“Everything has changed,” says Katya. “I’m a completely transformed human being and there are very few people who are worth my time now.” The Russian hooker slash “visual depiction of untreated mental illness” is discussing her and country-folk drag superstar Trixie Mattel’s new self-help book, A Guide To Womanhood, which recently skyrocketed to the runner-up position on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
“I was already up my own ass but this?” adds Trixie. “Stephen King is looking a little old today.” Not only are the two celebrating their newfound success as literary legends, but they’re welcoming the fifth season of their critically-acclaimed digital series, UNHhhh, which – if you didn’t know by now – provides insight on a variety of hard-hitting topics such as halloween, space and dental artistry. This time, they’re offering their invaluable expertise at a social distance, because… corona. “On the screen we’re getting farther apart, and I think it’s important to look on the bright side of the situation,” explains Trixie. “Katya gets farther and it’s drag, so she only looks prettier from an extra six feet away.”
Read on for Trixie and Katya’s thoughts on the future of UNHhhh, Kylie Minogue’s lack of success in the United States, Naomi Watts’ performance in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong and how they’re still “damaged shitbuckets” despite their foray into literature and unbreakable status as the go-to therapists of our generation.
Hi Trixie and Katya, how are you both?
Katya: Have you listened to the new Kylie Minogue song?
I was screaming in the office earlier. Do you love?
Katya: I think she’s a wonderful angel, a gay angel baby, woman.
Trixie: America doesn’t. Why do you think Americans don’t care for Kylie Minogue? There’s not a reason.
America needs to respect Kylie Minogue.
Katya: I KNOW!
Trixie: She’s like Beyoncé everywhere else, but then here they’re like, ‘Eh, she was in Biodome.’ They’re not interested.
Katya: I don’t get it. I watched on my phone a YouTube clip of her performing All The Lovers at the Africa AIDS show in London and I cried. It was so amazing and magical and wonderful.
Trixie: She’s so great. I remember when she did country music like three years ago, people were like ‘Trixie, she’s doing country music’ and I was like, ‘Um, she’s singing a pop song and wearing a fringe hat.’ I mean, I loved it. I guess if she’s wearing a tracksuit, she’s doing rap.
Trixie: Anyway, America needs to respect Kylie Minogue.
Katya: Oh, that Christmas song Every Day’s Like Christmas? So good. That is the most bomb Christmas song.
Did you know that Can’t Get You Out of my Head only reached number seven in the US?
Katya: What? You’ve got to be kidding me!
She’s never had a number one.
Katya: Honey, we were at number two! On the down list, by the way.
Trixie: It was so exciting to be number two because I get to say, ‘We’re number two, we’re number two.’ It’s so exciting. By the way, if you want to know the state of America, people are turning to us for self-help.
Katya: Yeah. All the other titles on that list are disguised as self-improvement and we’re just damaged shitbuckets telling you how to put a wig on.
Congratulations on making number two on the New York Times bestselling list. How does it feel to be published authors?
Katya: Everything has changed, everything has changed. Internally. Externally, well… I’m a completely transformed human being and there are very few people who are worth my time now.
Trixie: Yeah. Truly.
Trixie: I was already up my own ass but this? Stephen King is looking a little old today, feeling the years, probably couldn’t get out of bed for this.
Katya: Well, JK Rowling has been replaced by us. I guess she’ll be J and I’ll be K, and we’ll figure out the Rowling part later.
We’re on season five of UNHhhh now, how did it feel to be back in the studio together?
Katya: It’s really nice, I actually love being in the studio. I’m not a fan of doing it at home and I even preferred the distance because I feel like it gives Trixie a bit of space-y.
I love drag queens but I don’t want to touch them or be very close to them.
Trixie: Thank god. On the screen we’re getting farther apart, and I think it’s important to look on the bright side of the situation. Katya gets farther and it’s drag, so she only looks prettier from an extra six feet away. Being close to drag queens is overrated. That’s the ultimate rub.
Katya: I love drag queens but I don’t want to touch them or be very close to them. Distance, the good old, good old.
Trixie: And we’ll be in the room with our director, and even the editor when he’s editing, I know they really like it.
