“It’s time to celebrate,” Kandy Muse says, ahead of the season eight “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” finale on July 21. “We’ve done the competition. We’re at the final two.” That “we”? It’s Kandy Muse, the Bronx native and “Drag Race” season 13 runner-up, and Canada’s superstar, Jimbo. Though they’re opponents, there’s none of the signature gibes or subtle shade often prevalent in the “Drag Race” workroom. When Jimbo and Kandy Muse sit down with POPSUGAR, there’s only pride for themselves, and each other.
“You’d be shocked at how close we get in such a short period of time,” Kandy Muse says. “There’s so much common ground.” Of course, the pair did know each other before “All Stars;” they toured together prior to filming. The dressing room is where bonds are made, they say. “That’s where all the tea is. That’s where the girls kiki,” says Jimbo. The tour and “Drag Race” experience offer “a unique scenario where 12 drag queens get to share their point of view with each other. And I always learn so much by just taking a minute and listening to each other.”
While only one queen can be crowned, it’s clear that these two finalists won’t dim each other’s shine. Keep reading for their wide-ranging chat with POPSUGAR, including everything from beauty tips to their thoughts on drag bans across America.
Did you have a favorite challenge of “All Stars” season eight?
Kandy Muse: Definitely “The Rusical.” I won “The Rusical,” so yes. But also the girl group was really fun.
Jimbo: That one was fun. . . . I would say my favorite was the Snatch Game and also the forensic queens, because we got this really amazing off-camera moment with Ru. It wasn’t really included that the person asking us all those questions on the other end of those interviews was actually RuPaul.
Does Ru make you nervous?
Jimbo: I think not necessarily nervous. . . .It’s mostly excitement. It’s a nervousness, but more in a positive, “I want to be my best version.” Less of a fear kind of nervousness.
Kandy Muse: Especially when we hosted the talent show and RuPaul, when she goes off script or off camera, and she’s just like, “You girls slay us.” And you’re just like, “Ah, thanks Ru.” . . . And she loves us. We even play charades with her in the workroom, off-camera.
Jimbo: She loves to laugh and keep the energy up in the room. She’s really cool.
You mentioned Snatch Game. If you could do Snatch Game again, who’s that one character that you left on the cutting room floor?
Kandy Muse: There’s this character on TikTok who goes by Adam Ray Okay. His character Rosa. If it wasn’t a character copyright situation, I would’ve done Rosa. I think I would’ve slayed. Characters are something so hard for me to do, so I just picked someone that was near and dear to me. I said, Ms. Renee Graziano from Staten Island.
Jimbo: This is a really common question, “Who would you do at Snatch Game?” And what I’ve found being asked that question literally around the world is if the person doesn’t know the answer, the energy drops. They go, “Oh.” And so whenever I pick something for Snatch Game, I want to pick something that a majority of the people are going to go, “Oh, okay.” Because that’s what everyone’s so excited about. And when it’s someone that is a pop culture icon, everyone has that frame of reference. They can go, “I have my own ideas of where you’re going to go with that.” And then you can surprise them. Whereas if they don’t know who the person is at all, you’re kind of starting at zero and you kind of have to fill them in at the same time as improving. So I don’t have a specific one, but, just, I like picking ones that have meaning to the audience.
Did you have different nerves coming into “All Stars” versus the regular season?
Kandy Muse: I think more nerves for me, because I finished first runner-up on my original season, so the only place for me to go was either way up or down. And to live up to what we had just done on 13 was a little bit difficult, but also excitement because I knew I was going in there with Jimbo and Heidi and we had this alliance and we were on tour together. So it was just fun. And plus it was the same crew from when I was on 13, so it was just being right at home all over again.
Jimbo: This is my third competition in four years. So I was coming off of my UK versus the world experience, which was soaring high and then a crash landing immediately. So when I was going into All Stars, I was really nervous about that happening again. Going in with all my intentions and going in with my package and going in with my dreams and everything. It’s so much pressure and so much excitement. And then obviously when it doesn’t go the way you envision it, it’s kind of borderline traumatic.
I’m curious about the financial investment you make going into a season and on top of that, how much time did it take you to curate all the looks?
