By Bebe Zahara Benet
Respect your elders and your history! That was one of the themes of this week’s episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and no one did that better than the very funny, very open Miss Pandora Boxx.
When I sat down to interview her, I asked Pandora where she got her wonderful name. “At the time I started drag I was really into Greek mythology,” she told me, explaining the myth of Pandora. “She was the first woman ever created.” The original Pandora set the opened up a forbidden box that let out all the world’s evils. Ms. Boxx thought it would be a good name because it plays up the idea that you don’t know what to expect. An approach I think is amazing!
It turns out Pandora auditioned for the first season, but was turned down. “I was kind of devastated,” she admitted, noting she wanted to hate the show but got hooked. As soon as she heard there was a second season she reapplied and got the gig, which was a huge moment. “If something didn’t change in my drag career, I was going to quit,” she revealed to me. “Well, it changed in a big way.”
I love how funny and approachable Pandora was on the show, a trait that definitely helped her stand apart from many of the other girls. One of my favorite Pandora moments was her Carol Channing impersonation during the “Snatch Game” competition. I was shocked to find out Ms. Channing was not her first choice – she almost became Jan Brady instead! “It was only the fourth time I’d done Carol,” she revealed. You fooled me, honey!
Pandora did admit her biggest frustration on “Race” was the judges’ reaction to her style, particularly her green leopard print dress. “It’s like telling a joke that flopped…and flopped and flopped,” she explained. “Yeah, I know the dress didn’t work, can we drop it and move on?”
When it came to the drag mother competition, Pandora enjoyed working with her unconventional partner, even with his American flag bikini. Pandora was surprised by the judges’ comments that her mom outshined her on the stage. That was her strategy. “I planned everything,” Pandora explained, telling me the upstaging showbiz mom was the whole idea of the gag. “If it was funny and you liked it, I should be getting credit for it.”
One of the wonderful things Pandora takes away from “Race” is sharing her own struggle with depression and suicide. She wasn’t sure about saying something on TV, but since “Race” ended she has gotten thank you letters from people struggling with the same challenges. “I’m starting to tear up now,” she marveled. “That’s an amazing thing for a reality show that’s supposed to be about a drag queen competition.”
What a funny queen! And what an inspiration!