Somebody needs to tell Ms. “Very Peri” that her time is up. With all Alaska 5000 has been up to in 2022, the Pantone Color of the Year has to be straight-up red.
The Rupaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner has been a ball of ambition since she hit the public eye on season five, back in 2013. Nearly ten years later, she’s a picture of ambition realized.
That said, neither the crown nor the music career nor the adoring fans will have her resting on her laurels anytime soon. She just dropped a new album, is currently hosting a stage show, and is set for the road in just a few weeks. Whew!
We caught up with Alaska to dive into Red 4 Filth, Drag: the Musical, her Drag Queen of the Year pageant, and the 5000 other sparkly entries on her to-do list.
Alaska latest record, Red 4 Filth, is the y2k-soaked, genre-bending triumph that fans have waited years for. Well, partially waited; the 13-track album was preceded by nine (9) single drops.
“Just a few hit singles,” she says coolly, before joking, “I feel like we’ve been edging everyone for months and months.”
As fun as the build up was, fans are no doubt enjoying the full release. The album plays cover-to-cover as a full exploration of turn of the century sounds, with markedly queer twists.
“It’s like time travel,” she explains. “That time period is sort of sweet and innocent to me, because it was a time before the internet and smartphones and social media completely took over culture and society. We were just on the verge of that, so it was a time that was very hopeful.”
It’s this levity that keeps the record bopping along through feel-good dance and pop tunes like “XOXOY2K” and “Girlz Night” (featuring THEE drag girl group, Stephanie’s Child).
“We looked at music from that time period, and it was like, all these songs are about love and relationships and attraction and friendship,” she notes. “That was new territory for me, because I usually write songs about eyelashes and nail polish and Drag Race.”
Her music has ranged from overtly silly to deeply confessional since she began. Her 2016 hit “The T” with Adore Delano explored her time on Drag Race All Stars and came to terms with past friendships, while her debut single “Ru Girl” featured her naming every single Drag Race competitor to that point in elimination order.
“I wanted to go into new territory that I never have before,” she states. “I think these songs are really personal and really sweet. We talked about love in a romantic sense, but we also talked about friendships, we talked about empowerment, we talked about going out with your girlfriends and having a good time.”
As she goes on to mention, “red is the color of the heart,” and songs like “Without Your Love” and “Mmm Mmm Mmm” surely have that idyllic pop-romance sparkle dusted all over them.
Hand-in-hand with that ruby romance is the swirling scarlet of anger, a component of the era she also made a point to touch on.
“Looking back at that time period, there were also a bunch of f*cked up things. I mean, there were things happening underneath the surface and people that weren’t being heard and represented.”
That anger finds itself best represented on the pop punk breakup track, “wow”, a genre Alaska’s vocals unexpectedly very much lend themselves to.
At least, it’s posited as a breakup track. With her rocky past with Drag Race production company World of Wonder, a.k.a. WOW, and the track’s closing line of “Oh, how in the world I wonder,” the veiled reference doesn’t feel terribly veiled at all. However, when we ask whether the title is more exclamation or acronym, Alaska still plays it a bit coy.
“That song resonates with a lot of people, and I think that’s why people are reading into like, ‘What does it mean? Who is it about?’” she says.
“I think that it’s about whoever you want it to be about. Everybody has that jilted ex-lover in their life, so I don’t know. It’s about that person for you. We have all these songs about love and friendship and feeling good, and then it’s this song that’s about revenge and anger that really resonated with people. ”
As juicy as this particular piece of hinted beef is, there is something very compelling in the early ’00s Bush-era frustration of this song’s sound being rebranded. Doubly so with it being rebranded from a queer vantage point for the still freshly raging post-Trump America.
“I think people have a lot of anger going on right now and in their lives in the world,” she notes. “And people have a right to be angry! So it makes sense that that song in particular is resonating with people.”
Another clear standout on the album is “I Am Her (She Is Me)”, a glittering empowerment track that is itself empowered by the lovely Ts Madison. Like the rest of us, Alaska is a huge fan.
“She’s incredible. I’m obsessed with her, I have been forever.”
Apparently the feeling is mutual, as Madison came on the track to overachieve. Just for this track, she rerecorded her iconic “Be yourself, b*tch!” monologue.
“I just wanted her to come in and do the hook, you know, nice and easy, and she came in like, “I wrote a verse!'” Alaska recalls. “It was perfect, and it elevated the whole song.”
