TV

Just Like Dolly Parton, Kylie Sonique Love Is a National Treasure

"Our words can be weapons, or they can heal people," says the "All Stars" Season 6 winner.

From sashaying away on Season 2 to winning All Stars Season 6, Kylie Sonique Love’s Ru-demption storyline is one of the biggest and most satisfying in the history of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Kylie has made guest appearances on Drag Race throughout the years, but her long journey to the final four of All Stars Season 6 was well worth the wait. She consistently slayed the competition throughout the season, delivering a hilarious Dolly Parton impersonation for her Snatch Game and having her heartfelt Pink Table Talk moment go viral. And don’t even get us started about her runway looks, which had the judges’ jaws on the floor week after week.

Kylie spoke with NewNowNext shortly before she secured her place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, making herstory by becoming the first trans winner of U.S. Drag Race. She spoke about what it would mean to win All Stars, how she nailed her Dolly impression, and how she was going to spoil her dog Gizmo if she came home a winner, baby.
 

Hi Kylie! I’m excited to talk to you. I’m curious: If you were to win, you’d be the first trans winner of U.S. Drag Race. How’s that feel?

Oh my goodness. Well, it feels right. I feel like we all worked so hard to be on the show, and everyone who’s left worked really hard to be there and we all deserve to be there. So it would just feel really good to also represent a title in a way that will inspire other people to see trans people in a different light, which I think is great because we don’t really get to see trans people exceed like that on TV. But yeah, it would mean the world to me to get to be that first person in U.S. Drag Race to do that. I think it doesn’t just inspire trans people; it inspires all people. And I would work my ass off to be authentic and to use my voice to amplify those who don’t really have a voice, or who are looking for a voice, or maybe looking for an inspiration or a muse to start their journey in life, whether they be trans or not. It’d be really awesome.

From Drag Race Season 2, did you ever think that you would be back for All Stars?

I always had a feeling deep down inside, even before there was ever an All Stars. Something told me, “Just keep doing what you do. This is what your heart desires, and you love doing drag. Just do it.” I just always had a feeling that it was not my last time on Drag Race. And I’ve had cameos on several seasons of Drag Race. So I always had a feeling that that was not my last time, and I was right.

I want to ask you about some of my favorite moments from this season. First off, from the Pink Table Talk, that quote, “Don’t let that hurt child make your grown-up decisions,” resonated with so many people, myself included. Was that something that you had said before, or something that just came up on set?

It’s something that I’ve been saying for a while and something that I realized after Season 2 of Drag Race. Actually, not long after Season 2 of Drag Race. There was a lot of pain in my childhood, and what I’ve learned is there’s no such thing as a perfect childhood, and we all go through something. I just remember feeling held back so much because I was like, “Oh, well, this happened to me.” I had just let so much of that keep me down. And then I realized, “Wait a minute — I can give myself permission to let that go and to just be an adult,” because I can’t ever change the past, but I can do the best with what I have now and try and make the best out of the situation. So I knew that those words helped me get over that and it made life so much more simple. And it’s something that I’ve shared with people over the years, and to be able to get to share it on Drag Race with the world, I feel like it healed a lot of people. My grandma spoke to me through a psychic before I went to All Stars, and what my grandma said was that I needed to use my voice because she felt like she never got to. And I made sure that I did that. I really am so grateful that I had the opportunity, because even to this day I get people messaging me. I’ve gotten thousands — and I’m not lying — of messages from people around the entire world telling me, “Thank you for that.” People getting it tattooed on them, people hanging it up in their office, and it just feels really good to be able to help people. In that moment I was speaking to Ra’Jah, but I was just so grateful that I got to also speak to the world too. Because there’s a lot of healing that we need to do in this world, and I think a lot of the things that fuck us up are the stuff that we hold onto that happened in our childhood, that we can’t escape from. To be able to have this key to unlock the door, to set yourself free, is such a blessing to be able to share with people.

No, I think a lot of people needed to hear that. So thank you for saying that.

Oh, you’re so welcome. I’m so grateful.

I’m curious, did that psychic say anything else, maybe about winning All Stars?

No, no, they just said that great things will happen. And there was nothing specific about All Stars, but I was on the right track of what I was doing, and my grandma wanted me to use my voice. I would have notes up in my night hotel when we were filming, just to kind of remind myself of who I am and where I am, why I am, and to just thank the universe every morning for everything that I have. And every night I did that, and I had notes on my door that said, “Use your voice. Your grandma is here with you.” My grandma’s passed away. I had all these notes around me to remind myself pretty much to take care of me, so that I didn’t take any bullshit with me on set.

Yeah.

I went in with a clear head every single day. And if I was stressed about anything, I took it to that room and worked through it at night. Every day was a new day for me, and I lived in each moment, and I really was grateful for every single person that was there helping make that the whole experience run smooth. Just being there in the middle of the pandemic, just being so grateful to get to do drag again because I didn’t think I would ever get to do drag again — I just wanted to make the best out of that situation.

