By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com March 27 2014 2:59 PM ET
For fans of RuPaul's Drag Race, one of the highlights of each season is the "Snatch Game," a spoof of the vintage panel game show Match Game in which contestants put their best celebrity impersonation skills to work. And the cast of season 6 did not disappoint. From Bianca del Rio as a gavel-wielding Judge Judy to Darienne Lake as Paula Deen to Joslyn Fox as the Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Guidice the queens served up one of the most memorables "Snatch"-es yet, particularly due to the spot-on geriatric drag of Ben DeLaCreme performing Maggie Smith's character on Downton Abbey.
But two of the younger contestants, Gia Gunn and Laganja Estranja (who portrayed Kim Kardashian and Rachel Zoe, respectively), failed to impress the judges with their impersonations. As a result, the friends were forced to square off in a fierce dance-off lip sync that ultimately left Gunn to sashay away. But not before Gunn gave a few parting shots.
The Advocate spoke with Gia Gunn about the recent Vogue cover of "Snatch Game" muse Kim Kardashian, whether or not Gunn was left feeling sour about fellow contestant Milk's male runway look, and the importance of lip gloss and duct tape.
How did you prepare for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
I prepared myself mentally first, and made the commitment to myself that I was going to do everything within my power to do the best possible. I then reached out to all my designers, costume designers and friends to gather all the looks necessary to give a sickening runway impression. I then also went around all of Chicago gathering supplies, renting costume pieces, and borrowing everything possible to be just as prepared as possible. ... I then packed everything, including my sink, and was on my way to the Race!
What was the most challenging part of doing an impersonation of someone like Kim Kardashian in the “Snatch Game”?
[Keep] in mind that the objective is to be funny, not necessarily look or act exactly like the person. However, those are all key points to a good “Snatch Game” character. Kim Kardashian was difficult for me, because she doesn't have much to her, honestly. And without poking fun at her, there is really no humor behind her or her personality. Also, performing and portraying a character is much different than impersonation. And I had no experience prior to the challenge!
What is your opinion of the recent Kim Kardashian and Kanye cover of Vogue?
It's classy and a good representation of who Kim is and where she stands with Kanye. I do think it could be "gayed" up a bit — and a little more drag!
Do you wished you had gone with your original choice of Selena? Or, if you could redo the challenge, is there another celebrity you would choose?
My original plan was to do [MADTv’s] Ms. Swan, and that is actually what I auditioned with in the first place. However, due to copyright reasons, I was not able to do her character for the challenge. Looking back, I wish I would have stuck with my original plan, simply because although Selena wasn't that funny and neither is Kim, but I would have had a stronger look and more of an actual character present. I don't regret anything, because everything happens for a reason, and either way the challenge is super challenging.
Do you think the judges’ critiques—that your performance as Kim K. was “flat” and “not funny” — were fair?
Honestly, yes, coming from a showgirl background and being a drag performer, I never had to impersonate a character per se. And when I say impersonate, I mean talk like them, make references to their life, interact as them, etc. This is something I had never had to do before in my drag career and, on top of that, a comical influence? Never! However, “Snatch Game” taught me a lot of things about opening up and really getting into the character that you are impersonating — not only as in the look, but the feel as well.
Looking back on the episode, would you have done anything differently to avoid elimination?
Absolutely not. I can honestly say I tried everything in my power at that moment to survive and do the best I could to not be eliminated. And Laganja turned it. She deserved to stay.
Was it difficult to lip-synch against Laganja? It seems like you two had grown close throughout the competition …
Laganja and myself clicked instantly when we first met each other. It was almost as if we had been friends for some time before, but had never actually met each other. From that point on, we had each other's back, and were so close that the thought of having to lip sync against each other [didn’t cross] either of our minds … until episode five happened. We did, we conquered, and she sent me home. … We communicate almost every day and share many memories outside of our drag, and I can truly call her a good friend, sister, and fellow Ru girl. [To Laganja:] I love you, Whore!
Was there another contestant from this episode that you thought should have gone home first?
Milk. Simply because I thought her “Snatch” character also fell flat. And to top it all off, her runway look as a male version of RuPaul on a drag show was simply mind-boggling for me. But she stayed, and that is completely fine too!
You’ve been critical of some of their other queens that have mixed masculine elements into their drag. In your opinion, what qualities should “America’s Next Drag Superstar” have?
Since the competition (a.k.a. meeting Milk), [I’m] now experiencing drag in other cities and different scenes. I would like to see the next drag superstar have the qualities of a great artist, beautiful woman, and talented entertainer. … However you interpret that in your drag, you should have all those qualities.
Milk said you sometimes came off as “elitist” in a past Untucked episode. How would you respond to this remark? Do you think your outspokenness helped or hindered you throughout the competition?
I wouldn't say “elitist” is the right label, because I wasn't being anything other than myself. When you believe in your look, you stay by it and defend it. Me not understanding or being able to connect with Milk’s aesthetic of drag doesn't mean that I don't appreciate it as an artist or validate it. But I believe in my aesthetic, and I believe drag should have a few basic qualities to them. And being masculine or enhancing masculinity is definitely not at the top of my personal list!
Who are your favorites among the remaining queens this season?
Laganja Estranja, Courtney Act, Adore Delano, Bianca del Rio, and Ben DeLaCreme.
What first attracted you to drag, and what inspired your drag name?
The fact that a man could portray and create the illusion of a beautiful woman, something of the opposite sex, is just amazing to me. Transformation takes talent, and I can appreciate it when it's done right. The thought of being able to combine all my talents in one element — hair, makeup, costume, and performing — was just so appealing to me. And once I realized I could make money at it while doing so, I was even more satisfied with pursuing my drag career. Gia comes from the supermodel Gia Carangi, and my last name, Gunn, comes from my drag mother, Alyssa Gunn, which originates from Tim Gunn!
What should a drag queen always keep in her purse?
Duct tape, lip gloss, Pump It Up [lip plumper], and a douche!
Who is your role model?
Any man that steps out of his home with a wig and heels on is my role model! Basically, all cross-dressers model my role!
What’s next after RuPaul?
The beginning of the rest of my life. I would be lying if I said I am going to do X, Y, and Z, because in reality I'm not exactly sure. I'm 23 years old and being blessed with a lot of opportunities at the moment. And I am going with it. I'm living part of my dream and nothing is going to get in the way of that. Not even specific plans, because we all know those can let us down! I'm trying to get up and go!
Thanks, Gia! RuPaul's Drag Race airs Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern on Logo. And watch Gia's music video, "Lady Boy," below.