Chappell Roan Is Taking It

3 views 4:19 pm 0 Comments June 4, 2024


Trixie Mattel’s voice gets serious for a moment as she declares that Chappell Roan is the “missing link” between drag queens and pop stars. Roan responds bashfully: “I would not even make the finals at a local show. I can’t really give shows the way that actual queens can.”

The admission stuns me, partly because it isn’t true, but also because it is now one of several moments I have watched the diva on everyone’s lips brush off her genuine star power, or the cosmic shift she’s created in the industry around her. Barely a week prior to my backseat participation in the conversation between her and Mattel for this story, I’d snuck into Roan’s pit at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It took some creativity on my part, brandishing my press badge and phone like I was an important something-or-other in front of inquisitive security guards, hurriedly whispering to onlooking publicists that I was there to grab “social content.” Technically true, but mostly I wanted a good look at PAPER’s latest cover star.

It was an afternoon performance in the sweltering Southern sun, the sandy beaches and wide expanse of the Gulf intensifying the atmosphere of the gayest crowd that weekend. To my left, I happened to catch a security guard in one of my play-pretend videos dryly shout-talk at a colleague that he’d worked a few of these festivals and had never seen people dress up quite so much. A beleaguered photographer nearby nodded and took a few snaps of the swarm of pink cowboy hats and feather boas and colorful glasses. Others joined in, and even I played along, swinging my iPhone back around to preserve the moment in digital amber, as if the excitement in that crowd could be contained at all.

My writing from the weekend was meticulous and precise, except around 4 PM on the second day of the festival as Roan took the stage. The final bullet in my notes concerned a display I’d seen en route to the main stage’s pit, near the center of the crowd. A pair of lanky twinks jumped in frantic circles around their other friends, and my eyes lingered on the group as I watched the taller one’s face drain of color, the other devolving into a blur of tears and ear splitting screams. Roan, summoned by the rhythmic cries of fans the last half hour, had just exploded onto the stage in a flurry of red curls behind me. Despite the heat, she’s adorned in a jockstrap and football pads, playful winks to those in the know, even more playful winks at the tenets they represent. Tenets she twists, tenets she laughs and sings and dances in the face of. A pop star whose entirety runs counter to more modern stylings: frictionless, easy-going pop music, sanded down by glittering synths and chic outfits and the sameness of auto-generated Spotify playlists.

My mind struggles to capture the energy behind me now and in the moment, as I turn back to face her then. Words pale when faced with that massive crowd and her piercing voice; she’s totally in command of those wide eyes and joyous faces that etch themselves into my memory. “Screaming twinks and girls in pink cowboy hats, priestesses of Chappell Roan,” my notes trail off, and I don’t look down at them once until the crowd disperses and carries me off.

Blinking, I’m back in my office, and Mattel and Roan have moved on. I’ve lost the thread of the conversation just slightly, my mind still lingering on the declaration that she “can’t really give shows the way that actual queens can.” Does she really not know? No, it’s not that. It’s that she doesn’t care about the pretense of her burgeoning fame or think very deeply about herself the way the life of a young pop diva might necessitate. The missing link between pop stars and drag queens, sure, but an iconoclast too. Comparisons to Lady Gaga or Kate Bush aside, it’s Fiona Apple, with her penchant for creativity over accolades or the machinations of the Hollywood machine, that currently fits best in the puzzle of this Midwest princess.

For her part, Roan seems utterly perplexed at the current state of affairs, genuine reservation written all over her when talking about this moment. For instance, she struggles to contain herself when telling Mattel about a recent fan encounter in Syracuse, New York. “I was crying on the phone to my therapist. I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, this is scary, people are coming up to me and I don’t want to talk to them most of the time, because I’m freaked out,’” she says. “I’m like, literally crying on the phone outside, on the sidewalk, and this bitch comes up to me, and she’s like: ‘Hey, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry to bother you, but are you Chappell Roan?’” Mattel’s face softens, and Roan continues: “I don’t know how to deal with this at all.”