Katya: That’s what I’m looking forward to the most, the mysterious but essential third character.
Trixie: It’s a little like if you were Naomi Watts in Godzilla or whatever. No, King Kong?
Katya: King Kong.
Trixie: When she spends the whole movie acting in front of a green screen, and she only gets to see him come to life on-screen. That’s what it’s like in the editing suite.
Katya: Who’s King Kong and who’s Naomi Watts in this situation?
Trixie: Oh, you’re King Kong. I don’t want to sugarcoat this, but you know which one of us is the beast.
Katya: After Naomi got that part, David Lynch called her up and said, ‘Naomi, great job! The big clutches of King Kong, you’re a movie star forever!’
Trixie: Did that really happen?
Trixie: I mean, that is true. It’s such an iconic…
Katya: Well the first had Jessica Lange.
Trixie: Oh yes, Jessica Lange! Iconic. Remember Jessica Lange in Cape Fear crying like, ‘Please kill me instead of my daughter.’ That was heavy. She really is amazing in that movie.
Katya: That movie is not uplifting, it’s just a big dark bummer.
Trixie: Yeah, it really was and Juliette Lewis worked my pussy out bitch.
Katya: Oh my god, fantastic.
Trixie: Who is a teenager and that good of an actor, who?
Katya: They’re all fucking shit. Well, Kirsten Dunst.
Trixie: Yeah, Kirsten Dunst. Sorry, another person that America does not celebrate enough. Kirsten Dunst.
Katya: I think that season five will start off with episodes about Kirsten Dunst, Kylie Minogue, King Kong and then we eventually get to… what did we actually talk about?
Remember Jessica Lange in Cape Fear crying like, ‘Please kill me instead of my daughter.’ That was heavy.
Trixie: To be honest, we shot some of season five before lockdown and some after, so there’s been batches. There’s probably six or more episodes that were done before lockdown even started, so some of them are really old. Like, not old, but they’re done so long ago I don’t remember them. What if it’s us being like, ‘Nothing will ever happen.’ What if there’s an episode on illness and we’re like, ‘I think the American people can handle it. I think we’ll be fine.’
Katya: ‘What could go wrong?’ Oh my god. Trixie did a rewind on her YouTube channel about season seven, and we went back and looked at clips of each of us back then. What was supposed to be a lighthearted romp through the Drag Race past turned out to be a rehashing of traumatic memories, and it was a real bummer.
Trixie: Yeah, it was a lot. I was like, ‘Wow, I was thinner and younger, but I wasn’t better looking. What was I doing with my time?’ and also I went on TV with a lot of confidence, wearing shitty drag.
Katya: Oh, I know. That is the worst to watch, ‘Oh, another runway that sucks. Oh, another runway that sucks.’
Trixie: The first time you’re on TV, I remember having a moment like, ‘Am I going to win?’ You think, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ I thought I would, and that’s the reason to watch back on TV. To be on TV for the first time, in an environment that pressure-filled… is a lot. Your first role is a mom in a dumb commercial, do you know what I mean?
Katya: On Drag Race it’s like, ‘GET UP THERE AND WIGGLE!’
Trixie: ‘And you’ll be doing it all with a gun up your ass. Go.’
What would a season of Drag Race look like with Trixie and Katya now? On season seven, you two weren’t that close. You bonded off-screen so, hypothetically, what would it look like now?
Trixie: If we had to work together, we’d probably go home first.
Katya: Yeah, we’d go home first. It’d be like ‘Do you want to? Yeah.’
Trixie: I know we talked about this, but I had a dream that we were on Drag Race again and in this version of Drag Race it was like a pageant, but it was live with a studio audience. There was a part where you and I were working together and we were like, ‘Should we just? Yeah?’ and then we just left.
Katya: We just went quietly after lunch.
Trixie: We’ve both competed multiple times but truthfully, I don’t think competition brings out the best of me. Who enjoys being in drag all day? When you think about what competing on Drag Race really is, it’s marathon drag, so who enjoys it? A crazy person.
Katya: I would die. I would love to come back, not even as a guest judge but just a cameo or a prank call. Like, I’d run out onto the runway and throw a bunch of papers or something. I tell them I’m available, but they’re not interested.
