In a few short years, Kandy Muse has become one of the most polarizing and buzzed about performers in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory. As she soared to the Top Two on All Stars 8, Muse sparkled in many of the challenges and has become one of only two performers (next to Raven) in Drag Race herstory to rise to the top of two separate seasons and not take the crown. I sat down with Kandy to chat about her All Stars run, the Drag Race fandom, and what was different for her during her All Stars season.
Michael Cook: Condragulations on your phenomenal showing on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8. You now have the dubious distinction of being the only other queen (next to Raven) who got to the finale on two seasons, yet didn’t snatch the crown. How do you feel about the whole experience?
Kandy Muse: I think its a pretty iconic position to be in. I’m only the second girl in the entire Drag Race franchise to make first runner up in their original season and All Stars. Just to show you how amazing the doll is, she can make it that far twice in her seasons.
MC: You came into the All Stars werkroom as a bit of an older and wiser Kandy Muse, and truly seemed galvanized and intent on winning the crown.
KM: Yeah, the twenty five year old Kandy Muse when she was on Season 13, she thought she knew everything in the entire world, and that just was not true. The twenty eight year old Kandy when she went in to film, I had been on the road for so long and met so many people and heard so many different stories about their walks of life. I as a person, took all of that in and really grew as a person. So when I came into All Stars, I knew that I had one goal; to show the world the talents that I wasn’t necessarily able to show on Season 13 because I was there to have fun and have fun with the other girls; and to take the crown, and in the end that was my entire being and goal for me being there.
MC: So much of the All Stars experience is working with people that you might not have worked with in the past and challenges that you might have not done in the past. You however, had taken part in all of those challenges in the past. What was your favorite challenge during your All Stars experience?
KM: As much as I hated the Rusical on my original season-you know I ended up in the bottom and it got me essentially eliminated-I was really excited to do the Rusical this time. I think as a queer people we have a deep down love for performing and feeling our pop star energy. During the Rusical, the choreography, the energy, the vocals, and it was Joan Crawford — who doesn’t love Mommie Dearest? I was definitely excited for that and I was excited for the makeover.
I was excited for everything, but if you know me you know I hate Snatch Game (laughs)! Being on Drag Race is like being at a queer summer camp where you are there to do drag in front of RuPaul every single day, which is amazing. Honestly, doing everything, ever single day is a brand new lesson to learn. You may think you know everything but trust, Drag Race has a way of throwing twists and turns!
MC: Speaking of the Rusical, could you believe that “No More Wire Hangers” would become a summer anthem at all of the clubs?
KM: It is crazy! I remember when we did the song, after we filmed the Rusical everyone on set kept humming the melody and I was like “okay werk”! When I got home I could not get it out of my head and when the episode aired, the kids went wild on TikTok and were doing their choreography with the hangers at home. I was on Fire Island for Fourth of July and they were playing it at all of the pool parties. It was incredible, honestly, i was just so happy. I remember being so ecstatic about it when we filmed and I remember saying to myself “wow this is a bop”! For it to actually become the summer gay anthem next to “Padam Padam”, I mean hello!
MC: Who did you love to work with the most out of your All Stars cast that you did not get to work with in the past?
KM: A lot of our girls were from older seasons, I watched Drag Race as a child (laughs)! I was super excited to work with Jessica Wild. I remember watching her season when I was in tenth grade and I didn’t really know what drag was, but I was really intrigued as to what was happening on my television. For me to finally be able to work with Jessica, we become really good friends. She was such a breath of fresh in the werkroom and she was so much fun to work with. It was incredible.
I was excited to work with Monica (Beverly Hillz) and Naysha (Lopez), I was excited to honestly to work with everyone. On your original season, you’re all new girls coming into this new experience in your life. On All Stars, you have been through this, traveled, and have toured; you are all coming back to prove something. It was honestly exciting to work with every single girl that was on the original single digit season; to me, that was the golden age of Drag Race. They were girls that had been through it before Drag Race was this huge monster of a machine that it is now, working with them was really great.
MC: I spoke with Alexis Michelle about eliminating La La Ri, and she provided a very detailed answer. Conversely, your non-elimination of Jimbo (and choosing Jessica Wild) was equally controversial. What was your thinking during that elimination?
