With Drag Race Down Under continuing to captivate WOW Presents Plus viewers globally, Ivanna Drink’s departure was a bit of a shock. Coming into the competition with an established pedigree (Drink is currently married to Drag Race alumni Anita Wigl’it, although they recently announced their separation), Drink got the chance to show some stunning looks before being sent home. This queen didn’t miss a beat returning home, and is already traveling the world post-Drag Race. I chatted with Drink while she was on a recent jaunt to London and we discussed her Drag Race journey, what she thinks contributed to her departure, and why having a keen business mind is equally as important as what you put out on stage.
Michael Cook: How does it feel to have competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under?
Ivanna Drink: God, really really good! It was a great opportunity. It was amazing and one of the most surreal experiences that I have ever done in my entire life.
MC: Coming into the season with Down Under Season 1 standout Anita Wigl’it as your partner and her being such a high profile name in the Drag Race world, do you think it serves as a benefit for you or perhaps a bit of a distraction?
ID: I think it was definitely a hybrid of both. I have a big personality and I can definitely stand on my own two feet. I guess the downfall was having the expectation of having a really successful partner who has already done the show and kind of really represented themselves well. That was really heavy on my heart and my mind, like “Will I be able to create my own brand”?
MC: Do you think that you were successful in that?
ID: I do. I think I have a new set of people who know who I am and with the travel I am doing, I am getting to meet more and more people every single day and every single week and make some really meaningful connections with the fans.
MC: I’ve always said, there is being good at drag and being good at Drag Race. What is the one thing about the Drag Race experience that truly surprised you the most once you were in it?
ID: I don’t think anyone’s experience with Drag Race is all the same. You can chat with as many queens as you want about it, but everyone has different ways of being perceived and how they handle the competition. I think my experience was totally different than anything Anita did or any other person that has done Drag Race.
I think I was surprised at the fast paced-ness of the whole experience. People will say that you really don’t have the time to do anything and you don’t really believe them until you’re in it and then you’re like “oh shit” (Laughs)! Its not like the real world at all, normally when you are making a dress you have more than twelve hours to do it…and maybe mine would’ve been better (laughs)!
MC: Being in your head is something that is many performers talk about being a true challenge during Drag Race. Did you find that to be a challenge for you and do you think it contributed to your departure?
ID: I think a lot of it came down to being a bit starstruck by the judges, they are a big deal. In New Zealand, we dont get to meet people like RuPaul and Michelle Visage. I had actually met Michelle prior to being on the season, she came to dinner at Caluzzi. She was intimidating, but that was because you know who she is. I made her laugh twice, I don’t know if she’ll remember that, but that is my claim to fame! (laughs).
MC: So New Zealand is not known for it’s proximity to celebrities?
ID: No, but it’s also very different. Usually when I am in rooms with celebrities, I am entertaining and it is a different vibe and dynamic. You are not being judged by these people… well you probably are, but not outwardly. They are not getting up at the end of the performance and critiquing you (laughs)! A lot of it comes down to the fact that I had a mental block, it’s like when you over think and over analyze what you’re doing, that is what happened to me. Things change, it’s been months since we filmed. Reality TV is interesting, You go through the experience twice, you go through it the actual time and then you relive it when it airs so you get double the chance to process and learn from it.
MC: Who have you gotten to perform for outside of Drag Race that you were the most starstruck for?
ID: I’ve done so many different things. The Edge is a radio station here, and it had all of the media people and a roomful of celebrities and it was like “oh shit”; that was quite intimidating. It really doesn’t faze me, New Zealand is so small and I have met so many people and become friends with people that do TV here and act in movies and I think that is the difference. You see RuPaul and Michelle on TV and it’s almost like they’re not real, you don’t expect them to be physically there in front of you. I guess that is the thing for me, I don’t have that personal connection to them. I’m a chatter and I like to get to know people and I am definitely a bit of a nosy bitch (laughs).
MC: What do you want to do with the global platform that you have now?
ID: Well I am in Europe at the moment on a bit of a break. A lot of people don’t realize that I have been doing drag for eight years and for the last two years of my life, it has been consistently full time; anything from three to five nights a week and that is quite a lot, it has been crazy. You get ready for Drag Race, you do the show and continue to work while no one knows what is happening and then you get all of the opportunities that arise because of the show. This all came out at a perfect time; I think I have two days in New Zealand to get over the jet lag and then I fly straight to Sydney for the finale.A lot of it is traveling around Australia and New Zealand.
I would love to come to the States, I would love to come back to the UK and do some shows. I want to take my drag around and do what I can do. Meet all the fans, get to perform with all of the fabulous drag artists around the world. I just missed the Drag Race France finale though (laughs)! I am working in the UK now, and we run a drag queen bingo company in new zealand so I’ve been up working at 4 am every day since I’ve gotten here working on New Zealand time (laughs)!
MC: What advice would you give performers who like yourself who are crafting their own brand or business?
ID: There are a handful of things that I will share. The first one is, don’t over invest. People don’t take note of what you wear. I think a lot of people come down on performers for wearing generic outfits, but those are the ones that are the best because people don’t remember them as much. They still look great but you can reuse them and wear them all the time. I feel like a lot of people wear really unique things that you can only wear once or twice before people start remembering it. People spend a lot of money on drag without making that money back.
You really have to treat your drag as a brand; you are not a performer, you are a full blown business. You have to be able to organize yourself. Be on top of everything. You can get managers and stuff, but at the end of the day if you can’t do it…it’s just being organized. Reach out and hustle and sell yourself. That is the biggest part of it. Even if you are not on Drag Race, you can still make things happen. Before I did the show, I reached out to people all over Melbourne and went for a little holiday there, did the weekend away, and got myself booked there and now I have friends for life; I reached out to the right person and they got me an opportunity.
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