Drag Race finalists spill on surprises, regrets and why they want to win

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·14-min read

After a number of jaw-dropping lip sync performances, show-stopping runway looks and explosive Untucked moments, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under season two is days away from being announced.

Ahead of the grand finale this weekend, the three finalists Hannah Conda, Kween Kong and Spankie Jackzon spoke openly with Yahoo Lifestyle about their highs and lows in the competition, their biggest regrets, and what it would mean for them to win.

Drag Race Down Under stars Kween Kong, Hannah Conda and Spankie Jackzon.
Drag Race Down Under finalists Kween Kong, Hannah Conda and Spankie Jackzon open up about their time in the competition. Photo: Instagram/spankie_jackzon

How do you feel about your performance this season?

Hannah - I’m so incredibly proud of what I did. Prior to going on the show, I was in a little bit of a fragile mental state, if I'm honest, and I was just so proud of myself watching it and how I got through everything and picked myself up and thrived. I already feel like a winner because I've got the bestest friends in the whole entire world with these girls. I have grown very close to Spankie and Kween and whatever the outcome is, it doesn't matter. We’ve got each other and that's a different sort of thing that we don't usually see on Drag Race.

Kween - I feel so happy and proud. I said this on the show and it wasn’t aired, but if I entered the competition a year ago I probably would have breezed through the competition a lot easier, but I don't think people would’ve liked me. In the past year and a half, there's been a lot of personal growth and I think my ego and pride have really taken quite a bashing, a very violent death in the best way possible… So I was really proud of the process and I actually really used it and was just super honest and vulnerable about where I was at and I just didn't want to project anything but the truth, and so watching it back I feel really proud of myself and I can also feel within myself the growth because of the approach that I took to the competition.

Spankie - As you saw from my run, week one I honestly thought that was it. So I'm pretty proud of myself and I'm really stoked to be in the final. The thing is, the challenge that I ended up in the bottom, I always knew that was going to be my weakness. I definitely didn't expect a design challenge in week one. I thought I would have had time to have shown the other stuff that I had and that would have helped me kind of sail through, but I mean, it all worked out in the end really!

Drag Race Down Under star Spankie Jackzon.
‘Week one I honestly thought that was it. So I'm pretty proud of myself and I'm really stoked to be in the final.’ Photo: Stan

How prepared did you feel going into the competition?

Hannah - I remember going in just ready for the ride. Whatever was going to be thrown at us, I was really doing my absolute best to just go with the flow. I've been battling the perfection ideal in my life, like I want everything to be perfect, and going into a show like this that is not a reality. Throughout the whole process, I just needed to trust in myself and know that I know what I want to do and just go with it, and also not compare myself to others.

Kween - To be honest, I don't think you can ever really prepare for something like Drag Race. I think you can walk in with an expectation or an idea, but as you’ve seen, most girls that walk in with a name for themselves get cut off at the knees. I think I was walking in conscious of the reality TV aspect and also knowing that I was going to be seen not necessarily by people that I feel at home with, but more of a commercial industry that I've never really figured out a way to navigate and also felt like I belonged. So from that perspective, I was really interested in taking my time and letting myself just ease into the competition and not rush anything.

Spankie - I knew what to expect. And, you know, you can say to a certain extent I did go on with a plan and I knew that a, I can identify my weaknesses, and b, I knew what my critiques would be. So I came prepared for those and then just kind of waited for the critiques to happen to then do what they asked. It was everything and more than I expected.

What was the biggest surprise for you?

Hannah - I think sometimes with Ru coming through in the walkthrough. We’d sort of be given a guide of what the challenge was and what we needed to get ready, but when Ru comes in, she kind of just turns the challenge on its head and she's like, “No, that's not what I want! I want this!”. And that was evident in the marketing challenge because we all got prepared for selling our hometowns and then Ru came in and she was like, “Nope, I want to know you and your idea of your hometown”. So we had to throw everything away and just go, “Alright, what are we going to do?”. And then I just remember we got told from the production guys, “Don’t listen to her, we’ve got this plan, this is what we're doing, we’re marketing your hometowns so do that”. And then we're like, “Sorry, but the big boss lady pays the bills so we're doing what she wants!”.

Kween - I think, personally, the biggest surprise for me was how I dealt with things. I walked in and I think there was an expectation and everyone was like, “Oh Kween Kong’s here!” and it was like a degree of fear, just because people had a preconceived idea of who I am. I think really quickly people saw how human I am, and what a very flawed human I am. And so I think in terms of the things that I prepared, I let it just go out the window and let myself sort of start from the bottom and really humbly try to keep myself in a place where I was looking at the girls as equals as opposed to feeling like, “I've had way more experience than you and I should be better than this”. I feel like when you get into that sort of narrative for yourself, you just disappoint yourself, and the last thing we need is more disappointment in ourselves.

Spankie - It's hard work. I think doing the previous show (House of Drag), that kind of gave me an insight into what it would be like. It’s not at the same scale, but it definitely prepared me for it. It was all difficult, but we just had a good time and laughed through it. I mean, it went so f**king quick as well.

Drag Race Down Under star Kween Kong.
‘I think the highlight of the season for me, aside from the challenge wins, was being able to represent my community.’ Photo: Stan

What would you say was your highlight in the competition?