The best video may just belong to her cover of “All That She Wants”, in which fellow Drag Race competitor Bosco dances scantily clad as “the perfect specimen of womanhood trapped in a space pod by a diabolical creator.” And yes, Ace of Base in Space is just as fun as it sounds.
“I’m obsessed with Ace of Base,” Alaska gushes. “I have been since I was a little kid. It was really fun to take one of their songs and make it even gayer.”
For anyone who needs to hear these songs in person as soon as possible, you won’t have to wait much longer. The Red 4 Filth tour hits the road running in just a few weeks!
“We’re starting in October, and we’re doing 30-something North American cities,” she says. “I invite everyone to go to alaskathunderfuck.com and find out, because we’re probably coming to a city near you, wherever you are.”
Fans may want to find out ASAP, as several of the nights are already fully sold out.
Alaska is naturally taking some time to rest between her album drop and her upcoming months-long North American tour. Unless you count her putting on her original stage production Drag: the Musical for four shows per weekend, that is.
The musical started its run September 23rd, Red 4 Filth‘s release night, and stretches to just days before Alaska is due onstage in Orlando for the tour. In this interim, she’s taken up a residency at The Bourbon Room in LA to put on a show full of laughter, heartbreak, and most of all, drag.
“The cast is incredible,” she emphasizes. “I mean, Nick Adams, Peppermint, Lagoona Bloo, Jan, Jackie Cox, Jujubee! It really was just a matter of who we could get to live in LA for a month and do this show with us. It’s really incredible to see everybody bring it to life.”
The original concept album that inspired the show was, itself, a murderer’s row of queens and talent, and the stage version looks to be no different.
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The story revolves around two rival drag houses, both alike in financial troubles. The queens of the Fishtank and the Cathouse have been at each other’s throats for longer than they can remember, all stemming from a situation that sounds a bit familiar.
The club’s two leaders were, once upon a time, in a relationship. A rift appeared between the two when they went out for the same televised drag competition, which only one of them booked. Ring a bell?
“Yeah, there’s definitely some real life inspiration in there,” she laughs.
“Everyone loves drag queens, but they love drag queens the most when they’re catty and at each other’s throats. We had to give them something really beefy to be mad at each other about.
“The biggest thing that I went through personally was having Drag Race just out of reach, and then my boyfriend got it. I mean, that was the f*cking worst.” Clearly, that wasn’t the end of the road for this drag mogul.
Alaska is far from needing a scepter and crown at this point (another one, we mean). After all, she’s hosting one of the most renowned drag pageants in the country herself, Drag Queen of the Year.
This year’s pageant was one of the most-watched yet, with all eyes on San Francisco’s Militia Scunt as she narrowly nabbed the crown.
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“It was very, very close,” Alaska confesses. “I think the final three were separated by like one point? It was very, very impossibly close.
“I knew that she had winner energy from the moment that she came out of a body bag as an inside out person. I was like, ‘Okay, she’s off to a good start.’ By the time she got to her talent competition, it was like, not only are we hearing this voice – she has a voice unlike anyone else, she’s an incredible singer – but it goes into this dance, and the message was really, really strong.”
Overall, the quality that set Scunt over the top and into the winner’s circle was the same unique, singular quality that Alaska herself possesses.
“She took the audience somewhere that I don’t know that they were sure they were ready to go to,” she says. “That ability to be surprising and shocking, I think that’s what won for her that day.”
As if the album and the tour and the musical and the pageant weren’t enough for one year, Alaska has another big project that she couldn’t help but mention. No, not her role in the movie God Save the Queen debuting at Tribeca, or her spot in the Shudder docuseries Queer for Fear, or her cameo on Dr. Jackie, or… oh my god, we’re getting winded.
“The podcast is something I’m really proud of,” she states. “And the MOM network, which came out of that, is a gift that keeps on giving.”
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Alaska began he Drag Race review show, the Race Chaser podcast with Willam Belli, back in 2018, and its success quickly rose. So quickly, in fact, that the pair harnessed it to form the Moguls of Media network, which has produced several podcasts from fellow drag artists and queer entertainers.
“I feel like we’re able to connect to people in a really personal and long-form way,” she says. “We were able to share it with our favorite f*cking drag queens. That’s really rewarding.”
And, humble as ever, she makes sure to emphasize, “I love and thank everyone who’s listening!”