“Thanks for being so patient with me,” Joslyn offered as an apology, although none was needed.
We had to reschedule our interview twice during the week due to the demands of her travel schedule. Being a famous drag queen can be pretty demanding nowadays, especially for a queen fresh off of the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race like Joslyn Fox, and I was happy to accommodate her.
Joslyn was the 9th contestant eliminated from this past season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, making it farther into the season than a lot of her competitors seemed to expect. Whether or not she was the “black horse” contestant depends on your perspective, but this glamourpuss queen certainly served up more than just skimpy frocks and piles of accessories during her time on the show.
Courtney Act, who was regularly critical of Joslyn, even described even her as being “dumb like a fox.” In other words, maybe the show really was her “cup of soup” after all.
“I think Courtney put it best when she said [that],” she confessed, “that I was not as dumb as I let on. I mean, I knew what I was doing, so I stayed much longer than any of them anticipated. That was my little strategy there, to come in and make them think I was just a dumb slut.”
If you paid attention to her, though, it was clear from the get go that Joslyn was a force to be reckoned with, playing up her charm, her wit, and her fierce stage presence to overcome her inability to sing or sew.
What most surprised me was her knack for comedy, which was clearly evident in challenges like The Snatch Game with her hilarious parody of Real Housewives star Teresa Giudice. Her comic timing in her exchange with Ru (“I believe it’s pronounced cumin”) was spot on. She delivered a nearly flawless performance that was unfortunately overshadowed by BenDeLa’s unexpectedly hilarious Maggie Smith and Bianca’s rollicking Judge Judy.
“I remember coming out of there and feeling like I totally bombed,” she admitted. “I was so looking forward to that challenge and I dropped the ball. So when it aired, and I got all of those cute little quotes from there, I couldn’t have been more happy.”
It was those successes on the show that allowed Joslyn to put her detractors in their place and prove that she was clearly Drag Race material.
“I’ve always said that the haters are just the fuel to my fire,” she told me. “I don’t think I would have even gone after Drag Race as fiercely if I wasn’t being told by people that I wasn’t good enough to for it.”
It’s that ability to turn a backhanded compliment, or even just outright shade, into a desire to succeed that helped her seem like such a classy queen compared to some of her fellow competitors.
“Even after Meet the Queens came out,” she said, “and people were coming up with these really negative ideas about be, I was just kind of like: just you wait. Wait until you see how far I make it, wait until you see the cool things I can do.”
That would’ve sounded cocky out of the mouth of a lot of queens, but not Joslyn. You can almost hear the twinkle in her eye when she’s speaking.
“Now I get backhanded compliments,” she told me, laughing, “like ‘I really hated you in the beginning, and now I kind of like you.’ Those are the tweets I get. ‘I used to think you were really annoying but now I think you’re only kind of annoying.’ I’ve changed their minds. I’ve won them over.”
Backhanded compliments are part of the game with drag queens, of course, a fact that Joslyn is aware of and has a good sport about.
“It’s still a compliment,” she decided, “so I’ll take it!”
It comes from insecurity, when a queen throws shade. When a queen gets on Drag Race she’s got something to prove. A lot of these queens, they come from working with other drag queens, and there’s that cattiness and there’s that shade, and there’s that cut throat attitude.”
So many of the queens on the show resort to shade, of course. Some, like Bianca, do it for laughs, and are just as likely to turn that sharp tongue on themselves. Others, like Courtney or Darienne, do it out desperation or fear.
“It comes from insecurity, when a queen throws shade,” agreed Joslyn. “When a queen gets on Drag Race she’s got something to prove. A lot of these queens, they come from working with other drag queens, and there’s that cattiness and there’s that shade, and there’s that cut throat attitude.”
In her Meet the Queens introduction, Joslyn even mentioned the idea herself, saying that she wanted to be Miss Congeniality, because she didn’t want to win by bringing the other queens down. Why was it so easy for her, then, to take the high road when her competitors chose the low road?
“For me, it would’ve taken way too much effort to try to be nasty and mean. So, I don’t think it’s not taking the low road, it’s me taking the lazy road,” she joked, laughing.
It’s hard to imagine her any other way, really. The harshest words she spoke were calling Gia Gunn ignorant, which was more of a call out than outright shade anyhow.
So who is Joslyn really? When asked before, she’d said that she was Patrick (her boy self) turned up to an eleven, so I pressed her on it a little further.
“It’s funny,” she admitted. “I just did an interview where they were telling me how me out of drag is so different than Joslyn. And I thought no it’s not because Joslyn isn’t a character, not like a BenDeLaCreme or Laganja.”
“But I guess she kind of is,” she realized, “because she’s so much of an amplification of who Patrick is. There’s no filters or limits to Joslyn and Patrick is very different.”
