Interviewing a drag queen is overwhelming in a way that interviewing few other celebrities could ever be. Want to be well and truly humbled? Attempt to take a selfie with a drag queen. You may think you are capable of taking a decent selfie. You will soon learn: You are definitely not. Here’s the work of a true pro:
Technically, this was a Vanessa Vanjie Mateo selfie (and we’ll tell you her hot dog opinion someday, but today is not that day). But Gottmik, no doubt, matches Miss Vanjie in expertise. It is very intimidating to a) be near people who are this cool, and b) attempt to look like a normal human in a photo with two M O D E L L E S.
Yet despite the inevitable revelation of one’s own crushing inadequacy, talking to Gottmik is a joyful experience. Some people just brim over with warmth and enthusiasm; every so often, you meet a person and that loveliness is so potent it seems to roll off of them in waves. So it is with Gottmik.
An example: you’d be forgiven for assuming that a face that striking (sorry, “gorge”) might somewhat flabbergast even the most seasoned hot dog journalist, but the RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13 finalist is so damned personable that you bypass both flabbergasted and professional and land somewhere in “uh, wow, can we be friends?” And all in the course of a quick little chat about In The Heights, the Jon M. Chu–directed movie musical that opened to critical acclaim last month. “Love! I loved it,” the trailblazing performer—the first trans man to compete on Drag Race—tells me, as we huddle inside a tiny recreation of the film’s lively hair salon set. “I’m so excited for everyone to get up in this gig with it. It’s going to be everything.”
I was already a musical theatre nerd, but I dare anyone to discuss In The Heights with Gottmik and not come out of it ready to sing and dance a little yourself. It was a delight, as is Gottmik, who very kindly discussed with me the taxonomy re: hot dogs and sandwiches.
The Takeout: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Gottmik: I feel the second that your bun breaks [along the seam], it becomes a sandwich.
The Takeout: So it can change states.
Gottmik: Yes, the fact that it’s connected—Ahhhh! It’s like a taco, if anything!