It’s been almost 10 years since Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 first graced our TV screens on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And it’s been almost a year since the last time BuzzFeed spoke with this Legendary Legend, who at the time was about to release her memoir, My Name’s Yours, What’s Alaska?: A Memoir, and was preparing to go on her first solo tour at the beginning of this year. Unfortunately, Omicron had other plans, and Alaska was forced to postpone her tour.
However, Alaska has kept busy over the last year; aside from continuing to co-host her podcasts, she also co-launched MOM Plus, a subscription service for her and Willam’s Moguls of Media podcasting company, released the AAA Girls documentary, Access All Areas, held a series of pop diva-themed shows at Brooklyn’s 3 Dollar Bill, and held her annual The Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Awards Contest Competition pageant. If all that wasn’t enough, Alaska is also preparing to go back on the road — her postponed tour — starting at the end of October, and that is in support of her new album Red 4 Filth. She’s also set to star in her own musical, Drag: The Musical — which will run at LA’s the Bourbon Room from Sept. 23 through Oct. 15.
Recently, BuzzFeed got a chance to talk to Alaska about everything from her new album (which is out now) to what made her want to write her own musical. Oh, and, of course, we also talked about whether she’d still be open to coming back to an All-Winners All Stars season.
Hello Alaska, thank you for taking time to talk to us today. Now, I got a chance to talk to you last year just ahead of launch of your memoir, and at the time you were starting to prepare for your Red 4 Filth tour — which you were scheduled to do earlier this year. Of course, Miss Omicron got in the way, and you had to shift your plans a bit. Now you’re starting it at the end of next month. I wanted to ask: Did pushing back the tour end up being a blessing in disguise?
Alaska Thunderfuck 5000: Yeah, totally. It just means we have had more time to make it into what I envisioned it to be. Thinking about it now it’s like, Really? if we were to do it back then. Fuck no, no. It’s such a blessing. So, so grateful for COVID [laughs].
Now of course, you also have a new album, Red 4 Filth, out now. And you’ve released several singles and music videos for it. Both musically and visually the album draws on the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Did you always want to make a Y2K-inspired album, or was that something that just sorta fell into place?
AT5000: Well, that time period of music is really, really important to me — and sort of was when I discovered music that really attached to my soul in a really real and permanent way. So this album is called Red 4 Flith — with the number four in the title, which is because it’s my fourth solo album. Also, the color red makes me think of a heart, so we wanted a song about, like, love and attraction and relation, which is all really new territory for me, musically. And so it just really fit because like all the songs from this time period, like from the early ’00s and late ’90s, they’re all about love or how you’d like somebody but it was weird, or it’s about your friends. I think it just really came together beautifully.
Is there a song in particular that you’re really excited to perform live?
AT5000: I really love singing “Beautiful (Night 4 a) Breakdown” because it’s really dramatic. And it’s just about, like, having a mental breakdown on the dance floor, which, um, I’ve been there.
Are we gonna get any Y2K looks on the tour? Anything you want to tease?
AT5000: Yeah, totally. I definitely I envision there being this moment where it’s sort of like Dorothy in the Land of Oz, except it’s the year 2000, and so everyone is, like, in Abercrombie — which is kind of equally exciting but also completely terrifying. So yes, there will definitely be some horrible Ashley Tisdale fashions going on.
Please tell me you also are going to have a Juicy Couture tracksuit on at some point.
AT5000: I really hope so! And also a skinny scarf, and a skirt over a skirt over a polo shirt for no reason.
In preparing for this interview, I watched the “What’s in My Bag” interview you did with Amoeba Records. For me, there is something so weirdly personal about talking with or hearing people talk about music — especially about the albums and songs that formed them. In the interview you cited No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, Toni Braxton’s Secrets, Britney Spears’s Oops!… I Did It Again, and Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster as albums that really had huge impacts on your life. And I’m gonna put you on the spot here. But I was curious to know if there any other albums that really formed you or maybe albums that you really love that people might be surprised about.
AT5000: Oh my gosh. Well, my number one artist that I listened to on Spotify last year was Patti LaBelle, which I didn’t even know I was that big of a Patti LaBelle fan, but it makes total sense because she’s sort of who I turn to when I’m, like, I don’t want to listen to drag music. When I don’t want to listen to pop music. When I just need a break. Because that’s my world: I need a break, and I need an escape, and I need to take a bath. It’s always Patti LaBelle, and I’m obsessed with her. I think I think she’s one of the best singers that’s ever lived. And her career, she’s lived a million lives. And I think she’s just still sounds fucking great — I also just saw her in concert. I am obsessed with her. So I guess that’s not a specific album, but a person.
