Representing California’s 12th congressional district (i.e. San Francisco), Nancy Pelosi is no drag virgin. So it’s natural that the Democratic leader, the first female Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, would visit the workroom on tonight’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, delivering a pep talk to the remaining queens.
A steadfast LGBT ally for three decades, Rep. Pelosi hopped on the phone with NewNowNext to chat about her own drag memories, her go-to lip sync song, and more.
How familiar were you with RuPaul’s Drag Race before your appearance on tonight’s episode?
I was very familiar with RuPaul—I’ve always been a fan of his. He’s quite a remarkable person: He’s brilliant, he’s a perfectionist, he’s an idealist, and he also has a pragmatic streak, which is always effective. So when I got the invitation to be, I don’t know if I was really a judge…
You were a work room motivator!
There you go. When I got the invitation, I couldn’t resist. And of course Ru picked right up on the word “resist.”
As a longtime advocate, and a congresswoman from San Francisco, you’ve encountered hundreds of drag queens over the years. Besides Ru, what other amazing queens stick out?
Well, in San Francisco, for sure. I would get myself into trouble if I named one over another. (Laughs) I’m not going to get into that. But to one extent or another, let me just say, I’ve never had anything but a comfort level in being engaged with drag queens.
What do you love most about drag culture?
First of all, what I said to those young people that day. That is, I admire the fact that they are authentic. They respect who they are, they know who they are and what they want to do. And that’s a beautiful thing. That authenticity is very admirable.
Secondly, I would just say, it’s an art. It’s an art form. This is no easy thing to present in that manner. The transformations are quite remarkable. Especially there. Some of my drag queen friends—you know, some of them are better than others! (Laughs). I mean, I’m not going down that path, they’re all wonderful and beautiful and the rest. But this was really quite professional, artistic.
Really, the drag queens I know in San Francisco are [in drag] on a day-to-day basis. These were for a particular presentation. As with anyone, if you’re going to be in a drag queen contest, you’re going to be the best that you can be.
If you were to do drag yourself, what kind of persona would you like to inhabit?
Oh, you know, reach for the stars: RuPaul? Why not? (Laughs) No, I haven’t even given that a thought. I’m a grandmother. I’m laughing, because last week, I was going to a TV thing, and my grandson said, “Mimi, you have on makeup!” And I was like “Oh, really. I do!” (Laughs) I have to remember that I’m not being judged as a drag queen, but I’m being judged a grandmother in terms of my presentation.
If you had to lip sync for your life, which pop diva would choose?
Cyndi Lauper! Far and away. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” [They’ve] done that—I think they have? I’m not sure. Maybe just done it around here. (Laughs) But I know the words, and I love her, and I’ve had the occasion to give her an award, a Trailblazer Award, on behalf of the community.
She’s way out there, and of course I love Kinky Boots, so it just reinforced what I love about her, her identification with the community, her advocacy, and her leadership.
The Trump administration’s attacks against the LGBT community are alarming. Is there one specific action, policy, or bill that alarms you the most?
It’s a contest with so many unfortunate first places. But I would just say, I really want to point out that there’s nothing that [Trump] has done that the Republicans in Congress haven’t been worse on for a longer period of time. And many of the things that they changed were initiatives taken by the Obama administration. So, it’s about identity. For me, I think the cruelty in the rolling back the guidelines for schools prohibiting gender identity discrimination, removing protections for trans students in schools. That, to me, went to the heart of who people are. When they rolled that back, that was an act of cruelty.
Similar to that, when they removed gender identity from questions in the national survey of older Americans. So we’re talking about children, we’re talking about older Americans, undermining their identity. And then retracting a proposal to add demographic questions in the census. So all of these things that either are how the DOJ opposes our values in the court, or whether the administration rolls back—the essence of who a person is. I named a few rather than just one, but if I had to name one, I would go to the one that addresses children and their gender identity being discriminated against. That’s not right.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on VH1.