By Christopher Rudolph
Heidi N. Closet turned RuPaul’s Drag Race viewers into a bunch of “closet cases.” That’s what she calls her fans, by the way.
The North Carolina queen from the tiny town of Ramseur might have seemed like the least-polished girl when she sashayed into the workroom on the Season 12 premiere. But Heidi proved to be a queen to keep an eye on, gaining confidence every episode, week after week.
Even though Ru hated Heidi’s full name, and would suggest new stage names for her, you could tell that Ru got a kick out of Heidi’s humor and her catchphrases like, “I’m blessed and highly favored.” Heidi might have grown as the weeks went on, but she struggled in the Snatch Game when she chose to portray Drag Race superfan, and judge, Leslie Jones.
She finally won a maxi challenge when she sold her Heidi Hydrates lotion on the Droop challenge, but over the course of the season, Heidi had to lip-sync for her life four times. She slayed the lip syncs, performing songs like Alex Newell’s “Kill the Lights,” which is a track to which she often performs live. But the final time she went up against Jaida Essence Hall, she was sent packin’ — but not before RuPaul called Heidi a “superstar.”
MTV News caught up with Heidi and asked about her drag beginnings, what surprised her the most about being on Drag Race, what she really thinks of her stage name, and her plans for being in the live-action remake of Disney’s Hercules.
MTV News: Hi Heidi, how are you doing?
Heidi: I'm wonderful. Blessed and highly favored.
MTV News: I want to get to Drag Race, but I first want to ask about your drag beginnings. Since you're from Ramseur, and that's such a small town, what was the first drag show you went to?
Heidi: The first drag show I ever went to was actually at my eldest sibling's birthday party. She was having it at a club in North Carolina, which is unfortunately now closed down. I had just turned 18 I was like, "Oh my God, yes. This is what I came here for. This is the content I need. This is proving that I can see myself doing and I want to do it." And a couple of months later, there I was, on stage for the very first time.
MTV News: You've said that the first three years of your drag career are “mysterious.” Why are they mysterious?
Heidi: Oh honey, she was doing something — I don't know if it could be classified as drag, but it was something. I like to say I was playing in drag. She was just playing with it and not really taking it seriously. Just having fun, goofing off and stuff. And one day I sat down, I was like, "You know what? I think I want to make this a career." And that's when she got serious.
MTV News: Is that when you got into pageants?
Heidi: Yes it is. That's when I started doing pageants because, honestly, in North Carolina it's hard to break in. You have to prove yourself. And pageants are one of the best places to do it, which is why I started doing them. And then when I started winning them, it felt good.
MTV News: Is there a drag scene in Ramseur?
Heidi: No. Unless you count the chickens. But the closest drag scene is only like 30 minutes away in Greensboro, North Carolina. That's where I got my start.
MTV News: And you said that your name Heidi N. Closet came from all the closeted men in your town who would try to “get your goodies.” Have you heard from those men since you've been on Drag Race?
Heidi: Only a couple. Yeah. They were like, "Hi, congratulations on that." I would say, "Oh, thank you. I appreciate you, and I celebrate you on this day. Have a nice day, sir."
MTV News: And you were working at a gas station?
Heidi: Oh, don't remind me. Yes.
MTV News: So, I'm assuming you're not working there anymore?
Heidi: No, I actually quit. I quit my gas station job during the audition process. Basically I put all my apples or oranges or whatever fruit you want in one basket, and it was Drag Race.
MTV News: And then it worked out.
Heidi: It did.
MTV News: RuPaul was not a fan of your name. Did you think it was bad before going into the competition?
Heidi: No, I thought it was rather cute, honestly.
MTV News: And Ru kept giving you nicknames. Did the other girls give you any other nicknames or name tips or anything?
Heidi: They didn't really give me any names. They kind of just laughed each time I would try and come up with one of my own.
MTV News: Are you thinking about doing an official name change?
Heidi: I mean, that might come to fruition. You're going to have to keep a lookout on that. You might see what happens with that real soon hopefully.
MTV News: With Drag Race it's actually rare to see a queen grow in confidence over the weeks right before your eyes. Did you feel that during filming or was it something that you only now see while watching the episodes?
Heidi: The funny thing is I didn't see myself growing in confidence while I was there because I always felt I was confident. But looking back at it, I saw how unconfident I was at the beginning. And I was like, "Wow. Why did I not believe in myself the whole time? What was I thinking?"
MTV News: And did you step it up because you were against these other professional queens or was it certain challenges?
Heidi: Well, I had a very small budget to get ready for the competition. And then that very first day, those girls started pulling out all these things and saying how much they had spent on everything. Some girls spent upwards of $50 thousand and I'm just like, "Well, I spent $4,000 to get here, so that's all right."
MTV News: Did I read that you picked up curtains from the side of the road for the cape runway?
Heidi: Yes, my cape outfit. The black catsuit itself was a pair of curtains on the side of the road.
MTV News: Come on, roadkill!
Heidi: From the road to the runway! It just takes a little bit of sewing thread and desperation.
MTV News: What did you think was the hardest challenge for you?
Heidi: The challenge that I think I personally did the worst in was Snatch Game. I just remember being in my head so much during that challenge. I could have done so much more. I wish I had.
MTV News: In the one-queen show you impersonated your family. Were you worried about what they're going to think of that? Do they watch the show?
Heidi: They watch it and no, I'm not worried because they know it's true. They know I only speak truth.
MTV News: So you've been called the “heart of the season.” How's that feel?
Heidi: It feels amazing. In my family, we don't aspire to be Miss Congeniality or anything. So going into it and being considered the heart of the season, that’s amazing. I think it's me being my true, authentic self, really being open to all the critiques, and always just trying to have a positive outlook on everything.
MTV News: What surprised you the most about filming?
Heidi: How cold it is. It's so cold. I was like, "Oh, it's in Los Angeles. I'm going to wear bootie shorts. I'm going to look cute on TV." And then half the season, you see me in short shorts and a sweater because it's so cold. And I'm just like, "Well, I got to wear these short shorts because it's all I brought with me really, but we're going to put on this sweater."
MTV News: And you’re a big Disney fan, right?
Heidi: Oh, I'm a huge Disney fan. I love Disney.
MTV News: Particularly Hercules?
Heidi: Yes. It is one of the best soundtracks of all time. It's amazing. That's when I knew I was a queen, watching those Muses sing.
MTV News: And now they're making a live-action version. We have to make you one of those Muses.
Heidi: I'm down! What do I have to do? Where do I sign up?. That's what I need to know. America wants to know!
MTV News: Where can fans see you next? Do you have any projects coming up or where can we get more Heidi?
Heidi: Well, I have another Digital Drag Fest show coming up. And hopefully, you'll be seeing me on some TV shows because I want to break into TV. Hopefully, some of these side projects that I've been working on will come to fruition really, really soon.
MTV News: Is there a particular TV show you would love to be on?
Heidi: I've always loved Big Brother. I would love to go to the Big Brother house. But just do an appearance or talk to people because voting people out is too scary.