Irene Dubois reveals ice water bits she cut to fit the ‘Drag Race’ talent show
Like one of Anetra’s (f—ing) ducks, Irene Dubois sadly walked off the set of Friday night’s RuPaul’s Drag Race season 15 premiere.
The Seattle queen did, however, leave as a tall glass of water who made a tall glass of ice water for the talent show challenge — and occupied a spot in the Porkchop Loading Dock as the first-eliminated queen of the season, after bringing playful shade back to the Werk Room and, unfortunately, disappointing the judges with her delightfully silly tutorial on how to, well, pour liquid into a cup.
Below, Irene discusses her time on Drag Race, from the cast’s real thoughts on Sugar and Spice entering the competition as TikTok-famous queens, why she thinks it’s important that queens stay shady, and, after telling RuPaul she cut portions of the ice water how-to to fit within the talent show’s time limit, which bits she washed away before presenting the final product.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Irene Dubois explains the ice water tutorial bits she cut from her ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 15 talent show.
| Credit: MTV/World of Wonder
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re now a member of the Porkchop Loading Dock, which is iconic in itself, and you won over a lot of people. Thanks to you and Luxx, season 15 had its first “disagreement” over her 40-inch wig within the first two minutes. We saw her comparing wig sizes later in the episode, but I don’t think we saw anyone actually measuring. Did you get to the bottom of it?
IRENE DUBOIS: I never got to the bottom of it. I’d just met her for the first time when we had that little exchange. Now that I know her a little bit better, I know reality isn’t something that impacts the world Luxx lives in…. What matters is what Luxx believes in her heart. Now that I know her, I know that she believes in her heart that it’s 40 inches, so that wig is 40 inches.
You made it spicy immediately in the Werk Room, and you were excited to reunite with Mistress Isabelle Brooks because you had someone to talk s— with. Later, you said you wished more of them threw the shade back to you. Did it surprise you that no one was?
It absolutely surprised me. I think that part of the issue, and I mean this as an issue with my cast, specifically, is that it was a lot of newer queens who hadn’t spent time working in bars, and didn’t know their way around a drag dressing room. As much as mainstream drag has opened a lot of doors for queens like me and others who are able to do drag full time in our local scene, there’s still a lot of rich culture that exists in the drag world. Part of that culture is when you’re in a dressing room, you cut up with the girls, you read each other, you throw shade back and forth, it’s part of the fun of the experience. For me to not find that experience in what I thought was going to be the best of the best was shocking.
There’s a newer generation who only know drag from Drag Race, and fans also might take shade differently than someone with experience in the industry. Why do you think it’s important to hang on to that shady edge?
This is going to sound shady in itself, but my duty is not to the fans, it’s to myself as an artist. If people who watch the show are unable to grasp what I’m doing because they don’t have the full context, unfortunately, that’s not my problem. I think drag culture exists as a reaction to mainstream culture. It’s a safe space. Part of something we get as a queer community is sharpening of our wit. We’re constantly barraged by propaganda from the media about how our way of life is not the norm, how we are not the standard, and we need to have our tools sharpened…. When we encounter someone who sees drag in bad faith, we have the tools necessary to take them down.
It was clear that you found someone to do that with in Mistress, who is equally as shady. You said that you knew Mistress from Texas?
I didn’t cross paths with mistress. I moved out of Texas in 2016, around the time she started going out. My interactions with Mistress were all online because she’s very close and formerly lived with one of my drag daughters, who’s since moved to Seattle with me, Norvina Dubois. All of my experiences were curated through Norvina’s eyes. When I finally did meet Mistress, I was sort of like, wow, this bitch is a deranged psychopath demon.
You felt a kinship?
Immediately. I’m best friends with [season 14 queen] Bosco, baby, talk about a psychopath demon.
What did Bosco say to you when you returned home?
She wasn’t pleased with how things went down and she was not disappointed in me, let’s put it that way.
