncing. Well, everything you see on Drag Race really is like acting and designing. Yeah that’s fun, but that’s the journey RuPaul has taken throughout his career and I fully respect that, but drag has moved on from that as well. It’s become an industry on its own right now. Social media, branding, marketing, everything that comes with it. I think it’s very important and it’s kind of getting overlooked.
It’s not “you’re born naked and the rest is drag, but only if you lip-sync…”
No, not at all! I love a good lip sync, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not what drag is about at all.
What could we have expected from you if you advanced further on the series?
A lot of great looks, a lot of humour. I love very witty humour. They didn’t really show that in the editing… Let’s just say that. But I know I brought some golden moments on TV and I just wished they had shown moments like that. I get it, they have to get everything into like 50 minutes. I would’ve loved to do the Snatch Game. If the first episode didn’t go the way it did, then I totally would’ve made it.
Who was your choice for Snatch Game?
One was this weird ass middle aged woman on YouTube who is amazing. The other choice was a character from this Dutch comedy show, she’s like a primary school teacher and she is also hysterical. I also had Jeffree Star and Miranda Priestly.
I’m here for Miranda…
I had the entire outfit and it’s probably going to be posted to Instagram! Jeffree Star I had in mind before going into the season but I cancelled it.
During the first episode you opened up about coming out to your parents. How did they react to you getting onto Drag Race?
Very excited for me. I was so surprised because my parents always let me do my own thing but they weren’t showing support. They tried to but… You know how it is. They don’t really know what to say or what to do, and then when this came, I kind of told them about the show and they were so happy for me. They don’t understand everything and my dad, who used to be very homophobic and everything and very stereotypical, would message me saying he was watching Drag Race to understand the show and that was cute. We’re getting there and they’re so happy for me – even if it is just one episode!
Like RuPaul says, ‘Drag Race bringing families together!’
The first episode of Drag Race Holland is now available to stream in the UK on WOW Presents Plus.