Trixie Mattel (aka Brian Firkus) is a comedian that also happens to be a RuPaul’s Drag Race all-star, a Billboard charting musician, a cosmetics entrepreneur, a New York Times best selling author, and one- half of Youtube’s UNHhhh (with Katya Zamolodchikova).
Oh, and for some of us, Trixie Mattel is not only our “skinny legend” but also our real life “trauma Barbie.”
Trixie Mattel: Hi! It’s Trixie Mattel. What’s up gal.
Nada Temerinski: Hi Trixie. I’m part of your favourite cohort of fans: touchy screamy straight girls.
TM: Nada, that’s not just part of this, that’s the meat and potatoes.
NT: So I know your backstory, and I’m guessing that a lot of your fans probably relate to you because they have also come through some kind of hardship growing up. Would you agree?
TM: Yeah, I mean I think I’m a lot of damaged people’s “trauma Barbie.” Going on tour and doing meet and greets is just like very emotionally available young women crying. Also, I’m like seven feet tall with big make-up, and I think I just spook the emotions out of people whether they like it or not.
NT: Your level of fandom is really intense. Does that responsibility weigh on you?
TM: Oh no, I love it! I always wanted to be famous. I know that is not a popular thing to say. You’re supposed to say, “Oh, it all happened over night and I never expected this,” but I love being Trixie. I mean honestly, famous people complaining about being famous to me is the cringiest, fakest problem. Girl, it’s just being famous: 99.9 per cent of the time it’s just people being super nice to you for no reason.
NT: After watching (the 2019 documentary) Moving Parts, it seems like not only are you fame-driven, but you also seem like a real caregiver.
TM: Truthfully, I started drag for myself and I am a selfish monster from hell. When people tell me that my drag helps them, I’m like “GREAT!” — didn’t intend that at all. I think anyone who says, “I started drag to start important conversations” – no you didn’t. You started drag for drink tickets and attention. For me, if people get something out of it that’s therapeutic, great.
NT: Do you find that your radical honesty is what attracts people to you?
TM: There is something about me being in drag that allows me to say true things about myself. In drag, things about me are more amplified. I think the best and worst parts of my personality are amplified. Trixie is not a good person. Trixie’s not a role model, exemplary or smart. She’s kind of a piece of shit and that kind of honesty is relatable. Trixie’s never the protagonist in the story. It’s never, “Trixie is doing the right thing and everyone was wrong.” She’s usually the B-minus level humanitarian. Trixie doesn’t make the claim to be Maya Angellou. She talks about things like putting on wigs, getting drinks and trying to get laid. Trixie’s kind of like a clown stripper. It’s a caricature of femininity and sexuality funnelled through a character that is unsuccessful at everything she does. Trixie’s not a winner.
NT: Well she is an all-stars winner.
TM: Oh yeah, I mean I always identify as a loser that won something. Trixie is like an optimistic realist and that is exactly what I am.
NT: You hosted The Pit Stop of Canada’s Drag Race. What struck you about Canadian drag and Canadian culture?
TM: The no body pads thing was pretty much a shock to my system. That, I truly never recovered from. I love Canada, I tour Canada every time I go on tour. The audiences there are super nice. I feel like Canadians have this reputation for being, like, PTA-mom-level nice. Canadians also have no problem laughing at anything, which I love. Americans are so fragile and afraid, and Canadians really don’t mind. I’m never going to get cancelled by Canadians.
NT: Yeah, because all you have to say at the end of it is, “I’m sorry.”
TM: Yeah, just say I’m sorry! Canadians will laugh if I make a joke about my love handles and my dead dad or whatever. Canadians are freaks, let me tell you this. One time I did a show in Canada and the woman who picked me up at the airport had no shoes on. She said to me, “Don’t have none!” and I said, “Why don’t you have any?” and she said to me, “I don’t need ’em.” So that’s also Canada.
NT: You had a guitar made by local Mile End artisan Lenny of Daddy Mojo Guitars.
TM: YEAH! That’s like my fancy fancy top tier artisan guitar that never leaves the house, it’s so fancy.
NT: How’d you two connect?
TM: I don’t remember. I think Lenny did a pink guitar, just for his own enjoyment. And I was getting tagged a lot and then I reached out to him and I asked him would you ever do a guitar for me? And he said yes.
NT: I bet most of his friends were like, “Trixie who?”
TM: Yes. Honestly, especially with “Video Games” this week being at #33 on the charts. Whenever there’s some kind of crossover like that, the comments are always really nice, but it’s funny seeing straight people find the right vocabulary when they’re trying to be nice and they don’t even know what to call me. I’m a small town person myself and I’m very into straight people who have never seen a drag show in their life. Maybe I’m the person they discover on the internet and then they’re like, “Oh now I have some point of reference.” I like being people’s first drag queen.
NT: Then there’s Trixie Cosmetics. I don’t even wear any make-up but I watch your YouTube make-up videos. I especially loved your video with Juno Birch.
TM: Icon, yeah. Usually when she’s in L.A. she stays at my house. So I get her to do something for me. You can stay at my house if you’re ever in town, but you’d have to do a video for me.
NT: Did you just say that to me?!
TM: Yeah! Now you have to do a makeup video for me, get over here. Thank you.
NT: I guess dreams really do come true. Well, Trixie, what can we expect at your upcoming JFL show?
TM: Oh it’s me and Nicole Byer having a candid chat about what it is like to be ‘truly drop dead beautiful’ because, you know, both she and I are probably two of the most beautiful women to ever walk the earth. Nicole and I are good friends. We hung out last year at JFL. Girl, the level of drunk we got. I know this is probably unprofessional, but the level of drunk we got at last year’s festival bar talking to French Canadian people was too much, too much. I love her and I can’t wait to rehash because we always have such a good time together.
This feature was originally published in the October issue of Cult MTL. Trixie Mattel will appear alongside Nicole Byer in Conversations With Funny People, streaming live as part of the Just for Laughs festival. For the complete schedule and to watch, please visit the festival’s website.
For more arts coverage, please visit our Arts section.