Back in 2017, Eureka experienced one of Drag Race’s most dramatic exits. One of season nine’s strongest earlier competitors, the queen was asked to leave after four episodes following a cheerleading challenge-induced leg injury that doctors decided needed serious medical attention and rest. But by the time she returned the following season, taking advantage of an open invitation from RuPaul herself, Eureka had arrived even more fully-formed. Before it was all said and done, the queen had proved herself worthy of the return — she made it all the way to the season nine finale, where she finished runner-up to that season’s winner, Aquaria.
Naturally, this made the Tennessee-born queen — now armed with even more resources at her disposal as one of three drag queen hosts for HBO’s drag makeover series We’re Here — a definite one-to-watch on All Stars 6. And for the most part, Eureka did impress: she never landed in the bottom and frequently outshined her competitors. But for all the times she landed near the top, she could never secure a real win. So by the time she landed in the top five, standing next to four other queens that had all won at least one challenge, it was clear that it was time to fight or prepare to flight. In last week’s Drag Tots challenge, she tried to stand out, concocting a villainous Evil Queen where everyone else opted for something lighter and more kid-friendly. But in the end, her plan backfired, and after receiving some of the least enthusiastic critiques, her fellow competitors agreed that it was her time to sashay away.
Ahead of her elimination, NYLON hopped on the phone with Eureka to talk about going home on an episode she thought she could win, giving representation to plus-size people in queer culture, evolving as a competitor and letting her “work speak for itself,” how proud she is to be making a real positive impact with her Emmy-nominated HBO reality series We’re Here, and why it’s more fun to call the shots on that show than follow the rules set for her on Drag Race.
What do you think led to your elimination this week?
Honestly, it was just a series of unfortunate events, as Lemony Snicket would say. Really, just not winning a challenge and my own defeat [because of that] is what led to it. I really didn't want to tear any of the other girls down to be able to stay, so I think they probably also saw some of my defeat as well. And I'm huge competition, so it was a good chance to get rid of somebody.
Were you surprised that your fellow contestants ended up voting you out? You hadn't won a challenge, but you also hadn’t been in the bottom, unlike Trinity who had been there three times before. Did you think you deserved to stay more than some others?
I always felt like I was consistent and deserved to stay, and I told the girls that. But it was up to them. I wasn't surprised I was voted out because I knew in a way. We had talked so much about challenge wins and I was the only person that didn't have one. So I wasn't that surprised.
Why do you think that it was so hard for you to actually win a challenge this season?
I don't know. One, I think it was maybe that there were so many girls that Ru hadn't seen in so long that were really getting to shine, so maybe it was their time to shine. But I tried not to overthink it too much. I just kept trying to push the envelope every week and be something different and do anything outside of the box that I could. It just wasn't enough to snag the win. I don't really know what I could have done differently. I offered her head, girl, and she turned me down!
In the Superlatives mini-challenge, you were one of the queens voted as most likely to leave this episode. Did that get into your head at all or were you pretty blasé to it?
I mean, it definitely fueled my fire to make my look as extravagant as I could make it, right? I was just in the same state-of-mind that I had been in the whole competition: do the most, do something different, try to focus on how you can go outside-the-box versus everyone else. That's how you can get the attention to hopefully snag the win. Honestly, I really thought I was going to win this episode because I was like, I've made this fierce gown and I'm doing something so different from everyone else. Everyone else was going this storybook route and I was doing this villain, so I thought it would stand out. So it was like, well, I did what I could.
What prompted you to choose the villain? Was it about trying to be different from everyone else or was it more about the labels you got in the mini-challenge?
I was inspired by that. I was like, You know what, own it. One thing I've learned in life is when you're handed cards, you just play them. So it kind of inspired the character — Miss Alexandria McQueen is messy, gassy, shady, let's build a character around that. You all helped me with my narrative!
Were you surprised to hear the judges say they wanted you to go even bigger?
I mean, no, I wasn’t. But I couldn't run around that stage with that six-foot train, I wasn't going to trip over myself. Also, the Evil Queen is always the one that stands there more regal. I wasn't going to be too over-the-top. It was just a personal choice, and the fact that they didn't get it is what it is.
Obviously, when you last competed, you made it all the way to the finale. In All Stars, you were cut off after making the top five. How does it feel to not make it as far this time?
Well, it sucks, right? You have expectations that you put on yourself. But at the end of the day, girl, I've grown to a place where it's not all about winning. I feel like I'm winning at life, and if it's not my path, it's not my path. It sucks, but I can't beat myself up over it. Normally, I would be sad and depressed and kicking myself in the ass — but it's like, girl, I can't tackle that. I got shit to do.
Earlier, you mentioned not wanting to sell out your fellow competitors, which I don’t think was a philosophy shared by everyone. Why did you choose to abide by that rule, especially this far into the competition when you could be sent home?