Trixie: You should! I do some kind of walk-on for every season for some random shit. They should do a challenge where they have to host a green screen show, and you and I can be Jane Krakowski and we can coach them.
Katya: Yes! I really think they should do a mini-challenge about packing a suitcase.
Trixie: That is a great idea.
Katya: It has some kind of relevance to the real world. Right now, not so much, but when things get back to normal. Travel is such a big part of our lives and for a lot of the girls waking up late, hungover, with 10 minutes to pack an entire hotel room and get into a taxi is like a Tuesday.
When you think about what competing on Drag Race really is, it’s marathon drag, so who enjoys it? A crazy person.
Trixie: I don’t care how blacked-out drunk I am, you don’t wait to pack until the morning.
Katya: It’s a nightmare, but sometimes you have to deal with it.
Trixie: Oh, true. A real-life drag struggle.
Katya: Like trying to get a boy home when you look like… You know.
Trixie: Trying to locate the club owner after you finished your last number and they’ve mysteriously disappeared.
Katya: Keeping counterfeit cash in your coat.
I feel like I’m in an episode of UNHhhh and I’m not upset.
Trixie: Yeah, are you there?
Would you say this is your strongest season so far?
Trixie: Some of our best moments are peppered in, we have some singular episodes that for some reason end up so funny, so it’s hard to tell as a whole. I don’t even know what we talked about.
Katya: Never. Which is great, so you’re not like, ‘I can’t wait to watch myself monologue on something weird,’ you just have no idea what it is. I like the fact that there isn’t any consensus on what the best one is, do you know what I mean? People just enjoy a bunch of different episodes for whatever reason, and my favourite is the ones that aren’t other people’s favourites. What’s yours?
My favourite is the one about death.
Katya: Oh. I don’t even know what that one is.
Trixie: That’s from The Trixie & Katya Show. It kind of counts as it’s our TV show. That’s our sixth season, I guess.
Katya: It feels like we’ve had 12 seasons.
Trixie: Not to be a not team-player, but I always think, ‘What if we stop?’ It’s gone on so much longer than we planned on, but then people continue to watch it and find it, so until the viewership completely 180s, I guess we don’t have to worry about it.
Katya: If there’s interest, why not?
Do either of you have a personal favourite episode?
Katya: I really like the gay one. I don’t know why.
Trixie: Oh my god. I don’t know why but I love the SPACE one so much.
Katya: SPACE, yeah. I really like the ones where Trixie gets up in an outfit, stands up and asks, ‘How can anyone hate me?’
Trixie: Or, ‘Why did I have to choose today of all days to wear jeans?’ I’m literally wearing a denim skort. I like the one about faith, I don’t know why. I like PornOh, I don’t know why.
Katya: Oh yeah, that was a great one.
Trixie: There are certain moments with running jokes, and I think we have a lot of running jokes too. By the time ‘oh honeeeeey’ had hit the streets of America, I’d gotten over it. It’s fun to see what becomes a learning curve for the world.
Katya: Catchphrases can get old and crusty.
Not to be a not team-player, but I always think, ‘What if we stop?’
Trixie: Don’t shit on your own catchphrase before people get sick of it. Some of the time people will be like, ‘I’m sick of oh honey’ and I’ll be like, ‘I’m not saying it, you’re sick of other people saying it!’ I just said it five times and all of them just happened to be on camera.
Katya: See how hard our lives are?
Trixie: See how hard it is?
Katya: Do you have any idea?
Trixie: The animosity that my success creates among colleagues?
What do you think an episode of UNHhhh would like with Trixie and Trish?
Katya: It’d look like Trixie sitting in a chair waiting for Trish to stop smoking, not realising that had passed out in the alley and was probably dead.
Trixie: Maybe I’m waiting for Trish to give me thanks for having layers.
Katya: She’s got her clippers out!
Trixie: Or one of those old caps that people did their hair with.
Katya: Oh, frosted tips!
Season 5 of UNHhhh continues weekly on WOW Presents Plus from 5 August at 8pm; Subscribe to the LGBTQ+ streaming platform via https://uk.wowpresentsplus.