The whole world may have met Peppermint when she killed the competition in the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But if there’s one thing Miss Pepp is going to do, it’s remind you that she always was – and always will be – the moment.
Where to start? Peppermint has had acting roles in everything from Laid at SNL at Fire Island. On stage, she made her history as the first trans woman to land a Broadway role in the musical Go-Gos Crazy in Love. She continued to drop bop after bop, including her ambitious R&B trilogy project, Letters to my lovers. And, somehow, she still makes time to be a vocal trans activist, LGBTQ rights advocate, and real queen of memes.
Related: Peppermint Delivers All The Goods In ‘Broken Home’ Music Video Premiere
And in November, she will co-star a single visit with drag race Jujubee pillar. As they travel across the country, Pep promises his ‘Letters Live’ show will be “something completely different” with live vocals, a live band and so many R&B goodness. She sees the tour as an opportunity to showcase the extent of her talent, proving that drag performers have much more to offer than “lip sync”. [to] a song by Whitney Houston or Cher.
But, before hitting the road, Peppermint honored Weird with her appearance as the latest celebrity guest on our quick Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our hilarious and informative conversation, the star discusses everything from her travel snack, to the Prince-Janet Jackson musical jukebox of her dreams, to the unused drag race look that still haunts the back of her closet to this day. But is it the fashion? Well, that depends on who you ask…
Is there an element of pop culture, whether it’s a movie, TV series, book, album, etc., that you consider a big part of your exit route? Why does it set you apart?
Being trans, I had the opportunity to come out, like great coming outs, more than once. The first time was like [someone] who loves boys. The second time was as trans. So a book that was really helpful, helpful, instrumental to me was transgender history by Susan Stryker. There are just a lot of great quotes to take from this book, and for me, it was really the book that said, “Okay, basically, trans people are nothing new. We’ve been around a long time, and while that history isn’t exactly well recorded, here are some connections for you. And that was really helpful – it’s very grounded.
In November, you will embark on your “Letters Live” tour traveling across America. What is your favorite airport or rest area snack and why?
Oh it’s gummy bears! And not just any brand – I won’t just eat gummy bears. I only eat one brand of gummy bear: Haribo. If you bring me anything else, I’ll know immediately, and I’m not interested. [Laughs.]
If I was reincarnated from a past life, I believe I was a fruit bat. Because I love fruit! I could just live on fruit all day, every day. So, obviously, I also like fruit candies. There’s something about those Haribo gummy bears; they really taste like the fruit they claim to be!
And of course, this is a joint tour with the one and only Jujubee – what makes Juju an ideal touring companion? You two have known each other for a few years now, what can you tell us about Jujubee that might surprise his fans?
I haven’t toured with Juju yet, but obviously we’ve worked together many, many times over many years. We’re both East Coast girls, and it’s a very special vibe. So we got along wonderfully each time, so famously. We are often booked together on the same [shows,] so we’re in each other’s hotel room, eating together, playing cards and hanging out. And that part of our relationship is so fierce, so I’m thrilled to have these tour buses with Juju.
But Juju has such beautiful writing, such beautiful music, and his albums are critically acclaimed! The vibe of his music sounds like pop-R&B, while I go straight to the R&B jugular, so the music is really nice next to each other. R&B is like a total vibe, it’s a feeling – you can relax a bit, you can get into the rhythm, you can listen to the lyrics and understand the music; it’s not just about sound effects.
It’s about being able to show people: that’s what queer artists can be and can do, shamelessly. Yes, it’s wonderful if you want to listen to all the hottest remixes in your…non-queer—icons, but if you want to support queer artists in a way that doesn’t just involve seeing us perform at the gay bar, then come to our show!
You originated the role of Pythio in the Broadway musical Crazy in Love, based on the music of The Go-Gos. If you could build a musical around another artist’s catalog, who would it be and why?
Well, it would be a very, very, very intense showdown between Prince and Janet Jackson.
Alright, I think we could spin this and tell both of their stories in a musical, right?
