Interview – Miss Fame

Bryony Bates

You’ve got to be ambitious to call yourself Miss Fame, and it seems to be paying off for this self-proclaimed one-woman brand. With the release of her new single, ‘Instafame’, I spoke to the season 7 queen about RuPaul’s Drag Race, internet haters and equal marriage.

This is a great day to be speaking to you because we’ve just heard about the Supreme Court ruling on equal marriage. How are you feeling about that?

I woke up today a little bit late, so to wake up to this news – it was just such an amazing thing to imagine. This is what history looks like and I’m part of it, being a drag queen and to be able to be married to my husband. I’ve been married to him for two years on the 20th June, so we just had a celebration – and now we’ve got another reason to celebrate.

And this is a big one! It’s a big one for the whole of the LGBTQ community. This is a big step forward for everybody that has a loving partner and has been wanting to make that moment real, we’re living in it, we’re not just talking about it, it’s happened. There’s no place for shadows when there’s so much light around us.

Absolutely, it’s wonderful. But now let’s talk about you. Your new single’s just come out, ‘Instafame’. You built up a following through social media: how do you think that’s changed being in the public eye?

We live in a modern world where people are becoming successful from the internet, who don’t even necessarily have to leave their homes to have a following.

You can be a vlogger, a YouTuber and will have the opportunity to reach millions and millions of people. You can make an audience and a career [from] internet success, so you don’t even have to be on reality television to have a sustainable income or to be attached to brands that are interested in what you have to offer.

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I started noticing when I posted on Instagram my very first time which was about three years back. I remember people responding to the make up I did and asking me, ‘How did you do that?’

So I kept posting pictures with make up on my own face.uMiss Fame was evolving at the same time, and there was a huge gravitation towards her and I just went with it.

When I wrote ‘Instafame’, it was basically looking at how I became successful, and the pros and cons of becoming famous on the internet. You’re going to get a lot of haters, people that don’t think that you’re worth it: ‘You being famous from YouTube – how does that validate your success?’ I felt almost like a digital copy of [myself] – I wasn’t human to people because they saw me through the internet.

Did you feel a lot of pressure going into Drag Race because you had this following?

I felt a lot of pressure because I had high expectations for myself. I’m a perfectionist, and being a performing artist in life is different from doing your internet show. I knew I had areas which needed a lot of attention, and going into the show I didn’t want to let anybody down. I felt like, my fans are watching me and I do not want them to think, ‘Oh we had so much faith in her and she’s a disappointment.’

When you went out, you said it had been a lot harder than you expected – what was it about the show that took you by surprise?

This is such a predictable show, it’s almost disorienting. You don’t sleep normally, you get these major scripts and tons of information and you have to memorise, and go with the flow and be happy and joyous and crazy all at the same time.

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When you have an emotional breakdown on a reality show, they’re filming that, and if you have a block or fear gets in the way, that happens and you’re doing it in front of RuPaul. It’s very unfortunate when it happens, and it happened to all of us!

You’d be given an iPod nano, and you’d have every RuPaul album that’s ever been created and all of the lip sync music, [but they changed] the music on the spot, like, ‘Oh you thought you were doing that lip sync tomorrow – you’re going to be doing that one’.

It was definitely set against you, because why would they make a reality show where it’s easy for all contestants?

It was the hardest thing I’d done to that point in my career, but now working as Miss Fame so many nights a week the challenges are different because of the volume that we work. It’s physically tolling, your toes go numb, you’re corseted, you’re tucking. I want to look good so I sacrifice my physical body so that I can create looks. I might have nerve damage in my feet and my hair’s falling out – but I look gorgeous.

You were in London recently – was that your first time in the UK?

It was – London was amazing. I could live in London. We got to go and see the Alexander McQueen exhibition and that was beautiful. We got to go shopping for latex at Atsuko Kudo who’s an amazing couture latex designer. So I got to go do a fitting with her and I basically got to live a drag queen’s dream.

I got to do fashion, I got to do art, I got to do my show, the fans were lovely – I really wish I had more time there. We were only there for two days and I wish we had at least a week, so I hope to come back soon.

We’d love to have you. Coming back to the album, I’ve noticed it’s more pop-oriented than other drag queens’ albums – it’s not all music for the club. Was that conscious?

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I like ambient, cool, smooth music, [which] doesn’t necessarily go over as well when you’re at a club. But you know, I thought this is my chance to make art that I stand behind. I wanted you to look past the identity and the title of ‘drag’, I didn’t want it to be ‘Oh that’s a man dressed as a woman’ or ‘That’s a woman’, I wanted you to be like ‘That is an amazingly well-sculpted piece of art. That looks beautiful and I don’t need to put it in a category.’

The album was [meant] to mirror my drag aesthetic. I didn’t want to fall only in the drag department.

The club songs I have are my collaborations. My song with Alaska [‘Miss Fame’] – that’s going to be so much fun, our fans are going to go crazy over that.

Are we going to get a video with you and Alaska, or with you and Violet for ‘I Run the Runway’?

It’s already been discussed – I don’t have specific dates yet but things in the Drag Race world happen so quickly.

Right now I am in discussion for the next video. It will be satisfying for my fans, the next song will be exactly what they’re hoping for and that’s all I’m going to say.

What else is coming up for you over the next few months?

There’s going to be some major fashion opportunities that I’m working on right now … Early July I’ve got something coming up that I can’t confirm to the public just yet, but that’s going to be a career-changer.

If I had it my way, I’d be walking for Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Paul Gaultier – changing the dynamic of what beauty is. Beauty has no boundaries: just because I’m a man that dresses as a woman, doesn’t mean it’s not possible to use that in the pages of Vogue.

‘Instafame’ and Miss Fame’s album Beauty Marked are available now on iTunes.

About Bryony Bates

Bryony likes reading, writing, glamour and anger. @Bryony_Bates