It’s hard to imagine pop culture and entertainment news without Ross Mathews.
The witty Mathews agreed to let us pick his brain about how he went from growing up in a little farm town to becoming one of the most in-demand TV personalities, hosts, and culture experts in show business today for the latest episode of Inside with The Advocate.
This year, Mathews is back as a judge on the twelfth season of VHI’s award-winning series RuPaul’s Drag Race alongside RuPaul, Carson Kressley, and Michele Visage. Last year, the show secured a staggering 14 Emmy nominations, a record for both the network and the Drag Race brand.
In his latest, which is also on audible (narrated by Mathews), he showcases wide-ranging celebrity stories — each paired with one of his famous recipes and cocktails, a.k.a. Rossipes.
“No celebrities were harmed in the making of this book. It really is about a superfan of pop culture who got to go beyond the velvet rope” he quips. “Most of the time, they were better than I ever could have dreamt about, but a few times they were not, and a few times I messed up.”
As Mathews explains to The Advocate, television was a real escape for him growing up in Mount Vernon, Wash.
“It was tough being me in a farm town,” he explains. “These friends on TV, they were always just kinda nice to me, and so I always wanted to meet them. I remember thinking [when I was younger], God, they really exist. Hollywood is a tangible place. It’s a thing. And so, my whole life was about being there to see it. I wanted to see the gas stations the stars used, what roads they drove on, I just wanted to see it all.”
Of course, being in the business for nearly 20 years at this point has given Mathews a tough skin. In addition to being an affable host, he is unafraid to stand up to haters.
In 2017, he bit back at gay Internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos when the conservative author referenced Mathews during a press conference, claiming he received letters from parents thanking him for being a role model their gay sons can look up to so they “won’t end up like Ross Mathews,” a dig at Mathews for being flamboyant.
Mathews would counter Yiannopoulos’s comments by publishing a video “on behalf of anyone who has ever felt different or been treated less than just because of who they are," he said at the time.
The host went on to add, “I’m afraid the kids like me out there now will see his message and not my message. So I want every kid out there who is different, who feels different, who knows that they’re different to know that that’s good.”
Of course, while Mathews says that finding a silver lining is part of his nature, fighting back is something he had to learn.
“I think there’s so much power, as you get older, in knowing when it’s time to tell people to go fuck themselves,” he says freely now.
Watch the video above to see more, including Mathews's epic interview with Elizabeth Taylor (4:30), how he joined Drag Race (9:20), and what really happened with Omarosa behind the scenes on Celebrity Big Brother (19:19).