RuPaul’s Drag Race said goodbye to the icon herself, Kerri Colby, this week. Though she’s gone, she made a huge impact on the season and influenced a lot of the queens and carried the discussion when it came to conversations about gender identity and expression.
Shadow and Act spoke with Colby after about her premature exit, the preseason trailer moment that misdirected the fandom, that J. Lo outfit and lip sync, and in the words of Gia Gunn, how she hopes to open doors in the fashion world and more.
Shadow and Act: Everyone was asking on social media if you were “the drama” of the season due to your iconic line in the season 14 trailer, so we had to ask you about it during our preseason interview. But now we know that this moment was a part of the Super Tease challenge and you were not even the drama of the season. You gave memorable television and were the narrator…but not the drama!
Kerri Colby: It was so crazy that that clip never made it into the actual episode. But it’s because since I was in the bottom, they couldn’t have added that clip…because I would’ve won the whole thing [laughs]. But it was funny because when I saw the commercial first come out for that, I was like, “Oh my God.” I knew that was from the Super Tease Challenge, and I was like, “These people are going to think that I am just on here poking bears and going crazy.” And I was so ready to see that little moment come out and then when it didn’t, I was like, “Oh you all really teasing people, huh?”
What was it like lip-syncing against Jasmine Kennedie this week, given the emotional moment during last week’s Untucked.
Kerri Colby: It’s so funny because [the song] is literally “Unbreak My Heart.” It was very much an emotional and just almost devastating moment. I love Toni Braxton, I love being able to do my thing on that stage when it’s time, there’s nothing like the lights in your face. But at the same time, it was a little bit like, “Holy crap.” Because now someone’s got to go home, and I don’t want nobody to go home, honestly. Then to be fighting to basically send your new really, really close sister at that point, it was just a lot.
You’ve been speaking about your life experience and upbringing a lot this season but that went even a step further this week. You spoke about not even being able to listen to iconic ’90s and early ’00s girl groups because of your incredibly religious upbringing. It’s one thing to go through the experience of feeling stifled as an LGBT person, but to be so far from everything secular is truly something. And that’s so interesting because your persona is literally like that girl.
It’s so funny because I really felt, for my experience personally, it felt like literally being brought up in A Tale of Two Cities. You’re brought up within the evangelical movement. And it’s also funny because last season they did “Shackles” by Mary Mary [and] that was my jam! [laughs] Everyone had Britney Spears and all that on their playlist, and that was really like my go-to song. I was over there just bopping around. To tie that back to this moment, it’s always funny when people see me because they think I’m kind of, in a way, pop culture. And I’m like, honestly if you go before 2010, you’re going to draw a lot of blanks for me in a trivia [contest]. Because I really don’t have a lot of on-hand knowledge because I wasn’t able to participate in any of that.
A lot of queens say that they watch the season and will immediately notice why the judges said certain things and they see where things went wrong. In watching the season in realtime, did any moment like that stand out to you?
The one thing I will say is I was one jump split away from an entirely different season, that is just hands down– period. And I thought about it too, but the outfit[s]…I always be having these thoughts of these outfits because I don’t want to be ruining people’s garments [laughs]. But at this point, if I ever come back, I’m just going to f**k all that s**t up. Pardon my French [laughs].
Speaking of outfits, we have to talk about that iconic J. Lo green Versace dress moment. But that moment also came with a lot of trolls online who criticized your performance in the lip sync– and like you said, you couldn’t ruin the outfit.
At the end of the day, a lot of the negative comments, they kind of were just comedy to me. But when I saw people being critical, I was like, “You know what? I would’ve been critical of myself too,” seeing what I saw. And I definitely was not trying to get the invoice for that dress. If I would’ve ruined it, winning would not have made much of a dent.
A lot of times, the judges said that you were just so, so pretty but were not able to let loose and kind of take that wall down. Have those critiques now impacted your drag character?
Absolutely, and the one thing is, the judges never got to see the interviews– they’re busy judging. So it’s funny because when I saw the whole package put together, it made me almost more happy because I was a lot of times kind of second guessing in my interviews to be as crazy, as silly, or as goofy as I was. And when I saw it all come together, I was like, “You know what? I’m so glad that I was just me.” And I think in watching it, it makes me more comfortable to continue to be myself and to not kind of gravitate or lean towards overcompensating the insecurities that I have.
Who would have you played in the Snatch Game?
I have a question for you instead, who do you think I would have played.
I’m thinking in the realm of pop star…but I don’t want to put either of these two on you because they haven’t been portrayed well on Drag Race— one was even last week on UK Versus The World. But I’d say either Beyoncé or Mariah Carey.
I’m a hundred percent a lamb [Mariah Carey’s name for her fans] through and through. I love Mariah, that would’ve been my choice. I watched Ms. Pangina [Heals]’s performance, and I think she did a great job at emulating Mariah, but I definitely was so excited to have the opportunity to give Mariah. I guess they just didn’t want me to walk up in there and win so easily being myself, so they said that Mariah’s going to have to come back another time.
I am the golden bar bby ✨ pic.twitter.com/Z4d7ZriSf0— Kerri “the EX narrator” Colby (@kerricolby) February 27, 2022
We all know you are that LA icon already, but now that you do have the platform that comes with the show, how do you hope to use it?
All fun and jokes aside, for my wonderful sister Gia Gunn, I plan to really open doors and raise ceilings because I know that within the trans community there are a lot of perceptions. There’s a lot of stereotypes, there’s a lot of just vibes that kind of come with things. Some of them are good, some of them are not the greatest. And I just want to kind of help blow that box open of what we can do. I’m definitely going to pursue fashion, modeling, there might be a chance at some music in there at times; I’m going full force, this is just the beginning for me.
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs Fridays at 8/7c on VH1.