'Drag Race’ star Amanda Tori Meating on her shocking yet poetic exit

Amanda Tori Meating
Amanda Tori Meating

After 16 seasons, you reach a point where you think RuPaul’s Drag Race can’t possibly still shock you. You know the archetypes, the edit cues, and all the challenges. That's not a read; it's a sign of cozy familiarity. Then every once in a while when you get too comfortable, Drag Race says “you wanted a twist eh?” and a sashay you did not see coming smacks you back to reality.

Case in point: Amanda Tori Meating seemed well on her way to a Ru-demption arc. Just five episodes in and this queen was serving drama, comedy, and dance the house down boots talent. Plus, we’d seen so much growth — and a spicy rivalry with Plane Jane. It was as close to narrative armor as you can get in a reality competition series.

And yet, despite seemingly eating the choreography and killing the lyrics, Amanda Tori Meating found herself in the bottom due to some suspicious padding, an ill-timed wig flip, and an admittedly confusing runway look to blame. Still, no one would have faulted you for assuming she would pull it out of the bag with a powerhouse lip-sync performance. And yet Mama Ru asked the fan favorite to sashay away, marking two heartbreaking exits in a row. (Mirage being the previously eliminated queen.)

If you think you were shocked, well... there was someone even more gagged by this queen’s untimely exit, and that would be Amanda Tori Meating herself! PRIDE caught up with the queen to talk about her elimination, the way that it was actually incredibly poetic, plus her highs and lows with her sisters and where she stands with them today.

PRIDE: I have to say I am pretty shocked to be speaking with you today; I felt like you were eating this episode. How are you feeling about everything today?

AMANDA TORI MEATING: It's definitely bittersweet. I've been dreading this day since the day I got eliminated. Leaving the season I wasn't really sure how I was going to be received. I think people could think I'm having a really fun time and just a goofy bitch. But I also think people could be like, 'Oh, she's gutter, she's just bad drag.' So, I was really stressed, kind of preparing myself for that. Then the premiere happened and people were reading the purple makeup. And then week two, I wasn't really there. And then week three people were like, 'Oh, wait a second, she's improving.' And I was like, 'Yay, people are, they're getting it.' So, it kind of felt like there was a second there at the beginning, where I was like, 'Oh, I just want my elimination to like, air already and be out there. So I can, I don't know, not put it behind me but focus more on the next chapter of Amanda Tori Meating. But after these last couple weeks of being her on TV and having people live for me, I'm bummed, too. I'm sad that I will not get to be there next week.

I totally get wanting to get it over with, but you gotta give us time to fall in love with you — and you did, even though I’m sure it can be hard to hold on.

It was! Because I was like, ‘I know these people should be obsessed with me. But all they can talk about is this crunchy makeup!’

I’ll be honest, I had you for the Final Four. I felt a redemption arc coming on!

Rachel, can I tell you something? I had myself for the Final Four, too! I was just as shocked as you.

was the drama of it all — and we’ll get there — but also you had some beautiful sisterhood moments. Can you tell me about a sisterhood moment that was especially meaningful to you?

Oh my god. There's so many of them. I mean, Dawn, we really just clicked very early. Honestly, all the week-one girls within the first day of filming with the week-one girls who were like, ‘Oh, these are the divas in the dolls.’ Like, we love each other. But then Dawn and I really just developed this very special friendship. In Untucked for this episode, I was sitting there and I was like, 'I know I'm gonna have to lip sync. And I was wearing a skirt and no panties. I'm sitting next to Dawn at this table death gripping her hand. She's literally petting me trying to destress me. And I was like, 'Sister, please, can you give me your panties right now? I need them — and she did. She took the black lacy panties off of her own zebra print body and gave them to me.

Dawn and Amanda Tori Meating in Untucked
Dawn and Amanda Tori Meating in Untucked

Courtesy of MTV

Wow, now that is true sisterhood! OK, time for a hard pivot, because not all of your Untucked moments were so positive. We have to talk about Plane Jane. Why do you think that she kept coming for you the way that she did?

I think it's because she thought I was an easy target. I think when we all walked into the Werk Room to meet the week two girls, I think she looked me up and down and made a snap judgment and decided that she could come for me and it would be easy for her to do so. As soon as the first moment happened, I put the two and two together of what she was doing and potentially why, I was like, 'Oh, she has made a grave miscalculation. And she's gonna spend the rest of her life finding out just how grave.'

