With eyelash lipsynch choreography, a dazzling at-home set piece, and a colorful transformation into Dorothy on the RuPaul's Drag Race finale, Gigi Goode was great on the RuPaul's Drag Race finale.
However, her performance was not quite good enough to snatch her the crown. Ultimately, Jaida Essence Hall edged ahead to become America's Next Drag Superstar.
The drama was not contained to the episode, however. Earlier this week, Goode caused some controversy on social media. Her post of "I cannot breathe" on Twitter, a reference to her excitement for the finale, struck many as tone-deaf in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the protests of police brutality that followed. After backlash, Goode vowed to "take the time to develop my voice. Not just creatively, but politically and socially as well."
Below, the performer discussed the importance of using her platform to take a stand for marginalized groups, the finale, fashion, and the power of drag in a crisis.
Disclaimer: Goode spoke with The Advocate just prior to the finale's airing.
The Advocate: How do you feel heading into the finale tonight?
Gigi Goode: Right now I'm feeling nothing but just pure excitement and I'm just very anxious for it to happen and to see it because, obviously, the only thing I've seen is what I've been able to deliver. So I just can't wait to see what my sisters have brought to the table.
I just saw the clips of everyone's outfits and it was really exciting. What was the inspiration for your own look tonight?
I was definitely inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier and cone-bra Madonna. I've just been eager to bring all aspects of my drag journey together to fruition in one outfit, so you got the helmet, you got the cone, you got the velvet.
Did your mom help you out with your ensemble?
She did help out with a bit of the conceptualizing, but unfortunately, with some shipping issues and stuff she wasn't really able to help me make the outfit. I'm lucky enough to be quarantined with my really close friend Marko Monroe, who is Lizzo's stylist and designer, so he's been helping me a lot with these looks.
A useful roommate during quarantine for a drag performer.
And what was your mother's reaction to the season? It was so great that you shared your relationship with her with viewers.
She's loving it, and I think without the season, she would be bored to death right now. She's living in [the] very suburban Midwest, where there's not much to do except go for a jog and run to the grocery store. So she's been loving getting together with my family and her mom and sister and just be able to watch the season as it unfolds. She's been having a lot of fun being able to root for someone that she knows and cares about.
I think a lot of viewers have felt that way. It's not just Drag Race, it's this escape from this crazy situation that we're all in. I'm curious what it feels like for you to be a part of this escape for queer America and for its allies.
It feels the exact same way for me. This art form, this television show, what we're doing, what we're bringing to the table is just offering relief. It's offering relief, but it's also bringing awareness to certain situations, and I'm really happy to be on the front lines of offering this kind of relief, and it's been very rewarding,
Are you upset though that you didn't get that kind of grand Hollywood finale taping?
Of course. I am a slut for theatrics. I would have loved a full audience. I would have loved that big stage, the light, sound, everything like that. Of course, I would have loved that. But something that I found that I'm really happy with is that having the finale unfold this way has kind of led to the three of us having a little bit more control. ... Sometimes there are some factors that are beyond our control if we were to do this in a traditional way.
How do you feel like you have more control?
For instance, if I am walking in my gown and I trip and fall, all I got to do is take another take and do that. But if I'm live, there might be something [that] happens where, you know, maybe my tit comes off and a butterfly falls on the floor and I don't exactly know how to recover from it.
So how would you feel if you won tonight?
I have really tried my best to prepare myself for either outcome. But I'm so proud of what I have brought to not only the competition but to this finale. And if I won tonight, it would just be the lid on top of the cookie jar, and I would love to have that title to show for all this work that I've put forth. I think that there's so many aspects of drag that we've had to cover, and I believe that I've been able to cover a lot of those aspects with grace and dignity; just having the win, the title, the crown would just be something to show for it for me.
How would you use that platform as America's Next Drag Superstar?
I've kind of always been the type of person who, money doesn't really play that big of a factor into my own life, so I definitely want to use this $100,000, which in the grand scheme of things isn't isn't a ton of money for what I'd like to do, but I want to use it and divvy it up. Some of it's definitely going to my mom, first and foremost, and then the rest of it, I want to put back into the community. I want to do whatever I can. Because it is my responsibility as an American and as a queer artist to invest into the future, so I intend on doing that. Aside from that, I intend on bringing drag, bringing my drag, bringing new drag everywhere. And I want to keep drag at the same light-hearted relief from everything that is going on as it's kind of always been.
When you say invest, do you mean donations?
Donations. I also want to invest back into my local drag scene. Any which way that I can divvy up this money.
Are there any groups that you have in mind, in addition to the local drag organizations?
The money that I do have, which hasn't been a lot, I've been donating to the George Floyd petition and to the cleanups for Minnesota. There's a lot going on right now in the country that if you're able to help, I think it is our responsibility to help, because otherwise, it's just being a bystander.
With the protests against police brutality going on, with the current epidemic, with an election coming up, there's a lot going on. I'm curious what message you have to your fans right now during this time of fear and uncertainty.
I'm right there with those fans who had that fear, and it took until recently to understand that there's no excuse to be afraid, you can have these feelings and they're OK, but you should use them as fuel to the fire rather than a form of shelter. On the other hand, I think it's really important to keep drag on the front line of everything that's going on because we are able to not only help with the situation, but we're able to just like offer relief and use our voices to say things that matter. If I'm just standing up here with this big title and not saying things that matter, not saying Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter ... then what am I using it for?