RuPaul’s Drag U Faculty Spotlight – Pandora Boxx
Voted “Miss Congeniality” on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s impossible to resist the charms of Pandora Boxx! We were able to catch up with this busy queen during a mini-vacation and dished about drag, the incredible Drag U makeovers and working with some of television’s most legendary ladies. Pandora also shared some behind-the-scenes stories about working on Drag Race and Drag U – and reveals her surprise pick for her favorite Drag U judge! Once you get to know this fun, fabulous queen, you’ll join her legion of loyal Fandoras!
Socialite Life: Hi Pandora!
Pandora Boxx: Hi!
SL: What are you up to right now?
PB: I am on the road, I’m going to Cedar Point amusement park. I’m taking a little vacation this weekend.
SL: You deserve it – you’ve definitely been keeping busy!
PB: Thank you…of course you know I couldn’t take a total vacation, I’m going to be doing a show in Columbus (Ohio) on Sunday – I can’t take a whole weekend off! Oh well, I will…eventually…(laughs).
SL: (Ed. note: We did this interview the day California’s controversial Prop 8 was overturned) What do you think about the whole Prop 8 situation?
PB: I think it’s amazing. I’m excited, but it’s just one step in a long process. It was amazing to have somebody say what everybody else was thinking – at least the majority thinks. It’s all about equality, and that’s really all that anyone’s asking for.
SL: I know I was ecstatic. I’ve got a lot of friends and now I am hoping to go to a lot of weddings!
PB: Yeah, that’s the thing too that kind of kills me about people that don’t want (gay marriage)…I mean, do you know how much money we’ll put into the economy because gays like to spend money! (Laughs)
There’s lots more with Pandora Boxx after the jump!
SL: Since you’ve been so busy, have you had time to let the success of the show really sink in? Are you surprised the shows (Drag Race and Drag U) have got such a huge following?PB:
You know, I’m not really surprised that it does, because I know that
drag shows have always been really popular for years. They’ve been
popular with not just gay people but with straight people and sexually
confused people and everything in between and everybody loves to go to a
drag show and have fun and have their friends there. I’ve worked at
drag shows that have been packed and busy. We did a drag show in
Rochester (New York) for years at a place called Club Marcella and we
did a Sunday night drag show – and we would get younger people in that
bar and there’d be lines out the door. I was just something that we
really worked at and built up. I mean, we knew how popular drag was and Drag Race was the first show of its kind and I knew it was going to be a success – especially because it had RuPaul’s
name attached to it. It was marketed right and it just really hit a
chord with everyone because everyone loves drag shows and drag queens. I
guess we were all pleasantly surprised at what a huge hit the second
season became. The first season was a great launching point and then the
second season just got insane. It continues to get popular because
there are more and more people posting messages and sending emails who
have just watched the season and people are now even catching on to it
and it’s getting even bigger.SL: Is it true that you almost left the drag business before Drag Race?PB: I did. Last year, I kind of said that it was going to be the last year I did it, because things weren’t changing for me and I wasn’t happy doing it – and it became more of a chore. And I always said if I didn’t make it in a certain amount of time then it was probably time to end it. I certainly always wanted to be an entertainer as a career my whole life and it just wasn’t going anywhere. I know part of it was because I was living in Rochester and you’re not going to make it in the entertainment business in Rochester. I was afraid of leaving and starting over because you basically have to start over when you move to another city. So I said if something didn’t change in a major way, I was going to stop doing drag. And then I got Drag Race and it was like the universe saying, “Keep those panties on, Lady!”SL: How did you get started doing drag?PB: Well, I was walking down the street one day and this van pulled up and out of it popped Liza, Cher and (I think it was) Barbara Bush and they attacked me and put me in drag – but I got away before they shaved my legs. And that’s really how I started. (Laughs) Seriously, I was in the theater since I was about 5-years-old and I discovered drag through a performer named Darienne Lake – who’s actually one of my best friends. I saw him perform and I just thought I want to do that, it looks like so much fun. You can be your own writer and director. It’s kind of like the ultimate character to be a man and be able to pull off being a woman – you can be your own little rock star. SL: I know you had your own play, The Lipstick Massacre. When you perform now, is it more in that theatrical vein? Do you enjoy theatricality over lip synching? PB: I definitely prefer doing my own things – especially now, because everything’s changed for me that I’m really looking into exploring different options instead of doing other people’s work. I mean, I love doing that and it’s fun to do impersonations of different artists – but I’ve always done different things. I’ll do mixes instead of the regular songs or I’ll try to do comedy songs or comedy mixes. The play kind of let me make my own character and I really want to do more of that. I’m starting to put together a one woman show and we might be bringing Lipstick Massacre to New York City. We’re in talks to do that but nothing is solidified yet – but you never know. I’d like to do more of that, more theater. I’m working on my own song with a DJ, so it’s kind of exciting. I’m more excited to explore different avenues than just a drag show. I mean, drag itself is theatrical. You know, there’s the queens who just do the top 40 – and that’s great for them – but for me it’s more about being theatrical with it and being a comedian – that’s where my interest lies.SL: After the success of Drag Race, how did you react when you were asked to be on Drag U?PB: (Laughs) Well, my initial reaction was when I got the