As the first eliminated from "RuPaul’s Drag Race" Season 15, Irene DuBois is showing no signs of quietly fading into the background.
As a seasoned Pacific Northwestern queen, DuBois (the drag sister of Season 14 finalist Bosco), DuBois has stunning looks and talent to spare, both of which will help her take her drag to the next level post-Drag Race. I sat down to dish with Irene DuBois about her brief Drag Race run, her drag influences, and she gave me the background on her now-legendary ice water talent show performance.
Michael Cook: First question, was it really truly not 40 inches of hair on Luxx Noir London’s head?
Irene DuBois: I don’t know, I never got the chance to measure it with a ruler (laughs)! All I have is speculation.
MC: Your "RuPaul’s Drag Race" journey is over for now, but it’s a true accomplishment to be part of the show. What was your experience like?
IDB: It is such a lovely privilege to be among artists that are all at the top of their game. Being a local drag queen up until this point, I had been at the top of my scene and there have been other girls who I consider my peers. To be in a room with 15 other girls who all are of a national quality was just so incredible. The way that we are able to compare things that we do and share tricks and tips, would be the best part; the sisterhood for me.
MC: Seattle drag is known to be absolutely phenomenal and filled with talent. What do you think it is about drag in Seattle that gives it that little extra something?
IDB: I think that drag in Seattle as a city is very influenced by the grunge movement, the bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana got their start there. It has been sort of a holdover in our communities since then to forge your own path and be different, do something outside the norm, There is really a lot of resistance to the mainstream and I think that gives drag queens a lot of room to practice and experiment and find what really makes them special and what makes up unique. We harness that and then when we are able to take it onto a platform like "Drag Race," we know what were are doing and we are confident in who we are; in a way that a lot of girls who grow up in scenes where they are pushed into these specific segmented boxes just aren’t prepared. The other thing about Seattle drag that I think is so spectacular is the audience. Seattle audiences, whether you are doing drag, music, or live performances, they are probably the most supportive audiences in the nation. They are always making noise, tipping, and having a great time. That really gives us permission to play when we are on the stage.
MC: So it probably gives you a bit of freedom being able to perform in front of audiences that are that receptive is that fair to say?
IDB: Oh yeah! Because we’re not having to generate energy from within, we are able to feed off of the energy that the audience is giving.
MC: Your talent show to me was a bit of a palate cleanser, and there was definitely the indication that if it had been longer, there was something special there. What about that talent is different when it’s done a bit longer?
IDB: You know, I am giving much more specific detailed instructions on how to find things like water and ice, and what those things do for you as a human. Everything is also spaced out a little bit more, I had to rush through each of the beats. Each of those beats normally takes about a minute to two minutes. When it’s all stretched out, I think it is easier to appreciate the pointlessness of it all. I’m very interested in the queer art of failure. The pointlessness of it all. I’m a crossdresser, I don’t take anything that I do super seriously. Unfortunately, I am not one of those drag queens that is aiming to be a pop star down the line. I am aiming to poke fun at the world that we live in. Unfortunately I think the tone that was set for the talent show, this season at least, was sort of looking for drag queens that have high energy and that pop star quality.
MC: In today’s climate, people can tend to be hyper-sensitive and in some cases, do you think it has taken some of the fun out of the art of drag?
IDB: I do. I think that a big part of that is that people's introduction to drag is Drag Race, my own introduction to drag was "Drag Race" and I had a limited perspective on what drag was. Obviously, I was very hungry for information and consumed as much drag media as I could when I was in my early twenties! I learned a lot about the history of the art form, and that the icons that exist today are not necessarily people that jump off of boxes and do the splits. I’m talking about people like Coco Peru, Jackie Beat, and Lypsinka who embody what it means to be camp and poke fun at the world and the reality that we live in. I think that whether or not you thought my ice water bit was funny, it is iconically bad at that. I think that it will be remembered as one of the biggest failures of all time and honestly, that is an honor to me. And if I can make people laugh even a fraction of the amount that those people have done, then I will have done my job.
MC: What do you see next for your career?
IDB: I would like to long-term be the artistic director of a venue that produces high-caliber drag productions. I have always thought that drag and live performances in bars could use a little elevating. I would like to take a lot of the money that I earn from this experience and invest it in a venue that I can sort of use to uplift queens in my local scene because Seattle is still so full of talent and find a way to produce drag content, outside of five-minute lip sync numbers for drunk patrons. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I still plan on doing that and I love that I just would like there to be options.
MC: What has your reaction been from the fandom? As the first eliminated from the season, your perspective is no doubt unique.
IDB: I don’t know whether the algorithms have been set up to make me feel incredible or it is just an overwhelming amount of love out there, but I have received so many lovely messages and comments. They’re letting me know that whether or not the show wanted them to, they got my sense of humor, they got what I was going for, they appreciated what I was doing and they were sad to see me go. It has been very touching and very affirming. They are being very kind to me.
MC: Leaving Drag Race is a blank page of sorts, and you can truly write your own chapter. At this point, who is Irene DuBois?
IDB: Irene DuBois is a person who is not interested in surrendering their own artists' vision or integrity for anyone or anything, so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.
Follow Irene DuBois on Instagram @irenethealien.