Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race has come to a close and we have an all-new queen to hail.
Yvie Oddly was crowned the new HBIC of season 11 after a series of confrontations, stunning avant-garde looks, and enough backbends to make Linda Blair cringe. Her final performances were statement pieces — with goops, spooks and even a flash of “Free Britney” knickers — propelling her further into the spotlight while helping her to clinch the win.
Needless to say, her relief and elation were immense.
“It was honestly just a big sigh of relief,” Yvie, 25, said. “The top four girls, we’ve all been sitting on this big secret for the better part of forever, so when we saw who was crowned, it was just a big supportive cry session. We all squeezed each other, we all ruined each other’s make-up a bit. It was everything I could have hoped for especially with how long the journey was.”
Of course, not everything went exactly as our newly-anointed planned.
“I kind of pictures the whole finale in my mind. Not everything happened the way it did, but for some reason, I knew it was going to be Brooke Lynn and I in the finale. So I just knew I had to deliver on the last artistic statement I could make in the season – just put it out there and let the rest go as it may.”
All of Yvie’s finale looks were just as stunning as we’ve come to expect, with that flair and edge that so many of us have come to know and love. Beside her spectacular mirrored headdress and ballgown, she also rocked a frock inspired by the art of one of her dedicated fans. There’s more to Yvie Oddly than a freaky queen, however, and she’s been clear about that from the jump.
“I was pretty hardcore about sticking to my guns,” she said. “The thing is, I enjoy a lot of different things about drag, so whenever I did branch away from ‘distinctly Yvie’ things on the show, it was because I wanted to, and that people didn’t realize that’s also a part of me. Even with the finale, I just want to put a look out there and let people decide if it’s for them.”
This legendary queen knew exactly what she was doing, however, and she didn’t let any potential detractors stop her from bringing her art to the runway.
“I thought they would enjoy it, because what I do isn’t really revolutionary in the real scene – there’s so many experimental, artsy queens who are trying crazy things and advancing the art form,” Yvie said. “But I do forget that the show has it’s own canon of viewers, and they may not have seen that representation in a while.”
Our newly crowned didn’t just start a conversation about the art of drag, though. She also started a conversation about chronic illness.
During her run on the reality competition show, Yvie Oddly (whose real name is Jovan Bridges), opened up about her struggle with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a defect in the way the body processes collagen. Though the syndrome gives Yvie her trademark flexibility, it also causes her to live with near-constant joint pain, as well as loose joints, stretchy skin and a propensity for injuries that most of us don’t have.
Yvie was candid about her struggles in the workroom, something that endeared her immediately to millions of fans around the world, though she had rarely spoken about it previously.
“I had absolutely no intentions of talking about that on the show,” she told reporters. “I hadn’t done a very good job of addressing it in my own life. It’s something I struggle with every day but I’ve never made my struggles clear to anyone because I didn’t think they’d care of have time for it, and I didn’t want to be seen as a victim. So getting to open up was…it was hard, it was hard to be that authentic with people and let them know how you’re really hurting.”
She went on to say that she had no idea how many people also struggled with similar issues.
“I never realized how many people were going through the same journey and the same struggles as me, because I’d never spoken up. Everywhere I go I’m meeting other people who are fighting the same battle, or similar battles, as I am, and it’s just amazing to give even one person a voice. I’m so grateful to feel like I’m not alone, and I hope I can do that for someone else.”
With the crown and the kingdom before her, there’s really only one question left for the Queen of All Trades. Now that she’s got $100K and a soapbox…what is she going to do with it?
“I’m just excited to explore new ways of making art,” she said. “I’m doing so many things I never thought I’d do. I just released a music video [Dolla Store], that’s new for me. I’m just excited to try these crazy things, meet all the people who lives I’ve touched and freak ’em out.”