It’s a common theme among drag queens, in fact, with shy, quiet, or reserved boys turning into bawdy broads when they get into makeup. Look at the difference between Ben and BenDeLaCreme or Danny and Adore, and it’s easy to see.
“It’s no holds barred, it’s everything that I want to do. When I’m in drag it’s like that excuse, that free pass. I think Adore is probably the person that I would relate to the most as far as that goes. When Danny and Patrick are hanging out its funny because it’s so different from when Joslyn and Adore are together. It’s like four different people, it’s so cool.”
There was no better example of Joslyn in action, though, then when she was onstage lip syncing for her life. Her turn against Adore sent her home, but the night she dueled Langanja to Pink’s Stupid Girl was pure lip syncing magic when, without even looking at each other, each girl dropped into a split at the exact same moment in the song.
I demanded to know how they pulled that off. It was my only fangirl moment in our conversation.
“Oh god, I love that! It’s funny,” she explained, “because a lot of people will say that we planned it, but it couldn’t have been more honest and organic. It was TV gold.
“It was my first time lip syncing, and I said I have to do my jumping split (her signature move). So, when I did it, and I’m down on the floor, and I looked to my left, there’s the whole crew, and they’re all going ape shit. And the judges are loving it. And I can see the girls behind me jumping. I think, man, they really liked my split!”
Of course, she discovered right away that Laganja had done the same thing at the same moment.
“At first I thought: crap, we both did it at the same time. Then: wow, this is gonna look really cool on TV.”
Drag though, for Joslyn, is more than just catch phrases and sickening stage choreography. For her, it’s both the culmination of a dream and a stepping stone for the future. Her future path, though, isn’t necessarily the same as a lot of the other queens that have been exposed to the world by Mama Ru.
“I’d always struggled, growing up, because I wanted to do so many things,” she confessed. “I couldn’t pick just one. So, I love drag because drag allows me to do all of the things I love.”
That’s what I want to do. I don’t want to be the queen that records a single, and makes a video, and it becomes a viral video. I really want to go after all kinds of things. I want to do TV, do movies. I want to write a book.”
Her experiences on the show, then, with all of the different challenges she got to do, like the acting challenge, the rap challenge, and the snatch game, things that she loves, were really just the start for her.
“That’s what I want to do,” she proclaimed. “I don’t want to be the queen that records a single, and makes a video, and it becomes a viral video. I really want to go after all kinds of things. I want to do TV, do movies. I want to write a book.”
“The one thing that my husband will say that I’m good at, because he does a good job of not inflating my ego,” she laughs, “is he’ll say that I’m a really good writer. I love to write. And, with all of the Dr. Phil moments I had with the girls, the little bits of life advice, I think it would be cute if I put some ideas together and have kind of a life coach kind of a book.”
It fits, though, with what she’s said before about using her new drag queen fame as a platform. So what’s the message, then, that this drag queen life coach wants to share?
“I had this girl come up to me at a meet and greet in Houston, TX,” she explained, “and she was so nervous, so nervous! And she was such a beautiful girl! So I told her she was so pretty and asked to take a picture together. You could see she was nervous. When she walked away I said ‘keep it foxy’ and she turned around and said ‘I just want to thank you for giving me the inspiration and the courage to be who I truly am each and every day.’ And then she just ran off.”
Joslyn was touched, of course, that the girl finally worked up the courage to say that. So touched, in fact, that her tears almost ruined the picture with the boys that were next in line. But it’s not the only time she’s heard from people who see her as an inspiration, which comes as a quite the surprise to her.
“I had a lot of people say nasty things,” she admitted, “when I claimed that I wanted to be a role model, like ‘Who is she to be a role model, she’s dumb and doesn’t know what she’s doing’. But I’ve positively affected people, and that was a big part of why I wanted to do the show.”
The person most positively affected by her is probably her husband Andre. Back when they filmed the reunion, and he was still her fiance, he proposed to her that they get married right then and there on the show, by none other than Ru herself. Joslyn seemed just as shocked as I was. But surely she it was staged and she knew it was coming, right?
It turns out the the initial idea was for Joslyn to propose to Andre, but she was unable to keep it secret from him very long, and the producers ended up telling her that they loved the idea but there just wasn’t enough time in the show for it anyway.
“Meanwhile,” she said, “the other producers had said they loved the idea but don’t they have him surprise Joslyn. So they turned it around on me, all the way up until we filmed the reunion.”
It was a touching a moment watching Ru marry the couple, even closing it with Joslyn’s signature “wonk, wonk”, which was really just another sign of the soft spot Ru clearly had for her.
“You know,” she said, “I felt that while we were filming it. I thought that was really sweet and, watching the episodes, I can kind of see that. But Ru actually tweeted about me, and it totally rocked my world. It was really sweet.”
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) May 17, 2014
“My husband looked into it,” she confessed, “and told me that I’m one of the only queens from season six that she follows on Twitter!”
Clearly, Ru knows how to keep it foxy.