Brooke Lynn Hytes’ run on RuPaul's Drag Race was exemplary and her looks unclockable, so many fans were dumbstruck when the 32-year-old Torontonian didn’t take home the crown in the season 11 finale on Thursday night, losing out to the season’s firestarter, Yvie Oddly.
Brooke Lynn was the ice to Yvie’s fire -- cool, calm and collected, as she was taught from a young age in her extensive dance training. Season 11 served as a dazzling portfolio of Brooke Lynne’s abilities, winning challenge after challenge. When she didn’t, she’d slay lip syncs so hard they’d go down in herstory.
Thursday night was no different. First, Brooke Lynn went head-to-head with Silky Nutmeg Ganache, where the queen’s ballet-flat reveal and incredible dance moves helped her reach success. In the finals, however, Brooke Lynn’s excited performance -- in a garment that literally spelled “REVEAL” under a brilliant bodysuit -- couldn’t match Yvie Oddly’s back-breaking display, which ultimately won Mama Ru over.
Billboard spoke with Canada’s inaugural Ru girl the day after the crowning to discuss what gave Yvie the edge in the final lip sync, being likable and if "Feminem" will ever make a return to music.
Now that you’ve been able to watch the finale performances, what do you think gave Yvie the edge in the final lip sync?
I don’t know, I think that her costume was very cool and she had a very different approach to it than I did. It was very close – it was a tough call. I think I did a great job too, so I don’t think she was the obvious winner. I think it all came down to Ru’s personal preference. Yvie did a great job and has always been a very worthy opponent.
What was your proudest moment on the show? You’ve had so many.
My favorite episode would of the season would be Snatch Game. It was the best episode of me because you saw me at my worst and then you saw me at my best. That was my biggest high.
A big, though oft-ignored, accomplishment on the show is avoiding being unlikable -- something you did exceptionally well. Was there ever a time you experienced venom from fans?
Toward the end, at the reunion, people seemed to not like me. Particularly the conversation I had with Scarlet about me not liking her on the show. I mean, I was just being honest about my feelings. I love Scarlet. I think she’s great. But in the moment, when we were filming a year ago, I didn’t like her. I didn’t care for her. And then people took that as if I’m a mean person and hateful to her -- blah, blah, blah.
We’ve talked about that a million times before and I had apologized. If people are drawn to and like somebody and you even look at them the wrong way, that’s it. You are a horrible person. I think that’s the only negativity I had experienced on the show, but I know me and Scarlet are good and that’s all I really care about. Haters are going to hate to matter what you do. There’s always going to be something, but you just have to laugh it off.
Tell us about the decision to wear a garment that literally spelled “REVEAL.” Fans went nuts over it.
Well, my first lip sync had that really cool shoe reveal, so I was like, "OK, I have one amazing, really unique reveal -- so what else can I do?" Then I was thinking about it and everything else had already been done.
Nine times out of 10, you know when somebody is coming out and whether they’re going to do a reveal. It’s so obvious, so I thought: Why not have a laugh at that? I remember after last year’s season, people were like, "We never want to see another reveal ever again." So I figured I’m just going to have fun with this. I’m going to come out in a giant coat that is very clearly a reveal. It’s a very high-stakes moment, and if you are able to have some fun with it and make it a little bit lighter for everyone involved, why not? I’m glad people liked it! [Laughs]
It went over very well. The bar hit octaves that could’ve shattered glass. Was there any intention to put an end to lip-sync reveals by being overtly obvious and literal about it?
No, not at all. It was literally just me trying to be funny and have a laugh. I do think you shouldn’t rely on a reveal in a lip sync, though. I think you should be able to stand onstage, in costume, and deliver a winning, jaw-dropping performance.
People are already anticipating your return to a future season of All Stars. Any interest?
That’s like asking a pregnant woman if she wants to have another baby. [Laughs] But yes, of course. Not for a couple of years, though. I need a break and I really want to ride this wave. But I would definitely do it -- why not? I had a great experience the first time. What could possibly go wrong!
How many times had you applied for the show before being chosen? And how did your Canadian citizenship hinder your chances? What extra steps had to be taken?
I applied three times. First, I had to get a green card. Being a Canadian, you just can’t apply for the show. You have to be a resident of the United States and be able to work in the States legally. So that was my whole hurdle I had to jump over. That’s one of the main reasons I moved down to Nashville, where I was sponsored for a work Visa and I was able to apply for a green card. This has been in the making for a decade, but the actual process of getting to the States has been a five-year journey.
Did you feel a lot of pressure being the first Canadian ever on the series?
It was a little bit of pressure. It wasn’t too much, honestly. I was more excited. All my Canadian sisters, friends, everyone was so excited and proud. That was the coolest part. I knew I was going to represent Canada well because I know myself and I know my drag and I knew I was going to bring something good to the table. So there wasn’t a super large amount of stress, but I definitely felt it a little bit more at the beginning because I didn’t want to be sent home early.
I think the easiest way to say it is: I didn’t feel pressure from anybody else, but I definitely felt pressure from myself. I was like: you have to do the best. You have to be the best. You can’t let everyone down. It was never coming from anywhere but me.
You came into the season very polished. What did you learn most about yourself throughout the competition.
I’m a pageant girl, so whenever I hear the word ‘competition’ I automatically think of a pageant and pageants always have to be perfect and prim and proper and correct. And that’s just not the case in the Drag Race world. You’ve got to be messy. They want you to be messy. They want to see that side of you. They want the ups and downs. They want you to be funny and not perfect all the time. So I think what I learned about myself was that it was OK to let go and not be Miss Perfect all the time.
What’s next for Brooke Lynn Hytes?
Porn! [Laughs] I have a couple projects in the works, which are hush-hush right now and I can’t talk about it because of contracts. I’m touring non-stop for the next year, travelling all over the world. I’m going to work on writing my one-woman show and hopefully get that together by next summer. I would love to do some modelling and runway stuff.
I’m going to release my solo rap album, you know.
I was going to ask! Will Feminem be making a return to music?
Were you!?I don’t know. I mean, I’m not a musician. I’m not a singer. I just think that would be a waste of money. I might do one song for fun, for shits and giggles. But apparently there is already a drag queen named Feminem. I met her at DragCon and she was like, "MY name is Feminem!" and I was like, "OK, sorry I didn’t research the name before I said it on RuPaul’s Drag Race." She was not too pleased, but then was like, "Well, if you ever want to do a song together…" and I was like, "Uh, no. I’m good."
So I think Feminem might be taken, unfortunately. But we’ll see. One thing I’ve learned in life is never say never. You should keep yourself open to every opportunity and every possibility. So that’s what I’m doing.