Every week, NYLON writer Michael Cuby will conduct an exit interview with the queen eliminated from RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 5. This week, Blair St. Clair was asked to sashay away.
Just two years ago, Blair St. Clair competed on the tenth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, where she came in ninth place despite performing quite well throughout her somewhat brief stint. Though she wasn’t even the youngest that season (that was eventual winner Aquaria), the Indiana native was often called out for her baby-young looks. So it’s no surprise that, when returning for All Stars, the queen (now, at 25, the youngest in the cast) was determined to shed her innocent image. The glow-up was apparent from the moment she stepped into the Werk Room, sporting nothing but an 80s-inspired bright orange blazer and slicked-back wet hair. Sexy and unmistakably grown-up, it was a far cry from the dainty look she opted for in her debut season.
But her wardrobe wasn’t the only thing Blair had stepped up. With a new sense of confidence, the young queen made it all the way to the top four. For a while, it even seemed like she might hit the all-important top three — last week, while rehearsing for her stand-up routine, Blair elicited the most laughs from coaches Ross Matthews and Jane Krakowski. Unfortunately, their enthusiastic response instilled Blair with a false sense of confidence, and when it came time to perform in front of a live studio audience, she found herself choking up from nerves. After receiving middling critiques from the judges, it was not hard to predict that Blair, as the only remaining queen without a Maxi Challenge win under her belt, would be going home.
Ahead of her elimination, NYLON hopped on the phone with Blair St. Clair to talk about her drama with fellow contestant Miz Cracker, how overcoming her experience with sexual assault inspired her new grown-and-sexy aesthetic, why it was important for her to talk about her DUI on television, and what she was feeling when Jane Krakowski complimented her Instagram feed.
What do you think went wrong with this challenge?
I think you can see that I went in with a lot of material that I was very confident in. You can even tell that I’m a comedian in my own right and that I’m very funny in my own way. But what was really weighing on my heart was knowing that because we were at such a really hard place in the competition, [voting would be] really based on report cards — and I hadn’t won a challenge. So I knew I either had to win to automatically be in the top three or else I was going home.
After the critiques with Ross and Jane, with them loving my material, there was so much pressure riding on me to be the winner — not just squeak by and do well, but to actually win the challenge. And I think I stood up on the stage confident, but as soon as I opened my mouth, I could feel the pressure. I think that’s what really hindered me, was feeling the pressure.
How does it feel to leave the competition without a challenge win?
I’m actually really proud. I have no regrets. I’ve learned so many lessons throughout my journey with Drag Race. I can’t perform perfectly every single day and I’m content with that. I knew I was the weakest link in that challenge and that’s fine. I knew the other girls were going to pick my lipstick. But I wasn’t willing to pick my own lipstick because I wasn’t willing to give up.
I worked so hard on myself, both personally and professionally, that I was not willing to give up and send myself home. So I obviously had to pick somebody else, and I chose Jujubee to go home — not because I thought she performed the weakest, but because I knew that our friendship was so strong that she would forgive me after the competition was said and done. At the end of the day, this competition was only a month of my life of filming. I have so much more life to live and I didn’t want to completely end a friendship over this competition.
Of course. One of the main differences between All Stars and a regular season of Drag Race is that you’re now competing alongside friends — people you’ve worked with, toured with, and grown very close to. Do you think there’s an added stress there?
I actually don’t think that. I actually think that it created so much comfort knowing that there were people around me that I could trust, have fun with, and be myself around. When you’re entering an original season, you have to befriend people around you. You have to assess their character and also their talent, and then you have to know what to expect from them in every challenge — because there are group challenges where you have to pick a teammate. But in All Stars, you know what people are capable of by knowing them in the real world, so it helps you pick your teams better. We all recognize that this is a competition and that we’re all winners by even being there. We all wanted to win, but we knew that we all couldn’t. So we — at least some of us — weren’t going to compromise our morals to win the competition, and that’s how I stood.
What about the drama between you and Miz Cracker?
Early in the competition, you saw that Cracker and I had some beef with each other, but you didn’t get to know in full detail what was going on. It was basically her questioning my character. The reason was because she had mentioned that she thought Ongina should’ve been eliminated in the first episode and she told me in private that she felt bad and was wondering if she should apologize. So I told her, “You should apologize if that’s truly and genuinely how you feel. But you should not apologize if you’re just doing it for the camera value of people forgiving you for saying that. If that’s how you felt, that’s how you felt.” I said, “Apologize because you truly mean it. Don’t apologize because it’s strategy to win the competition.”
So later in the competition, which you don’t see, Cracker throws me under the bus saying, “Well, you might all think I’m a bully and that I bullied Ongina out of the competition, but Blair told me not to apologize to her.” And I said, “No, that’s not what happened. I told you not to apologize to somebody if you truly didn’t mean the apology.” I think that’s what my moral compass tells me to do — to be genuine and real — and I was going to get through the competition by doing that. I’m not going to get through this competition by lying, being sneaky, and being a snake. And I think some people in this competition showed their true colors on television to try and win, and I don’t think that’s the way to win.
