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BOOKS Ross Mathews drops names, opens hearts in celebrity tell-all
by Tony Peregrin
2020-02-05

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Until recently, the dishy and endearing celebrity stories featured in Name Drop were tales Ross Mathews—a Chelsea Lately alum and current RuPaul's Drag Race judge—only divulged over happy hour.

Name Drop—dedicated to "everyone who never got to sit at the cool kids table in the cafeteria"—spills the tea on some of Hollywood's most iconic celebrities, from Liz Taylor to Lady Gaga.

The Name Drop Tour, which launches in New York City Feb. 4, combines elements of stand-up, game show, and audience Q&A.

"Right now, I'm in L.A. and I am feverishly doing laundry and getting myself prepped to go on this 30-city tour, which is just insane," Mathews told Windy City Times. "I've never done this before in my life, going on this big of a tour. So really, it's about logistics right now: Who's watching the dogs, and when?"

Windy City Times: You write in the prologue that "no celebrity was harmed in the making of this book."

Ross Mathews: But I go there. we tell every story because I am the superfan [who] won the golden ticket and got to go sort of beyond the red carpet and meet these people. And sometimes they blew me away and were better than I ever could have imagined; and sometimes they broke my heart. So, we tell the truth in this book. And it's so funny and it's an emotional rollercoaster—and I think people are going to love it. Not to toot my own toot-er, but toot-toot!

WCT: Were you nervous about spilling some of this hot tea?

RM: No. I wasn't nervous about spilling tea because I don't think anyone's going to read this and have their heart broken, because it's just what happened.

I write about experiences like when I was a co-host on The View with Barbara Walters, and she was not exactly be who I wanted her to be. But then I also write about coming to terms with that and then meeting her so many years later and realizing that she was just doing her job. It was therapeutic for me to write this book because some of the experiences I had been holding onto when people didn't exactly live up to who I wanted them to be—I kind of got to let go of it and forgive them a little bit.

WCT: My favorite story is the one about Lady Gaga and her appearance on RuPaul's Drag Race. Gaga revealed to you on set that she had watched you on TV on the red carpet right before the Golden Globes, where you announced you were excited, in fact, to see Lady Gaga. She let you know that she had been very nervous that night because she didn't feel, as a singer, that she belonged with all of those movie stars at the event—but hearing you say that empowered her to go out there for Ross and all the other Rosses out there.

RM: I never anticipated what would happen when she pulled me aside in front of everybody and told me this story, which I think is the best Lady Gaga story of all time. It really made me realize how human all these people are—the people who I used to cut out of magazines and obsess over, they're just human beings. And I know that sounds so stupid, but to have somebody of her level say that she heard something I said and what it meant to her made me realize the strength of this platform that I'm so lucky to have.

WCT: On Dec. 6, you tweeted a memory of being sent out by Jay Leno 18 years ago to cover the Ocean's 11 premiere, and that David Duchovny, who was at the event, was your first celebrity interview. Looking back, what advice would you have for young-intern Ross?

RM: Well, I would just say trust your gut. I mean, at that point, nobody on the planet thought that I'd be sitting here talking to you and going on a 30-city tour with my second book, 18 years later, but I am. I just knew it in my bones. I had no other skillsets, so there was no other option for me, but I just knew it. Lean into what makes you different. Because I think a lot of people try to change it or avoid it or hide whatever it is, but what makes you different can make your life if you celebrate it and lead with it.

WCT: Does leaning into what makes you different play a part in how you approach dating as well? You've said you've been dating a fair amount and that you're good at it. How so?

RM: I'm confident and I'm inquisitive and kind. I'm imperfect, but I think if you can be those things, I think you'll be fine. I never had this kind of confidence when I was younger. And so it's a different experience to be in the dating world and not being necessarily apologetic for myself or my body or my success or my opinion, to just sort of own it. And you take it or leave it—that's kind of liberating.

WCT: It sounds like you've been dating some legitimate snacks at this point!

RM: I know. Isn't that great? Wonderful people too, really interesting people, kind.

WCT: I want to ask you about Drag Race All Stars 5. Social-media chatter suggests that the details around the new season are being held hostage due to the fandom complaining about Drag Race burnout.

RM: I just heard that doing interviews—I hadn't heard that, it hasn't been on my radar. And, to be quite frank, I don't really pay much mind to it because I think we're making the best show on television. I don't think there's burnout. I'll tell you this: All Stars 5 is great. The way the producers keep it fresh and keep you on your toes is so impressive. And I think when people see All Stars 5, there will be no talk of burnout.

WCT: While we're talking drag, give us an update on your Dragtastic Bubbly Brunch events in Chicago.

RM: Well, I love drag queens and I love brunch—and now we're in 16 cities across the country and in Puerto Vallarta, and this includes Chicago. So, we've taken a couple months off in Chicago and as we're spreading out we want to make sure everything's up to snuff. So, I would imagine we'd be back in Chicago very, very soon.

WCT: What happens when Ross Mathews swans into Sidetrack or Roscoe's? Do people recognize you instantaneously?

RM: They do, but people are nice. I love it. I don't know what I would do if they didn't. I feel like I have friends everywhere I go. Sometimes people will tweet me later: "Oh, my God. I saw you Ross, and I was too scared to come up." That drives me bonkers because [you shouldn't] be scared. If you see me, don't just come say hi—give me a hug. I want to meet everybody, and I mean it.

WCT: A 30-city tour is quite a large undertaking. What is the most outrageous question you've ever been asked by an audience member or fan?

RM: They'll ask me everything from who was the rudest celebrity you've ever met to [if I'm] a top or a bottom.

WCT: And?

RM: You'll have to buy a ticket to the show. I'll see you in Chicago!

Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour is now available. The Name Drop Tour arrives in Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 29; visit AthenaeumTheatre.org .


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