Pandora Boxx On Her New Single, ‘Drag U’, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars’ And More!
Socialite Life: Did it take a lot of convincing to get you to do another season of Drag U?
Pandora Boxx: No, it really didn’t. I mean, it’s a job, definitely – so I’m not going to turn down work – and I really enjoy changing people’s lives or being a part of that because you really do see a change in these women. You see them coming in and feeling like a “schlumpadinka” and then they suddenly realize that the only thing holding them back is really themselves and how they see themselves or how they don’t take time for themselves. And once they realize they can do something they never thought they could do you totally see their whole mood and the way that they look at themselves change and it’s a really powerful feeling to be able to do that and be a part of that. The only downside to Drag U is that it’s like 10 hours in drag! So it’s really long days. We start shooting at 7am, so you have to get up at 4:30 to get ready. And, for a drag queen, that’s really difficult, because we’re used to going to bed at 4 after our late night shows!
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SL: Have you stayed in touch with your students to see if they’re still holding on to what they learned?
Pandora: Yes, I’ve kept in touch with a few of them and they seem like they’ve really kept up with it. It’s funny…I mean, you know they’re not going to get home and get in drag, but it’s like they’re taking what they learned and that feeling of doing something that you never thought you could do and how you feel after it and that’s what they take with them the most.
SL: Do you come away with any “learning experiences” of your own from working on the show?
Pandora: Yes, I think you can always learn things, I don’t think you ever stop learning in life. I always learn things from the other queens when I’m around them and, working with the women, I really learned a lot about myself. I learned what things in the past that I was holding onto and that I kind of had that same attitude that I couldn’t do things and I learned that the only thing holding me back – and even sometimes now, is myself. I’m my own worst enemy.
SL: What was your most fun experience from this season?
Pandora: Well, I had really amazing women this season, I liked working with all three of them. I liked working with Kristy (from the “Revenge of the Nerds” episode) the first girl I worked with this season, because she was a huge fan. Actually, I wasn’t supposed to be on and another queen couldn’t do it, and I kind of filled in for her, and then I got Kristy and she was a big fan and we were both theater geeks and got along really well, so it was kind of like it was meant to happen. And then, working with Sinead (from the “Dangerous Curves” episode) was just absolutely crazy because she is just hysterical and she just cracked me up – and just to see her on stage doing her Rita Rocket was just insane! Because I tell you she didn’t break character once. She was just loving every minute of it. I laughed the entire time she was on stage. I couldn’t stop laughing because she was so funny! Oh my God…out of anyone I’ve done, I think she embraced it the most.
SL: It could be the editing, but it seems like all of the women embrace their drag personas. Have there been girls who may not have been quite so enthusiastic about their makeovers?
Pandora: I don’t know if anyone’s not been into it completely, but there have definitely been girls who have had a more difficult time to let loose and really embrace it and really have fun with it. There have been several of those overall who they said they had fun, but I don’t know if they really, really enjoyed it.
SL: One thing that’s come up during the live chats this past season was that you were missing during the opening scene with Ru and all of the professors – where were you?
Pandora: It was a scheduling thing. Honestly, it was scheduled for a day that I was traveling and so, you know, some of us aren’t there – they shot some of us in separate scenes, but I guess they felt like it looked like we were “pieced in”. That’s the thing with a show of this type – with so many of us, scheduling becomes kind of a nightmare!
SL: If there is a season 4 of Drag U, would you want to be a part of it?
Pandora: Yes, definitely! It’s a great show and I really love the message. I know that the show really resonates with women a lot – the gay boys don’t get it as much (laughs) – it’s more geared towards women and I really love being involved in something that really can change somebody’s life.
SL: With Drag U and our “Ask Pandora” column, are you finding more people coming up to you and asking for beauty advice?
Pandora: (Laughs) I have a lot of people coming up to me and asking advice about everything! I feel like people think that I’m their best friend – and I think that’s really cool and I’m glad that people think of me that way – but sometimes I am just like, “I am not a therapist!” (Laughs) I mean, some of these problems are really deep and I try to give the best advice I can. But, with beauty advice, I try to do the best I can with that – and usually it’s pretty easy, the things that they’re asking. It’s things I already know – there’s no question of “I don’t know what to do with it.”
