Every week, NYLON writer Michael Cuby will conduct an exit interview with the queen eliminated from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12. This week, New York queen Brita Filter was asked to sashay away.
"I'm the first bitch here," Brita Filter said after entering an empty Werk Room in the first episode of RuPaul's Drag Race season 12. Looking around, she let out an excited wail before making her mission clear: "I was really hoping the other girls would be here so that they could see the winner." Of course, this wasn't a particularly jarring declaration for a performer who gleefully describes herself as "Thee Queen of New York City." She has won the award for Glam's Entertainer of the Year, after all. Citing her seven shows a week, along with her experiences in "commercials, TV, singing, and dancing," Brita proclaimed, "Everyone who knows drag in New York City knows who Brita is." It was obvious, within seconds, that she was a giant ball of confidence. Even if you didn't realize it at first, she was sure to remind you almost every episode. As she says, "I took over New York City and now it's time to take over the world!"
It's still possible that Brita could take over the world, but after last week, it's apparent that she won't be doing so as America's Next Drag Superstar. While preparing for the fan-favorite Rusical challenge, Brita briefly battled with frontrunner Gigi Goode about who would have the honor of portraying the iconic cone-bra Madonna. Brita eventually came out on top, and judging by rehearsals, it seemed like the long-struggling queen could actually turn it out — sure, she couldn't do the Roger Rabbit, but at least she campily nailed some of the deeper notes in her song. Unfortunately, when it came time to perform, the New York queen fumbled a few moves and her nerves got the best of her, something Michelle Visage was quick to point out. When it was time to settle on a bottom two, Brita found herself face-to-face with fan-favorite Heidi N Closet, and together, they duked it out in a lip-sync to Madonna's "Burning Up." It was close, but in the end, Brita, who was in the bottom for the third time in four weeks, was sent packing.
Leading up to last week's episode, NYLON hopped on the phone with Brita Filter to talk about constantly failing in a competition she thought she could dominate, watching herself back on television, and why the show forced her to (temporarily) take the "Filter" out of her name.
What do you think went wrong in this week's Madonna Rusical challenge?
Well, I want everything to be perfect. It's the Virgo in me. I think I was so driven that I got caught in my head and I flubbed up on some dance moves. So, that's what went wrong. Also, on the runway, I wore these goddamn earrings that I shouldn't have worn because I couldn't find the original earrings that I was going to wear. Since it was "Night of 1000 Michelle Visages," she definitely was not happy with the earrings. But, honey, if it's just the earrings, I'll take it.
You fought with Gigi Goode to portray the cone-bra Madonna. Since you didn't end up nailing it, is that a choice you now regret?
No, I don't regret it. I wanted the cone-bra Madonna because of the vocal line — it was lower and in my range while everything else was so high. That's why I fought for that one. Also, the cone-bra is iconic. Who wouldn't want to be it? I look good in blonde hair, honey, so I really wanted that ponytail to whip around. I did my best within the circumstances. I just got caught up in my head and didn't do good. But I love collaboration. I come from musical theater, so, bitch, I was so excited to just be in a musical and sing and dance with my sisters.
I was watching Miz Cracker's "Review with a Jew" recap show and she mentioned that, in New York, you are usually the one to take the reins on big group production numbers. That said, did you come on Drag Race expecting to nail challenges like these?
When it comes to choreography, I set my own schedule and I rehearse so much until I get it right. I'm a perfectionist. If you look at my YouTube page, there is just giant production number after giant production number where I've literally spent probably 24 hours in a rehearsal studio with my boys making sure that it is perfect down to the millisecond.
But on Drag Race, it is honestly a race. So when we are racing like this, you don't have that much time to rehearse. I'm the type of person that knows it takes me a little bit to learn choreography, and with the pressure of it all, and RuPaul being there, and AOC and all these people that I love so much...you know, sometimes you get in your head and you flub it up. But you better believe that I'm always going to have a smile on my face even though I'm messing it up. I'm there to entertain and smile bigger if I screw it up.
You came onto this show determined to win and very confident in your ability to do so. But since the beginning, you've been in the bottom pretty consistently. Why do you think you weren't able to perform as well as you anticipated?
You know, when I was there, I was so driven and it was something that I wanted so bad that I kind of lost sight of myself. It being a competition...I don't really compete in competitions because I don't like to compare myself to anyone else. Watching it back, I definitely let my sadness and insecurities get the best of me instead of embracing my faults. Especially with Aiden, I tried to hide it with overconfidence and aggressiveness. While watching it, I've been like, I definitely should never bring someone down for something that I'm feeling. That's not who I am.
