Alaska from RuPaul’s Drag Race dishes with Jerry Nunn
Thu. April 18, 2013 by Jerry Nunn
The fierce queen is the boyfriend of season four winner Sharon Needles and became a member of Needles' Haus of Haunt in Pittsburgh several years ago.
ChicagoPride.com's Jerry Nunn caught up with Alaska backstage at the anniversary party for Roscoe's Tavern.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hiii, Alaska. Let's talk about your career from the beginning.
Alaska: I started doing drag when I was a little kid because I would dress up in my grandma's clothes. I would runway walk in the living room. I didn't really do it until I moved to LA. I moved out there to be an actor but I hated headshots and auditions. I was unhappy so I went out in drag to cheer myself up. I went out to a club and they offered me a door job. So then I got a job from doing it so I kept on with it afterwards.
JN: Where did you grow up?
Alaska: I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. That is just two hours north of Pittsburgh. It is really small and we were really poor. We lived in a trailer for a while.
JN: Where was the first bar you did drag in?
Alaska: Pegasus Bar in Pittsburgh. It must have been around Halloween. I thought I was the prettiest damn thing. I made a top out of a garbage bag. Me and my friend just wore wigs and went out to the club. Oh, it was a mess…
JN: Pretty much grass roots kind of thing…
Alaska: Grass roots motherfuckin' drag! There were five people in the bar. It was a Wednesday night.
JN: But a good place to learn. You didn't have tons of pressure on you. Do you have a favorite artist that you like to perform to?
Alaska: I like to sing live. Nobody likes to hear it but I like to do it. I just feel most comfortable and more connected because I studied theater. I want to have my voice with me onstage because I don't dance. I don't do back flips.
JN: You don't juggle like I just saw Ivy Winters do the other night at a club.
Alaska: No, I don't juggle so that is one of the tools that I have that I can use is to sing.
JN: Where did you meet Sharon Needles?
Alaska: Myspace. She was a drag queen in Pittsburgh when I moved to LA. I would see her pictures and we would comment on each other's pictures like, "Fierce girl.'
I went back to Pittsburgh to visit and we met out of drag. I thought how funny and cute he was. I basically fell in love with him. I went back to LA, cleaned up all of my affairs, then went back to Pittsburgh and never left.
JN: Do you find dating a drag queen that you have a lot of things in common?
Alaska: Oh yeah. We have so much in common and I can steal all of his shoes!
JN: You were at the live finals when Sharon won. What did you think of that?
Alaska: We just all cried. It was so surprising and I was so proud. He worked so hard and was so smart. He is so good at what he does. There is no one like him. It was such a huge moment for our whole community. It was a thank you lord Jesus moment but as Sharon would say hail Satan!
JN: Was it hard being in seclusion while making RuPaul's Drag Race?
Alaska: When you are filming you cannot use the Internet or talk to anyone. You don't have a phone.
JN: Is that the hardest part?
Alaska: The whole thing is hard. You are under constant stress and scrutiny. You feel you will go home every single day. I would go to bed and cry. I would be scared and under pressure the whole time. I missed my family and my support system. You need those people to tell you to keep going. I was happy to get that little Sharon video. That was nice.
JN: Television watchers sometimes don't realize it was filmed a while ago and not happening right now.
Alaska: It was almost a year ago when it was filmed.
JN: What was the first thing RuPaul said to you?
Alaska: Hiii. RuPaul did that funny way of saying hello first. I didn't steal it from him though. I stole it from Coco Ferocha and Isis Mirage who are from the UK and do these hilarious RuPaul's Drag Race reviews on YouTube. Sharon and I got into them last year because they are so spot on and funny. They start every video with "hiii." So I did it as a shout out to them. I had no idea that I said it so much and now everywhere I go everyone says, "Hiii!" They think I made it up but it is not mine.
JN: There is also the funny way to say Ivy Winters.
Alaska: That is a La Toya-ism.
JN: She's a hoot. Have you have a favorite guest judge so far?
Alaska: When La Toya Jackson was there she read me to filth so not her.
JN: She was tough on you?
Alaska: She was so mean to me.
JN: She's usually not like that. I have met her in person and interviewed her.
Alaska: She was nice to everybody else but she was rude to me!
JN: I heard the celebrities are then whisked off. You don't really get to talk to them much after the judging panel.
Alaska: No we don't. I liked Paulina Porizkova. She was sweet and came out to talk to us afterwards.
JN: I have enjoyed watching you on the show. You really have a range that many drag queens don't have.
Alaska: Good, tell RuPaul that!
JN: I haven't talked to RuPaul in a while. I think it was the second season when we last spoke. RuPaul puts on this whole deep interview persona when we have spoken before. I want the funny RuPaul but instead I get the talk about the universe RuPaul.
Alaska: I think that is just her. She gets very Zen. She has gone through the fire.
JN: What do you think of Michelle Visage?
Alaska: She's fun. We were just out with her in New York. She doesn't drink but wanted to go out with the girls.
JN: Oh, I know. She will drink a Diet Coke though. What is your favorite drink?
Alaska: Whiskey. I don't want it on the rocks or watered down. I want it straight motherfuckin' up!
JN: What are your goals. You want to do acting?
Alaska: Yes. I have a degree in theater so I would love that.
JN: You have a website to go to?
Alaska: Of course, you can go to Alaskathunderfuck.com anytime you want.
JN: We didn't talk about that last name. Did they just decide to chop your name off on RuPaul's Drag Race?
Alaska: Doesn't that suck? I don't even get a bleep or anything.
JN: They didn't even use part of the name.
Alaska: I know, I didn't want to change it at all but I didn't really have a choice. It was hard. In the beginning I was struggling with my identity. One of my friends recently said to me that I was having such a hard time because my name was chopped in half. Your name is so much a part of your identity when you are putting it out unto the world. This was like calling Lady Gaga just Lady!
It is just generic. I think my name conveys what you are gonna get with me. It is a little weird and fucked up but maybe from outer space. It is sort of a mind fuck of a jumble of words. I like to do that. That is what I like to do. To have that part of my name stripped away I think affected me. You can see it in the early episodes. It took me a while to get my footing a little bit.
JN: Well, you definitely did. First time in Chicago?
Alaska: No but this is the first time performing.
JN: When are you coming back?
Alaska: I don't know but I hope soon. Check my Facebook page because all of my upcoming appearances are on there.
Watch Mondays to see if Alaska takes home the title of America's Next Drag Superstar.
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