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The Interview: Mackenzie Claude

The Interview: Mackenzie Claude 9



QUESTION:  Mackenzie, thank you so much for making the time to talk with me today. How is Sin City treating you?

Mackenzie Claude: Sin City is heavenly! I came out here a few years ago with three dreams: to get signed to a modeling agency, to be on a magazine cover and to land a billboard. I’ve been lucky enough to see those dreams become a reality. And in the process of all of that I fell in love and ended up on reality TV. Viva Las Vegas!


Photograph by Christopher DeVargas.

QUESTION: Well my dear, all that is missing from that paragraph is “and they all lived happily ever after” but before we get to the end of the story, lets go back to the beginning. Where are you from originally and how did you wind up in the military? What branch did you serve in and how has that influenced your outlook on life?

I used to daydream about that fairy tale ending a lot growing up. I am originally from Sacramento, CA and have spent a large portion of my life living in the foster care system. I traveled from foster home to foster home and even lived in an emergency group home for a short duration. At the age of eighteen I was on my own looking for structure, discipline and a foundation which I found in the armed services. I spent six years as a Fleet Marine Corpsman where I traveled with the Marines to places like Morocco, Uganda and South Africa. We learned how to use weapons, treat patients and live by Marine Corps values. I loved it because for the first time in my life I finally belonged to something that made me proud. The armed services provided me with the tools that I needed to live my life to the fullest and that is what I am doing now in Las Vegas.



QUESTION: So once you were out of the Corps, was Vegas your first stop? What made you pick Las Vegas over say Los Angeles or New York City? How quickly did it come together for you, especially your billboard and the cover of QVegas?

Funny, because I actually did go to LA first. I got out of the Corps and decided I was was ready to follow my dream of becoming a model. I packed my Hyundai Santa Fe with everything I could fit and left everything I couldn’t behind. I got to LA and realized I didn’t know shit about modeling. I didn’t have a portfolio, I had never even heard of a Zed card. However I took good pictures, was tall and determined. After just two months in LA, I was now discouraged and my savings account was depleted. I kept hitting dead ends and I needed a new plan. I would’ve felt like a failure heading back to Sacramento and I had a photographer friend that lived in Las Vegas so I called him up. I spent the last of my money filling up the Santa Fe and headed to the City of Sin. As soon as I got here everything started to fall into place… and fast. I went from a bottle model to a signed model to a cover model in exactly one year. The billboard and reality show just kind of happened along the way. I’m thankful things didn’t work out in LA because those struggles led me to the path I am on now in Vegas. Now I get to revisit LA, but under much different circumstances. For example, I was there recently for LA Fashion Week when I walked in designer Marco Marco’s fashion show!

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The Interview: Mackenzie Claude 10



QUESTION: Recently, Britney Spears pulled you up on stage in her Vegas show. It seems like Britneys have a thing for you! How surreal was that for you?

It was extremely surreal. I probably should’ve been way more nervous than I actually was. But the reality is I hang out with ‘Britney’ everyday, so it felt like I was on stage with my boyfriend. Just in front of thousands of people, NBD. Being that close to her all I could think about was ‘Man, they really do look exactly alike‘.  Anyhow, she spanked me, walked me like a dog and gave me a lap dance so basically I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life!




QUESTION: How did the opportunity to be RuPaul’s Drag Race come about? I think most people don’t realize with all the editing and such that what seems to a short time is actually a much longer time span. How long did they have you on set and what was the mood like with the girls and the other soldiers? Is the workshop really as tense as it seems on TV?

A friend of mine had turned it down, but referred me knowing my military background. I literally found out about the show on a Monday, interviewed on a Wednesday and drove to LA to film that Friday. We spent two full days shooting and it was more intense then it appears on TV. Not only was I intimidated getting into drag for the first time on camera, but you could tell the contestants were feeling the pressure. I mean it was the Top Five after all, one wrong move and their dreams of winning could have been crushed. Everyone in the room was extremely focused and keenly aware of their actions. 



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The Interview: Mackenzie Claude 10

QUESTION: What was that whole experience like for you? Had you had any experience with drag prior to that? What did you think when you saw how sickening Nebraska turned out?

When I first showed up for filming it reminded me a lot of when I first arrived for boot camp. I was intimidated, a little terrified and thinking I just made a huge mistake. I never even tried to walk in heels before and now I had to on camera… For everybody to see? Luckily Alaska was fun to work with and made me feel comfortable by incorporating weapons in our runway. By the end of filming I felt accomplished and proud similar to when I completed boot camp. I could have never predicted the overwhelming online response to Nebraska. At the time, I received fan-mail, viewers created tons of GIFS and Chad Sell even illustrated us. Three years later I still get encouraging fan messages or tweets asking when will Nebraska surface again.

The Interview: Mackenzie Claude 12

Artwork by Chad Sell


QUESTION: One of your partners is world famous Britney Spears impersonator, Derrick Barry. How did your brief time as Nebraska help you to understand what she goes through as a performer on a nightly basis? Has it made you a more sympathetic boyfriend or at least more realistic of the time it takes for a diva to get ready?

Absolutely! The people have no idea! I had no idea! My time as Nebraska made me not only more sympathetic to Derrick and other drag queens, but to all females in general! I had a roommate in Sacramento that hated wearing heels. We would be getting ready to go out to the club and she would walk out in a dress and flats and be like ‘I’m ready’ and I would demand she change into heels. I never understood that about her. Now that I have been on the show looking back I feel like such a douchebag, it’s painful! I could barely do it sober, let alone out at the club all night drinking! If you are reading this, I am so sorry Brandy! 



QUESTION: So let’s get down the big news! The internet is abuzz with the talk of Nebraska’s triumphant comeback! Are the rumors true and if so, how did it come about?

I am happy to report that the Wikileaks information is TRUE! After Nebraska’s bank robbery runway with Alaska Thunderfuck on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she was captured by Military police and held in solitary confinement for these past three years. Thanks to a newly submitted testimony from Derrick Barry offering her an alibi she has since been released and cleared of all charges. She is currently in an undisclosed location plotting a cross-country crime spree. In fact, if you would like to see her in your city contact



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The Interview: Mackenzie Claude 10

QUESTION: Thank you so much Mackenzie for making the time in your busy schedule to talk to me. Do you have any final words of wisdom for my readers? Is there anything else you would like to plug before we wrap this up and go get cocktails?

It has been my pleasure Chiffon! I am just extremely excited to begin this new chapter as Nebraska Thunderfuck. This is a path in life I would never have predicted for myself. However, for whatever reason everything I have done and lived up to this point has lead me to here. How many drag queens can say they were birthed on RuPaul’s Drag Race? It’s an incredible gift and one I plan on evolving! Now back to assembling my #CrimeNetwork.

Add Mackenzie on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook 


Photograph by Joe Tholt

Written By

(she/her) Despite being a drag journalist for over a decade, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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