Because I'm just not the same person I used to be as a competitor. I'm not going to tear anyone else down to make it. If I can't make it on my own merit, then I don't want to be there. That's just how I feel.
Can you talk a little more about who you think you “used to be” as a competitor?
Well, in season 10, I was so guided by my mother being sick — I wanted to win and didn't care who got in my way. I was just fighting to the end. But I decided this round not to be so much of a fighter and just be a participant — just let my work speak for itself, move forward with integrity, and show people who I was authentically. And I was able to succeed at all of those things. I'm really proud of my run on All Stars because I showed people who I am naturally, not who I am as a competitor.
This episode, you talked about how important it was for a bigger queen to finally win a Drag Race season. Is it upsetting to know that you missed another chance to do that?
Yeah, it sucks. I mean, that's been my dream, is just to be a representation for plus-sized people, to teach people that they can be happy and confident like me. I like to lead by example. So I just hope that Ginger has enough to pull it off.
Nevertheless, do you still feel like you’ve been able to give a voice to the plus-size community?
Oh, absolutely. Everything I do makes me proud to be a bigger person. I know that just me showing up in the world, on TV, and in the entertainment industry in general is giving a place for bigger people. You don't see us very often — not at my size and height, and not in queer culture. It is what it is, but be proud, baby! Honey, be big and proud! Hashtag Dream Big — B-I-G, in capital letters.
I’m reminded of your Pink Table Talk discussion, where you talked about “chubby chasers” and made a point to open up about some of your own sexual experiences. Was facilitating conversations like these also important for you?
Extremely important. People convince us all the time that we're not good enough. But it's not people that are convincing us — it's a few people that say it and we convince ourselves. You have to change the narrative in your own fucking mind so that people around you know that you're enough. Because when you start to realize it, then other people will see it too.
You've now competed on the show three times. What are some of the biggest differences?
Season nine, I was a child. I was just a deer in headlights. Season 10, I was overeager, like a toddler just excited to be on the playground who had to play with every toy. And on All Stars, I feel like a grown adult, someone who knows how to navigate the experience and just enjoy each moment. So it's been quite a growing event for me and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Of all three seasons, which one was your favorite to compete on?
I think All Stars, just because I know who I am now. But there's always going to be a special place for season nine because there's something about that not-knowing innocence that makes it all so fun and exciting.
How did it feel when you had to leave during season 9? Especially because it wasn’t through elimination or any failure on your part. Did that make it any worse?
Yeah, it sucked balls. It was awful, girl. Terrible. I felt so bad about myself. I really went into a deep depression for a minute because I was just so overwhelmed by how I failed myself — my opportunity was gone. Even though I was told I was coming back, I didn't believe it. It just took me to a dark place.
But that’s why [it’s so exciting] to see myself come full-circle. It was the whole always the bridesmaid, never a bride thing. I got really emotional in Untucked this episode because it just feels like every time I'm almost there, something happens that I can't control. Maybe it's just giving into the universe and deciding that I'm not the controller of my own destiny. I just have to give in and be happy with what I get versus killing myself because I didn't get what I wanted.
You're one of the hosts for HBO's We're Here, which has been renewed for a second season, so congratulations on that. What has been your experience filming that show?
Oh my god, it's amazing. It's my dream job. I love working with Bob [the Drag Queen] and Shangela, and it's just incredible, coming from a small town, to get to explore these queer conversations in small towns and open minds up to acceptance. So many people who know people from these towns that we've been to walk up to me out in my everyday life and thank me. I just ran into a young lady in West Hollywood saying, "I'm from West Louisiana, and since you all were there, the energy has shifted. You all don't realize what you've done there."
It's just beautiful to know that there is an impact. What's cool about the show is that we bring a community together that normally wouldn't until we put a spotlight on it. Even the people that don't want to see it are going to watch it because they know their town is on HBO. That tag of HBO is so special to us because we all grew up with it. Back in the day, HBO was, like, the movie channel: you have to pay extra for it, it's prestige, it has the stamp. So to have a network like HBO supporting queer people and pushing a show like this just means so much to the movement of equality. And, especially, to have two of the hosts be of Black excellence on top, it's just incredible to be a part of it. The diversity and the acceptance of it is just beautiful.
Do you like being on the other side of a TV production, where you're kind of calling the shots, as opposed to following the guidelines set for you by someone else?
Oh, bitch! I love it, girl! Yes, of course. I love getting to produce my own stuff. But the thing about We're Here is that it's a docuseries, so it's not really produced at all. It's all this natural conversation. I get to kind of be a drag mother life coach, which is what I love doing in my everyday life. So it just comes so naturally to me.
Now that you're gone, who are you rooting for to win and why?
Honestly, I'm rooting for all four of them because they're all special. If I was going to pick one, specifically, it would be hard to do. May the odds be ever in their favor.