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The One. The Only: Trixie Mattel

Trixie Mattel

Back in Milwaukee on August 23rd 1989, little did we know that one of the most influential, drag-tastic stars of our time had just been born.

Brian Michael Firkus grew up in an unstable home with his brother, mother and stepfather. But even as a boy, Brian knew he was different from the rest.

Back in the 90s, being evenly slightly effeminate or “camp” in some areas around the world was sinful or shunned by some people. Unfortunately for Brian, his stepfather was one of those people.

He would mock, tease, bully and even physically abuse Brian for just being himself. Along with other crude names he would call him, his stepfather had a favourite one, and that name was “Trixie”.

young trixie

The Love of The Music

Growing up in poverty and in a home that is very outwardly homophobic, Brian needed an outlet, something to take his mind away from the reality he was living in. He loved to write songs and make tunes, but he needed an instrument to help him with that songwriting dream.

That is when he discovered the guitar. As he famously said later, “I grew up in the country. That’s what poor people play.” He was good at it too! And with his loving grandfather’s help, he could use songwriting and guitar playing as his two crutches to get through his turbulent earlier life.

“The artists I liked on the radio all played the guitars. It was the era of Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch and Sheryl Crow and Green Day, and a lot of the music I was listening to was guitar-driven.” – Trixie Mattel.

But as he grew up, he never felt the need to hold onto the past.

Everybody has something bad happen to them. And the most prideful thing you can do is – I want people to think I was born at 18 years old. I don’t identify with anything that happened before that because I don’t wish to carry it into today.

The Beginning Of Trixie Mattel

So with that, he started to live his life, get a job and do all the “normal” things any human would do. But there was something he really did enjoy doing on the side.

Anything to do with makeup, dressing up, or trotting around in heels., Brian loved it! And as he became an adult and started to adventure into the gay scene, he came across Drag Queens and saw how fabulous, funny and outlandish they were and wanted to become that too.

He enjoyed everything that came with being a Drag Queen!

And when thinking of a drag name to call himself, he thought of the most perfect one. “Trixie Mattel”, Brian wanted to reclaim that homophobic name he had been called in his early life and take back the power!

I think drag queens get on television, and then they’re like, ‘I just started doing drag to make a difference!’ No, you didn’t! You started drag for free drinks and attention, just like the rest of us.

Ru Paul’s Drag Race: The Start of The Trixie Empire

Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Season 7, was the beginning of the rest of Trixie Mattel’s life in the spotlight! Her strutting onto the show, with her barbie like persona and bubbly yet sassy personality, won everyone over on the show and in the fanbase.

She would sing, dance and joke her way to sixth place on the season. But that did not hold her back, oh no! She wanted to win!

So we all saw her again, for RuPaul Drag Race – All Stars and she did it, she won! This was truly the take-off point for her and her Drag career.

After her success on the show, she focused on releasing her country music to the public. Starting with “Two Birds” in 2017 and then “One Stone” a year later in 2018. She took hold of the market, especially in one where you didn’t see many serious Drag Performers making genuinely good music!

Trixie didn’t stop; in between all this, she was touring, participating in Drag conventions, starting up her YouTube channel, and even began makeup by starting her own cosmetics company. This all happened within a relatively short time frame, and she loved every single minute of it.

Trixie Mattel - Moving Parts

But in 2019, she won over the hearts and minds of her fans when she came out with a very personal documentary. This was a follow-along type film called “Trixie Mattel – Moving Parts”, where audiences could see her stripped back as Brian like never before. The documentary went into more detail about her younger life and how she overcame it and forgave her mother for what happened.

I’m really proud that I’m in a place where I can call up my mom, and she can say ‘I’m in trouble,’ and I can help her… My mom and I have conversations about [Trixie’s abusive childhood]. I’m not a grudge-holder. I’m not mad. She’s not mad. I’ve forgiven her for all that.

The relationship between Trixie Mattel and her fans has always been interesting. As she rose to fame and fans heard of her upbringing, some fans began to message her and tell her how she helped them, which was hard for her to take on.

Sometimes I think they’re just trying to say something really crazy, so you’ll just, like, pay attention to them? They’ll have two minutes with me, and they’ll be like, ‘My dad used to hit me too!’ And I’m like, ‘Okay…’ I don’t really have a lot of responsibility as far as therapy for people.

But don’t get it twisted! She loves the support that her fans give her. She simply disagrees with identifying drag culture with victimhood. She has openly said that some Drag Queens will play on this to gain sympathy, to gain fame, and she doesn’t feel the need to exploit her story or her fan’s personal stories to get ahead in the Drag World.

I think I’m unique to other drag queens in that I don’t change my story,” she continued. “I started doing drag because I liked dressing up and being funny, not to make sure people don’t do suicide.

Trixie & Katya - The Drag Queen Duo

trixie and katya

In the most unlikely of circumstances, since meeting initially on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova became long-term friends and comedy partners.

Quoted as the “only on-screen best friends,” they have built up their own cult following and become a pretty unusual duo.

They have their own hit YouTube Series “UNHhhh”, and a Netflix YouTube Series, “Queens Who Like to Watch”. Along with a book deal, podcast and a comedy tour, this drag queen pairing really worked out, even maybe when it shouldn’t have.

The two have expressed how they have polar opposite personalities and work ethics. You would think they might have fallen apart, but actually, they weirdly balance each other out and help one another in their own unique ways.

She really helps me relax sometimes — reminds me it’s not brain surgery, it’s just drag. And I think I always help her commodify the art a little bit. I’m always trying to succession plan us, and she’s always trying to make sure we don’t kill the enjoyment.

The Future of Trixie Mattel

Trixie won’t be stopping here anytime soon!

With more music, solo tours, comedy duo tours and even more makeup coming out in the following years, there will be no dimming out this barbie-delicious light!

She has even set herself in brick-and-mortar alongside her long-term boyfriend, David Silver. They have just recently finished work on her very own “Trixie Motel” in Palm Springs, which is available for the public to stay in!

They filmed the whole blood, sweat, and tears process, with each room having its own distinct style and theme. The series “The Trixie Motel” is available on streaming services worldwide, including The Roku Channel, HBO Max and discovery+!

So the future of Trixie Mattel has only just begun. Who will join her for the rest of the journey?

Shannon Halliwell (She/Her)
Latest posts by Shannon Halliwell (She/Her) (see all)

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