In celebration of the return of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, we are revisiting our interviews with a slew of the former contestants! Check out this interview with Willam from February 13, 2012.
Love him or hate him, no queen on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race has been talked about more than Willam! Coming to the competition as an established actor, singer, and performer, this Hollywood queen takes no prisoners and has already made a few enemies among Ru’s “girls”.
Behind the glam is one funny, slightly rude boy. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Willam tells all in this no-holds-barred chat. Find out how he went from Sex and the City to Drag Race stardom, his unlikely inspirations and discover one of his special talents that you probably won’t see on the show!
Socialite Life: First off, I have to say that I loved you in Tricked Out Trannies with Knives!
Willam: You did? S–t, I owe you 90 minutes of your life. That movie is quickly becoming a cult classic it seems. Being drunk while filming it didn’t hurt, I guess.
SL: Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Willam: I’m a non-versatile bottom who crossdresses for money or press.
SL: How did you get started in drag?
Willam: I got started in drag mainly through television after seeing Ladybugs. I didn’t want to be the little soccer fag though. I wanted to be Jackee. All she was doing was Sandra from 227. She don’t act a lick. But yeah – doing extra work in drag netted me upwards of $300 for 8 hours instead of SAG scale of $108 for 8 hours back when I was 16 in NY so it was drag or die. Well not “die” but I wouldn’t have had cable. After a bit part on Sex and the City as a tranny hooker, I went to Hollywood and it snowballed.
SL: You’ve acted in movies, on TV, you sing with a rock band (TranzKuntinental) and you played J-Woww in the Jersey Shore musical – among many other stage roles…and you’re a damn good saxophone player to boot. What do you enjoy doing best?
Willam: If you’ve got a check, I’ve got a talent. I like doing anything that pays me. Making people laugh is my favorite thing in the world (I can swallow my fist too.)
SL: You’ve already established yourself as an actor – why did you decide to audition for Drag Race?
Willam: I had just done HBO’s Cinema Verite and the same casting director wouldn’t see me a for a role in a pilot in 2011 because I didn’t have enough “name recognition.” There were 3 amazing gay stylist roles (written for 1 black, 1 Latino & 1 white). Well, Shangela got one and Chris Crocker got the other. Chris F’in Crocker. I was floored. A few weeks later, a gal named Chanel contacted my manager for RDR and manager man said it might be a good idea to get me to that household name level. I submitted a tape and within 10 minutes, they called me back to say they watched it – and that there was no sound, so I had to drop off another. But they had shown their hand. If asking me for my tape wasn’t a tip-off that they wanted me, watching it immediately sure was.
SL: Who are your biggest influences or inspirations?
Willam: I love Leigh Bowery (I had some callbacks for a role in Taboo, the ill-fated Boy George musical). RuPaul is my go-to for all-around mogul of drag. He acts, sings (LIVE), writes, is a personality – all the things I want to do. I would love to be a modern-day Charles Nelson Reilly and be able to do TV, Broadway, Variety/Game Shows. People need to see that I can swallow my fist (I’m trying to get dates). Link: http://cl.ly/DyZN
SL: How would you describe your look?
Willam: My look varies from day-to-day but bombshell is a good word. I always look expensive. So even if I’m done up like a country hooker, you can bet that Gingham top is from Dolce & Gabbana. None of that poor people D&G line bullshit. I usually look like a hooker, but one for like athletes and senators. My friend Bert wrote that line for Easy A. (side note: What’s up Bert & Clay! Look at me. I’m being interviewed!)
SL: What do you enjoy most about performing?
Willam: It’s a tie between drink tickets and groupie cock.
SL: Where is your favorite place to perform?
Willam: My favorite place to perform is House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. TranzKuntinental opens for Steel Panther (basically a live 80’s Spinal Tap band with hotter guys) and the audience is floored to see a drag queen mash-up band but we quickly win them over with talent. Kinda like the Spice Girls with foreskin.
SL: What can people expect to see when they come see you perform?
Willam: They can expect to see something new. I’m not interested in repeating anything anyone else has ever done unless I do it better or different. I wore a meat dress like Gaga out of $40 worth of steak and threw pieces at people who wouldn’t tip me. I also forgot the words to the song “Speechless” so it was kinda ironic.
SL: What do you think separates you from the other queens?
Willam: First – I’ve never had silicone or hormones like at least 5 of this year’s contestants. Second- I’m comfortable being crass and have the fellatio skills to get away with it. You don’t put on as much gloss as I do then NOT suck dick. That would be BADvertising.
SL: Do you think being a “quadruple threat” (stage/screen/music/drag) gives you a big advantage over the other queen-testants?
Willam: Yes. I gave up an off-Broadway run of Jersey Shoresical to do Drag Race and that was really difficult. Just from a pure savvy point, being on set previously, I knew it would be hot. I brought a battery fan and the other girls were sweating and wearing poly-blend fabrics – two things I find disgusting.
SL: You mentioned in the first episode that you were going to be “the funny one” this season. Are you hoping to be the next Pandora Boxx (Side question: Is your “Vagina Song” the new “Cooter” (by Pandora)?
Willam: I have just gotten to know Pandora a bit and REALLY like her. My video had 500K views before I did RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s now approaching 2 million. Perez reposted it, the Pope jerked off to it, Bruno Marz’s manager likes it – even though I ripped off “Billionaire”. So I’m not the new anybody. I mentioned I’d be the funny one because I can’t compete facially with the beauty of Kenya Michaels. Silicone and hormones do wonders but there’s no denying she’s a gem.
SL: What was it like working with RuPaul?
Willam: He is kind, he is smart, he is important. I’d like to bake him a pie.
SL: What was it like working with the other queens?
Willam: I immediately became pro-choice after meeting some of the girls.
SL: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Willam: People would be surprised to know that I was a fat kid. 207 pounds at 13 years old. I would gnaw on blocks of dried ramen. Richard Simmons changed my life and gave me abs.
SL: What do you hope people will learn about you from the show?
Willam: I hope I help people learn that fucking your way to the middle is entirely acceptable. G’head- coast on your looks.
SL: What song would be your dream song to “lip sync for your life”?
Willam: Beethoven’s 5th.
SL: What words of wisdom do you live by?
Willam: Don’t judge a book by its cover. I mean Mary Poppins looks all nice but she was a f—in’ witch! Dark-sided. Putting lamps in bags and things. Black magic. Not Christian.
SL: Could you share one of your beauty tips with us?
Willam: Long bangs with your head down walking fast.
SL: What one beauty item can you not live without?
Willam: Goo-Gone. It gets the adhesive off my balls.
SL: What are you hoping to gain from your experience on the show?
Willam: Work begets work. I just want to continue doing what I’ve been doing for 10 years but with better craft services. Do you want to continue working in drag or do you want more opportunities to act as a man? I want to replace Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune. She can go the f–k away. The letters are digital now. She’s not fooling anyone in her JCPenney gowns. I would walk that walk to much better. I would love to work more as a man in the future, especially since Phi Phi O’Hara told me I should never do drag again.
SL: Any upcoming news, future projects or events you’d like to share with us?
Willam: Watch for me in Neighborhood Watch opposite Ben Stiller July 27th in theaters. I have an album coming out too that’s kinda Jackie Beat/Lady Bunny inspired. You can buy it at willambelli.com too.
SL: How can your fans best stay in touch with you?
This article was originally published on February 13, 2012.