No one can bend and snap like Yvie Oddly. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 is known for many things. But above all, she’s known for her preternaturally flexible body, which she impressively uses like a strip of elastic rubber during her wildly entertaining performances. Though her ability to contort her body into otherwise impossible shapes is a key symptom of her lifelong struggle with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Yvie has learned to find the power in it. During her original run on the show, it was what saved her when she landed in the bottom two next to trained ballet dancer Brooke Lynn Hytes. And in the finale, it helped march her straight to the crown when she dominated in lip-syncs to Rihanna’s “SOS” and Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory.”
Coming into All Stars 7, then, the Denver-based performer had no need to showcase her talent in that arena. As she herself says, “I’ve already done that.” Instead, Yvie returned to the Drag Race fold to show “a different side” of herself to the fandom, one that would hopefully reveal new layers to her personality and to her drag. Her mission has worked thus far. After struggling to connect with her fellow contestants in season 11, Yvie has managed to find a real sense of sisterhood with her competitors in All Stars 7, who she thanks for being her “biggest support system.” To make matters even better, she’s been able to do so while still making her mark in the competition — with her unhinged performances in challenges, with her imaginative looks on the runway, and most surprisingly, with her apparently very impressive penis in the Werk Room.
Ahead of last week’s episode, NYLON hopped on the phone with Yvie Oddly to talk about overcoming her season 11 outcast tendencies and making real bonds on All Stars 7, validation and empowerment, the double-edged sword of raising awareness around a chronic illness (and then becoming a spokesperson for it), and how she really feels about all those dick jokes.
We're now in the final stretch of the competition. How have these last couple of months been for you?
It's been wild. It's just been nice to go through this experience again and get one more chance to show everybody all the things that I can do and all the things that I've been working on. I just started going out and actually performing again. It feels rejuvenating. I feel rejuvenated. Revived.
Coming into this episode, you had two stars, which meant that you weren't in the lead, but that you had just as much a chance of making it to the finale as the majority of the other queens. How were you feeling about your place in the competition at this point?
I mean, coming into this week, we were all still neck-and-neck. There were only a handful of girls there who were even slightly ahead of the pack. So at this point, I was hungry and I was desperate to snatch my place in that top four.
Knowing how important these next few weeks would be, how were you feeling when you heard that this week’s challenge was going to be a roast?
I mean, I was really excited. A roast is actually one of the things that we never got to do on my season that I was really hoping we would. I've done roasts before. I've done a little bit of stand-up before. So this was a muscle I wanted to show I could flex. I was excited as fuck.
Most of the jokes the other queens made about you were about your dick size. How did it feel in the moment to sit there and hear, over and over again, that you have a big dick?
I mean, I feel fine about it. I think it speaks pretty well to my character — if all people really have to say about me is that I have a big dick…my god! That's the worst part about me? My gigantic penis? [sarcastically] Oh, no! Although, I wish they would stop hyping [my dick size] up like that. Don't say it's big. Just say it's a really nice one. That way, there's less to live up to.
Are they setting up unrealistic expectations you’re afraid you won’t be able to live up to?
Listen, I'm not saying it won't [live up to expectations]. But there are size queens out there and I'm not trying to drop trou to somebody being like, "Awwww." It's the same thing as [the other queens] telling people that my makeup got better before the season even started. Now, I've actually had to spend time doing my makeup every time.
So, your first Legendary Legend star came as a gift from Raja. But by the end of that very same episode, you had earned your second one. Do you think there was something about receiving a star that helped you tap into what you needed to earn your own?
Not really, honestly. With all these winners around, it was just so difficult. Like, you know every week what you need to do to get a star. You just need to really commit hard and hope that, for some reason, all of these other Legendary Legends weren't shining as much as you.
At the end of this episode, RuPaul announces that the whole Platinum Plunger blocking element was no longer in effect. You were the only queen that didn’t get the opportunity to block someone else. Do you feel like you missed an essential part of the experience?
I definitely am thoroughly disappointed in this part, especially because I feel like the girls played this game very not strategically. They played it very sweetly up to this point, and I'm frustrated because I feel like I would have stirred a lot of shit up. They missed out on a lot of drama. And a lot of really good lip-syncs!
Speaking of lip-syncs…I think it’s safe to say that, to this day, you are still considered one of the most talented Lip-Sync Assassins in Drag Race herstory. I mean, what you did in the finale of your season is indescribable.
Does it feel like an honor to be able to wear that title? Do you think it’s contributed at all to your success outside of the show?
