Exclusive Interview: Drag Race’s blessed & highly favoured Heidi N Closet “it’s amazing how the drag community has been able to adapt in these difficult times”

She may not have made it to tomorrow night’s RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 grand finale, but she has undoubtedly won an indelible place in viewers’ hearts, and is likely to snatch this year’s Miss Congeniality title. Hailing from the small country town of Ramseur, North Carolina, Heidi added some new phrases to the Drag Race lexicon like “leprosy print”, wowed us with some fierce lewks, charmed us with that distinctive whistle through the gap in her front teeth and had us in stitches with her commentary.

With Season 12 nearly at an end, The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann spoke exclusively with Heidi N Closet, the queen who had almost as many names as outfit changes, about her time on the series, first experimenting with makeup, being around the legendary RuPaul, doing virtual drag performances, why she loves Will & Grace and her ultimate lip sync number.

Heidi N Closet. Courtesy RuPaul’s Drag Race/VH1.

James Kleinmann, The Queer Review: Condragulations my dear on Season 12. It’s such a great line up of girls, but at The Queer Review we are confirmed Closet Cases and we were really sorry to see you go. How would you sum up your Season 12 experience?

Heidi N Closet: “I would sum it up as a beautiful, amazing, once in a lifetime experience that I was so honored to be a part of!”

Which runway look are you proudest of and why?

“I’m most proud of the Bride Wore Black because I had input and helped design the gown. It’s amazing seeing your vision come to life.”

Which challenge are you proudest of and why?

“The info commercial, Heidi Hydrates, because it forced me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to go the extra mile. Being in a cast of such strong girls I had to give it 110%.”

Heidi N Closet. Courtesy RuPaul’s Drag Race/VH1.

How have you been getting on during this crazy time of quarantine? What’s been keeping you feeling blessed and highly favoured? Have you been getting into drag very often while at home?

“I’m doing well during the quarantine because I’m connected via the internet with all the amazing fans who continue to show their love and support. I have been getting in drag a lot with side projects and completing Cameo Videos for the fans!”

What have the virtual drag shows been like to perform?

“The digital shows have been a change, but for the good. I’m still able to connect with fans and show my talents to the world. It’s amazing how the drag community has been able to adapt in these difficult times!”

When did you first get curious about makeup and what was your grandmother’s response when she found you experimenting?

“The first time in makeup I told my grandmother it was for a high school play, when it was actually just to play in makeup and to experiment. I was in high school and wanted to see what it was all about. My grandmother wanted to help because she thought it was for the school play, so I went along with it and let her help!”

It sounds like you have a great relationship with your grandmother, has she been watching you on Drag Race?

“My grandmother and I get along well. She hasn’t been able to watch the season all the way through, but she has seen certain parts and clips and enjoys seeing me on TV and is happy for me and what I’ve done.”

What was your first exposure to drag? And tell us a bit about the first time you ever performed in drag; how did it go down with the audience?

“I actually watched RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 1 when it aired live and that was when I was first exposed to drag. I first performed in drag on October 2nd 2014. The audience loved it and I won because it was for a local bar’s talent show!”

You’ve said that you were made fun of for just being yourself when you were growing up, how does it feel to now be celebrated for being your authentic self?

“It feels amazing and it’s a complete 180 to what I’m used to. It blows my mind that I’m now celebrated for something that was hard growing up, and now it is something that people love. I’m glad everyone gets to see the authentic me and they love me for it.”

There can be a hundred people in a room and 99 people don’t believe in you but one person does. Who is someone who’s always believed in you?

“That one person would be Jacob, he’s been by my side helping well before Drag Race and pushes me to be the best I can be. He’s always in my corner cheering me on.”

You really listened to RuPaul’s suggestions and feedback and took it all on board, like ‘Heidi Hydrates’! Tell us a bit about spending time with RuPaul, what’s something that being around him has taught you that you’ll carry with you?

“One thing I learned from being around RuPaul is to laugh whenever possible and don’t take anything too seriously, because life’s too short. Enjoy the time you have and make the most of it.”

You’re pretty active on social media, what do you enjoy about interacting with your fans, or “Closet Cases” as you affectionately call them?

“I like the fact that my fans have a similar personality to me and are hilarious. They keep in touch and check in on me on the regular which means the world and they feel genuine. It’s like building real relationships and knowing we’ve got each other’s backs. I love all my closet cases!”

MJ Rodriguez as Blanca. CR: Michael Parmelee/FX. Copyright 2019, FX Networks. 

What is your favourite LGBTQ+ film or TV series, something that’s had a big impact on you and why?

“I love the TV series Pose. It really dives deep into parts of our community that haven’t always been discussed and it hits on some sensitive topics and makes them known. I also love Will & Grace, it’s one of those shows that can always make you feel better, no matter what you’re going through.”

Work Me Down performed by Laura Hunter

Finally before we let you sashay away, what is your ultimate lip-sync number?

“My ultimate lip sync number is Work Me Down by Laura Hunter from the Disorderlies soundtrack. It’s a five minute song that’s upbeat throughout and you literally dance from the beginning to the end, which is my favorite thing to do!”

By James Kleinmann

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 grand finale airs on VH1 at 8pm EST/7c on Friday May 29th 2020.

Keep up to date with all things Heidi at her official website. TheHeidiNCloset.com, and follow Heidi N Closet on Twitter @HeidiNCloset and on Instagram @heidincloset.

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