Mimi Imfurst on Life After RuPaul’s Drag Race

The nationally renowned drag queen opens up about recording her first album, The Fire, and why she loves the Gayborhood.

Image provided by Mimi Imfurst. Photography by Jamin Ruhren.

Image provided by Mimi Imfurst. Photography by Jamin Ruhren.

It’s been a while. How’s life been, girl?
Busy busy busy! Between finishing up this album and producing the upcoming Divas of Drag Tour, mamma’s got a full plate! But I wouldn’t have it any other way — I love the work I do. I love creating both art and opportunities.

While maintaining a busy performance schedule, how were you able to juggle recording this album with true commitment?
I’ve been hard at work writing and recording The Fire over the last year. It was important to get the right songs and that each one was done right. I didn’t want an album with one or two singles and a bunch of filler. Every song has to be good. Patience has paid off, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s been a lot of long days and a very busy schedule — but I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

What do you want your fans to see through this album?
That I will never give up on my dreams — and I want to inspire my fans to feel the same way. The entertainment world, the drag world — hell, just life in general — is full of obstacles and setbacks. These are the fires we face in our day-to-day lives. You can let those fires scare you back into retreat mode, back to your your comfort zone, or you can say “bring it on” and run into the flames head on. When you embrace the opportunity to grow from adversity, you transform your very being. This album is about the fires I’ve had to walk through and how they’ve changed my life.

THE FIRE album cover art.

“The Fire” album cover art.

What are some of the successes and setbacks of life post–RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Fame is nice — but once you trade in your anonymity for fame, you can never buy it back. The thing about a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race is that you’re actually signing over your brand to this huge machine and entrusting that [the machine] will edit it the right way. That’s a risk. For me it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. It’s helped my career as much as it challenged it. It taught me how to rebrand, it taught me how to take what you’re given in life and capitalize on it and sell it. Life is good. Dating is tricky when everyone thinks they know everything about you — but there are worse problems to have.

How has the drag scene changed for the better or worse since the show’s debut?
It wouldn’t say that it has been good or bad. It’s been a little bit of both. Because of its mainstream appeal, Drag Race has made what we do more accessible to a broader audience. Of course drag is an art form that satirizes identity, which still makes many people uncomfortable. Right now all drag queens have benefited from the success of the show, but I have some concerns that it has homogenized what we do as an art form. In the long run, though, I’m not losing sleep over it. Some people view Drag Race as the end-all-be-all of drag. While it might be the biggest, most fastest truck on the highway, it’s not the road itself. So grab a ride, hang on, and when it stops, keep going.

You have a huge album release party coming up next week. What is it about the Gayborhood that keeps you coming back?
I love Philadelphia. End of story. I first fell in love with the City of Brotherly Love when I hosted the opening of the now-closed Q Lounge, which snowballed into a weekly show. Shortly after I was cast on RuPaul’s Drag Race and my entire life changed. My love for Philadelphia did not. When it came time for a new chapter in my life, it was clear to me that I would make this city my home. I love the history, the energy, and the community. I still count my blessings every single day for the audiences who support the thriving drag scene in Philadelphia — and to the queens of Philly for building a legacy to follow all of us for a very long time. It’s a great city to visit, an awesome place to live, and a fabulous place to be gay. On top of all that, as an artist it the perfect bedrock to create art. This city has inspired me to be more true to myself and to re-iginite my creative core and record The Fire.

Mimi Imfurst’s debut album The Fire will be available online on Tuesday, March 22nd.