Prior to the current tour, or the ubiquity of “Good Luck, Babe!” on TikTok, her breakthrough 2020 single “Pink Pony Club” had longevity in the cultural conversation at odds with the reasons she’d been dropped by Atlantic that same year. The label cited a lack of interest or profits in her music, and after a short return home to work in a donut shop amid the pandemic, Roan picked up the pieces of her career and moved back to LA. “I was like, I have to give this a shot, one more year. If I fucking hate LA and make no money from music, then I’m just going to move to Nashville or something, go to school, because obviously, this is not for me. It kind of worked.” An unassuming way of saying that her instincts were accurate, a tone she keeps when discussing her career and artistry.

The comparison to both Lady Gaga and Fiona Apple might perplex the diehard Chappell fan, but it’s a struggle to balance the outsized persona Roan is known for in her music and visuals and the woman for which all things seem to totally pass through. The most important things to Roan seem not to be the recognition in public, or the magazine covers, or the trappings of fame so many young artists drown themselves in or are crushed under.

Roan on clothes, for example: “I am not trying to be a chic bitch. I love the chic bitches, but I am not trying to be like that. Nothing turns me off more than frickin’ luxury brands.” On her approach to touring in the summer: “I have bare feet. I’m not wearing shoes at the outdoor venue today. Did not brush my hair. I’m in pajamas, free bleeding through my pants.” On her incredibly simple rider: “This is my most-asked question and my answer is always the same. Glass water bottle, flat. I’m a Midwest bitch. I don’t like the spicy water.” She exemplifies a rare attitude chased after by generations of modern artists desperate to seem relatable or down-to-earth. It’s neither desperation or fake with Roan, of course. She is simply unfazed by anything that isn’t the music and art, which have finally hit. She gave herself another shot and it worked, after years of feeling like it might not — enough to concoct a backup plan that seems, in hindsight, patently ridiculous. But maybe not to Roan.

In LA for the second time, “Pink Pony Club” co-writer and producer Dan Nigro signed Roan to his new imprint, Amusement Records, later partnering with Island Records for her studio album debut, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. Over the next few singles, the look she’s now synonymous with also took shape: high-camp tackiness, pure-white face and ruby-red lips to match her voluminous red curls. “I feel like I’m just being my 10-year-old self. The whole project is to honor my 10-year-old self,” she says, Mattel nodding along. “My whole persona is just me trying to honor that version of myself that I was never allowed to be.”

This sentiment extends beyond herself, driving the inertia of the moment for her, as the pop ascendancy pulls Roan upward. Mattel asks about the influence of the Midwest in her work, and Roan gushes: “I think it’s very easy to think of the Midwest and South as a monolith. I’m like, ‘No, bitch, there are queens everywhere, regardless if you think there are or not.’” Mattel agrees, and Roan drives home the point. “There are queer people everywhere in these teeny tiny towns who are the same as the bitches on the coasts. They just don’t have access to what those girls have.”

Mattel, from Wisconsin herself, later comes back to this, when the topic of Pride season comes up: “Then the people we’re performing for, in some of these states, the money they used to buy tickets to see us was made at a job where they’re afraid of acting gay. That’s how severe it is.” Roan drives her earlier point home. “My shows are themed, and one of my themes… I can’t do it anymore, because surprise, I hate the rainbow. But I would do a rainbow theme, for small-ass towns in Nowhere, Florida, where they can’t say gay. That is their Pride. They will not be able to wear a rainbow again, because they’re only allowed to wear a rainbow for one day of the year.”

I’m reminded of Alabama, a state whose people are so often maligned by circumstances totally out of their control — people I saw weep tears of joy before and after Roan’s set, people who brandished pink cowboy hats and Pride pins and co-mingled with their neighbors, unadorned in plain bikinis or jock-wear, just as eager to see Roan as the twinks from earlier, on theme in their “Pink Pony Club” get-ups. In the present, Mattel tells Roan that her debut performance at Kentuckiana Pride later this summer will be a “flagship Pride story in 10 years” for many people. “Like, ‘Oh my god, remember Chappell Roan?’” I, for one, will always remember my first Chappell Roan show.

Read PAPER’s full conversation between Trixie Mattel and Chappell Roan, below.

Trixie Mattel: What are you giving? What’s the look?

