Trixie and Katya Can’t Believe You Find Them Funny
The RuPaul’s Drag Race alums and UNHhhh cohosts celebrate the web series’ 200th episode by looking back.
It’s heavily edited, it stars drag queens, and it’s celebrating 200 episodes. No, I’m not talking about the express version of RuPaul’s Drag Race we’ve been delivered lately, but rather its unhinged, misunderstood younger sister, UNHhhh. The World of Wonder-produced web series, starring RPDR season seven queens Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova, has reached the unprecedented milestone right off the heels of the show that birthed their stardom. On March 15th, Trixie and Katya will embark on season eight on WOW Presents Plus, which finds them back on their little stools, chatting about the world’s most pressing topics—like bathrooms, straight people, and dental artistry. Ahead of the season premiere, the queens gave W a backstage look at their first-ever photoshoot for the series, before sitting down and discussing how it all began, their place in the world of drag, and how they keep their content fresh 200 episodes in.
Let’s go back to 2017. The show hasn’t premiered yet. What was your pitch for UNHhhh? What did you say to World of Wonder?
Katya: What did we do, Trixie?
Trixie: Well, it's a little more my personality trait to try to float something like this along. If we were waiting for this other person to get us a show, I don't think we'd be talking right now.
K: No, I’d probably be at the UPS store.
T: I went to World of Wonder and I said, "Hey, I know you guys have the show Fashion Photo RuView with Raja and Raven that's so popular. Katya and I would like to do something like that. We want to critique Raja and Raven's looks.” And so we did one episode and I might be glamorizing it, but I just remember feeling right away that we were really funny together.
K: It was fun to do. We were just having fun.
T: In the beginning, it wasn't a real show so there was less than zero pressure.
K: Yeah, it was just two hot girls chatting together about different things.
When did it become what it is today? And, now that I think about it, how would you even describe what it is today?
K: I would describe it as a freeform, stream of consciousness, topic-based improv show with groundbreaking phantasmagoric editing.
T: Yeah, the editing elevates it. I guess by the standards of today, what this started as was almost a podcast, if you think about it.
K: Yeah. We're basically Joe Rogan.
T: Yeah, Joe Rogaine, because we’re bald. But anyway, kudos to World of Wonder because we just said, “What if we just go in there and talk?” [Producer] Thairin Smothers said, “Well, what are you guys going to do in the first episode?” And I said, “We’re going to figure out what the name of the show is.” Which is so crackhead-ed to suggest in any other venue, because that just makes it sound like we didn’t have a good idea. And to be honest, we didn't. We just believed there was going to be something there.
K: Also the stakes were very low. I mean, it's not like Paramount Pictures was putting up $100 million for this.
T: Neither of us were in a place in our careers where we were like, “We'll take this on the road. We'll shop it somewhere else.” If we didn’t do it at World of Wonder, we weren't going to do it anywhere.
Did you ever think you'd make it to 200 episodes?
K: No, definitely not at all. Enjoyment and pleasure are the driving forces behind it. You can't do this kind of improv if you don’t want to be there. So that being consistent this long for me is very surprising and wonderful.
T: I always thought it was funny, but I guess I always thought if it was this funny to me, it's probably a dumb inside joke that's not funny to someone else. I didn't think it would really have any broad appeal because it doesn't seem like an exciting show on paper. It's like, “Oh, two people in wigs talking. Really? That's entertainment to you?” I just would've never thought it would become a comfort show or people's friendship Bible show to so many people who aren't even queer or aren't even into drag. This show is a lot of people's only drag thing they even know about.
K: For many people it's their access point to drag, which is crazy to me.
T: We start you off in a really weird place if this is your inlet to drag. Part of why we work together in the beginning is because we are drag queens, but we aren't. It's a weird feeling.
K: We don't parrot the shop talk lingo. We’re not like, “Yes, mama, hunty, fierce, work.” We're not speaking in a coded language. We're just kind of regular in that way. Although we do explore many topics and stories that are certainly not regular. But the amount of straight guys that have expressed their interest and love for the show is always very surprising to me.
T: And I don't think we do a type of drag that other drag queens covet.
K: No, we don't. We certainly don't.
T: I don't think other drag queens even think we're that funny. We’re sort of the black sheep in that way. But I think other drag queens are like, “Good for you, but like, what's going on there?”
So you guys have the web series, you have your live tour, your merch, your podcast, your book. Do you ever get tired of each other?
T: We don't really get sick of each other. It sounds crazy and LA and toxic to say this, but sometimes I’m like, “Well, somebody's going to literally pay us to hang out next Friday. So let's just wait until then.”
K: We were doing the pod yesterday, and I got to her house and was eating lunch and we were talking and I was like, “You know what? I'm just going to shut my mouth until that camera's rolling because I don't want to waste it.” Which sounds so horrible.
T: We do a lot of like, “You'll never guess...Oh, never mind. I'll tell you later.” Recently we drove together to Palm Springs and we talked a lot, but it was a lot of dragging people in our industry. Interior conversations about colleagues that we can only have off the camera or off the pod.
K: Yeah, we talked about unrelatable things, stuff that would make us look like assholes. Like nobody wants to hear rich people cry about their luxury problems.
T: And we are rich. Make sure you write that down.
Do you ever put yourselves in situations that will make for better stories?
K: I really don't like that approach to life. Thank god I’ve had many stories that are fun to tell, but I don't like the idea of purposefully doing something so that I have a story to tell later. I just like to live in the moment. I think it's kind of phony in a way.
T: You're right. I think that's weird. Recently, I hooked up with a guy who had no furniture, all he had was a sling in his living room. And I said, “This is why I don't have to try to have interesting things happen to me.” Our job is a lot of things, but it is never boring. It can be very physically exhausting, it can be very draining, but it's never boring. We have very separate lives, because when we get together, we need something to talk about. It is actually really hard to be on tour together. Not because we see each other a lot, but because when it comes time to create content, we've had the exact same experiences. Not just together. Every day we are in the same outfit with the same people actually repeating the same lines on stage. It’s Groundhog Day.
K: That's why I like to go out and kill a politician every once in a while just to keep things fresh.
Looking back, do you guys have a favorite episode or a favorite topic you covered on the series?
K: Mine is “The Weather.” I don't know why, but it's my go-to depression cure. It is an immediate serotonin boost for me. I've watched it probably 20 times.
T: “The Weather” is sickening. That episode's so good because it was the very end of the day. I think we had to do four episodes that day. We were really mentally burned out. Once you're pouring from an empty cup long enough, your brain actually fractures and you become incredibly insane and funny.
K: It was like the third wind. It was like in the monster movie when you think he's dead and he pops up one more time. That was that energy. It was just so fun. It's like we have to be insane or else we're going to go insane.
T: That being said, I don't need us to work again to the point of that.
Can you tell us a little about what’s coming for the 200th episode and the future of the show?
K: Oh, we've got fierce fashion, big laughs, hot legs, long eyelashes.