So much of All Stars is about showing the world how much your drag has evolved since your original season. What did you enter wanting to show off the most?
I wanted to show my confidence, my creativity, and my own voice. Before All Stars, I came from a scene of drag that told you how to do drag and told you that drag was done only one way. But I left that by the wayside and really got to experience drag for the first time since I competed on season 10. I know I’ve already done a season of Drag Race, but this season was my first chance to actually perform as my truest, most authentic self, and I didn’t want to hold back. Before, I went into every confessional acting like everything was okay and everyone was my friend. I was really hiding all my emotions. But this time, I was like, no, I’m going to be emotional. If I’m happy, I’m going to be happy. If I’m sad, I’m going to be sad. If I’m angry, I’m going to be angry. I came into the competition wanting to truly be myself and I think I did that.
You also opened up about your DUI. Did being on All Stars make you feel more comfortable sharing personal stories like this than you felt on season 10?
I felt comfortable sharing that because it’s something I’m not ashamed of anymore. I’m not, by any means, saying that what I did was okay. I broke the law, I made a mistake. But sometimes, in your lowest moments, you grow the most. I have grown the most from making that mistake because it taught me responsibility, how to get my priorities in check, and how to strive to be on top of the world because I had already experienced what being on the bottom felt like. It didn’t feel good and I didn’t want to go back there.
I know I’m human and I don’t put up a facade of thinking that I’m this perfect drag persona/celebrity that is amazing, perfect, beautiful, I’m a model and I’m incredible. No, I like to show people that I’m relatable, that I come from humble beginnings and still live in a very humble world, and that you can achieve anything you put your mind and heart to — no matter what you may have gone through. It was really important to share that with the world.
Did it help to have Mayhem there, who had also struggled with alcohol problems?
It absolutely did help to hear [her story]. But even if Mayhem hadn’t shared her story, I would’ve still felt comfortable sharing mine. I’ve shared it multiple times and I’ll continue to because it is a part of me. It’s something that I will erase from my permanent record when the time comes to expunge it, but it’s not something that I will erase from my past of what makes me me. It was important to talk about that on the show because there are times when Drag Race really highlights human beings for being human beings. I didn’t want it to come across as too sugary, like, Oh, I broke the law, but they were too harsh on me. No. I broke the law, I paid the consequences. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the fact of the matter.
That aesthetic has really come from me honing in on loving my sexuality, of feeling very gender-fluid but also very sexually-fluid, open, and awakened. Sharing my story and my trauma on season 10 was the first few steps I needed to begin to heal. After, I began to find my path of loving myself, my body, and everything about sex in the world. I really embraced that in my drag aesthetic. I wanted to come in not padded, showing my bare legs, skin, and wet hair.
My inspiration behind that was, I’m wearing a tailored men’s suit jacket that’s made into womenswear. I think that menswear has been shown to be empowering. I don’t think that women need to wear menswear to feel empowered, but I wanted to show the world that I am strong, confident, and taking over my sexuality, strength, and gender-fluidity. It looks like I just woke up, rolled over in bed from spending the night with my man, and put on his jacket with a belt on top of it. I had just gotten out of the shower and was running a little late, so I just put on a bit of chapstick and mascara and walked into the Werk Room ready to slay.
This week, Jane Krakowski said your Instagram was “one of the most beautiful Instagram feeds” she had ever seen. How did that feel coming from her?
It was really special and really sweet. I’ve looked up to Jane for years. I was a huge fan of hers on 30 Rock and I loved watching her on AJ and the Queen this past January. I have always idolized people with a very strong talent that are also really great people. Getting to meet her, I could just feel and sense her love of what she does. Her personality shines through. I felt a great, beautiful connection to her. I hope to explore that more in the future, whether that’s a collaboration or working together. I’ve actually turned down many opportunities and jobs because it would [involve] working with people that… what’s a nice way to say “are not nice to work with?” Jane is one of those wonderful people to work with.
Now that you’re gone, who are you rooting for?
Oh my god, that’s such a hard question! I think everyone thinks that I’m not rooting for Miz Cracker, which is totally not the case because she’s near and dear to my heart. The world has given so much praise to Shea Couleé, which I think she absolutely deserves because she has shown so much strength, courage, and talent. But I’ll leave you with my answer: I’m rooting for Jujubee because she has been my number one gal-pal from years before I was even on Drag Race. We’ve been friends for years. This is her third time on Drag Race and I hope the world for her. Also, if I’m not mistaken, she would be the first queen of Asian descent to win Drag Race, so I really hope that for her and for people of her cultural background.