'RuPaul's Drag Race' queen Alaska talks 'spiritual' new music — and why Stevie Nicks is a true all-star
On RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3 earlier this year, contestant Thorgy Thor complained about having to impersonate Stevie Nicks in a diva-themed challenge — a controversial attitude that prompted Billboard Pride to publish the opinion piece “5 Reasons Stevie Nicks Is, In Fact, a Gay Icon.” And now, there’s a sixth addition to that already-convincing list: On the cover of her new album, Amethyst Journey, with longtime collaborator “Handsome” Jeremy Mikush, All-Stars 2 winner Alaska is serving Rumours realness.
“Really, Jeremy and I are such Stevie groupies. It’s like, not even funny,” Alaska gushes to Yahoo Entertainment. “We would follow Stevie to the ends of the earth. We’re obsessed. We’ve been loving her for years, and when we first moved in together, we would stay up late at night and we would smoke marijuana, and we would watch this video of Stevie singing ‘Rhiannon.’ It became a part of us. It was our nightly tradition. We would watch this video every night.”
@Alaska5000 / @fleetwoodmac pic.twitter.com/EQWKwdFho8
— vinicius tartaro (@viniciuscilli) August 10, 2018
Though Amethyst Journey is the first album credited to the duo of “Alaska & Jeremy,” the two met nearly 15 years ago in a college psychology class and have been doing cabaret shows together for years — notably the self-described “Stevie worship show,” Stevie Forever, starring a twirling Alaska in leather-and-lace Bella Donna eleganza. Jeremy, a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, has also attended the annual dress-up gala “Night of a Thousand Stevies,” which Alaska jokes “was one of the most magical nights of his life, and I think he got super-laid that night.”
As for what it is about Fleetwood Mac’s rock ’n’ roll gypsy that intrigues them so much — and makes her a true gay icon — Alaska muses, “Well, she has a little boy’s name, to start. I don’t really know why we’ve latched onto her so fiercely. It’s something about her charisma, something about her truthfulness and her honesty and the visceral nature of the way she performs. … She’s like a wild animal of energy, which I love.”
(Alaska says she hopes Nicks is aware of her, but in a 2011 interview with PrideSource, Nicks made it clear that she is very aware of, and delighted by, her gay-icon status. Check out this playlist featuring Stevie-worshipping drag queens, including Alaska and other Drag Race favorites Pandora Boxx, Raven, and Raja, draggin’ their hearts around the stage.)
– I'm still not over stevie nicks!alaska and I don't think I'll ever be, I just- look at her pic.twitter.com/X7M7fEsW2g
— a 🌹 (@filmsgay) August 13, 2017
Suffice to say, if Alaska had been assigned that Stevie challenge on Drag Race, she would have slayed. But while the “witchy and spiritual” music of Amethyst Journey — particularly “Truth in the Light,” “At the End of the Day,” and “Ascension” — occasionally evokes the spacey-’80s Mirage era or Lindsay Buckingham’s recent work with Empire of the Sun, Alaska cites a few other fearless female rock role models as influences on the album.
“When Jeremy and I love music, we love it really hard, and we love it for life,” she says. “Like, I mean, we’re such superfans of Dolly [Parton]. We had this police call on us for singing Dolly too loudly! We worship Whitney [Houston] and Stevie and Cher, and Jeremy’s really into Annie Lennox, and he loves Tori Amos and Joan Baez. So all of these women are swirling around in us, all the time. They definitely come out in flicks and flashes in the music.”
One Amethyst Journey track that truly celebrates women is “Son of a Mother,” a dreamy but driving electro/soft rock ally anthem that should appeal to Alaska’s massive female fanbase. “The audience for Drag Race, more and more, is predominantly young women, so a lot of what I do is for them — though this is music for everybody,” Alaska says. “Men have just been sort of driving the earth for a while, and I don’t really think that’s working out very well. And so, it’s time to let women take over. It just really is. The scale needs to be tipped that way. We’re all moving towards that, and we’re making leaps and bounds now, but there’s still a lot of work to do. And it’s like, ‘Remember where you came from, young man. Remember where you came from, because you came from a woman.’ So be respectful.”
Amethyst Journey’s trippy folk/pop is a dramatic departure from Alaska’s first two over-the-top, clubby solo albums. “If Alaska’s music up to this point is like marijuana, Anus and Poundcake are like sativa, and Amethyst Journey is indica,” she says. “So, this isn’t ‘I’m banging in the club getting turnt out music.’ This is like, ‘I’m gonna chill out and put this in my ears and really just think about life and who I am and where we’re going.’” It’s her Joanne, her Younger, her Lilith Fair record — written in Sonoma County’s Cazadero woods and deeply influenced by Jeremy’s interest in meditation, Tarot divination, sacred ceremony/witchcraft, astrology, and the Radical Faerie community.
“It’s definitely going down this witchy, spiritual, extraterrestrial rabbit hole. I mean, this is a huge part of mine and Jeremy’s friendship and our musical collaboration. … We discovered spirituality and meditation together. Jeremy is so knowledgeable about crystals and what they do and what they mean. His drag name is Crystal Powers, for God’s sake!”
To quote the aforementioned Stevie Nicks, on Amethyst Journey Alaska sees the crystal visions herself, so to speak. “I am a spiritual person, which I think is something that people don’t really know a lot about me,” she says. “I consider discovering meditation to be a turning point in my life, and I still consider it such an important tool. I think everybody should do it. … I’ve definitely had moments with crystals where I sort of set an intention, or set a dream or a vision for something in the future, and sort of bonded with the crystal on that. And I’m not saying that’s the reason it happened, or the reason it came true, but I think crystals have a way of crystallizing your visions for yourself and for your life.”
Ironically, while Amethyst Journey harnesses a great deal of female energy, for this project Alaska has abandoned her signature drag persona — piled-high Bardot bouffant, winged eyeliner, mermaid gowns — and, like fellow musical Drag Race alumni like Adore Delano, Trixie Mattel, Phi Phi O’Hara, and Aja, is exploring a more masculine/androgynous identity. “The music is very vulnerable,” she explains. “And not wearing a lot of makeup and not wearing a fake body and fake hair is very vulnerable for me, because drag is such an armor when it comes to the scalding gaze of the camera. And so, to be in front of a camera without all of that is really a vulnerable place for me to be. It would be a lot more comfortable for me if I was in drag, but we sort of wanted to reveal more than we were hiding.”
Alaska will have a role in the final Sharknado movie this week to coincide with her album release (an experience she says is right “up there” with being on two seasons of Drag Race), but with Stevie Nicks also returning to TV for another season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, it seems like this new, witchy version of Alaska would be Nicks’s ideal AHS: Apocalypse co-star.
“I would love that,” she says. “Ryan Murph, call me up.”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Mick Fleetwood on the new Fleetwood Mac: ‘It’s important to remain creative and not tread water’
Watch Alaska, Henry Rollins, and Alice Bag discuss punk/drag alliance at RuPaul’s Dragcon
Watch Alaska perform ‘You Oughta Know’ in Dorothy Zbornak drag
RuPaul talks punk, politics: ‘Most people are still living in the Dark Ages’
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ judge Michelle Visage on how the ‘queerest show on television’ is helping troubled kids
Country-singing drag queen Trixie Mattel on her surprise success: ‘Country fans are perceived to be more closed-minded than they really are’
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