Hannah - Snatch Game for sure, that was such a fun day. I did Liza Minnelli and it was so natural, I had the best time and I was making everyone laugh. The next day after we'd done it and we were coming in to get ready for the runway, I actually wanted to leave. I had enough. I don't know what it was, my mental health flared up and I was just feeling down and I was like, “I just can't do this anymore, I want to go”. And it was Spankie and Kween that went, “You need to shut up, you did so well, you need to just get back in the room and you need to get ready and you're not leaving, because no way”. So they saved me.

Kween - I think the highlight of the season for me, aside from the challenge wins, was being able to represent my community. To see a brown face, a person of colour on the screen representing down under drag. Our communities are definitely not as visible and so I was really proud and happy that I could really hold the flag for the people that I represent and also bring some of those important conversations, especially the chat with Hannah around tokenism, around allyship, around how we can move together hand in hand as a society and include everyone and not leave anyone behind.

Spankie - The BAB'Z was definitely a highlight for me, but I think also the makeover challenge was a highlight too. That was such a refreshing day because it just kind of broke it all up and we had new people and they just went balls to the wall and gave it everything they had. I mean, there are too many highlights. The whole thing is a highlight to me, I had such a great time.

Is there anything you would change about your experience if you could do it again?

Hannah - I’d learn how to do makeup on aged skin! I would do that, and I would also bronze my drag baby so she has a little bit of colour in her because I don't know what happened. Oopsie! But I'm very proud of everything I did and I don't think I’d change it at all because I really had a great time. I did say towards the end once I got over that hump that I just want to complete the game, and I got to do everything so I'm really proud of that.

Kween - The thing that I was mostly concerned about was my mental health going through it and trying to not lose myself in the process, and I think we've seen so many examples of queens across all franchises who get so swept up in the competition and don't necessarily know how to bring themselves out of that headspace. So I think moving forward if I was to do it again, I would have a completely different approach and I feel like I would know how to have more fun. There were definitely moments that were fun for me, but a majority of it was just trying to protect myself and not letting people mess me up.

Spankie - I think definitely the outfits, that wasn't an intention. There were timing issues and resource issues, so if there's anything I could change, it would probably be the outfits. But at the same time, I don't really care about what I’m wearing. It's not about fashion, it’s about who I am and what I do when I've got more in the tank than just being a drag queen. I wouldn't change anything because if I changed something I probably wouldn't have ended up in this position.

Drag Race Down Under star Hannah Conda.
‘I'm very proud of everything I did and I don't think I’d change it at all because I really had a great time.’ Photo: Stan

Have you thought about what would happen if you won and how would you spend the $50,000 prize money?

Hannah - For me, it's kind of now about planning what we're going to do next. The top three all had our little girl group, and I think the girl group is going to stay together and we're going to work on touring together. We're very much in the same boat where touring is quite lonely and we want to do it together and be around each other, and that's sort of the goal at the moment and the focus of what we want to do. So stay tuned, the BAB'Z are staying together.

With the money, I’d probably donate some of it, I’d get my car and maybe treat myself and my partner to a little holiday. That would be nice!

Kween - Anything that would happen moving forward if I was to win the crown would be to amplify the voices of the marginalised communities that I represent now. I produce lots of my own shows through the fringe circuits and through massive festivals across the world and so I've got a couple of big things coming for those community members.

Money-wise, I will definitely donate a portion of that into creating new shows, as well as just forwarding the drag. I don't think we've ever seen a Pacific Island queen get this far in any of the competitions, and also across the franchises this year we haven’t seen a queen of colour win yet. So that money, we’ll put it into some community outreach and hopefully see some development through that so that next season we have half the cast POC artists.

Spankie - Looking back at my run now, I think that for me, a win would be a win for the people and a win for the underdog. It kind of says a lot more about the franchise as well that it’s not all that clothes, and that's what I feel like Drag Race has kind of become instead of being about the actual drag queens and their talent - not so much from the show, but from the fandom. It's about clothes now and it's ridiculous, like it's so stupid. I just think that if I won it would just say something that it is possible. You don't have to have the best clothes, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars - which we all did - but I think it also shows you don’t have to be a prick. Be a good c**t!

I want to buy a house and actually be a sensible adult with the money. I know that's not something I would ever have thought I would ever say, but that's exactly what I want to do with it. Put it in the bank and then buy a house at some point because I don't see any other way that that's ever going to happen, so I may as well do it now. I could just spend $50,000 on bloody KFC, but I won't do that.

Drag Race Down Under stars Kween Kong, Hannah Conda and Spankie Jackzon performing as the BAB'Z.
‘Stay tuned, the BAB'Z are staying together.’ Photo: Stan

Would you come back and do it all again if Ru gave you the call for All Stars?

Hannah - If Ru called and said, “Hey babe, you wanna come back?”, I’d do it for her. You can't say no to her! I would absolutely love to come back. I feel like even from the show, I’ve just grown as a person even more so. So to be able to go back and showcase a little bit more, I'm on board.

Kween - Totally, I would definitely love to compete again. Absolutely.

Spankie - I don't feel like I have anything left to prove. The only thing that I feel like I'd have to prove is outfits and have that redemption, but again, that doesn't mean anything to me. It's a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of preparation. If it happened, I’d explore it at the time and it would probably give me a bigger platform as well, which would be nice. So for career progression, yeah, I'd probably do it. But from a personal standpoint, would I want to go through all that again? I've done this twice now, so I feel like I've kind of done it. But I’d still give it a go... I'm not saying no!

Watch the RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under finale Saturday 4pm only on Stan

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