America has a new drag superstar – and she’s just a little bit odd.
Yvie Oddly has been crowned the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 after a series of confrontations, avant garde looks and backbends galore, with one final statement – performing to Lady Gaga in a mirrored headpiece and a second face – snatching her the crown.
And of course, a flash of those Free Britney knickers.
Eagle-eyed Drag Race viewers may have noticed the slogan on Yvie’s underwear when she flashed them during her performance to SOS by Rihanna, and they weren’t just random.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Yvie said: ‘I wanted to wear the Free Britney panties in case I got the song SOS – to use a song about calling out for help to call out something I was a little bit frustrated with. Use my voice for a social cause, but it’s still drag.’
Despite filming the finale weeks ago, Yvie found out she had beat Brooke Lynn Hytes to the crown at the same time we all did, with both queens having filmed their coronation, only for one to be aired on VH1 and Netflix.
So her ecstasy over her win came with a big old dose of relief at not having to keep secrets anymore.
Yvie, 25, said: ‘It was honestly just a big sigh of relief. 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.
‘I kind of pictured 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.’
And her finale looks – one outfit adorned with stuffed animals and neon fur and another with a literal two-face vibe – carried on the uniquely Yvie aesthetic we’ve come to know and love, although she wants us to know there’s more than her to freaky stuff.
‘I was pretty hardcore about sticking to my guns. 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 realise 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.
‘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. But I do forget that the show have its own canon of viewers, and they may not have seen that representation in a while.’
But Yvie, real name Jovan Bridges, didn’t just serve looks and jaw-dropping gymnastics on the main stage. She started a conversation about chronic illness, having opened up on living with Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a defect in the processing of collagen in the body. As well as giving Yvie the flexibility she showcased on the show, she experiences near constant joint pain, loose joints and stretchy skin, and is prone to injuries.
While Yvie was open in the workroom about her struggles, she was surprised at how honest she was – considering she rarely discussed her chronic illness in real life.
She said: ‘I had absolutely no intentions of talking about that on the show. I hadn’t done a very good job of addressing in my own life. It’s something I struggle with every day but I’m never made my struggles clear to anyone because I didn’t think they’d care or 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.
‘I never realised 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.’
Now that Yvie has the crown and $100,000, the world is her oyster – so what is she going to do with that soapbox?
‘I’m just excited to explore new ways of making art, 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 whose lives I’ve touched and freak ‘em out.’
RuPaul’s Drag Race is available to stream on Netflix.
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