You’ve had an extremely busy 2022; doing shows across the United States, reuniting with the AAA Girls, hosting your own pageant, launching MOM Plus, your own subscription podcast service, doing the Race Chaser and Hot Goss podcasts weekly. But, on top of all that, you also created your own musical, Drag: The Musical — which is premiering later this month here in LA. What made you want to write a musical?
AT5000: So, there’s a lot of musicals that have drag queens in them. But I was always like, the best parts of these musicals are the scenes where it’s at the drag queens’ dressing room, and it’s all the drag queens kiking. I was like, I wish there was a musical that was just about the drag queens, and they were the center. And if there’s any straight people in the story, they are visitors on the turf of the drag queens. So that’s exactly what we did, me and my two writing partners. We’ve been working on it for like six years. We wrote all the music, all the story, and it’s been a journey. But it’s fucking good! I love it. It’s so good.
The soundtrack for it is great! And you’ve got some incredible people on it, like Bob the Drag Queen, Peppermint, Margaret Cho, and Michelle Visage. How did you get everyone involved? And were you afraid of approaching any of them to work with you?
AT5000: I’m always afraid to approach anyone for anything. Anytime I have to ask one of my drag sisters to do anything, I’m always terrified because I hate rejection. I hate getting told no, and so it’s very going out on a limb anytime I do. But for the most part everyone’s like, “Sure. Yes, of course. Why not?” So I’m always petrified, but then I’m always just really honored and pleased at how generous people are with their time and their voice and their energy and their fucking everything.
Now, you’re known for having an opinion or two about Drag Race. I wanted to know what you’re overall thoughts were on All-Winners All Stars? Did you like the no critiques/no eliminations format?
AT5000: Oh, so you’ve heard our podcast [laughs]. Actually, I loved it. I mean, it was watching these great artists get to be great artists. And it wasn’t focused on drama, or conflict, or fighting, or cliques, or any of that stuff. That all took a back seat to just fucking good drag queens doing good drag. So I hope that they saw what a success this season was. And I hope that they kind of keep it going that way, because I was really, really impressed by it. I was really fucking glad I wasn’t there. Because they’re too good at drag — everyone’s too good at drag now. Oh, my god.
That was actually my next question. You were very open about not getting the call to be on this season. So would you be open to doing a future season? And who would you be most excited and or terrified to compete with?
AT5000: Well, I’d be most excited and most terrified to compete with Bob the Drag Queen. Because I really love working with Bob; like, we’ve done a few things together, and we just have a great chemistry and a great rapport. So instantly, we would be in an alliance. Bob, I’m already calling on you for an alliance if you’re reading this. But also I would be going into it with no intention of winning. I just want Bob to win. So I will help Bob any way I can.
Is there any part of you that’s scared to go back? Because you’ve been away from the franchise at this point for some time, and also, you know, that sometimes some of the people in the fandom can be very harsh on the queens. Is that something that would hold you back from returning to the show?
AT5000: No, I mean, all that is really just, like, noise. The talking shit about the queens on this show has gone into such overdrive. That is really shocking and mortifying. But it’s also at the end of the day just noise. RuPaul’s Drag Race started the literal year I started doing drag; like, my path on that show has been its own destiny, and it’s been meant to be whenever it’s happened. So if it ever happened again — which I don’t even think it ever will — but, if I got called to go do RuPaul’s Drag Race again, of course, I will take the opportunity, and I’ll make the most of it because it’s my fucking calling and my destiny on this planet. And I don’t care what anyone has to say about it. I don’t!
I wanted to ask you something very stupid as as a final question. So I’m going to bring it back to the Y2K. If the AAA were ever to do a lip sync performance of the Madonna, Britney, and Christina 2003 VMA opener, who would be Madonna? Who would be Britney? Who would be Xtina? And why?
AT5000: OK, here’s what it will be. Here’s the truth. Courtney would be Madonna. First of all, because Courtney is the oldest, but that’s not the reason. Courtney would be Madonna because she’s the Australian RuPaul, so she’s the main one in the middle. She also would be the one who would make out with Willam (as Britney) because Willam is stunt queen. Willam loves to just have something happen onstage that people have to pull their phones out for. So they would do that. And then the camera would just cut around me, I’d be Christina over here singing, but the camera would just be on those two acting crazy. That’s how I would like it to be. And I get to wear brown hair if I’m Christina.
That’s true! And you get to just sorta stand there and look at them while posing.
AT5000: Yes [laughs]!
Alaska, thank you very much for taking time to talk to us. Can’t wait to see you on the road!
AT5000: Thank youuuu!!!
Red 4 Filth is out now and available on Apple Music or Spotify. Drag: The Musical runs from Sept. 23 through Oct. 15 at LA’s the Bourbon Room, and tickets are available here. And if you want to see Alaska in concert, her tour starts on Oct. 25 in Orlando, Florida, and ends on Dec. 18 in Denver, Colorado. You can check out all the dates and get tickets on her website.
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