Kandy Muse: I had heard a rumor that I was going to be on “All Stars” way back in February of last year, and I kind of had a feeling I was going to be on. So I started prepping back in February. We didn’t get the call until May 2022, I believe, so we didn’t leave until the end of June, but I had been prepping for a few months. Getting the package all together, it took us about a month because we get the list and you kind of know certain things. . . . So you’re prepping through your entire drag career, but you’re also prepping for that month period of time. On my original season, we had three weeks, and that was during the pandemic, and there were no fabric stores open, and there was a wig shortage. So for All Stars, I felt much more like, “Oh, this is so easy.”
I think it’s no secret that it’s definitely an investment if you want to look great. Now, there are girls who have gone on “Drag Race,” like Ra’jah O’Hara went on “All Stars” season six and only spent, I think, under a thousand dollars and looked amazing. So there are ways to go onto “Drag Race” without breaking the bank, but girls feel the need that — if you want to be on “Drag Race,” it’s the biggest platform in the world for drag. . . . Looking good for drag is very expensive. So a few zeros and a few commas are in there.
Jimbo: I spent a lot of money and a lot of time. But it means a lot to me to go in with new things. I like having new hair, I like having all new looks. I like everything to be really intentional for the show. So I don’t bring in a lot of like, “Oh, I had this round, I could make this work.” Everything that you see on the show is new for the show, and it’s for that look. And it’s all super intentional and very planned out.
I was a costume designer for film and theater for several years going into this. So I had my mood boards for each look, and I have my spreadsheet of who’s doing the hair, who’s doing the jewelry, who’s doing the dress, who’s doing the shoes, where is it? Is it in processes? Is it happening? Is it booked? And then that way, because I was preparing for All Stars on the road doing a world tour, so I had to be able to collaborate and make things happen while touring and while performing. It took a lot of organization and a lot of money because in years before, where I’m at my home studio, I’m able to make some things and I’m able to sew, and that takes some of the cost out. Whereas this last season, I wasn’t able to really do a lot of the sewing myself. So I had to hire a huge amount of people to pay for it. It was extremely expensive.
Where do you store everything? I would have no space in my house.
Kandy Muse: I got a two-floor apartment in Jersey City just so I would have space. I don’t have space anymore. I currently rent two storage units, and that is filled with drags and everything you can think of.
Jimbo: Same. I have a huge studio that’s filled. … And we’ve taken over a new location, as well. And I’m starting to fill that up too.
Kandy Muse: [The storage situation] is why a lot of girls go on to sell their stuff on “Drag Race.” But I’m so attached to all the pieces that I’ve worn on the show. You can still smell the workroom on it and all the sweat. So I wouldn’t. Plus I have a feeling one day, RuPaul will make a “Drag Race” museum, and they’re going to ask us for the clothes.
Jimbo: I have all mine by season, by look, in garment bags. . . . We’re archiving, we’re preparing for the future where we have our little retrospective of whatever.
I’m curious how your drag has evolved since your first appearance on “Drag Race?”
Jimbo: Mine is basically a huge Makeup glow-up. Going in my Canada’s “Drag Race,” I went in as a clown, not really trying to represent beautifully. . . . It was mostly about character and laughter at that point. And it was just through the process of seeing myself on TV and being critiqued by judges for the first time and then the world on my makeup — that was definitely some motivation for me to learn how to be a more better makeup artist. Along with that came a huge amount of confidence because I’m able to go out and present confidently.
Kandy Muse: I think for me, for the most part — I don’t think it’s necessarily a glow-up because I stand by everything I did on 13 and I looked gorgeous. Thank you very much. But I think . . . I was afraid of saying no to designers even though I was paying. Sometimes you will bring an idea to a designer, and then they put their input in it. And sometimes those ideas don’t blend, and I would be too afraid to say no. And then you walk onto “Drag Race” not looking the way you want to look because you were afraid to say no. This time around I took control.
What’s one tip you would give for someone who is watching and wants to add a little bit of that Glam in their everyday look?
Jimbo: I think eyeliner. For me it’s like whenever I was dabbling, being in festivals, or going out at night — and especially if you want to go in a way that’s non-gender conforming — I think eyeliner is that thing that’s sort of for anybody and everybody.
Kandy Muse: Like, a little pencil, you’d smudge it.
Jimbo: It’s like if you want to just up your look in the simplest way, I think a little bit of eyeliner.
Kandy: They have really cool color pencils. Urban Decay, you just smudge them on the water line, and it gives a pop of something. But, also, I think people also have to remember its makeup, it washes off, it comes off. If you hate it, girl, redo it. . . . But never be afraid of trying new things. Our makeup is evolving and changing every single day.
