Vanessa Vanjie Mateo may have been the first eliminated on season 10 of VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race, but her exit -- a repeated chanting of her name, "Miss Vanjie," while walking backward on the runway -- became a viral sensation.
The moment sparked a million memes, which added the drag queen's name to iconic moments in film and television. The scrawl on the chalkboard in the Simpsons opener? Miss Vanjie. The whisper on the phone in Scream? Miss Vanjie. The ominous words on the wall in The Shining? Miss Vanjie. The craze has even reached the radar of celebrities like Kathy Griffin, who tweeted her own joke in response.
Mateo discussed going viral with The Advocate and picked her favorite memes. The Florida native also revealed what was going through her head in that now-classic TV moment as well as her future plans.
The Advocate: How are you, Vanessa? Vanessa Vanjie Mateo: What's the T? I'm doing great!
I've been saying your name all weekend. That's right! We've got to keep Miss Vanjie alive!
What does it feel like to go viral? It's a blessing. It's amazing. To be eliminated first and to go viral? I don't think it happens that often. I don't think it's ever happened with any of the girls that got sent home first.
You've created a phenomenon! Congratulations. I'm glad they love the Miss Vanjie.
Did you plan that moment where you said your name after your elimination, or did it just occur to you? I definitely did not plan it. I was so depressed and sad. So when I got there, I didn't plan what to say. I didn't even know what to write on the mirror for when you get eliminated. So I just started saying my name, because that was the only thing I could think of in that moment.
— \ud83e\udea9 Darren \ud83e\udea9 (@\ud83e\udea9 Darren \ud83e\udea9)
I read a report that you said your name for close to two minutes, but they cut it down for time. Is that true? To be honest, in that moment, I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone. I don't even remember how long I said it. I know I kept saying it, and I was just doing a bunch of poses, and I was at the end of the runway. I know I gave all the girls a hug. They didn't show that. So I do think it was a little bit longer of a time, and I just kept saying it. So it could be true.
What's your reaction to all the memes coming out? When I saw all the memes, and RuPaul was retweeting them, and retweeting pictures of me? I died. I almost couldn't believe it. I was like, is this for real? I was gagged.
What are some of your favorites? I like the Simpson one, where he is [saying] "Miss Vanjie" over and over on the megaphone. I love the one where the girl from Scream, and she picks up the phone, and it says "Miss Vanjie" over the phone.
Has RuPaul contacted you since then? Just tweets ... I responded to his tweets. He tweeted once, saying, "I wonder what Vanjie's up to." I was like, "I'm in Denver! You want to meet up?"
Did he respond? No, I don't think so. To be honest, whenever I refresh it, the timeline goes so far, because I feel like there's been a lot of retweets. It's even hard to keep up with all of the responses.
It must be affirming, after you've been eliminated, to see RuPaul give all this love and attention to you. Yes! Probably the best thing that could have happened after getting kicked off first.
You said on the show you were afraid of disappointing your drag mother, Alexis. What was her reaction? At first, she was like, "Don't worry about it. You did great. They aired you on the episode so [many] times talking. All the stuff you said was so funny. Don't worry about it. You just need to work. ... It's what you do after that defines you, not what you do on the show." But then, when I became a viral internet sensation, I was kind of like, ha, ha, ha. I was like, "Look at me now, bitch!"
What are you doing now? Literally, I just finished getting my passport, because I'm going to the U.K. I'm going to Colombia, Mexico. I'm going to tour around the world so everyone can get to know Miss Vanjie, since they only got one episode of me. Now they can have more of me -- not on the show -- but personally. Bitch, I'm coming to a stage near you. I've got my website up and running with merchandise. I'm coming out with Vanjie T-shirts. VanessaVanjie.com. They can find me on social media, Instagram, Facebook. Bitch, I'm always on my social media and Twitter as you see, catching up with all these memes. This is not the end of me. I'm going everywhere. I'm just getting started.
There's a big movement to bring you back, maybe to a future season. Is that something you'd be interested in? If RuPaul invited me to do anything, even clean the Porta Potties in the studio, I would do it. I don't care what invitation they gave me.
What would you show viewers if you got another shot? Bitch, I would show them all the fierce outfits that I brought. If you've been watching when we were in New York and we all the premiere ... I might not be a 99-cent kind of queen, but definitely, when I came out with my looks, the girls was gagged. Because they didn't know what kind of tricks I had up my panty sleeve.
\u201cMy life is Miss Vanjie memes and I\u2019m here for every single one of them\u201d
Do you have final thoughts to meme-making Drag Race fans? Keep 'em coming, because I think they're funny as hell. I try to retweet. I try to respond to everyone ... Make me a meme. Write me. I will respond. And I love everybody taking pictures. Don't be scared of the Vanjie. I'm very one-on-one with the people. I love to talk and chitchat. Everybody that shows me attention? We good friends after that.
RuPaul's Drag Race airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on VH1.