No contestant on Rupaul’s Drag Race wants to be the first queen eliminated. But, as fan favorite Pork Chop knows, there’s no shame in sashaying away, since just making it to drag’s premier primetime platform is a victory in itself. Like Mother Ru always says, all her girls are winners.
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, the first to exit in Season 10, found other silver linings, too, like the opportunity to bond with a few of her drag sisters, and to perform in front of guest judge, Christina Aguilera.
“That was amazing!” gushed Mateo to Metro Weekly the day following her exit. “I’m a Christina fan. So I was glad that, if I’m going home, at least Christina Aguilera got to witness me perform and kick my shoe to the other side of that stage.”
The Tampa-based drag daughter of RPDR All-Star Alexis Mateo, Vanessa got her start in the drag and pageant circuit dancing backup for Alexis. “Then Alexis booked me to do a talent show [in drag]. I started doing pageants, won all the pageants I entered, and the rest is herstory.”
Performing onstage since the days of middle school dance team, Mateo came to RPDR pumped to kick up (if not off) her heels throughout the season. “I was looking forward to anything involving choreography and dancing. I was even looking forward to the acting challenges. I can act a fool, and I have a really big personality.”
There’s little doubt about that. Just ask the performer if she feels there’s an unfair advantage for the queens who show up knowing half the other contestants. “Hell yeah!” she responds.
“When you come into the workroom and you know five other queens, and you’re all from New York, and know each other from working together all the time, you don’t experience the same shock that I did,” she says. “Yeah, everybody feels nervous, but when you’ve been working with these girls for a while, there’s some security there, you know somebody’s got your back.
“I was the only girl from Florida.”
Still, her run in the competition, brief though it was, did allow time to strengthen bonds of sisterhood with contestants Eureka and Asia O’Hara. The Deep South queens often have been competitors on the drag pageant circuit, but just as often, they can support each other, as well, as viewers saw on Drag Race Untucked with Eureka comforting Mateo before she had to Lip-Sync For Her Life against Kalorie Karbdashian-Williams. Unfortunately for Mateo, it was Kalorie K. who was asked to stay.
As eager as ever to keep entertaining audiences, Mateo says she’ll continue to draw love and inspiration from “the beautiful queens in Tampa,” and from the Drag Race experience. “I’m inspired by anyone who has been on this show and turned it out, and made a career for themselves.”
Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 10 airs Thursdays at 8pm on VH1.
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