Chappell Roan: I have bare feet. I’m not wearing shoes at the outdoor venue today. Did not brush my hair. I’m in pajamas, free bleeding through my pants.

Trixie: Okay, the vibe. It’s Free Bleed Fridays, but it’s not Friday. If you are an ally, every day is Free Bleed Friday. I don’t have a period per se, but I would say I have a lot of other types of punctuation going on. Stuff coming out of me in some ways.

Chappell: [Laughs]

Trixie: I was so excited to interview you, I’ve been listening to you, and I just want to say, I’m so happy you’re having this boom. But some of us faggots have been here for four, five years.

Chappell: I know! Especially you.

Trixie: Not to tell you my trauma, but when “Pink Pony Club” came out, I was like “Obviously this bitch is a theater faggot or something.” Like it just had that vibe, levels, storytelling. And obviously a big, sugary dose of pop to it that was almost like early Robyn. I was like, “This person knows about storytelling.” Then my friend, his name is Tom, at the time was talking about you. You worked at a restaurant at the time?

Chappell: A donut shop!

Trixie: He was like, “She works at a donut shop and she’s a pop star.” I was like, I love it. Then I showed it to a cool Gen Z person I know, and I was like, “Look at this, look at this artist! She’s so cool.” And you know what? She said to me, and I will never recover: “Yeah, like every white millennial gay guy has been showing me her.” It made me feel like, fuck me, fuck my drag and fuck you. She kind of said fuck you to both of us.

Chappell: You know what? Fine.

Truly, I am not trying to be a chic bitch.

Trixie: She scalped us both. I was already bald, but you’ll get there. It was like a game of telephone, the way you broke. It was like, really cool, where people knew first, and then they told other really cool queer people, and then they told other girls, and then they told people who work radio. It was this beautiful pyramid of people discovering you. You’re a new artist to the world, but not a new artist to me. How many years have you really been doing you, as you?

Chappell: Wait, let’s see, I came out with my first song in 2017, wait, 2016. So I’ve been Chappell Roan for almost a decade, professionally.

Trixie: Were you super independent at first, or do a lot of production yourself?

Chappell: I was signed for five years to Atlantic Records when I started making music, and then I was dropped in 2020 like everyone was. When “Pink Pony Club” came out, and the rebrand came out, in 2022, I was like: “Bitch, I need to pull myself together.” I was dropped, I was working at a donut shop. No money. That’s what I was doing. “My Kink is Karma,” “Naked in Manhattan,” it was all with my friends and for free. It was so fun and amazing, but I would never do that again.

Trixie: It felt like it prompted a renaissance for you. It was almost like you felt this thing slip out of your hands. Which artistically, probably gave you a case of the, “Well fuck it, let’s just do what we want.”

Chappell: Yeah, I gave myself a year. I moved back to LA with no fucking money. I had moved back in with my parents during the pandemic because I couldn’t get a job in LA, and I was like, “I have to give this a shot, one more year.” If I fucking hate LA and make no money from music, then I’m just going to move to Nashville or something, go to school, because obviously this is not for me. It kind of worked.

Trixie: I would say it definitely worked. It’s currently working. You’re from the Midwest like I am. It’s so unique. Especially when you live in LA and when you find another person from the Midwest. It’s weird, it’s like, somebody who believes me. Somebody who will understand potato salad.

Chappell: Yes, yes!

Trixie: Being Midwestern definitely creeps in. Especially in your work. I feel like I can see it and smell it and taste it. Where do you see it?

Chappell: I see it in my fashion references. Truly, I am not trying to be a chic bitch. I love the chic bitches, but I am not trying to be like that. Nothing turns me off more than frickin’ luxury brands. I feel like that is, at least where I grew up, Victoria’s Secret was a luxury brand. I’m not kidding, that’s luxury. Like, Miss Me Jeans. I feel like it comes out in my fashion. It comes out in how I speak. I’m very, very grateful for being from the Midwest. I think it’s very easy to think of the Midwest and South as a monolith. I’m just like, “No, bitch, there are queens everywhere, regardless if you think there are or not.” There are queer people everywhere in these teeny tiny towns who are the same as the bitches on the coasts. They just don’t have access to what those girls have. I’m so grateful, because I’m like, no, the flyover states are not just Trump country. There are people desperately wanting to leave like you and me.

