Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
By Christopher Rudolph
When Widow Von’Du was revealed to be part of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 cast, she was labeled the “confident Kansas City queen,” a superstar in her hometown’s drag scene. When she sashayed into the workroom she told viewers to relax their throats, “’cause you’re gagging.”
She proved them right: Widow sparkled in the first challenge of the season with her inspired choreography and powerful rap skills, performed to the song “I’m That Bitch,” and secured her legacy by crushing competitor Gigi Goode in the subsequent lip-sync to Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.”
But as the weeks progressed without another win, the pressure began to take its toll on the self-proclaimed “nastiest bitch in Kansas City.” And though she pulled out all of the tricks challenge after challenge, even doing cartwheels as “Femmepire Madonna” in the Madonna Rusical, nothing seemed to take her to the top. It was the “Droop” infomercial challenge, when she had to sell her throat-coating spray, that finally landed her in the bottom — and in front of one of her diva icons, the singer Chaka Khan, no less. She brought down the house with her “This Is My Night” performance against Jan that night, and was asked to stay by Mama Ru.
The following week, the queens were tasked with running for office as America’s first drag queen president by debating in front of the guest judges, actors Rachel Bloom and Jeff Goldblum. Unfortunately, Widow did not get their vote and found herself in the bottom for the second week in a row. After failing to light her “Firework” lip-sync ablaze, she was sent back to Missouri.
MTV News rang up Widow Von’Du to dish about what brought her to the breaking point during filming, kiki-ing with Chaka Khan, and what gay bars to hit up in Kansas City.
MTV News: Hey, Widow! So you're a Season 12 girl. You're supposed to be too booked to be bothered right now. What have you been doing with your time?
Widow Von’Du: I've been washing my hands. I've been working on my album that comes out October 31. It's called The.
MTV News: What's that title mean?
Widow: Well, RuPaul kept calling me the Widow Von'Du. And it was like, this is her statement right here. I am the Widow Von'Du. That's where it comes from. So, that's what I've been working on. And I've been working on preparing a tour for when this is all over. The "Yes, Bitch! She Might Be" tour.
MTV News: I was watching this week's episode, and I have to say that the presidential debate challenge seemed very difficult. What was it like filming that?
Widow: It was kind of rough because nobody's laughing. You're supposed to be getting jokes and you're supposed to have that seriousness, but nobody's laughing. So it's like, I don't know if these jokes are funny.
MTV News: I could see why you stayed up till 4:30 a.m. writing.
Widow: Yeah. I stayed up all night and then we had to be up, ready to go in and do everything. I was just like, "Just be funny. Just be funny."
MTV News: And it came the week after the infomercial challenge. What brought you to the breaking point?
Widow: I literally thought that I did very well in my debate and just hearing that I didn't do well, again… At big level competitions, if you're not doing well, you're doing bad.
MTV News: And when you were standing up there on the main stage. Ru actually singled you out and said, "Don't dig yourself into a hole." What was going through your mind?
Widow: I was already in the hole. I was scooping the dirt on top of me. That's what was going in my mind. We're already too far gone.
MTV News: On Untucked you said that you weren't only mentally exhausted, you were physically exhausted. Is that really how you felt?
Widow: Yes. I was just so drained of everything and I wasn't sleeping. It's a competition and you can't sleep when you're nervous.
MTV News: But you got to meet Chaka Khan! How was that?
Widow: That was life-changing. It definitely was one of the greatest moments of my life.
MTV News: You really slayed that lip-sync. You could tell it was coming from the heart.
Widow: Well, I didn't want to give Chaka Khan a bad show.
MTV News: Did you take a break from drag after you left Drag Race?
Widow: I did. I took a little bit of time off, maybe three weeks. Then I was like, "All right, bitch. You got to get back into work. You're bored."
MTV News: Did being in Drag Race change your drag in any way?
Widow: I mean, I definitely wouldn't have drawn my eyebrows on in jet black.
MTV News: You did two characters for Snatch Game. Do you think that was a good idea? What was your thinking behind that?
Widow: I wanted to push myself and see if I could do it. At least I wasn't the worst.
MTV News: What was going through your mind when they told you you're going to dress up as a cat and get into a litter box for the mini-challenge?
Widow: I thought, I have a cat, and what I don't want to do is get into a litter box.
MTV News: Speaking of Chaka Khan and diva icons, I know you’re a big Erykah Badu fan. If you had to lip-sync for your life to an Erykah Badu song, which would you choose?
Widow: Does it have to be just one?
MTV News: You can do a medley.
Widow: “Bag Lady,” “On and On.” Let's see, what else? “Window Seat” and “Tyrone.”
MTV News: All good choices. So if someone was going to Kansas City and they wanted to hit up the nightlife there, what are some places they must go to?
Widow: Well, one, you got to come to Hamburger Mary's in Kansas City because we do charity bingo with a drag queen, so you get one hell of a bingo. Then stick around for my Friday show. It's everything you've ever wanted in a show. We have a brilliant cast, we have brilliant songs, and we do amazing numbers. Then you can bar hop and go over to Missie B’s to watch the “Dirty Dorothy Show.”
MTV News: How is this pandemic affecting the Kansas City nightlife?
Widow: To be honest, I'm not really sure. I haven't really been in any big group messages. I think that people think they can't reach me now because I'm on the show. But they can and I've been just doing a lot of Instagram Live shows to get by.
MTV News: Since you're not on the road right now, no one is, where can fans find you?
Widow: They can find me in my living room, on Instagram, acting a damn fool.
MTV News: You made it so far in the competition. How was filming different than you thought it would be?
Widow: All I can say is that anybody who thinks this shit is easy, you surely have it wrong.
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