phone call to be a part of it and they said I was going to be helping style women, I said, “What? You want the person who got her style critiqued the harshest on the show helping people?” I just thought it was really funny. But then, they explained the concept and I loved it and thought it was really great and it could be something really powerful – to be able to use drag to help people. I mean, it certainly helped me in my life and I know many other queens that drag has really helped them and shaped them and transformed them into someone who didn’t feel like they were something special or someone who was kind of shy – and it can change them. And then working on the show is amazing – the transformations the women went through really released their inner diva and made them feel just so good about themselves. I saw it a lot in the “Blue Collar, Pink Heels” episode (you can watch it here), the first one that I was in. All three of these girls came in really wanting it – really wanting to feel fabulous – and they left feeling great. And it was really great to see, especially Shannon. She really had an emotional breakdown on the show and she’s a changed person – she says it. I keep in touch with her – even though she wasn’t the girl I worked with. I keep in touch with all of the girls on that episode in particular and she’s said that it’s changed her life – and that’s really powerful. SL: I thought the transformations on that episode were really exceptional.PB: I think it’s because they really wanted it, like they really wanted it and they really wanted to have fun with it and they really went for it. They all had a great time and they all got along really well together and and all of the queens got along. I know sometimes that doesn’t make for a great reality show, when there’s not a lot of drama. There was just some really great chemistry between everybody on that episode and I think that’s why everybody shined in it.SL: I have to ask, the “cooter cover” your girl devised, was that her idea, or was that inspired by you? PB: (Laughs) It was a little bit of both, I knew she had something and we had talked about it – and clearly, I had the “Boxx” panties on Drag Race. I’m all about putting your name somewhere so in case you get a little too drunk, you can remember who you are the next day! SL: That’s something I’ve wondered about Drag U – when you leave the girls in the Drag Lab, they always have that “deer in the headlights” look. Are they really left by themselves to work on their costumes?PB: Yeah, it is a little like, “Oh my gosh, what do we have to do now?” It’s overwhelming and, you know, they had no idea really what was in store for them at all. They knew it was a show that had drag queens and they were going to get a makeover-ish something…and then it’s like “Okay, you’re going to get in full drag and you’re going to do a number and you’re going to make it all yourself!” And they’re kind of like “What?” At least on Drag Race, we knew what we were getting into – well, season one girls didn’t really know, but season two, we kind of had some concept of what we were going to do and we’ve all done drag before and these women hadn’t. I know that my girl Jules used to be more of a “glamor girl” because she was a model, but I don’t know that Shannon or Laura had ever glammed up before – but you saw the episode, they loved it, they loved every minute of it when they were on stage. SL: Can you share anything about working on the finale episode with the TV icons? PB: It was great because I knew all of the shows and I knew all of the women. It was great to work with Erin (Murphy, who played Tabitha on Bewitched) because she’s just got this amazing, fun personality and I think she is like the girl version of Pandora – and she specifically requested me, which was really, really cool because she was a fan from Drag Race, so I was very excited. It was great to work with all of them. (The episode’s) a little different too, because they’re all professionals so they kind of go in knowing…you know, they haven’t done drag but they’re showgirls. There’s a little more “oomph” there because they’ve done that stuff before. Although, I have to say that Laura (from the Blue Collar episode) was meant to be a drag queen, because she put those clothes on and she was a queen! (Laughs) I was blown away by her – I mean, they all did a fantastic job, but I couldn’t get over the fact that she was a drag queen!SL: Well, that makeup that Shannel did on her was awesome.PB: Shannel’s an amazing make-up artist. SL: I know, I am completely hooked on her makeup tutorial DVD.PB: That’s the thing – no one ever really teaches women how to do makeup and it can seem like it’s a daunting task; but there’s some basics that once you learn those, you can apply that to everything. I was a makeup artist for a couple of years with Trish McEvoy cosmetics and, with them, when you got a makeover, you would teach the women how to do it – you would do one eye and they would do one eye – and it’s really the best method, because you don’t really learn anything by just getting a makeover. You need to get some tips and get some instruction, so you can actually know how to do it yourself. I think that with makeup, and with everything in life, you never stop learning. There’s always something you can learn and I think as long as you are open to the possibilities – that’s what life is about, it’s about constant change, because the world is constantly changing. So you can always learn something – and it’s that wanting to learn and wanting to grow that can really help you and set you onto another platform. You know, it’s with something as simple as makeup too. There’s always something to learn. I’m still learning. And, I know, I think sometimes people get into ruts where you just do the same thing and you don’t think about it and when you learn something new, you’re like, “Oh, wow…I can do that!” SL: Did you, yourself, learn or take away anything from working on Drag U?PB: I really learned the power of drag and I really think it kind of sent home with me just how much drag has done for me and changed me and just the fact that life is just about feeling good about yourself. Sometimes it takes dressing up like a character – like somebody else – to really pull