Dragging superstars Trixie and Katya into World of Wonder Series UNHhhh – The Hollywood Reporter

During the eight seasons, RuPaul’s Drag Race Alumni Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova Opened Their Dark Brains For Their World of Wonder Short Series UNHhhh, in which the duo discuss a variety of topics — such as jealousy, weather, phones, and family — while sitting in front of a green screen. Riff and tangent ensues, with Trixie and Katya expanding on the episode’s theme, surrounded by animation, clip art, and text that was added in the edit. UNHhhh sometimes feels like a quick visual podcast, a rudimentary public-access-style show that has caused viral memes among online tug-of-war addicts. Having passed the 200-episode milestone this season, the show — which lasts about 10 to 13 minutes and streams on YouTube and WOW Presents Plus — is submitted for Emmy consideration for the first time. Trixie and Katya talked to CHEAP via Zoom about their longtime collaboration and the Emmy nominations they’re aiming for.

You are instantly connected when you meet on Drag race?

KATIA Our cycles synchronize naturally by being close to each other. There are many biological and psychological glues that hold us together. But she still doesn’t know when my birthday is, so…

TRIXIE Honestly, Katya is the person I probably talk to the least about. We didn’t really bond until much later.

KATIA We spent a lot of time on the phone together [after the show], and we quickly realized that we weren’t exactly “Yas! Back to work! Singer!” kind of pulls people in – it’s not that we don’t love those things, it’s just that we’re not part of that fabric. We feel like outsiders, and we stick. We’re huge fans of the WOW Gift videos – basically, they just throw some queens on a stool and say, “Hey, what do you think about birds or whatever what?” Trixie had the idea that we should really critique one of the longest-running and beloved shows on the net, called it RuView Fashion Photo, where we look at the outfits of our reviewers. And that kind of established our direct relationship.

TRIXIE There was a laxity at first because, at the risk of sounding silly, a show like ours didn’t really exist yet. We just talk [in front of] a blue screen, and we don’t really know what that equates to. We went in a little blind. Personally, I’ve never worked with a queen that we could pitch the ball back and forth. When she and I first started having frank discussions about the world of manipulation, it was like, “Oh my God, someone else feels like chaperone among these demons. ”

Eight seasons and over 200 episodes later, are you still looking to surprise each other?

KATIA Well, let me tell you one thing: A great way to stay surprised is to have the amnesia I seem to have. I don’t remember anything. Every day is like the first day for me.

TRIXIE Honestly, the only surprise that comes to mind is that some days you can tell I’m not in the mood. Or some days you can say that Katya is not in the mood. And then, some days we both weren’t in the mood. Those things really turned out to be the best because we both were like, “Girl. We’re at the episode of, like, 5 million.

KATIA It’s like aging inflammation. Like, we can see the comet heading towards Earth.

TRIXIE One day in particular, we were at the end of our rope. Improvise when you’re really exhausted — like running out of battery.

Trixie Mattel (left) and Katya Zamolodchikova in an episode of World of Wonder's UNHhhh

Trixie Mattel (left) and Katya Zamolodchikova in an episode of World of Wonder’s UNHhhh

Courtesy of the Magic World

Do you shoot multiple episodes in one day?

KATIA Father. We used to do four episodes, but then the episodes were shorter. And we are ugly. Oh!

TRIXIE I think we keep doing that because, I mean, how many shows can say, seven years later, that people are still watching it?

KATIA All that needs to happen is to win an Emmy. (Take a foot figurine off the shelf.) This is a golden foot, but it’s the closest thing I’ve got to an Emmy. Please!

It’s funny when you say that. In the 200th episode, Trixie said that she never wanted to be nominated for anything because she hates losing.

TRIXIE You don’t have to say you want it. That’s illegal, isn’t it?

KATIA Tell it to Melissa Leo! Nobody deserves anything, but I really, really would love it. And you know, maybe things will happen. Or we don’t understand, and then Hollywood Boulevard could suffer a series of terrible events.