Was there an elimination that you were most shocked by this season?
Kandy: Honestly, I would say LaLa Ri’s. . . .I was shocked by LaLa.
Jimbo: Yeah, LaLa’s. That was because we had all heard Alexis say she wasn’t going to eliminate her.
Kandy: And the thing is — think of it this way. It’s five girls in the workroom. It’s a sewing challenge. Jimbo’s a costume designer. Alexis is a seamstress. And Jessica had just won the ball for designing an outfit. . . . And me, I just pray and hope. So I knew. I was like, “Girl, it’s going to be me or LaLa.” I just knew. So as we’re sitting there getting ready the entire day, Alexis was saying, “Girl, I got you. I’m not going to take you home.” I’m sitting there getting ready. I’m like, “It’s a chop for me. It’s done. It’s a wrap.” So that elimination was very shocking, because as much as we can deliberate and I tell you why you should keep me, that doesn’t mean anything. You’re going to make your decision based on what you want. . . . And the fact that she was sent home, I was like, “Great for me” but “Oh my God.” I was so shocked.
Is there a season eight cast text thread?
Jimbo: We have one. It’s a revolving door, though. There’s a lot of leaving.
Kandy Muse: A lot of leaving, a lot coming back. An episode will air and then a girl will leave. And then she’ll come back next week.
Jimbo: Get some air, get a breather. Come back into the chat.
Going into this season as friends and ending as the final two, how do you balance wanting to win but being happy for your friend if you don’t?
Kandy: Well, first of all, Jimbo had messaged me during season 13 saying how much she loved me and loved watching me and to not listen to the haters and all that. So I just thought that was incredible — and we hadn’t even met. And then when we met on tour, we hit it off instantly. I would’ve never imagined that we would’ve been here, now, the final two of “Drag Race” together.
“Whoever wins wins, but from this point forward, we’re going to have an amazing friendship.”
And it is a competition, and we do want to win. I was so close on season 13. I was in the same position that I am now. I wanna win. But it doesn’t take away that I’m sharing this amazing experience that only Jimbo and I have been able to have. Because yes, we were there with the other 12 girls, but to get all the way to the final two to film the finale. . . . Whoever wins, wins, but from this point forward, we’re going to have an amazing friendship. Everyone wants to be a winner, but it doesn’t take away the fact that so many girls would kill to be in our position. We are so lucky.
Jimbo: We’re so lucky. And I think it’s unique because we are two friends that went in as friends. We’ve competed, and there is an element of generosity because we aren’t at odds with each other. We love each other. And I can honestly and wholeheartedly be rooting for Kandy at the same time as want it for myself so badly.
This is really special because I really want it for me. And I also really want it for Kandy, genuinely. So I’m really excited to see what it’s like for the show to kind of go in this direction towards the end where it’s really a celebration of friendship.
There has obviously been a rise in drag bans in the U.S. How has the drag community come together to support each other during this time?
Jimbo: I think with the drag ban, what we have to know first and foremost is that this isn’t really an attack on drag queens. It’s more an attack on the trans community. They see us being happy and they don’t like it. They see us growing power, and they don’t like it. Obviously, queer people and drag queens are at the forefront everywhere you look now. It’s a little crazy to think that because of your religious beliefs, you’re able to create laws and kind of throw your religious beliefs on us.
But we are stronger together as a community. And I think that this pride season that just passed was a very huge pride season for us, because we know that people are out there to trying to take away our rights. And it won’t happen. It won’t work because at the end of the day, we’ve fought before and we’ll do it again.
Queens everywhere, all across the country — on “Drag Race” and in your local bars — have come together to show people, “Listen, we’re not monsters and we’re not groomers.” . . . We’re just staying positive and having a good time, but also being real about the situation that there are people out there that don’t like that we live our lives the way we do. And that’s unfortunate. But the only thing we can do is try to educate. . . . I think now it’s more important than ever to remain visible and to remain out and to remain vigilant in our quest for personal freedoms. When you start eroding personal freedoms, you start eroding art, you start eroding ingenuity.
Kandy Muse: It gets tiring to educate people. But unfortunately, it’s what we have to do. We can’t stop educating people. We have to shout it from the rooftops and let people know, “Hey, these people are not monsters. They are just like you.” We’re just trying to live our lives, and they’re trying to their lives. We’re doing a lot of work as a queer community. Just . . . be there to catch us.
This interview was condensed for length and clarity.
Image Source: Paramount+