RuPaul’s Drag Race
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 15’s first eliminated queen, Irene Dubois.
| Credit: MTV/World of Wonder
There was also a moment where it looked like Amethyst was eyeing you up when the groups came together, cutting back and forth between you two a few times with her in a confessional, eyeing you up. Is there history there?
She and I didn’t have any issues. After I got eliminated, I left my pads in the Werk Room for her because she hadn’t brought any significantly sized pads, and that was her main critique on the Main Stage. I was like, well, okay, if I’m going to be eliminated, the girl who sent me home should continue to succeed to make me look better. There’s no beef between Amethyst and I. I think she’s hilarious, I think she’s a great queen, and I’m looking forward to what she does after the show.
Speaking of history, Robin Fierce and Amethyst revealed that they previously dated. To your knowledge, did they rekindle the romance there?
Quite the opposite. It seemed like the two of them were quite happy to not be dating any longer.
Sugar and Spice also seemed to throw the cast into chaos. How did you feel about finally seeing them perform on a stage?
The twins are amazing. Sugar and Spice are some of the most brilliant drag artists we have in our current generation. The way they’ve carved their own unique lane, their own niche, and have wild success independently of the show is admirable and remarkable. When I saw them, my first instinct was, ‘You guys don’t belong here, this is a show for performers,’ and I quickly humbled myself and talked myself off that ledge which was a ledge of compete insecurity. There are a million and one ways to do drag, and a million and one ways to be good at drag, and the way that they’re good at drag, they’re really f—ing good.
While your runway look was incredible, the judges didn’t love your ice water tutorial, which I laughed at. Could you see that the judges weren’t feeling it or were you trying not to look at them while making it?
I was making direct eye contact with all of them. The cast was cracking up…. Humor is very subjective, I thought it was funny, I’m very proud of that piece, watching it back in my home bar until they changed the background music to that derpy backing track, the bar was laughing. So, I’m proud of that. There were four people on that judges panel, and I’ve gotten hundreds of messages from people telling me they did enjoy the ice water tutorial, so, the math is on my side. I don’t feel too bad about that.
You told Ru that you performed it before, but you trimmed it to fit. What parts did you cut from the original?
There’s a bit more explanation on where you can find things, like water and ice. There are also two more minutes of me fumbling with my nails in the ice cube bowl.
Did you have other talent show ideas lined up as backups or was it making ice water from the beginning?
The talent show is set up to create a one-minute track where you lip-sync about who you are and where you’re from and what you do and you’re going to snatch the crown, Mama Ru. Angeria and Kornbread did that last season, and they both won, so I thought that would be a safe bet, but I just don’t like playing it safe…. My first instinct was to do a lip-sync, then I said, no, Irene, do something more specific to you. What’s something you do that no one else does? I ran it by a lot of my friends, but unfortunately, all of my friends work with me in the drag scene in Seattle, and the standards and practices by which we judge numbers’ efficiency are often how confusing and disarming it is, because that’s the thesis of Seattle drag. When I put it on the Main Stage in front of a community of drag queens from everywhere but Seattle, I had a come-to-Jesus moment and realized, ah, perhaps I should’ve adjusted myself a little for the stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race…. I’d rather be the worst version of myself than the best version of somebody else.
Lip-syncing, are you able to gauge what the other person is doing and assess your standing in that moment, or were you just not paying attention to that and didn’t have a sense that it wasn’t going in your favor?
I was in my own zone up until the point where my costume started to disassemble on my body. Lip-syncing in a leather cage is not my ideal situation. This is a message to everybody out there coming to my shows: I promise I can do a lot more when I’m not bound by leather. I felt good about what I was doing until I saw out of the corner of my eye Amethyst land into a jump-split. Historically, whoever has the most flexible pelvis on the stage gets to stay. When they announced I was going home I was like, yeah, that feels appropriate. Amethyst was broken up emotionally, she was really in her feelings about the whole situation, and I think I might just be a little too far on in my life and too confident in who I am to be shaken by that. You’re sending me home, but you can’t take anything away from me.
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I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.