It was everyone's favorite episode of RuPaul's Drag Race this week: The Snatch Game! Contestants served celebrity impersonations, and as usual, there was the good, the bad, and the sickening.
In a refreshing twist, it was the camp classics -- Alexis Michelle as Liza Minnelli and Sasha Velour as Marlene Dietrich -- which came out on top. More modern takes from pop culture -- Cynthia Lee Fontaine as Sofia Vergara and Peppermint as NeNe Leakes -- flopped, leaving these latter two performers to lip-synch for their lives.
Sadly, Cynthia and her famed cucu had to sashay away. The Advocate spoke with Cynthia about her elimination, her second shot at Drag Race stardom, and Peppermint's coming out as transgender.
The Advocate: Hi, Cynthia! It was such a pleasant surprise to see you appear this season. How did it feel to come back to Drag Race?
Cynthia Lee Fontaine: It feels phenomenal. I was so surprised and happy to hear that Miss RuPaul wanted me back. It let me know that I did something positive in season 8 to get that callback and opportunity for season 9.
How is your cucu?
My cucu is happy and crazy and traveling everywhere. It can't stop!
What was your reaction when RuPaul announced that Eureka would be going home last week, and not you or Farrah?
I immediately thought back to season 8 when I was eliminated. Even as I was lip-synching against Robbie Turner, I knew I wasn't feeling well -- I had lost all this weight and just knew my time was coming. You pour your heart into it, but it's devastating to see someone go home because of health issues. But I'm happy my sister gets a second chance. She's going to return stronger than ever in season10!
Why did you choose Sofia Vergara to impersonate on Snatch Game?
I have been doing her character almost two years on my YouTube Channel, so I felt confident about the decision. I know her body language. I was feeling very self-confident about performing her on Snatch Game.
Looking back, would you have performed her differently or chosen another celebrity to impersonate? If so, who and why?
I was very proud about my execution. But because I know the taste of the judges, I could have pulled out an older or more pop-culture character like Carol Burnett. I have seen winners in the past that have come out on top using more pop-culture characters that resonate for Ru.
Whose Snatch Game performance was your favorite, and why?
My top three were Sasha as Marlene Dietrich, Trinity as Amanda Lepore, and of course Alexis Michelle, who brilliant as Liza Minnelli. And of course me! All of them nailed the makeup, the look, and personality. Alexis deserved the win.
It was the Night of 1,000 Madonnas! Why did you choose your Madonna look?I knew none of the girls would choose that style. I love Madonna. I knew the girls would pick her more famous and iconic looks. So I went with the matador look. It was calling me. I wanted the character to have my signature of craziness and comedy, and I think I achieved that with this look and my fall onstage.
How does Madonna inspire you?
She is an exquisite and amazing performer, and I love that about her.
Peppermint came out as transgender this episode. What was your reaction?
I give her my support and my love. I have worked as mentor with transgender people, and I understand some of what she has gone through. I have so much respect for my sister. I'm proud that she is one of the first to come out as transgender during the show. It was courageous and brave. I know some people will tweet or say that she was saved on the show because of the coming-out moment, but that is not true. This show is a safe place, and we want to support our brothers and sisters. This was such a beautiful moment that the show had the opportunity to translate that to the world that you can be yourself.
A contestant declared that "gender is over." Do you think all women (drag kings included) should be allowed to compete on Drag Race in future seasons? Why or why not?
I believe that performing drag and in entertainment, there should not be any labels or gender boundaries. If the show decides to bring drag kings on, they should be welcomed. It's about entertainment and performance. It's about art. If they have the talent, they should have the opportunity to be part of this amazing performance experience.
What was going through your mind when you had to lip-synch again?
I was a little sad. I was thinking to myself, Not again! When you hear the critiques, it's kind of sad. But because I have the experience of doing the lip-synchs before, I just had this feeling of "do the best that you can." Show them that you want to stay here and that you are a fighter. That's what was going through my mind.
What did you think of Peppermint's performance in the lip-synch?
I loved it. There was part of her performance where she was pretending to eat her jewelry, and I thought she should have be lip-synching there. But her execution and performance was fun to watch.
Has the election changed the way you thought about drag and your goals as a performer?
Not at all. It makes us all stronger to fight for our rights in the LGBT community. Also, I see the drag community more involved now than they have been in a long time and I love that.
The Pulse massacre was addressed this season. Did Orlando make you more fearful or change your experience when you perform at gay bars?
No, absolutely not. I am not fearful. I feel safer, actually, because these bars are places where we should be free to be who you are. I'm not going to show any type of fear, because I don't want to give up that safe space.
What was the highlight of your time on the show?
Just being onstage and having the chance to show my personality and my performance skills as an entertainer.
What would you show the world if you had more time?
That I can sing! I didn't get to a singing challenge.
Who are you rooting for among the remaining contestants?
All the girls. They are all multitalented and worthy of the crown. I love all my sisters!
I will be singing live on my one-woman show, recording more music, and traveling the world. Maybe you will see me in All Stars season 3! Who knows where this cucu will go?!
Thanks, Cynthia! Enjoy a final lesson in "cucus" below.