SL: Let’s talk about your new single, a cover of Samantha Fox’s “I Wanna Have Some Fun” (now available on iTunes and Amazon!) Why did you choose to cover that song?
Pandora: Well, I’ve always loved cover songs, like when anyone does a cover song, I get real excited. I think part of it is because I’m a drag queen, so I get excited when a female artist covers a male song or when somebody covers an old song that I like and it becomes new again. I really wanted to have something that was dance-y and could be played in clubs that wasn’t vulgar (laughs) – which is hard for me to do! Despite what everyone thinks, that I’m kind of a goody-goody drag queen, but I’m like, “Have you seen me live?” – because that’s really not the way that I am. I’m completely the opposite of what you’re thinking. I wanted something different than my first song (“Cooter” – also available on iTunes!). I had been talking to Jipsta, who is the one that worked with me on my first song, and we had mentioned something about this Samantha Fox song – I think he had heard it – and then I was thinking about it and it really is this great song from the 80s that people remember but don’t remember. It’s kind of like when I say it to people, they don’t know what I’m talking about. When they hear it, they’re kind of like, “Oh, yeah, I think I do remember that song.” So I think that kind of appealed to me – that it was a song I could redo and it wasn’t something so classic that it was like I’m going to ruin it (laughs). And so I met Tim Permanent, who I worked with on this song. We did a radio show together and he gave me a copy of his CD and I really liked his music. I think I sent him an email or a text message and asked if he wanted to work together because I really liked his stuff and he was like, “Oh yeah, I definitely would.” So, we were just talking about things to work on and I mentioned that I was thinking about doing a cover of this Samantha Fox song and he’s like “I love that song and it would be really be something challenging for me to do” and that’s how it all worked out.
SL: I got to hear the song a few weeks ago and I think it’s really great.
Pandora: Thank you! I’m really excited about it. It’s tough to release things you’ve been working on for so long to the public and then you open it up for whatever criticism you get – good, bad and horrible – the first song was like that. I don’t know what people are going to say, but here you go! (Laughs) It was definitely mixed emotions. It’s tough to work on something so hard and get negative criticism for it, but that’s just the nature of entertainment.
SL: Before “I Wanna Have Some Fun”, you announced that you were working on another song, “Nice Car”. What happened with that one?
Pandora: Well, I’ve been working on both and it really just came down to that one was finished before the other. “Nice Car” is still coming out, but it’s coming out in October – probably when RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race debuts – get that timing right!
SL: Speaking of All Stars, you were always in the top of the audience vote for the show – how did it feel to be selected for that show?
Pandora: Being asked to be on All Stars was amazing and exciting – especially because I placed 5th (on her season of Drag Race) – I was not top 3, I never won a challenge. I was always the bridesmaid, never the bride. So, after all of that, I was number one in the voting (for All Stars) before I even knew there was voting because I was on the Drag Race cruise that a bunch of us were on. I was actually in Sharon Needles’ room with Alaska. She’s on the phone and I hear her talking about something and she comes out to the balcony and says, “There’s going to be an all-star season, there’s online voting, you’re number one and I’m number two” or something…I don’t know if she was number two…but that doesn’t matter for the story! I just sat there and I was like, “You’re kidding me, right?” and she was like, “No, it’s really happening.” We had heard rumors about it, that it was going to happen, but they kept telling us no – so it kind of caught me off guard. Then to find out I was number one in the votes was amazing, because I didn’t even know anything about it or had posted anything to my Facebook or told anyone about it so it was incredible to find out I was so high in the votes without having to do anything!
SL: Without giving anything away, who do you think is your biggest competition on All Stars?
Pandora: I think there are a lot of amazing queens on All Stars, I mean it’s called “All Stars” for a reason – so everybody is definitely competition. But, there are certain favorites, like Raven, who definitely is a front runner in the competition, so she’s probably the stiffest competition for everybody.