But we all love each other, we're all so close now. We're sisters! But sometimes, sisters fight and the claws come out. But at the end of the day, we all really love each other. Aiden and I are good friends and, honestly, we made up together while the cameras weren't filming. We are good friends and it sucks that the rest of the world didn't get to see that apology, but we're good.
Aiden said the same thing when I talked to her last week. We also talked about how coming from a small town might have worked against her in this competition. On the other hand, you're from New York, where you've won titles like Entertainer of the Year. Do you think there's a way to frame coming from a big city as a possible detriment too?
Going into the show, being so essentially beloved in my community, I was insecure going in. On the show, it seems like I'm overly confident. But truly, what I was feeling was...I was constantly telling myself, "You're from New York! You got this! You're something!" In my own mind, it was a pep-talk to myself to be like, okay, don't freak out because I honestly get in my head so much. I have to tell myself to stop analyzing things and just do it. So a lot of those moments were just me trying to tell myself to be confident. Honestly, I love New York City so much. The reason why I do drag is because I love helping people escape. I think it's really important — especially now with what we're going through. People can come to my show, have a drink with a friend, and forget about the bullshit and the politics and just laugh for a couple of hours. I really felt like I needed to do this for my city. There are so many other queens that come from New York who have been on Drag Race that have done such a good job that I really just wanted to do my city proud. They've given me so much and I wanted to give them even more back.
How has it felt to watch yourself back over the past couple months?
It's surreal watching the show back. Week after week, I kind of held my breath while I was on screen and I would get upset with myself because I don't necessarily like the person that I saw. But under all that pressure and stress, that's why I acted in certain ways. I definitely don't think it's right to bring anyone down because I'm feeling a certain way. But also, people watching at home need to know that we are in a pressure cooker and there's a lot of stress and you don't see everything that goes on. We film a lot and just because something may come off a certain way on the show, know that my intentions are pure. I try to lead with kindness every day of my life and there are more colors to me than what was portrayed on the show.
I hope that after this pandemic is over or lightens up, people will come out to see me perform to really experience and see why people liked me to begin with and why I have won so many things. People really do love Brita and I couldn't be "Brita" with the way I acted on the show. I just want people to love me because there is so much hate in the world towards me. I see so much hate online, and I get it — Drag Race can sometimes be like football with people getting very excited about their teams. I try not to take it personally but it gets pretty wild, especially when people start sending death threats. So know that I am a good person and all of us are friends.
Much like the "Gay's Anatomy" episode, this was one of those weeks where no one really did a "bad" job in the challenge, so the bottom two really just came down to who didn't perform as well as everyone else. Would you prefer to go out on a week like this or one where you really felt like you bombed and deserved it?
The thirteen of us are incredibly talented in our own right. These are twelve of the most talented girls I've ever worked with in my life. But it is a competition and someone has to go home at the end of the day. Actually, the Rusical was great. Everyone did such an incredible job. So I would rather go home to the twelve most talented people that I've ever met as opposed to someone else. But when it comes down to it, someone has to be in the bottom, and I did the best I could do within the given circumstances. I love these girls so much and they're talented, so I don't regret a thing and it worked out the way it was supposed to work out.
This was your third time lip-syncing. Did it feel different this time around? What were your feelings about going up against Heidi?
With every lip-sync, you just have to focus on yourself. It's ride-or-die at that moment. I really honestly wasn't focusing on Heidi at all. And no one should when you're in the bottom. You just have to pull out your best stops and do the best that you could do. When you are in the bottom, it takes a week off your life while you're there. It's so stressful, there's so much going on, and your heart is pounding. I was so in my head the entire competition and being in the bottom is so stressful that I kind of held myself to like, I'm going to do the best that I can do but I'm okay. If it's my time to go, I'm okay with this. I was so exhausted by that time. I was actually fighting with myself and I kind of knew it was time.
Earlier, you mentioned doing drag because you love to help people escape. Looking back at the past seven weeks, do you think you were successful in doing that?
Yes. It's a television show. At the end of the day, I may not like the way that I came off, but it sure did make it interesting for television purposes — for the drama! I think it's very important, especially right now, that the show gives everyone at home something to look forward to since we are in this pandemic, and I'm glad I could entertain people. Hell, I even did a magic trick! I'm bringing magic to RuPaul's Drag Race, so I hope I'm just bringing entertainment to people. I'm glad it can help keep peoples' minds off all the horrible things going on and just show a little campy drag fun.
Finally, there was a time when you were going by Brita Filter. What inspired your choice to drop the "Filter" from your name and just go by "Brita?"
Oh, mama! I'm still going by Brita Filter! They just didn't want me to be Brita Filter because they didn't want to get sued! But I am always and forever will be Brita Filter...anything but pure!