Trixie Mattel and Katya on friendship, making it through lockdown and what fans can expect from UNHhhh season 6
The pair star on our Friendship Special digital cover
Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova are not your typical drag queens. The pair, who met competing alongside each other on RuPaul's Drag Race back in 2015, are by far the most popular performers from their season of the show, despite not making it to the final.
So how did they do make it so big? Well, last year alone, they released their debut book, Trixie and Katya's Guide to Modern Womanhood, launched a new beauty-focused podcast, and turned their respective homes into makeshift studios so that they could put out a new World of Wonder miniseries while filming for their hugely popular internet chat show remained on hold - and that was all during a global health crisis.
So we think it's safe to say that they're two of the hardest-working queens in the biz right now.
As they return for another season of the irreverent and addictive UNHhhh, Trixie and Katya sat down with HELLO! for a Friendship Special digital cover to look back on half a decade of working together. They also reveal what they really think of Drag Race UK, what fans can expect from their latest season and whether we'll one day see them touring together...
Trixie and Katya didn't immediately click when they first met on RuPaul's Drag Race
Trixie: "When I listen to other best friends and I listen to how they met, it's so fateful and exciting and when I tell you, ours was a tepid, barely a boil, a simmer that slowly rose to heat - and honestly it's still at room temperature [laughs]."
Katya: "And the flame is in the form of cash!"
Trixie: "Right, like other people they went from room temperature to a boil, we've barely thawed."
Katya: "Yes, we've barely thawed and it all depends on the constant, uninterrupted flow of money."
In fact, their friendship only really blossomed once they left the Werk Room
Trixie: "We became friends after the show because we noticed that neither of us was a typical drag queen."
Katya: "We didn't have the same sense of humour as other drag queens either."
Trixie: "I don't even think we were there for the same reason as the other drag queens. We weren't as good as competitors as the other drag queens, and we had both just made it to the end but didn't have the pressure of winning. I also think that we both often felt like two reporters in a 'Live on the Scene' in a room full of drag queens. People were so odd, and a lot of times it just feels like The Twilight Zone watching the way people act and their personalities."
Katya: "We were normal! [laughs]"
They never thought they'd still be working together five years on from their first joint appearance on World of Wonder
Katya: "The first thing we ever did together was a funny take on an episode on World of Wonder's longest-running web series which is a fashion photoshoot review and so we did that and it worked! We had a fun chemistry and so just ended up doing the web series from that and so it started really simply."
Trixie: "There was just something in the room that was just right. And honestly, in a way that we didn't even know. If you watch the first few episodes of us together, you can tell that we hadn't even clocked that many hours in a room together at that point."
Katya: "We weren't that close of friends in the beginning, we didn't know that much about each other. It was never pitched as 'two iconic best friends', it actually turned into a close friendship."
Trixie: "I'm antisocial, she's antisocial and so being paid to be together is actually a fabulous model for a friendship [laughs]."
They have a low-key friendship that works for them
Trixie: "Well we don't actually hang out that much, but I probably hang out with her more than anyone else - but it's still not much!"
Katya: "We're the type of people, both of us, that we don't need a lot of hours with friends every week. So we'll meet up at the studio or my house but we don't go out to bars and go to dinner."
Trixie: "People shouldn't be shocked, because these type of friendships are normal and valid. I mean, people have their work best friends, and it's kind of like that."
Lockdown was hard, but they made the most out of it
Trixie: "To be honest, we both loved it. I will say this, I missed filming in person. We had to do a lot of projects filming in drag and separate rooms and that was harder."
Katya: "So this is a really great illustration of the difference between us. She became so adept at technology, she learned how to basically create an extremely high tech home studio with a super crisp, high-quality lighting and sound and whatever while my skills in that arena degraded! I actually got worse at what little I knew already about that. So I'm ready for it to be taken care of by somebody else again."
Trixie: "I mean, drag queens, we always work with limited resources. There's never been enough lighting, enough money, good enough sound. You know, there are always problems so this is just another problem and obviously the strong survive and there's going to be drag queens who go, 'Well, Covid happened' but we're not that girl, either of us."
They think the UK version of RuPaul's Drag Race is a breath of fresh air
Katya: "I love it. I love Bimini Bom Bolash. I love her so much. I came out the gate of Bimini stan as a joke, because I was like 'Who is this?!' And then she actually did so well. She has a great trajectory and I think that's amazing especially nowadays where there are so many queens and it's hard to keep track and a lot of them are the same."
Trixie: "Especially in America it's a lot of the same."
Katya: "She's a new icon, you know? To get somebody who's a really unique character in the pantheon of drag race alumni is really welcome. It was a good reinvigorating jolt to what I think many perceived, myself included, as a bit of a tiring, maybe lacklustre vibe to the show just because it's been a bit formulaic."
They've really stepped up their game for season six of UNHhhh
Trixie: "So we've probably filmed ten episodes so far, and we're still filming now. This is the first year that we're not touring and we're actually both home [in LA] to film. So it's not like other years when we're trying to bang out episodes like passing ships."
Katya: "This year we're not scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of topics and we're certainly looking at unconventional areas for inspiration."
Trixie: "But, I will say some of my favourite episodes are the ones where we know nothing about the topic."
Katya: "Or the topic is not even discussed! [laughs]"
We could see Trixie and Katya tour together for the first time - but they need to get back into the groove of live shows first
Trixie: "Honestly, I don't even remember how to do live shows. The cues, the costume changes, the jokes - we're going to have to relearn how to perform live a little bit. This whole experience has for me illuminated how much I like making videos and being on camera. I want to be in LA more in the future. My days of 50 city tours I hope are behind me."
"Katya and I have been touring non-stop since season seven. If you're a musician, you tour for a few months and then you have a few years making music again. That never happened to us, we toured all the time for five years - separately... We've also never toured together. But you never know, we could be touring together..."
Their friendship has got them through hard times
Trixie: "I think we are yin and yang in a lot of ways. When she really wants to do something it's because she likes it and I have a tendency to do it for the money or do it because I want something out of it. I think we remind each other of what's important and I think keep each other alive [laughs]."
Katya: "She doesn't just keep me in entertainment, she keeps me above the ground and I'm very grateful for that."
Trixie: "It's a real friendship. Real friendships have ups and downs. I never think about the difficult times because right now we're so symbiotic. I think it's actually improved our relationship because now that has happened. So now we actually know how to handle each other even better."
UNHhhh Series 6 continues weekly on Wednesdays at 8pm, exclusively on WOW Presents Plus here in the UK. For more information on the streamer of all things drag, visit: wowpresentsplus.com
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