The latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 6 featured a lipstick reveal that was a true face crack. For the first time in All Stars herstory, the vote to send either Jan or Pandora Boxx home was a tie, leading the Top All Star of the week, Trinity K. Bonet, to break the tie with her vote. Ultimately, Jan was sent packin’.
Jan cemented her place in Drag Race history even before returning for All Stars. Not only did her amazing singing voice and theater kid energy make her a Season 12 fan favorite, Jan’s face, when she was deemed safe during the Madonna Rusical, became an instant meme, and her video of “Not This” is so iconic, it’s become a fixture of contemporary queer vernacular.
Jan spoke with NewNowNext about her time on All Stars, including what was going through her mind when Alexis Mateo pulled out a second lipstick, how Ross Mathews’ critiques changed her as a performer, and how she almost deleted her original “Not This” video.
Take me back to when the double lipsticks were filmed. What was going through your mind when you were standing up there with Pandora, and Alexis revealed those lipsticks?
I feel like my expression was written all over my face about how I felt about it. It was definitely a gag-worthy moment. I was not expecting to stay, honestly. I didn’t know that I would make it out of the bottom a third time. And so to have heard that I was staying, you don’t see it, but I literally gasped and was like, oh, my gosh. What? I just was not expecting it. And then, of course, I switched my mind really quickly. I’m like, okay, great. Woo, another week I get to be here, super happy about that. So I’m smiling and I’m trying to comfort Pandora because I feel bad for her. And then of course, Alexis is like, surprise, we have a little more in store for y’all. And just to go through that was absolutely insane. It’s just, I feel like that is the absolute… well, what’s the word I’m looking for? Not the antithesis, but the culmination of what my entire experience on All Stars was in that moment. That can define every single moment of All Stars for me.
What, just the drama of it all?
The drama, the ups and downs, the emotions running wild and free. Yeah, that definitely is what it was for me the whole time.
Was All Stars more emotional than Season 12?
Absolutely. I think part of it was coming into this season after a pandemic and after watching myself on TV and learning a lot about myself from Season 12. And confronting a lot of the things that I feel a lot of people went through — confronting themselves and their experiences in the pandemic because you really have nothing else to do but look at yourself in the mirror. And so going into this, I learned so much about myself and so much about who I am as a person. It was emotional in so many ways. It was sad; it was eye-opening. It was inspiring. It was joyful. So there again, yeah, it was definitely a lot more emotional. I know it doesn’t seem as though I did, but I allowed myself to have more fun. And through the fun, I found a lot. I learned a lot about myself.
The other queens were saying how you’re so much and you’re always dialed up, but I feel that there were so many big personalities on this season that you had to be dialed up.
Yeah, exactly. Thank you for saying it. It’s wild to me that I’m one of the quieter ones, so it’s really funny to me because it’s a double-edged sword. If I’m doing too much, then I’m too much, but if I pull it back a bunch, they want more. So where’s that balance? Especially keeping up with all of the other girls who are big personalities. I don’t want to fade into the background because that’s how I was on Season 12. I get how the girls would say that and why they did, but that is just who I am. When I get excited about being somewhere and excited about being in the room and excited about the things that I’m doing, I let that drive me. I let it be a genuine part of me because it’s something that I can’t control and I can’t hide. I’m just an excited person about new opportunities and advancing my career and getting to show what I love most importantly.
On the episode, you said you thought the girls voted for you because they saw you as a threat. And that’s what I was thinking. If I were voting between you or Pandora, I would vote for you for that reason. So do you believe that?
Yeah. I think something that was missed along the way for me on this season was all of the girls being so supportive and so celebratory about me and my drag, and really getting to see who I am onscreen and offscreen. I felt as though all the girls thought that I was doing an amazing job and a great job, which is what they told me. I’m not just making it up in my mind, and so I did feel that in that moment. I don’t know if other people will feel that way after seeing it, but I take the word of the girls in the competition, and I respect that. They built me up, and they gave me a lot of confidence and joy throughout the time.
When Trinity revealed your lipstick, she gave that really heartfelt message. What did that mean to you? I thought that was so nice.
Yeah, it was a really nice moment. I have nothing but love and respect for Trinity. Again, we have such a good time on set together. I really wish that we could have seen more of the relationships with the girls because Season 6, just the regular franchise, was the first season that I watched live. And I loved how Trinity has this raw talent about her and could light up a room and light up the stage. I told her I looked up to her and really appreciate her. I’ve tried to learn so much from her as a performer, so for her to say that to me and to give me some flowers and some love was really, really touching. It’s a tough decision and it’s a tough choice to make. I understand her decision completely. I wasn’t expecting to hear that, but I was very, very grateful that I did.
What was it like getting to know Pandora?
I love Pandora. She’s really, really sweet, and I learned a lot from her about seizing the moment and enjoying the opportunities that are in front of you. I felt like that last episode, although it wasn’t a 10, but I had a lot of fun doing everything. And Pandora was always the ringleader of reminding everyone, “Girl, this is all just smoke and mirrors. Have fun and enjoy it because that’s the experience you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. You don’t want to be here not enjoying yourself and not trying to have as much fun as you can.” And that changed my perspective. I definitely learned a lot from her.
Your grandmother wrote a letter to RuPaul when you were eliminated on your original season. What do you think she is going to have to say about this episode?
Oh my god. My grandma is probably not going to be too thrilled about it, I’ll be honest with you. But she always has supported me from a very young age, and really helped me discover who I was as a performer and as a human being. And she just allowed me to do anything I want and gave me the absolute world, her and my grandfather did. And I know that she’s proud of me. I’m very, very proud.
You mentioned earlier that you learned a lot about yourself by watching yourself on Drag Race. Did that teach you not to seek validation from others?
Yeah. I think that at the end of the day, when I’m seeking validation from other people, that’s when I’m not performing at my best or being the most authentic to who I am. And I do trust myself as a performer. I know that I am capable of doing really good things. I know that I’m capable of being more nuanced than what was shown on the show. I’ve learned to not really seek validation from other people, because if I feel like I’m doing a good job and I know that, then that’s what’s good for me. But at the same time, I do love being on the show because I love getting those critiques from the judges. I mean, Ross gave me some really, really amazing advice on how to channel my energy and how to channel who I am. And it’s something that really changed how I view myself as a performer. So I try not to seek validation from other people, but I’m definitely open to hearing critiques about how to make myself better, and picking and choosing what I take with me on my journey.
I love that. What are your thoughts about “Not This” becoming so ingrained in culture? It’s everywhere!
I love it. It’s fun. I’m happy that I could be a little meme for everyone. It was funny. It’s literally hysterical because I almost deleted that video. I was trying to make an introduction for Cameo, and then these fireworks happened right outside that window. So it was just a genuine reaction from me, but that’s just who I am. I feel like, again, that’s a culmination of who I am. I’m just somebody who’s very emotionally and very expressive as well.
I’m so glad you didn’t delete it.
Me too. Oh my god. Imagine? Holy hell, so sad.
Is there something this week that has you feeling “not this?”
Not the delusion. That’s the whole thing, not this delusion.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 6 is streaming now on Paramount+.