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Bob the Drag Queen talks Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

UPDATED: Fri., June 26, 2020

By Don Chareunsy

Bob the Drag Queen is one busy entertainer despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manhattan resident and Season 8 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is involved in numerous projects, including HBO’s “We’re Here,” “Bob the Drag Queen: Live at Caroline’s,” MTV’s “Drag My Dad” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race Pit Stop,” the recap of each episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” featuring host Bob the Drag Queen and a guest drag queen.

Bob the Drag Queen, birth name Christopher Caldwell, also turned 34 on Monday, and the drag queen known for his comedy chatted via Zoom the morning after about his career, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and more.

We met and chatted briefly after the Mo’Nique headliner show at SLS Las Vegas in January 2019.

That was such a good show, and I went in drag.

You did, and she called you out during the show. I was so excited that you were there, and I went up to you after the show and asked for a photo with you.

Well, thank you. That was a very fun evening.

You are a very busy entertainer. You have at least six projects you’re part of right now. Let’s start with HBO’s “We’re Here.”

That was a project I got invited to be a part of through a random cold call. I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize out of the blue asking me to take part in a new TV show. It was that easy.

And your new special “Bob the Drag Queen: Live at Caroline’s”?

This was a long time coming. It is my second special. After I made my first special, I thought to myself, “It will be so funny and successful, people will be clamoring for my next special (laughs).” It didn’t happen (laughs), so I decided to make my own special and produce it myself.

I did get some funding, which was nice. I wanted to have my voice out there and have people who have had experiences like me and who look like me be able to have humor from their perspective.

On MTV’s “Drag My Dad,” were there any dads who were really resistant to drag makeovers, perhaps even homophobic?

Everyone internalizes and externalizes homophobia to a certain degree. Some of the dads there were really resistant, and they weren’t all dads. Some were brothers, and some were mothers. I imagine if they were homophobic, they probably wouldn’t have made it to the show.

How did the podcast “Sibling Rivalry” with Monet X Change come about?

Monet and I have really funny phone conversations that nobody ever hears, and we thought that we could monetize it and make content out of it. I think people really love it, and I was right this time around (laughs).

I love “Pit Stop.” I’m a little disappointed that I don’t get your usual bedazzled and glittery background this morning for this interview, but that’s OK.

Oh, well we need to change that. (With that, Bob the Drag Queen gets up off his couch, then shortly after brandishes a glittery black cape for a background.)

June is Pride Month. How do you celebrate?

When you’re queer and live in a city as gay as New York City, it always feels like it’s Pride Month – and I never forget that. I know that it’s not the same experience in other places around the world.

This is such a crazy time with the quarantine and now all the Black Lives Matter protests. As a gay Black man, what has it meant to you?

I always say you are two things: You are who you are, and you are out. You are what you experience. Most of my experiences in the world are as a gay Black man. For me, it is profoundly important that we have uplifted the voices of Black men and talk about how we have been murdered by the cops and other authorities over 400 years.

But I also don’t want to not acknowledge or take away from the fact that trans Black women are being killed not just by cops but by people who say they love them.

Friday is the fifth anniversary of the national legalization of same-sex marriage in this country.

I remember that day very vividly because it was the day I found out that I had been cast on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” I was down at Stonewall, and I couldn’t get in or near because it was so crowded.

I went to a bar around the corner that I worked at, Boots & Saddle, and was sitting at the bar and got a call, “Hey, you’re on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ ” I remember thinking to myself, “This is the best day of my life.”

On the heels of the protests, the Supreme Court upheld and defended LGBTQ rights, countering President Trump.

I’m intrigued at the idea of someone in 2020 not wanting to acknowledge us. … He is insinuating that America used to be great. The question is, “When was it great, and specifically for whom?”

It’s an important question to ask, and that’s been in my mind a lot lately. Does America feel great right now, and have we achieved greatness?

I understand that the answer is subjective, but if you answer yes, it says a lot about your character and your perception and your privilege.

Let’s switch gears and end on a lighter note. How did you come up with your name?

My name is Bob the Drag Queen because my original name was Kittin Withawhip. I had the name for three or four years, and people misquoted it or called me the wrong name. So, I wanted a name that no one could get wrong. I ended up with Bob the Drag Queen, and I think that it has been pretty effective (laughs).

Where did your love for houndstooth start?

When I look back at my career, I have loved houndstooth for a long time (Bob the Drag Queen then proceeds to hold up a houndstooth pillow), and I’m color blind, so I really love black and white.

What is the origin of your catchphrase “walk in the club purse first”?

If you watch Season 8, Episode 1, of “Untucked” of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” – you can find it on YouTube – you will literally see the birth of the phrase. I just blurted it out, and the rest is “Drag Race” herstory.

I know you have been asked this question a million times, but what was the biggest life change for you in winning Season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?

The short answer I can say is, “Everything.” When you are put on an international pedestal and seen by millions of people, you have access that you didn’t have before, and that access lends itself to money and privilege and notoriety.

Your voice matters all of a sudden. … Your opinions seem more valid, but the interesting thing is my thoughts and opinions and experiences are not that unique.

Who are some of your favorite drag queens – your best friends?

Monet X Change is my best friend. Peppermint I speak to every single day. Kim Chi, Naomi Smalls and Laila McQueen.

What are you looking forward to most post-quarantine – what do you miss most?

For me, performing in front of a live audience. That really speaks to me the most.