I mean, it's one of the things that I started doing drag for. Not necessarily “lip-syncing” itself, but I've always been a performer. I've always just wanted the ability to show absolutely everything I could do: flips, tricks, splits, dips, jumping, and dancing. I just want to show people how much fun I'm having when I do drag, on and off the show. I don't think a whole lot is going to be that different, even if I didn't get to show it. I just want to go out and do what I like doing.
In your first season, you were something of an outsider amongst the rest of the cast, and I know it led to discord between you and some of the other contestants. Given how many queens didn't seem to “understand” your drag during your season, how did it feel to ultimately be crowned as the winner? Was that an empowering moment for you?
Oh my gosh. It felt so good to make it all the way to the end of that season, and even more so to come out on top. But for me, it was all the validation I needed because I didn't necessarily have a lot of support going through the season. It was like, Listen, I know I seemed crazy when we were in the mix, but I was only talking the shit I was talking because I can walk the walk too.
Because of that season 11 dynamic, it’s been so nice to watch All Stars 7 because you’re meshing so much more with this set of queens. Do you think that has to do with who you’re competing against or do you think that, after winning your season and touring and doing Drag Race Live! in Vegas, you just happen to be in a different place yourself?
I think the two things are definitely true at the same time. I've done a lot of growing and changing since appearing on season 11. Not necessarily saying that I wasn't hungry for the win coming back for this All Stars experience, but I was less desperate to show myself and prove my worth and authenticity to the world because I've already done that. I was excited to come back to this experience.
Then, on the other end of the coin, when I came into the room, I was working with queens who automatically treated me with respect. Regardless of whether or not they liked my drag, they understood it. They were my biggest support system throughout this experience because they saw me eye-to-eye and met me in the middle. They met me in my humanity. That was just a complete change from season 11. I think we were all a little bit hungry to show ourselves then.
To piggyback off your comment about support systems — back when the season was first starting and you all were doing your pre-air press, multiple people asked about which queen surprised everyone the most with what they had to offer, and it seemed like every time, all your fellow competitors pointed to you. How did it feel to get that universal recognition from your peers and why do you think everyone was so shocked?
For starters, it goes back to what I was saying. They've been my biggest supporters this season. As you’ve seen [in the show], it's been difficult for me to get a win up to this point, but they've kept my fire fueled up. I just think it's because they're incredibly sweet and incredibly humble people who are willing to see somebody for who they are and what they have to give. It touched my heart.
During your first season, you talked a lot about your struggles with EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome), but in All Stars 7, it’s been much less a part of your overarching storyline. After raising awareness around that chronic illness, does it feel equally empowering to be able to compete now and not have that be something that's connected with your art?
I mean, it's very difficult. It's frustrating because it is a very significant part of what I go through. I'm limping around my house today because I pulled a muscle doing Lord knows what — probably just existing. It's nice to have a run on the show that isn't so heavily highlighted by my chronic illness, but it is still a part of me.
I don't know. I honestly don't know how I feel about it because I'm never going to be 100% happy with this body that's falling apart, and it is always going to be a part of my story. But also, it's not what I want people to see me as. It's not the first thing I want to talk about with every fan interaction, you know? It’s like, let's talk about the ways I'm living instead of the ways I'm deteriorating.
You brought so many great looks to the runway this season. Do you have a favorite?
Well, I think my favorite look from this season was this one.
The light-up one?
Yeah, yeah. It was just so cool. I felt more regal and beautiful [in that look] than I have in a long time. I felt like I was channeling my grandmother. I felt like I was channeling the energy of people who came before me with all these twinkling fairy-lights. I've just never felt more gorgeous. Maybe I need to do more drag with the lights off! [laughs]
Most queens come back for an All Stars season in order to prove something, or at the very least to show their fans something new about their drag. After already winning once, what did you want to accomplish most by coming back to compete again?
I wanted to show people a different side of myself. More than anything else, that was the biggest determining factor in me saying yes to coming back. You know, people got to see a very authentic view of who I am on season 11, but it wasn't a fully encapsulated view [of who I am as an artist] because I don't walk around in life constantly pissed off at everything. [laughs]
Looking back on your entire All Stars 7 experience, do you feel you’ve been successful in showing people that different side? Have we seen the full evolution of Yvie Oddly?
I think, for the most part, I've been very successful in showing all that I'm capable of and all the ways I've grown. I'm happy. It's a very nice reflection of who I am right now — the good, the bad, and all the shit in between.
New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars premiere every Friday on Paramount+.