TRIXIE Sure, we have nice bodies, pretty faces, and funny personalities, but the editors – they really make the show.

I’m very curious about how editing works. Do you have any expectations for what the final product will look like? Or is it always a surprise?

KATIA I would walk out of that studio and say, “Wow, that’s a great movie that nobody’s going to see.” And then – gold.

TRIXIE This show is how I learned that sometimes things are not fun at all [in the moment], but they are after. Sometimes we leave the set like, “Wow, I just went in there and talked about my breakfast and I ruined the whole scene.”

KATIA I would say, “Hey, Trixie, do you like filming August: Osage . District with me today?”

Part of the fun of watching is that you both have such contagious laughs.

KATIA I think the density of jokes per minute this season is really overwhelming, just from an editorial standpoint. I mean, I never tell jokes. Something which [the editors] will link through puns, and it’s fast — bam, bam, bam, bam, bam! They are very talented.

TRIXIE Most of our stories never show us as the smart ones, the winners, the ones doing the right thing. If anything, [they are] Warning stories about what being a human can bring you. The final editor makes it funny.

Are there stories you told each other that still linger in your mind?

TRIXIE She told a story about being transgendered by a colonist [reenactor] at school. Just thinking about that.

KATIA It was a traumatic event. Thank you for bringing it up.

TRIXIE When the lights came on and we were all there in wigs, we felt invincible. It felt like we were in a room where no one would hear what we were saying anyway.

So now you’ve been sent for an Emmy. Have you imagined what you would say in your acceptance speech – or do you have thoughts on what makes a good speech?

KATIA It all depends on the location and the prize. If it’s the Oscars, that’s the whole thing and you only have up to 40 seconds. And if they don’t know who you are, you have 20 seconds.

TRIXIE One of our most frustrating things is when people win big prizes and are unprepared. We hate that.

KATIA You are one of five! “Oh my god! I’m Cate Blanchett! I simply didn’t know that I…” You know, come on.

TRIXIE We’re looking at you, Jodie Foster in bed. And all award shows have these non-funny parts. Like, the way people present it, it’s never funny. And when someone is really a third [of the way] into their heartfelt speech, the music comes out loud and fast. I want to hear Jennifer Coolidge talk about the years when she took small B-side jobs just to survive! I don’t want to hear a host tell some lame jokes about parking.

KATIA I thought if I won an Oscar, I would step on the podium and say, “Thanks to the Academy for allowing me to be myself,” and then tear off the fake mask. I’m Judi Dench below. Short and sweet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about political attacks on people pulling and queuing. Do you feel that your program has any way against that?

KATIA I personally feel like I’m Julianne Moore in the remake of Carrie: “This is godless time.” I honestly think the pendulum swings from left to right. It is interesting to see how these stupid, ignorant right-wing legislators have weaponized the manipulation of this bone broth of paranoia and hatred.

TRIXIE People google images for literally “drag queen,” put a photo on a conservative news story and say, “Drag queens are groomers.” They did it with my pictures! And no one hates children more than me. No one! At the end of the day, they give us too much credit. None of us sit around the table at night asking, “Whose child should we pick next?”

KATIA Or like, “Which child can I positively influence tomorrow?”

So you don’t volunteer to read books to children at the library.

KATIA Oh my God, the worst mistake any drag queen has ever made.

TRIXIE I was taken to every sporting event. I was never an athlete. But to answer your question: Do you know how many people say this is the first pull they’ve seen? The program sheds light on drag.

KATIA And you won’t believe how many times we’ve heard it [from] people with cancer, and during chemotherapy in the hospital, we overcame them. That’s the greatest exaggerated compliment we could get.

TRIXIE We are fortunate to work in the towing industry because, honestly, we work at the last frontier.

KATIA We were the first responders, that’s what she was trying to say.

TRIXIE We’re up there with people who are having cleft palate surgery in the Middle East.

KATIA [The ranking is] us, and then Doctors Without Borders.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the independent June issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


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