Trixie: I mean, “flyover state” is a state of mind. When somebody says flyover state, what you’re saying is that you think this whole area is not worth stopping in, even in the short term. When people say flyover state, I’m like, obviously you’re not from this area, and you don’t think it’s worth it. Being from Milwaukee, people think it’s Minnesota. It’s all Fargo, Fargo and the Green Bay Packers. I also have to ask about you being an up-and-coming beauty influencer on the internet. I feel like all the pop girls are either makeup girls or they have that one look that they can pull off when all else fails. You have a little more, you push your creativity. What does your approach to building your face look like?

Chappell: I love a pure white face. I started to do that, because that’s what the country boys called gay people in my hometown. Clowns. Like, they were really embarrassing, like clowns, they danced like clowns.

Trixie: Clowns? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Chappell: I was just like, “Bitch, I’ll show you a clown, if you want to see a clown!” So I started doing that and also referencing the girls in the ‘20s, all the classic stuff. Also my blue eyeshadow, I always love blue eyeshadow and a big red lip, glitter, my favs.

Trixie: The album artwork, with the super fair face, and sumptuous, glitter-red lips. Super graphic eyes. Then when you started playing this new record, when you played on TV, and I could see your face blown up, I’d get in there and look like, “This whore is painted out of her mind.”

Chappell: Thank you. I had no money to pay a fucking makeup artist.

Trixie: You did the makeup?

Chappell: Yes!

Trixie: I was really looking at it like, “Oh, I wonder if she had someone do this. It’s so beautiful.”

Chappell: I did not get a makeup artist until this year.

Trixie: What do you think about having a makeup artist?

Chappell: I love it. I don’t have to carry anything. It’s… everything is new and different. Every week, I’m just like, “Makeup artist please help me! I need your help!” It’s very nice on tour, because makeup takes a long time, obviously.

Trixie: People don’t realize that when you tour, gemstones, flatbacks, pearls, glitter, you do that every day? Your face gets chewed up.

Chappell: Oh, yes, bitch. It’s so much. And I’m not even doing drag drag. I laid my eyebrows for Boston Calling, but that’s the first time on tour. I’m not doing that again. I can’t imagine what Alaska goes through, every fucking night, doing full drag, and performing for two hours.

There are queer people everywhere in these teeny tiny towns who are the same as the bitches on the coasts.

Trixie: It’s crack-headed. I DJed two days ago outdoors in Pensacola, Florida. All the sickening gays, and I was at the beach, and it was 85 and humid. I got on the microphone and said, “You sun-damaged faggots. I will never forgive you,” because I expect gay people to control the weather. Is there anything in your dressing room backstage that you have to have, have to do, a food or ritual?

Chappell: This is my most-asked question and my answer is always the same. Glass water bottle, flat. I’m a Midwest bitch. I don’t like the spicy water.

Trixie: That’s your red M&Ms. I feel like as a performer, when you come up in the clubs and the gay clubs and the bars and in the Prides, even if you ask for that shit, half the time they’re not going to do it anyway. They can’t even come up with a secure dressing room and a bottle of water sometimes.

Chappell: Especially at these Prides, I’m like, I can’t.

Trixie: These Prides should ironically be ashamed. They should be called Shame Festivals, because they put Chappell Roans and drag queens in Winnebagos with no air conditioning, and they throw a raw vegan Beyond Burger on the floor for the headliner. It’s really wild. I think you and I should start a nonprofit for protecting drag queens and queer performers at Prides.

Chappell: Creating a union.

Trixie: How did you get into makeup? Please say your mom took you to the Clinique counter when you were 13.

Chappell: My mom does not do makeup. She won’t listen to me about anything I tell her. She won’t even do moisturizer. But I grew up watching the downfall of the beauty community on YouTube.

Trixie: Oh, you’re that age. That exact age.

Chappell: I learned my shit from Jeffree Star. Like, that’s the vibe.

Trixie: Different times.

Chappell: Different times.

Trixie: You started doing makeup at a time where that was like, peak heavy makeup.

Chappell: It was Insta baddie makeup.

Trixie: What do you think about that clean girl shit?