I mean they are both connected to Minneapolis. Janet obviously isn’t from Minneapolis, but her renaissance as a solo artist was really born out of the Minneapolis sound, bonded by her two most popular producers: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were part of Morris Day’s band, The Time. . And that was a sub-group for Prince, who also helped produce for those guys. So Janet and Prince are very related. And I really worked that, huh? [Laughs.] There is a story for sure.
The last of your Letters to my lovers The trilogy is called ‘Moment Of Weakness’ – what is a moment in your career when you would say you may have felt weak or vulnerable and how did you overcome it?
Once I was helping raise money at an auction for a popular LGBT charity group. They had asked to host, which meant I had to go out and introduce myself in front of the audience, talk to celebrities and all the donors that were in the room. There was a lot of money involved, like thousands and thousands of dollars that were going to be generated and moved around.
But I remember I didn’t even have enough money to go to the event. I didn’t have enough money for a taxi, I didn’t even have enough money for the bus. And, on top of that, there were these accusations of transphobia that were going around with this organization. And so it wasn’t very nice knowing that I was literally taking my last dollars – I had to dig into the couch for real coins to have enough to take the subway to the [venue.]
It was the fact that I used my last penny to help them make more … than their last penny, especially for a company accused of transphobia… It was the complete opposite of what I had to do. And I certainly didn’t feel like I was taking care of myself. I felt very weak and helpless at that time.
But! I will never do that again. Lesson learned, baby!
You always bring the visuals to your music videos, so with that in mind, how about an underrated music video that everyone should stop and watch now? What makes it so awesome?
I’d say I should go back to my past for that – just seeing those music videos moved me so much. In fact, I have three…
Certainly “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, which, there is no reason to explain this. I was a kid at that time and I was really scared of this clip. I enjoyed watching it with my family, but there was that moment when my babysitter [pretended to] turn into a zombie after watching the video and she was chasing me around the house. I just remember I was so scared [Laughs.] Come to think of it, that was really cruel of her! But no, this video was Major.
The next one I should say, without a doubt, is “The Rain” by Missy Elliott. It was her first major music video featuring the trash bag she wears where she is full of all the air. I don’t know what it’s like to be on acid, but I think it’s probably a bit like that.
And then the last one I’m going to say is darker, and there’s controversy online. But as a child, seeing the music video for the song “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam really touched me deeply. It is obviously very violent. But the fact that it unfolded in what I think was a clever way really rattled me.
Who is a queer artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they people we should all pay attention to?
Obviously, Saucy Santana is one. I mean, there are so many – I’m almost at a loss for words! In terms of indie, I love Michael Blum-Check them. I did a guest feature on a remix of one of their songs with Shea Coulée called “RU MAD”, which is fire.
And there’s another person named Be steady-Oh my God, please go see a video of them. The way they create music is so spectacular. A wonderful artist, and they create the sound themselves – they’re almost like a black, queer version of Klaus Nomi. It’s such a masterpiece, and it’s so rare to see a queer person do that and, you know, sing about anal sex, or whatever. This is then cool.
Do you have memories of your time drag race—a specific item of clothing you were wearing, something from the Werk Room, etc…—why is this sentimental to you?
Amazingly, I still have probably half of the clothes I wore on the show even though most of them don’t fit me anymore.
But the thing I should probably get rid of is a dress I’ve never worn! It’s a dress that was supposed to look like the one that Kim Kardashian wore to the Met Gala when she was pregnant. And I’m not a fashion girl, but, honey, that wasn’t something I would recommend. [Laughs.] And so I had this dress made, but I didn’t even wear it. Instead, Shea Coulée wore it on our season when we did a skit where she was supposed to be pregnant.
And the other thing I have left that I should probably get rid of, because it’s not even really a dress, is my prom outfit. It was like a long turquoise thing. It’s actually not a dress because there is no opening. And you can’t put it on unless you have a team of people sewing you into it. So I should probably get rid of it. [Laughs.] But I love this; it’s so special to me.
Check Out Peppermint’s Latest Visuals For “Broken Home” Moment of weakness: letters to my lovers album—below. And you can go to his website for tickets and more information on the “Letters Live” tour.