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DRAG Detox: Making it 'Werq'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Matthew Sanderson performs in drag and makes music as Detox Icunt. After taking over the drag scene in California, Detox appeared in music videos for Kesha and Rihanna while playing in the band Tranzkuntinental and joining the trio DWV with Willam Belli and Vicky Vox.

In 2012, Detox competed on the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race and finished in fourth place. Detox followed that by being runner up on the second season of RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race.

This year has been big for Detox with an appearance in the Lizzo music video "Juice" and was one of 37 queens on the cover of New York Magazine. Detox joins the Werq the World tour this month to meet fans around the world and be filmed for a docuseries for World of Wonder.

Windy City Times: Are you originally from California?

Detox: I'm originally from Florida. I lived in California for 10 years.

WCT: What prompted your move to Chicago?

Detox: Mainly getting older, and it was time to settle down. Property value here was so much cheaper than out in California. My whole family lives in the area now. None of us are from here, but my sister moved up here about nine years ago. Slowly everyone started following her.

I was visiting a few years ago and had a crazy night out at Berlin Nightclub. I was at my sister's house and when I was super hungover she coerced me into looking at the house across from her. I placed a bid on the house and I wasn't expecting them to accept it. They did! [Laughs]

WCT: It's nice to have you in town. If you could change one thing about the Chicago drag scene, what would it be?

Detox: I don't know because I really love the drag scene here. It's so eclectic. You can go anywhere in Chicago and see some kind of drag show from all walks of life. You have the legendary Baton and Jackhammer, with a fun late night show. There are so many really rad performance artists. What about you?

WCT: Well, I'm no drag expert, but I am wondering why there are supposedly no Chicago drag contestants on the upcoming RuPaul's Drag Race Season. Does local drag need to step up its game?

Detox: I don't know if they necessarily need to step up their game or it is Ru's Drag Race having a certain criteria of what they need filled per season. It has gotten to be more of an entertainment show than it is a competition nowadays. They have a demographic they need to fill with certain characters per season.

WCT: They haven't had drag kings on there yet.

Detox: They are still really behind on letting trans performers on the show, so they have a lot of work to do. I hope that they start moving that rich direction because ultimately when it comes down to it, the fans see through it. They are wanting more from the show as well.

It's frustrating being part of the franchise and being very vocal about them being more inclusive with the people in the cast. It seems to fall on deaf ears when it comes to the producers.

For anyone reading this interview, please know that the majority of us from the franchise are with you and have your back. You are not lost in the translation.

WCT: How do you identify currently and what pronouns do you use?

Detox: I am super fluid. People my life have always referred to me as "she." I've been doing drag for almost 20 years. Everyone refers to me as "De" or "Detox." Not many people, but my family, refer to me as my given name, which is Matthew. I go with the flow. You can call me whatever!

For most of my life I identified as gay. I am definitely queer. I recently started dating someone who is transitioning and that's a first for me. I'm just a lover, really.

WCT: Will there be more from the group DWV?

Detox: I would never say never. We have been having this conversation a lot recently. I feel like we are all nostalgic for it since it was fun when it was fun, but bad when it was bad. Willam, Vicky and I have talked separately. I think there will be some sort of reunion, but it will just have to be the right time and honestly, the right amount of money!

WCT: How was being in the Lizzo video for "Juice?"

Detox: We weren't really all together. We were filming video for Werq the World and they just asked me to hold a grapefruit and sing the song. Next thing I know I'm part of the video. I texted the producer later that, "I am all for participating, but you need to be more transparent with your intentions." They had only told me it was for some behind the scenes content.

When I found out it was an actual music video for Lizzo I thought it was really cool.

WCT: What can you tell fans about the Werq the World tour?

Detox: It is like no show they have ever seen before with this scale of touring drag performers. It is very impressive and massive for a tour like this. It's kind of like a Vegas show. There are sets, lights, videos, sound and costumes. We have amazing dancers and they work their asses off. They are in every single number throughout the whole night.

It's very exciting and entertaining. I would like to go see it. I have yet to go see one!

WCT: Is there one queen on the tour you would like to know more?

Detox: We have a bunch of new girls coming on this tour. I don't join until October. My first show is The Chicago Theatre. Right now it's a rotating cast. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Plastique Tiara and Yvie Oddly are the new girls that are on the first leg of North America. I have worked a bunch with Vanjie, but I am excited to get to know Plastique and Yvie.

WCT: Michelle Visage is on the tour?

Detox: I believe she is joining part of it. I know she is filming Strictly Come Dancing in the UK right now. We always try to lock Michelle in, but something always comes up with filming schedules.

WCT: Is there a song you are tired of performing?

Detox: I always think I can't do the "Mannequin" number one more time, then I have to do it. I have been doing a lot of older music.

I got into YouTube videos with Monica Monroe, who was a former Miss Continental. It brought me back to my ol' school Florida roots where I was growing up with a bunch of trans performers.

WCT: You are going back to your roots! Is there one thing that people who attend drag shows do that bugs you?

Detox: As long as people are respectful, pay attention and mind their manners, I think they are fine. Don't try to become part of the show. Don't be aggressive and don't touch our hair or faces. My job is to have fun and make sure people are having a great night.

WCT: What are you working on next?

Detox: Right now I am renovating my house. I started filming a lot of that, so I can hopefully have a home improvement show out of it. I have been touring for the last seven years so I want to stay home for a while and finish some projects!

RuPaul's Drag Race: Werq The World Tour 2019 takes over The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m.

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