Chappell: Been through it. Don’t work.

Trixie: By the government, at gunpoint. I’m not blowing smoke, you really are a great makeup artist. You recently referenced a Lady Miss Kier look —

Chappell: Bye!

Trixie: There’s always been this dialogue between pop stars and drag queens. I feel like you’re the missing link, because you’re part pop star, part drag queen.

Chappell: It’s the only way to do it. Because then you don’t get caught in what I was talking about before, like this chic shit. Look, you can be a queen who does frickin’ hillbilly shit and also be a Violet Chachki. That’s the beauty of drag, and then making it a pop persona that is a drag queen. It’s like, I’m going out onstage in a frickin’ dress made out of Wrangler pants. I can do that.

Trixie: I always said with every guy I’ve ever dated, when they see me in and out of drag, like, get you a girl who can do neither. I’m gonna try my best at both. I’m going to be 50 percent of what you want to be, but never 100 percent.

Chappell: Never 100.

Trixie: I think something you really embrace in your work, and why the gays love you, and the drag queens love you, and women love you… you really are very open about where you’re from. You really embody and you are who you’re dressed as. What do you feel like, when you get up in your get up, compared to when you go out on stage out of drag.

Chappell: I feel like I’m just being my 10-year-old self. The whole project is to just honor my 10-year-old self. I just rejected feminine — feminine — I wrote this fucking song, “Feminomenon,” and I can’t ever say the actual word.

Trixie: Femininity.

Chappell: Oh, yes, femininity. I hated it. So now my whole persona is just me trying to honor that version of myself that I was never allowed to be.

Trixie: That’s why you really are a drag queen. Your five seconds from RuPaul pulling up a picture and going, “What would you say to little Kayleigh?” That has never happened to me, but what would you do? Would you start crying? Because I feel like that’s Ru’s Red Table Moment.

Chappell: No, I don’t think that would crack me. I think literally anything Michelle says to me would crack me.

Trixie: How do you think you would do as a competitor on Drag Race?

Chappell: I would be fucking Adore, leaving day one. I’d be crying and being like, “No, no, no.” The read? I can’t.

Trixie: Katya and I say if we ever competed again, I would walk in, walk up to the mirror, write something on it, and leave. That’s all you get. We’re getting out of here. You could join us in that. We just walk in, say a funny line, and write on the mirror.

Chappell: I just can’t. If I couldn’t sing, I would not even make the finals at a local show. I can’t really give shows the way that actual queens can.

My whole persona is just me trying to honor that version of myself that I was never allowed to be.

Trixie: I watched your Tiny Desk concert and I have to say: the views on that! You must have noticed it. It got legs and just got seen so quickly. You must be like holy shit, it’s been like two days.

Chappell: I know. It’s felt like that every day for the past five months. I’m just like, “What?” It’s a lot. It feels weird because I’ve been getting recognized a lot. In LA it’s like whatever. But in Syracuse yesterday, I was crying on the phone to my therapist. I was like, “I don’t know what’s going on, this is scary, people are coming up to me and I don’t want to talk to them most of the time, because I’m freaked out. I have nothing else to say.” I’m literally crying on the phone outside on the sidewalk, and this bitch comes up to me and she’s like, “Hey, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry to bother you, but are you Chappell Roan?” I was like, I don’t know how to deal with this at all. Like, god, love the girls, love the girls. Nothing wrong with coming up and saying hello. It’s like, processing the information and coming out on the other side is the most difficult part I think.

Trixie: There are a lot of theories that fame causes PTSD. It’s difficult. It’s not what you think it’s going to be. It’s great, but it’s so odd. I had a similar experience, I was at a fucking Tender Greens in Downtown Los Angeles once, with my friend, and I was talking to him about something and crying. Crying more than you should in public at a fucking Tender Greens into the salad. I’m sobbing, and this girl comes up and tells me, “Oh my god, I love you.” I was like, sobbing, “Will you tell people I was eating a salad?” I relate to your story, because even though you were crying, she was still like, “I should stop and say hi.” Whereas if you saw a stranger crying, you’d be like, look away and be polite. Let them have a little privacy.