Did you think you wouldn’t be able to do drag again because of the pandemic?

Yeah, we thought we were going to be home for a couple of weeks to a month. The next thing you know, it extended and extended, and my drag just sat in the closet. I had moments where I was like, “What am I going to do? I can’t do anything, I can’t be around people; there’s no reason for me to wear the clothes. My neighbors would be pissed if I’m walking around the house dolled up here.” And when I got the call to be a part of All Stars 6, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I was just so grateful, and I said, “Bitch, let’s do this because we may never get to do this again. So let’s have fun, and don’t stress yourself out with the what if’s and the guessing. Just go and do it, and live in a moment, and have a good time, and be proud of everything that you do.” I knew I would be coming home and at some point it’s going to be on TV, and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t let my feelings get the most of me there. I wanted to make the best of the situation, so when I’m at home watching it I can be proud of everything as well.

I’m such a huge Dolly Parton fan, and I loved your Snatch Game impersonation. How did you nail that? It was so perfect.

Oh my goodness. Well, that’s so crazy. I didn’t know I had it in me, I will say that, but it’s always been there apparently, and I just had to listen to it and realize it was there. But yeah, over 11 years ago I did Snatch Game. I’d never done it before, didn’t really fully understand how to do it, but I’ve watched it over the years and it’s been a thing that’s kind of haunted me. I’m like, “What if they do ask me to come back, and what am I going to do for Snatch Game?” And Dolly Parton… I kept seeing however many signs of Dolly Parton everywhere, and I was like, “Let me do Dolly. Let’s work on this.” So I would watch interviews with her and see how she would communicate when she was a guest on a talk show or whatever. I watched her movies and just studied the cadence of her voice, the peaks and the valleys. And I was like, “There’s so much of how she speaks to people that reminds me of myself.” And I just simplified the Snatch Game of Love, “Let’s just be in a conversation and listen and then speak, but do it like Dolly.” And I was right: It worked out, and everybody’s happy.
 

Yeah, you did Dolly proud.

It’s so crazy too, because everyone keeps reminding me. They were like, “Oh, you know Dolly’s gonna see this. You know she’s going to see it.” And it never even dawned on me when I was doing it that anybody else would see it. I was just like, “I want to get through it and have a good time doing it.” And then it hit me after, when I’m on the stage, and RuPaul was saying to me, she was like… I don’t know if that part made the edit, but she was like, “You know Dolly’s going to see this.” She was just telling me that I did really good and I redeemed myself and all of that, and I was like, “Oh shit, we’re doing this on TV again.”

Totally.

It just kind of hit me, because everything happened so fast. I remember I’m on set, and I’ve got to get my nails on. I couldn’t get them on, so I was the last one to walk into the room, and we were the first ones to go up. I walked into the studio and they were like, “All right, Kylie, you need to go sit down up there.” And I was like, “Oh! I ain’t even had no chance to really think about nothing right now.” I just went in there and I was like, “All right, here we go. All or nothing. Make it count, be happy, just live in the moment.” And I did.

Wow. And I loved that moment when you’re telling RuPaul about the book signing that you went to, and how that really inspired you with self-acceptance. How does it feel that now you are someone’s RuPaul, and they’re looking up to you and inspired by you?

It’s an honor, honestly, and it’s a ripple effect. We say these things and we do these things — being a genuine person and just speaking from our heart — and we never know how powerful our words are. Our words can be weapons, or they can heal people. And I really felt healed by RuPaul’s words. They were just two words: self-love. And it really just spoke to me, just like, “Don’t let your hurt child make your grown decisions.” It’s just a few words that click and change everything. And there’s so much that we say on the show that doesn’t get shown, but it was just so nice to get to say that to RuPaul, and to thank RuPaul for doing that, just being RuPaul and doing what she does. And to be able to just thank her for that, and the world gets to see it, and hopefully it helps somebody else too, to realize that it’s okay to love yourself. It’s really nice because we don’t hear that enough. We hear it, but we don’t hear it like we need to. Sometimes words just sound like words. They just sound good sometimes, but it’s the energy that comes behind it that really, I feel like, makes the impact. When they’re genuine.

I hear you. I think you’ve really inspired people this season.

Oh, thank you.

Thank you so much for your time. Good luck with the finale. And if you win, are you going to spoil [your dog] Gizmo?

Oh, honey, I told Gizmo before I left to go film All Stars… he was the last face I saw when I was leaving. I know he was so confused as to why my mama was dragging all this shit out the house and not him, and I just held his little head and I said, “Baby, Mama’s going to go work really hard, and I’m going to go buy you a house so you can have your yard.” I kissed his little face and I jumped in the van, and I thought about him every day. So hopefully I get to buy him a house. That would be really nice because I don’t want to let him down.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."
@chrisreindeer