Graphic by Astrid Wang
Mayhem Miller is a queen at the top of her game, and the top of the LA drag scene. For over a decade she’s worked popular clubs like Mickey’s and The Abbey alongside her star-studded drag family, but while they all received “the call” one after another, Mayhem was left waiting. Until now.
Unless you’ve truly been living under a rock, you should know by now that RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 is currently airing and Mayhem Miller came to slay. In support and celebration of her appearance on the show, I talked with Mayhem about everything from the LA drag scene, to her time on the show, to what it’s really like to watch girls talk behind your back on national television. If you want the tea, you know where to read.
Q: Let’s start at the beginning, tell me about your first time in drag.
A: My first time in drag was like 16 years ago. I wanted to go to my local bar to watch a competition and support friends and decided that I wanted to dress up as well. It was different because it was my first time, I didn’t know what to do, so I had to find a drag mother to help me get myself together, pick out my outfits, help me with my makeup… stuff like that. But once I was there, the host of the show saw me and decided to throw me in the show last minute, and that’s how I got started in drag.
Q: What advice do you have for queens that are just getting started?
A: The biggest thing I tell all new queens is that they really need to learn to love the art and to have a good time while doing it. If you’re on stage and you’re not enjoying yourself, then the audience is not enjoying you. So you have to learn to really live in the moment and enjoy what you’re doing, have fun with it, because drag is all about having fun, and a lot of people take it too serious. You just have to let your hair down and have a good time with it.
Q: Being from Riverside, you’re a native to the LA drag scene. Do you think there’s anything about the LA scene in particular that separates it from other drag scenes across the country?
A: The drag scene here in southern California, especially LA, definitely differs from drag across the country because we have a good blend of everything and anything when it comes to the world of drag. We have glamorous girls, artistic people who push the boundaries to new levels of drag, drag queens, we have drag kings, we have a little bit of everything, from avant garde to classic, and a lot of places don’t have that broad range.
Q: How did it feel to finally get on Drag Race?
A: It was definitely special because after working so long and so hard to accomplish a goal and a dream for it to actually happen, you know, your mindset has to change. Now it’s become reality so you have to switch into a different mindset, “Okay well now how do I make this continue throughout the journey, you know, I made it here but how do I stay here?”
Q: How did it feel to lip sync for your life?
A: Well, when you hear RuPaul say your name and it’s not in a good way and you realize you’re in the bottom, of course your heart sinks. You realize that the dream is about to maybe come to an end and you’re gonna have to leave everything on the dance floor and show the world and her and the rest of the judges why you are there in the first place.
Q: What’s your biggest takeaway from the post-show experience?
A: Probably the biggest takeaway is now being able to see the rest of the country and the world that you haven’t had the opportunity to see and meet those fans who are now being introduced to your art that you’ve done for so long. You know I’ve been doing drag for so long, for 16 years, and I have such a huge body of work a lot of people are not familiar with because they are from a different state or country and they just have not had the chance to hear about me. So now I have that opportunity to meet these people who are just finding out about me and also meet the people who have known about me for a long time.
Q: Are there any particular fan interactions that are special to you?
A: The fan art is very special to me, because for someone to take time out of their day to think about me and create something, and create art, inspired by something I did, it means the world to me because someone is showing you appreciation. It’s so different for me to now receive that, so I look forward to it whenever it happens.
Q: Would you be interested in doing a wowpresents web series like M.U.G. or Fashion Photo RuView?
A: Oh my god, of course! To be able to have another platform to reach the fans and give them some content that goes beyond your experience on the show is amazing. So I would love the opportunity if it arises to do so.
Q: Any ideas for what your show could be?
A: I think maybe a dining show, like having dinner or having lunch with other drag racers, because I think with my specific journey to Drag Race, I have a lot of connections with past contestants and long-lasting friendships with these people for 10 years plus. So I think if the audience was able to join me having a meal with some of these friends of mine and the conversations that we have, I think that would open up a window into our personal lives that they don’t really get to see.
(Mimosas with Mayhem coming soon to a fan tweet with four likes near you)
Q: On the topic of your many strong relationships, your drag family includes many drag race alumni like Raven, Delta work, Detox, and Morgan McMichaels to name a few. What’s it like being a part of such a successful family?
A: Being a part of a wonderful family and a group of talented queens, is 1: amazing, and there’s so much love between us. So it’s a great friendship and a great bond that we all have that drag has brought us together, but it’s also intimidating because we all are so great at what we do that it pushes you to be better and pushes you to continue to get to the next level, and it’s encouraging because we all push each other in a good way to be better versions of ourselves.
Q: What are your main inspirations for your drag?
A: My inspirations come from a lot of different places, but mainly music. Whenever I hear songs that actually click in me, inspire me, those are things I pull inspiration from, and then I form a performance around that. I’m a firm believer that if you’re on the stage and you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, then you can’t move an audience, so I always pick music that moves me so that I can move other people with it.
Q: OutWrite is a UCLA student production, so I have to ask, do you have any special interactions with bruins that you can recall?
A: I’ve actually never had any interactions with UCLA students, I would love to come to campus maybe someday and maybe have a panel, I think that’d be fun!
(Mimosas with Mayhem @ De Neve?? wowpresents please call me)
Q: Untucked is now airing immediately after Drag Race. How do you feel it compares to the actual show?
A: With Untucked, I enjoy the fact that the audience is able to see another pocket of the show; you don’t really get to see behind the scenes of everything until you see Untucked and realize okay well maybe this is why certain things happened. When you’re watching after you filmed, you kind of get reassurance of, you know, “Oh, I was thinking about this at that moment,” and now I have confirmation of why I was feeling that way because another cast mate said something that you didn’t know was said. So you get a little more insight into what the whole journey was after the fact.
Q: Speaking of learning things after the fact, what’s it like viewing confessional clips for the first time as the show airs?
A: It’s really interesting, especially if you’re hosting at viewing parties, because you’re not in the comfort of your own home to experience it for the first time, so other eyes are on you to see your reaction to everything, and it can be a little unnerving. You get transported back to that moment in your life, and you relive it again, so it’s sometimes difficult, especially for you to hear exactly what your cast mates thought about you, and at some points you watch yourself and things that you say about other people and you kind of take a step back and go like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I said that.” So it’s reliving that moment that is sometimes good and sometimes bad, but it’s all part of making a good show.
Q: Will you be going on tour with other drag race queens now that the show is airing?
A: I definitely will be wanting to hit the road. I actually just landed right now back in LA. I look forward to working with all of my cast mates on the road if the opportunity presents itself, but I have my home base, and I will continue to work here as long as my clubs will have me, and I also want to explore the world and see what else is out there for me.
Q: What are your plans for the immediate future?
A: Immediately, I’m working on a lot of things, I’m working on music, I’m also working on acting and doing more movies. Then of course I’m still entertaining in the LA area at The Abbey for my nights there, and Mickey’s, and the surrounding areas like Palm Springs, Riverside, Long Beach, San Diego, continuing my dynasty here in southern California.
And there you have it. If you’d like to support the Miller dynasty, as you most certainly should, look for Mayhem on the stage, the big screen, the smaller screen, and even that tiny one in the corner of the Abbey you can only ever see half of. If you’re the “what have you done for me lately” kinda gal, you can find Mayhem content at vh1.com under the Rupaul’s Drag Race category, which also airs Thursdays at 8pm, or go see her strut her stuff in the film Cherry Pop. Finally, if you take nothing else away from this article, just remember that #MimosasWithMayhem is a million dollar idea, and you’d be a fool not to post about it on every form of social media you own. Party!