something out of you that you didn’t know you had, and that’s what drag does – it’s kind of like doing Halloween every day of your life. We all have it in there – we all want to be happy and we all want to feel good about ourselves and it’s possible. It’s there – there’s a drag queen inside all of us. SL: Drag U is all about affirmations. Do you have an affirmation of your own?PB: You know, similar to the one on the show, you have to love yourself, you really do, and anytime you’re feeling down or anytime you’re feeling kind of blue – everybody has the ups and downs in life and the highs and lows – and so you just kind of have to say you’re good enough and you’re fabulous and don’t let things get you down. It’s kind of what it is…I mean, it’s tough to do though. It’s hard sometimes when you battle with…I mean, I’ve battled with not liking myself, so I have to do those affirmations and say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, gosh darn it, people like me!” (Laughs)SL: The women on the show (at least appear to be) transformed after their experience. Have you had a similar experience in your life?PB: It’s got to be when I first started doing drag – and when it clicked. I was doing drag for a while and I was kind of like, “Oh, let me put some Chap Stick on and a wig…and look how pretty I am.” And it was when I really started to apply myself to it and people started responding well to it – and that was really a moment when I was like “Oh wow, I’m doing all of this.” There was a point where I lost myself in Pandora and I started hating it because I thought people only liked me for drag – and then the bigger moment was when I said, “It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. Pandora is an extension of you, you created this. It is you that they like and it is your personality. It’s a character, but it’s still your personality.” And it went through a couple of stages. It really changed me, it’s really given me the ability to like myself and know it’s okay to say, “I’m good, I’m talented, I’m fabulous.” SL: Well, you are fabulous!PB: Thank you! SL: Do you think you’ll be stuck doing Carol Channing impressions for the rest of your career now?PB: (Laughs) You know what? I totally wouldn’t mind doing that because I adore her and I think she is a funny, nutty character herself and I love that – and I may take a little partial credit for it – there’s been this resurgence of Carol Channing lately. She was on The Wendy Williams Show and her new CD’s out and she’s doing a press junket for it – and it’s been out for a little bit…I might have to take a little credit for that – I mean, I have to give a little to Kathy Griffin too, because she was on her show as well. Yeah, I don’t think I would mind so much…well, ask me that again in ten years and if I’m only doing Carol Channing, I might have a different response! (Laughs)SL: I just loved the “Snatch Game” episode of Drag Race. I refuse to erase it from the DVR. “Broadway Actors Against Scurvy” is possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!PB: I don’t know where that came from. I was at a point…it was after the first question that we got asked in the Snatch Game, and my answer was “turkey legs” and so, after that, I made the conscious choice, like “I’m not even going to attempt to get these answers right. I’m going to write the most bizarre things I can think of just to be funny.” RuPaul said at the beginning of it, “make it funny”. That was the biggest thing, “make it funny”. So, I tried to make it funny!SL: And you definitely succeeded! What has been the coolest moment for you since Drag Race?PB: Oh gosh, there’s been so many amazing experiences. I think one of them recently was when I was in New York City and I was doing a show at the Grammercy Theater. It was a Barefoot Wine fundraiser and my name was on the marquee outside and I was like “Oh my God, my name is on the marquee outside in New York City. That’s just amazing.” So, that was one and the Snatch Game on Drag Race was an amazing moment because I’m sitting there doing this spoof of this TV show that I watched in reruns and stuff and here I am, doing it. And there’s RuPaul and RuPaul is asking me these questions and I’m making RuPaul crack up…this is an amazing moment right now. SL: What was it like meeting Henry Rollins?PB: You know, we didn’t actually get to “meet meet” the judges because we were kind of treated like we were in prison on Drag Race – and we were ostracized from everybody. I did get to meet Kathy Griffin, because she wanted to get a picture with me. Henry Rollins…we didn’t get to meet him, we only saw him when we were on stage. Okay, he’s incredibly sexy and he’s still hot and he’s really, really intelligent and I think he was one of the best judges that they had on the show – on either season – because you could tell that he really thought out everything that he said. Every comment…because we get comments from every judge – every judge comments on every girl. It doesn’t all make it into the show because it’s a 45 minute show but everything was thought out and everything was spot-on. He was exactly on the mark with every critique he gave. And you could tell he cared, and I thought that was really, really cool. And he said that I turned him on – and I was like, “Yes!”SL: What is the biggest beauty tip you can share with us?PB: My biggest beauty tip…I would say that it’s to make sure you drink lots of water and get a good night’s sleep because that really does affect how you look and how you feel and also how you age. Although, I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep lately because I’ve been on the road so much. I’m going to have to take a couple of days and sleep! SL: How can your Fandoras best stay in touch with you?PB: Yes, I’ve got the website, PandoraBoxx.com – and there’s an extra “X” for “X-Factor”. That’s the best way, because it’s got a link to my Facebook, it’s got a link to my Twitter and it’s got a link to my YouTube channel, where I have my sketch comedy – all of it’s right there, and that’s probably the easiest way – because I’m everywhere! A girl has to be when she’s trying to be a star, dammit! You are a star, Miss Pandora! Make sure to catch her on the season finale of RuPaul’s Drag U tonight at 9pm EST on Logo TV!