KM: Here’s the thing, I know people think nowadays “you know, you could have won, you could have sent Jimbo home”. If I am going to win, I am going to win whether Jimbo is there or not. At the end of the day, it really comes down to the work that you put into the entire season for each and every episode. The reality is, I am a real ass bitch through and through and I stick by my word. If I tell you that you and I have an alliance, then that is what it is. Jimbo and I are best friends and I don’t know about you but I would not go into a competition and send my best friend home, whether she had 16 wins against me or not. To me, I would rather leave with integrity than with $200,000. I knew that leaving Drag Race I could be the first plus size queen or I could be the second girl in history who is a two time runner up next to Raven, who is an Emmy winner. Regardless, the title would have been iconic.
I thought to myself, who do I want to go all the way to the end with and have a good time with? And who I am I going to enjoy sharing the experience with while the show is airing? As much as I love Jessica and she is my Latin sister, and I love her to death, I knew that Jimbo and I had this pact prior to going on Drag Race. We threw a huge crowing event in Brooklyn the night of the finale and it was one of the best nights of my life I thought to myself “See? Tonight happened because Jimbo and I are a great team and we make this happen. Had it been anyone else, this night would not have happened”.
There is more that went into it other than eliminating someone to win a crown, honestly. I knew also at the same time, that some people would tell me I should not care about the backlash. The reality is, this world is not built for the brown girls, the black girls and the plus size girls .When you are put in a position of having to eliminate one of the fan favorites, you think to yourself “Well I don’t want to deal with that backlash”. Now some people may say “Don’t worry about it, it won’t affect you,” but it will. Fans have a lot of say with how your career plays out for the rest of your life.
MC: You bring up an interesting point. Drag Race All Star Aja made remarks recently that queens like yourself and Aja-brown, East Coast and savvy-are looked at by the fans differently. Have you encountered any issues yourself?
KM: You know its interesting any time RuPaul’s Drag Race posts any content of me, the comments are just lit up with a lot of negativity. The reality though, is that my shows are always sold out. My meet and greet lines always have to be cut off because there are so many people. I don’t really take people's opinions online to heart. At the end of the day, I don’t read the comments, I post my things and I go. That is how I keep my peace of mind. The fans perspective, the people that hate me great, if you don’t great. I know the people that love me and my fans, I have the most incredible fans who are always fighting for me online and have supported my through everything.
The reality is, I know some people may have opinions on me or my drag family, but I think people are not used to having the banjee girls. Now in the world that we live in, everyone wants to play by the rules. I’ve never been a bitch to play by the rules, I make my own rules. I think people aren’t used to that and I think sometimes it throws people off. At the same time, I hear people say that they love how real I am and how I just stick to who I am. At the end of the day, I am never going to change who I am just to make people feel comfortable. Either you are going to like me or you are not going to like me, but its not my job to make you like me, its my job to be myself.
MC: You now have a WOW Presents Plus show, Inside The Producers Studio; tell me about it.
KM! Yes! It kicked off Aug. 7 on WOW Presents Plus and I am so excited. I have always dreamed of having my own talk show and finally here we are on WOW Presents Plus, they have given me an opportunity to have my own show. Each and every episode are going to have different special guests and producing a different part of your life. Every person that I have had on my show has had some iconic Untucked moments and iconic moments on Drag Race. We are going to get into the fun of Drag Race, the fun of drag, and the drama and just having a good time. I am super excited about it; Season 1 of Inside The Producer’s Studio is really really good and I can’t wait for everyone to tune in and watch it! Now WOW Presents Plus, tomorrow CNN (laughs)!
MC: The world is so polarizing right now, and our community is receiving so much hate. How do you encourage people to push through against the worst parts of our world now?
KM: You know, I always tell people that no matter how big you get in your life, someone is always going to be there to critique you negatively, try to put you down, to try to fight your happiness. The reality is, we can’t worry about what other people think about us. Like with the drag ban, attacks on the trans community and the drag community, and just the general anti-LGBTQ laws, the only thing we can do is be ourselves through and through, 100% unapologetically. That is the motto that I live by, that is what has gotten me this far in my life and my career. At the end of the day if you worry what other people are thinking about you, you are not living authentically. Life is hard as it is; to be a living and breathing human being. The only thing we can do is to have a good time and enjoy life. Life is very short, if you have the opportunity to educate someone, than do so. They might not want to listen or they might want to listen. If they don’t, you tried. Live your life.