SL: When you perform live, you interact quite a bit with the crowd – in fact, you did over 30 minutes of stand up the last time I saw you perform. Is that something you’ve always done, or do you feel like the bar’s been raised for drag queens since Drag Race and audiences are expecting more?
Pandora: You know, stand up is something I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve been really terrified to do it, and then with this amazing opportunity that Drag Race has given me, being able to travel all over, I’ve realized that stand up actually could happen and also that it would help separate me from the pack – because now there’s like 50 of us now or something – so it’s like just being a “Drag Race queen” isn’t enough. You have to have something extra – because we all want to work. And when I thought about it, I realized that I have actually done stand up before – but I just never called it “stand up”, I just called it “hosting”. I had been hosting drag shows for so long and I just realized that what I needed to do was to turn that more into an act and also taking some of the writing that I had done and taking the stories that I would tell people – especially after I’ve had a few cocktails – and I’m like, “There’s my act right there.” And when I would get nervous about it, my boyfriend would say, “All you have to do is tell the stories you tell when you’re drunk and you’re fine!” (Laughs) And I’m like, “Oh yeah, you’re kind of right!”
SL: You are one busy, traveling queen. Is that something you like to do, or are you hoping to settle down a bit?
Pandora: I love going to other cities. I love performing in other places. I love performing for the crowds. I’m thankful that the shows are usually always busy where I go and everybody’s really appreciative and lovely and I love it. Now, the travel part is exhausting and I really don’t enjoy flying anymore (laughs) but it’s the price I pay to do what I love doing. I mean, I would love to do something that settles me down a little more and kind of keep me in one place for a while – but it’s also about making a living so I have to do what’s working and right now, that’s what it is. It’s great and it’s fun and I’ve been to places I’ve never been before in my entire life because of Drag Race – I don’t even know how many cities across the country I’ve been to – it’s crazy. I’ve been to places I never thought I would go.
SL: When we had spoken a while back, you said you wanted to get more into acting – especially since you moved to Los Angeles. Is that still something you want to do?
Pandora: Yes, I really wanted to do some acting, and that was kind of the plan being out here but my travel schedule tends to be so crazy that I’ve missed some things and it’s hard to plan things around it; but I would really like to do some more acting. I’d really like to get into that. I had a little spot on Chelsea Handler’s sitcom, Are You There, Chelsea?, which was amazing because I actually was an extra and then they gave me a line and then I’m hoping that they keep the line and then they kept the line…that whole process was exciting. I would love to do more television and more things. There have been a few things that were in the works that didn’t pan out – it’s just the nature of the beast, that’s just how it is. And I think I got too upset at the beginning because things didn’t work out and then I realized how many things don’t work out (laughs). There’s more things that don’t work out than do work out so it’s just a matter of keeping going and anything that comes along, just do it.
SL: I absolutely love your writing (in addition to being our special beauty correspondent, Pandora is a contributor to a number of websites). Do you have any plans of making the book you pitched on season 2 of Drag Race (“Out of the Boxx: How Drag Saved My Life”) a reality?
Pandora: I love writing and thank you for enjoying it because it is my first passion. I started writing when I felt like I couldn’t speak, so my writing gave me a voice I was too shy to have whenever I needed it. It’s always been there for me and I really enjoy it. I would love to write a book, but someone’s got to be interested in publishing that book first, I guess! (Laughs) I need to become more famous or more scandalous and then I can get a book deal or something. I will continue to write, I’d love to write another play. I would love to bring my play back again but theater is a lot of work and a huge time commitment and I just don’t know if it would work out at this point in time for me – but I would love to have the time to do something like that. Anybody who’s not in theater has no clue how much time rehearsals and all of that goes into it – and that’s why I have such an appreciation for anyone doing theater because it’s a lot of work – but it ends up being gratifying because doing live theater is amazing!
Help Pandora pay her rent – download “I Wanna Have Some Fun” on iTunes! Keep up with Pandora’s busy appearance and get all of the latest from this multi-talented queen at PandoraBoxx.com. Follow Pandora on Facebook and Twitter – and don’t miss RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race, coming this October to Logo!