RuPaul's been busy taking over the world. This year, her Emmy Award-winning reality show franchise will pit drag performers against each other in countries ranging from Thailand to France. The show has spawned ten successful international versions, in addition to producing multiple spin-offs, a handful of Drag Cons, and a global audience. And the original series that started Ru's trip around the world, the regular old RuPaul's Drag Race, is back on TV this Friday for its fourteenth season. This time, it promises a novel "one-of-a-kind" candy-themed twist—and, top-of-mind for PNW audiences, a fresh Seattle queen competing in its lineup.
The 28-year-old Queer/Bar cast member turned Drag Race queen, Bosco, describes herself as the "Demon Queen of Seattle" and characterizes her drag as "naked, evil, and irreverent." In her season's promotional videos, she delivers on her "naked" line by showing her ass, and she's known to do an erotic Portishead number or two—although lately she says she's been "pretty taken with '80s hair metal."
Originally from Great Falls, Montana, Bosco moved to Seattle in 2015. She says she got started in the city's drag scene by going to performer Arson Nicki's popular "Rapture" party, formerly at Kremwerk. Once she started performing, she quickly entered drag competitions around the city and landed a cast spot at her current home bar, Queer/Bar. The bar recently commissioned a mural of her face on its back wall to celebrate her induction into the Olympics of Drag. Now, she's about to be internationally gay-famous, although still local: "My boyfriend and his horse live here, so I'm planning on sticking around," she says.
Before this Friday's premiere, we called up Bosco to chat about Seattle drag, anime, and the temperature of RuPaul's "Werk Room." (It's cold. Very cold.)
This interview happened last Wednesday. We pruned it for length and clarity.
CHASE: Hello, hello, hello, Bosco.
BOSCO: Shalom. Hi, Chase.
First off, congratulations. Second off, how are you feeling? I saw that you got a breakthrough COVID infection.
I did. We're nearing the end of my 10-day window with the COVID quarantine. So, I'm mainly just feeling bored. I have a little bit of the sniffles.
I haven't had any of the COVID-y symptoms for over a week now, so I'm hoping we're nearing the end of whatever viral load situation I was experiencing.
Just in time for the premiere.
It looks like you're competing on another COVID-era season of Drag Race. What are your thoughts on touring at the moment?
Whatever makes sense as far as what's recommended and what guidelines there are.
It's very, very nerve-racking to have your opportunity and then kinda feel hesitant about taking it. I'm gonna listen to all the guidelines, obviously, but I do plan to do some touring.
Seattle hasn't had one of its queens on Drag Race in a bit. Obviously, we have a history on RuPaul's Drag Race with the legacy of queens like BenDeLaCreme, Jinkx Monsoon, and Robbie Turner (also Magnolia Crawford). Ben, Jinkx, and Robbie all have a similarly campy, kind of over-the-top style. How do you think you fit into that style, and how do you think you're breaking that mold?
I think those three queens represent a style of drag that's very, very Seattle but not necessarily indicative of what the drag scene is currently doing. I feel I more represent what Seattle's currently up to—it's a bit more punk, a little more look-driven. We still have that theatrical background, but I feel like it's approached a lot differently now.
But as far as things I do have in common with them: We all have roots at Julia's on Broadway; we all have a burlesque background; and, while I don't have a super close relationship with any of the three, they all strike me as introverted people who play extroverts, and I think that's also true for myself.
You started doing drag in Seattle right as the drag scene at Kremwerk was taking off. How would you describe that scene for people who don't have a relationship with Seattle?
The Kremwerk Complex is a really special place that kind of curated an entirely new brand of drag in Seattle. It's very punk, very performance-driven. [It's made up of] a lot of people who were kind of disillusioned with some sort of field—a lot of us were dancers who weren't feeling the professional dance scene; a lot of us were actors who weren't feeling the professional acting scene. We were all just too queer to fit into those scenes in a way that made us feel comfortable, and we took our skills and started building something else.
I was lucky to come up at a time when (Arson Nicki's) Rapture was the big party, and Arson Nicki created so many different opportunities. Arson and Cucci Binaca, the patron saints of Kremwerk, really blessed a lot of us with careers that are still going.
Your line is that you call yourself the "Demon Queen of Seattle"—
—It is self-appointed, that is correct...
You and I both know there are a lot of demonic queens in this city. What makes you the queen?
The fact that I started calling myself that first, I think, really cemented that title.
Everybody needs a schtick, and as somebody who was raised very, very Catholic, it's always felt like it's my duty to let that inform every ounce of my art. I paid my dues in order to be the demon queen. No one has refuted my title, so I'm going to keep it.
Maybe one day a little monster will come up and you'll have to battle for the title.
Oh, I'm into that. Hopefully not even a battle. I want it to be a knife fight.
We could make that happen.
I will end their line.
Tangentially, but related: Do you watch the anime Demon Slayer?
Oh hell yes I watch Demon Slayer. We're currently on the Entertainment Arc, which is the first new material we've gotten in like two years other than the movie. So I am vibing!
You've said before that your brow shape is anime-inspired. Do you pull from specific characters?
There are a lot of villains that end up with my brow shape. A lot of characters in Baki Hanma have this eyebrow shape—and it's not quite anime, but definitely Mako in Avatar: Korra.
This particular brow shape pops up a lot in cartoons, and it usually indicates somebody very, very fiery or evil, and I am very comfortable with both of those attributes.
Pivoting back to the show: Did you know any of the queens going into the competition?
I knew of some of the queens—I knew of Kornbread. She's performed here in Seattle and is fabulous. I knew of Willow, just because she'd floated around on the internet and I'd seen some of her drag. And I knew of Kerri.
I remember when my boyfriend found out [Kerri Colby] was on the show, he was like, "Well, good luck babe..."
My boyfriend is actually a huge Kerri Colby fan and he's probably going to be rooting for her over me.
It's an interesting experience having your drag seen in a different context. Like, here I'm one of the pretty girls, and then I go down to LA and stand next to Kerri and all of the sudden I'm one of the alt girls.
What was your impression when you first walked into the show's Werk Room?
It's like arctic cold. Everything is really, really awkward to film.
You watch it and it looks so snappy and whatnot. In reality, I walk in, I say my cute little catchline to a room full of people, and it's silent for about a minute as I'm posing. It's bizarre and inorganic and really, really, deeply funny.
Last thing: Do you have any advice for local performers who may be auditioning for the next season?
The local scene here is incredible, and there are so many people here who are ready and so capable of doing the show. I don't wanna sound patronizing to any of them, because I consider them all my equals. If I had to give any advice, maybe it would be like... have your [lip sync] song lyrics already written. You don't get a whole lot of time to do that.
The 14th season of RuPaul's Drag Race premieres on Friday, January 7 on VH1 at 8/7 central.