She thought she was reading but she may have been doing you a little bit of a favor because you got to snatch a whole lot of camera time.

It's crazy because she did think she was reading. She did me a favor, but then she tried to turn around and act like that's what she meant to do the whole time. And I was like, 'No, you are just being rude. And I'm responding to you. And that's getting the camera time.'

Mirage, Plane Jane, Morphine, and Amanda Tori Meating in Untucked
Mirage, Plane Jane, Morphine, and Amanda Tori Meating in Untucked

Courtesy of MTV

Do you think that she meant the things she said? Or do you think she was just trying to make a moment?

I think two things can be true.

I will say, seeing you defend yourself the way you did was actually really inspiring. Where do you think that confidence and the strength to stand up for yourself in the way that you did comes from?

Honestly, I think It comes from feeling like a victim in my life pre-Drag Race. I've had my fair share of bullies and people who talk crazy to me. I've always been a little firecracker. I'm a Sagittarius. But in previous moments in life, where I've had someone talk to me [in a way that was] just rude and disrespectful, I would freeze and stumble over my words not knowing how to respond, and really regret it later. I would always be the girl who two days after an argument would be like, 'Oh, God dammit, this is what I should have said!' The environment of being [in the Werk Room] and having all these cameras on me, and where I was in my personal journey with life, I was like, I will not allow this, I will not allow anyone to get away with talking to me crazy. Say what you want to say, but I'm gonna say what I have to say in response.

Well, I love it and I think it's a great example to show all those queer kids out there watching that they don't have to let anyone talk down to them. Speaking of inspiring, you recently came out as trans and nothing is more inspiring than seeing someone live their authentic life. I think there is something weird about the universe sometimes…

There's something weird about the universe at all times.

[Laughs] Yes, agreed. But you've described leaving Drag Race as being your ‘egg crack moment’ — and you left the competition with an egg crack look, almost like the universe was like ‘OK you’ve done what you came here to do, now fly out of the nest.’ Is that something that occurred to you?

It occurred to me three months ago, sitting in my room. I had been thinking about this trans journey for a while before Drag Race, but I hadn't really reached the point where I was confident enough to say, 'I am trans and transitioning.' Going and doing the show and being there with all the other girls was a big thing that pushed me in that direction to feel confident about it. In the months that followed, I'm realizing things to quote, one of the Jenners I can't remember, it doesn't matter which one [Laughs]. I did a photo shoot for this look and I was like, 'Oh my God, eggs! A trans person before they realize they're trans is called an egg. This is crazy!' When I shot the look, as part of the shoot I took my first estrogen pills, which also happen to be Robin's Egg Blue!

Amanda Tori Meating egg look
Amanda Tori Meating egg look

Courtesy of MTV

See, that’s crazy! And it’s been so nice to see all your sisters supporting you, even Plane Jane! How did that feel and where do you two stand today?

In the months that followed filming, we did not communicate really. For quite a long time, our relationship was only what you see on camera because there was no off-camera, anything. But then in recent weeks, we have connected via iMessage. We have again set some boundaries and defined the relationship. We've exchanged lots of words. I think we've come to a point where we can agree that even if we don't like each other that much, we're certainly not besties, we can still be coworkers and we can still treat each other with respect in the workplace and be mature adults about it. That is definitely something I'm very grateful for.

OK, so let's talk about the episode. Like I said, I thought you were eating, I thought you were top for sure!

I was shocked. Rachel, I thought I was winning the episode. I really was like, 'Oh, this is the moment that I break away from the pack and snatch my first win.'

Me too! Take me back to that moment when you got your critiques and it became clear that this wasn't the way we thought it was going to go.

My heart definitely dropped down into my butthole. It was terrifying. I was standing up there. It was when they said the other group won. That's when I was like, 'Oh, I didn't win? Oh, okay.' And then I'm like listening to the critiques go down the line and I'm like, 'Everybody's getting pretty good critiques except for Q.' Then they got to me, and they weren't good for me either. And then it was who should go home and why? And I was like, 'Oh, my God, like, this is not my win. This might be the day I leave!'

There have been some shocking eliminations, but this one really got me together. But I really feel like this is just the beginning, I can’t wait to see what you do next because I am ready to RSVP to that ‘Amanda Tori Meating’!

I'm ready to welcome you at the meeting with open arms, Rachel.