PAPER: Your art is obviously something a lot of people have connected to. Queer people feel very connected to you both, because of who you are as artists. Does it ever feel isolating?

Trixie: There’s an imbalance, right? When two people who don’t know each other meet, they have the exact same amount of information about each other. If somebody knows a lot about you, if you’re like Chappell and I, and you share so much of yourself, people know a lot before they even meet, touch your hand, shake your hand. There’s just an imbalance. So for me, the conversation becomes me grilling them, because I’m trying to know more about them. I feel so exposed that they know so much about me. I don’t know, what do you think?

Chappell: I think that I get so freaked out that I don’t know what they know, what they think, that I just try to get out of the conversation quickly. I’m really scared of it turning into a phobia. I know that happens a lot with people. I just think it’s bizarre. It feels isolating because everyone around me, my team, my friends who I’m with at the time — the most awkward part is the three seconds after an interaction, and then I have to go back and be like… anyway! Sorry. It’s just uncomfortable. I don’t know how people are so chill with it sometimes, because I’ve never been comfortable with a fan interaction.

Trixie: I feel the same sometimes, like, the other thing that’s hard with it is they love the fake person. I’m out of drag crying at a Tender Greens. I’m never going to live up to that. I get afraid of ruining it for them by not being funny, or cooler. The other thing about what you and I do is we dress up, so even if someone doesn’t know us, the way we look when we’re about to work, or just work… people’s minds are like: “Hey, are you someone I know?” People love Trixie and Katya so much, I worry about not living up to that, because with your music, or like what I do, people attach a lot of personal time in their life, or something about them, to you. I don’t want to ruin that by not saying the right thing. But you know what Kim Chi taught me? She’s really good at this. She’s like, “Trixie, it’s not really about what you say back to them. Let them say what they need to say. And listen to it. That means so much, you don’t actually have to do much.” She’s like, just let them talk, let them say what they want to say. They get so much out of that, because they just want to feel like you heard them.

Chappell: Just listening is enough.

Trixie: Especially in the gay world. When I was dating, I’d be like, well, if I’m going to find gay men who don’t know who Trixie is, I don’t know who that is. So we’re just going to roll with it.

Chappell: It’s the scary part as well, dating. People knowing who you are, or your art. It’s very uncomfortable. It just gets weird.

Trixie: If I figured out if somebody knew who I was, it was like instant friend zone.

Chappell: I agree.

Trixie: Or they would do this thing, where they will not lead with them knowing. They pretend they don’t know, which gives me Scream vibes. They’ll be like, “So what do you do for a living?” And I’ll go to their Instagram, and they’re following me. What are we doing here? What do you do for a living? Well, I’m a family dynamics therapist down at John Hopkins. Again, this speaks to the imbalance. Sometimes it helps to think, “Wow, Beyoncé can’t go to CVS.” At least you and I could still go to Target.

Chappell: I’m going to quit if I ever have to have a bodyguard.

Trixie: Orville Peck has it all figured out. We should have just hid our faces.

Chappell: That’s what I say. If I could redo all of this, I would be Daft Punk. 10,000 percent. I would not have fucking done this.

Trixie: I’ve been out at gay bars with Orville Peck where they make him take pictures of me. I’m like, wow, you just asked Orville Peck to take a picture of us, but you don’t know that.

Chappell: Do you ever go out in disguise, but not in drag?

Trixie: Katya and I have thought about having separate drag characters that look totally different, so we can do local gigs. I used to put my glasses on, and a baseball cap, and David, my boyfriend, would be like, “Do you think people don’t see your face? Because you have clear Warby Parkers?” My assistant says, I think it’s from Oprah, that if you don’t want to go to the rodeo, don’t go to the rodeo. If you want to go out in public and not be recognized, you got to go to the straight shit. We got to go to NASCAR. We got to go to Gander Mountain. We got to go to Applebee’s. Like, you and I can’t go to Sephora.

Chappell: We cannot go to Sephora!

Trixie: We can’t go to Limited Too. We can’t go to Claire’s.

Chappell: I get so freaked out, but it’s like bitch, because you’re at a frickin’ Buffalo Exchange right now. Of course, you’re going to get recognized right now.

