WILLAM / I WON THE INTERNET
WORDS | Ross Semple
IMAGES | David Phelps
It’s difficult to find a more successful Ru Paul’s Drag Race queen than Willam. The first and only contestant to screw himself out of $100,000 by getting disqualified in Season 4, Willam has made a name for himself through bad behaviour and raunchy parody videos. With 80,000,000 YouTube views, 23 television appearances, a #1 album (Shartistry in Motion) on the Billboard comedy chart, and an appearance on the VMAs alongside Miley Cyrus, you can’t say Willam hasn’t capitalised on his popularity. Still, after all this success, he’s not keen on being called an artist...
“That’s taking it far,” he says. “I’m a clown at best. You can’t expect me to sit here with a straight face while you call me those things. I do those things. I wouldn’t call myself any of those things.
“I’m not a singer; I’m a comedian who just happens to use music. I’m not really an actor anymore. I just say yes when people want me to be in shit. If you’ve got a cheque, I’ve got talent. Calling it work is a strong word for what I do.”
Even the term ‘drag queen’ doesn’t sit right with Willam. “I hate to sound like Madonna, but that’s kinda reductive. If you say ‘I’m a drag queen’ to someone then they think you walk around to a Rihanna song and take money. I kind of think I do more than that, which is why I call myself a comedian. I’m a comedian and a clown. I wear as much makeup as a clown, and who doesn’t love being under a big top?”
Touring has given Willam the opportunity to go all over the world.
“I’ve been to England every month this year so it’s kind of like I know the neighborhoods now. One of my best friends, Jodie Harsh, lives there. I love Manchester. I love Brighton. I love hanging out with my UK fans and getting crazy with them. They’re awesome, especially the Irish ones. The Irish and British ones can go in.”
On the topic of the show that made him famous, Willam had a lot to say, and not all of it positive. “Okay, I’ll talk about it once, then I’ll put a dollar in the Ru jar and then I won’t talk about it again…
“Everybody goes on Drag Race and a lot of them are characters. They do drag characters. I’ve never been a character and I never will be. They try to fit me in their little mold, or get me on their YouTube channel, and pay me $50 for it. You’re insulting. You’re insulting to me. We know how much that show makes. Goodbye.
Read the rest of our exclusive interview HERE