Trixie: Right, or at the Apple Store, where all the queer people work. So, you’re doing Kentuckiana Pride. Have you done Louisville before?

Chappell: No, I haven’t. I think I’m doing drag, I’m doing Divine, because she’s my hero.

I’m going to quit if I ever have to have a bodyguard.

Trixie: I’ve done Lexington and Louisville Pride each like, probably 10 times over the years. I’m going to tell you, Kentucky is gay as hell. There are so many gay people, and they are so gay. I was just there this weekend, and they are so gay. I feel like the more oppressive the temperature of the state is, when someone like you shows up, those whores are going to show up with bells on losing their minds. They’re going to have little cowboy boots and they’re going to cream their pants.

Chappell: I’m obsessed. I’m very excited. I love going to hick-ass states. Or, the craziest bitches are in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It’s the small ass towns.

Trixie: Totally. When I worked in Pensacola this weekend, I was like, come on red state! The people, they’re so into it. They say thank you for coming, nobody ever comes here. That always makes me feel good. I’m sure you get this too, but I have to really find people in LA that I feel comfortable with. The gays and the queer people in the flyover states, those are the people I can sit down with.

Chappell: I totally agree.

Trixie: Those are the people who fight to exist.

Chappell: Yeah, like, we didn’t go to an art school, bitch. You are not allowed to come out, like, even in college.

Trixie: In LA, we can put on a rainbow flag and put 12 dildos up our asses and nobody cares. No one gives a fuck. Then the people we’re performing for, in some of these states, the money they used to buy tickets to see us was made at a job where they’re afraid of acting gay. That’s how severe it is.

Chappell: Yep, they will never, in the next 20 years, wear a crop at their job.

Trixie: Have you ever performed at Pride? Or do you have an early memory of your first Pride?

Chappell: I’ve never done Pride, I’ve never played Pride.

Trixie: I think we’re done here.

Chappell: Isn’t that so crazy?

Trixie: It is, however. I tell people this all the time about my own shows, and you probably feel the same way. Solid Pink Disco is a pop-up Pride anywhere.

Chappell: My shows are themed, and one of my themes, I can’t do it anymore, because surprise, I hate the rainbow.

Trixie: Hate it.

Chappell: But I would do rainbow-themed, for small ass towns in nowhere, Florida, where they can’t say gay. That is their Pride. They will not be able to wear a rainbow again, because they’re only allowed to wear a rainbow for one day of the year. Maybe, maybe! My first one will either be Kentucky or Pittsburgh Pride.

Trixie: That’s magical. I hope it’s Kentucky. I think my first Pride was in high school. I have a lesbian aunt, Aunt Gooch, she’s a plumber with a mullet.

Chappell: Period, period.

Trixie: Cut-off T-shirts, big arms, tattoos, smokes cigarettes, wears a watch. You know lesbians love a watch. The face is on the wrist. She is so awesome, and she was such an influence to me because I was so scared of being gay. Then here’s my aunt who’s like, “Yeah, I’m fucking queer? What else?” You know what I mean? She doesn’t give up. I love Joan Jett and she took me to see Joan Jett when I was 15. I remember standing in a sea of lesbians and Joan Jett’s up there, 60 years old, of course in leather pants, singing a song called “Fetish” and thrusting, and I remember being like, “I am gay.” You might not have a good Pride story, but for a lot of people, you’re going to be their flagship Pride story, in 10 years like, “Oh my god, remember Chappell Roan?”

Chappell: “What happened to her?”

Trixie: “Too many people said hi to her at the mall and she went into hiding. That’s basically what happened.” You’re going to be that story for a lot of people.

Photography: Hector Clark
Styling: Genesis Webb
Makeup: Doniella Davy
Hair: Faye Celeste


Digitech: Matt Gaillet
Photo assistants: Kealan Shilling, Nick Green
Styling assistants: Hunter Clem, Mara Kai
Makeup assistant: Gabi Alvarez
Production assistant: Kelly Col

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Managing editor: Matt Wille
Production: Sammy Case
Editorial producer: Angelina Cantú
Music editor: Erica Campbell
Cover type: Jewel Baek
Interview: Trixie Mattel
Story: Joan Summers
Publisher: Brian Calle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *