'The Bitch Who Stole Christmas': Peppermint On VH1's Drag Holiday Film, Honoring Black Queer Icons And If It's Fashion
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Interviews , Television

'The Bitch Who Stole Christmas': Peppermint On VH1's Drag Holiday Film, Honoring Black Queer Icons And If It's Fashion

VH1 and World of Wonder are getting in the holiday season with the new TV movie The Bitch Who Stole Christmas. The film stars RuPaul and 20 RuPaul's Drag Race legends, including Peppermint, who plays Beaeep, a taxi driver who's bad at her job but great at putting on a show with her fellow ragtag group of eclectic locals, Hazel DeLashes (Ginger Minj), Kitty Meow (Brooke Lynn Hytes) and Jane McBeige (Jan).

Peppermint told Shadow and Act how happy she is to have worked on the film with her fellow Drag Race family.

"I've always wanted to be in a Christmas movie. So many people ask me, 'Peppermint, when are you going to be on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, and obviously I don't have any answer to that, but I figured the next best thing was doing something with World of Wonder, which obviously is known for creating RuPaul's Drag Race," she said. "It's such a huge show now--it's a great opportunity for people who are fans of Drag Race the show to be able to see the queens doing something different. And obviously we have a stellar cast, legendary Ana Marie Horsford, Krista Rodriguez, Andy Ridings (check). But the real draw are the drag queens, of course, RuPaul and the 20 legendary Queens that are in the show."

"I play Beaeep, a taxi driver, a very bad taxi driver. And it was really good to be a part of that crew that was in the hometown of Tuckahoe. The four girls and myself--Brook Lynn Heights, Ginger Minj, Jan, and Krista Rodriguez, we just became very close on set. We commiserated over the same things and the hustle and bustle of film life. We had the chance to really grow really close to one another," she continued. "We would finish filming very early in the morning. We work all night and then be finished around six or seven in the morning. And that was perfect time for the restaurant to open up. So we would go and get breakfast every morning, just the five of us go to get breakfast every morning. It became a really nice breakfast tradition. And so that those are some of the special moments I will, but always cherish on the film."

She also talked about what it was like to work with sitcom legend Ana Horsford, who plays the hilarious Mayor Coout. Horsford and Peppermint were both part of FX's groundbreaking series Pose, and Peppermint said that they both connected about their experiences on the show while on the Bitch set.

"I mean, it was a dream. I never imagined in a million years that as a little kid growing up and watching Amen and really loving her character," said Peppermint about working with Horsford. "There's something about her, especially in the eighties, you know, there was something about her that is endearing and there's something's so sweet and genuine and warm that seems to come through through the screen."

"When I got to see her in person, I actually had no idea that she would be in the show," she continued. "I ran into her in the parking lot and was like 'What are you doing here?' And then I realized that she was in the film and I nearly did a back flip. Then the super-fan came out and I was able to gush and, and sort of goad on her about how honored I was to be working with someone who has such consistent television experience and work and her contribution throughout the years."

Peppermint said Horsford was fun on set, calling her a "card."

"She's just extremely fun and lively and quite silly--of course that might be attributed to the fact that we were filming into the late night, wee hours. But it was brilliant. It was wonderful," she said. "And she was extremely humble, very approachable, very generous with her energy, and so funny, that's the best way to put it. I only have a few scenes with her, but in every one of them either she was making us laugh or we were making her laugh and then we were all laughing."

Pose star Billy Porter and Pose creator/write Steven Canals have both talked about how Horsford and other Black TV icons influenced them growing up, and Peppermint also explained how these TV icons have garnered so much love for the queer community.

"I wish I could say that there were transgender and even queer icons that I heard of, that I was able to look up to and use an example coming up. And obviously that was very lacking, that it's still very lacking per day, although it is getting better [but] I think GLAAD tells that, I think in film, there were zero trans characters introduced on in any mainstream film last year," she said. "…However, in place of that, there were so many actors who have now turned into icons and, you know, it's certainly no surprise or secret that queer folks definitely gay men and certainly trans women separately can find strength in a strong black woman on camera and in film and on television. So seeing Anna Horsford and seeing Regina King and pretty much the whole cast of Amen and 227, and [seeing other] sitcoms and television shows [helps because] TV can really be more cutting edge some times and introduce characters and storylines that Hollywood is too shy about putting on film."

"In place of these trans actors and actresses or openly gay actors or characters who are good representations for the community, we do get these incons that can be personally inspiring," she continued. "People ask me all the time who are some of my queer icons from my childhood, and I didn't have a Laverne Cox to look up. It was people like Prince. Prince to me is a queer icon because of his bucking the rules and going against gender norms. I'm not saying Prince is queer or gay, I'm saying the Prince is an icon for people like me. And Ana in her own way presented a lot of [questioning of the norms] and of course a lot of the fabulous ladies who were in Billy's family on that episode of Pose."

Peppermint said the film is a wonderful moment to uplift the Black artists that helped inspire generations of Black viewers.

"This is a great opportunity to go back and hold up and give flowers to these people that I'm calling legends because I do think in the Black community we had a different perception of what was going on in Hollywood than the rest of the country and maybe even the world," she said. "I don't know a lot of people that watched Amen or 227 or Marsha Warfield on Night Court. I'm not saying that these shows weren't hits, but I knew all my Black friends watched it, and there are so many people that I know that might have had the chance to watch that who now watch it…so now we're having the opportunity to sort of reintroduce these wonderful people to the rest of the world, whether they're watching Pose or The Bitch Who Stole Christmas."

Even though Horsford and other actresses have opened doors for the queer community, Peppermint also hopes that Hollywood will take on its repsonsiblity to advance queer representation in its media. While Peppermint might be one of the most visible trans women in American pop culture, she wants all trans people and queer people as a whole to be able to see themselves on television and in film.

"I hope that Hollywood hires more queer people, more black people, more minorities to positions of power so that they can not only be thought of as the special hire for the Black film or the Black TV show, but can be brought in to work on all types of projects on all types of projects all the time," she said. "And it would be wonderful if we didn't have to separate LGBTQ folks from the Black experience because as we've seen with certain comedy specials that have been coming out, there has been an effort to separate talking about transgender people [from Blackness]. [To some], transgender people must be white and rich and Black people are never gay, or queer or trans."

"I am a black trans woman. I've been that since the day I was born and I'll die a black trans woman. And I have been on Broadway and I've been on television and I've been in movies and I work with, uh, legislation to make sure that people are safe and protected. I walked from marriage equality. I marched for black lives matter. And my, my contribution to this world is, is something that is undying, but it has gone unnoticed," she said. "And so I hope that people will understand that we've always been here and that we are more than just your hairdressers and people who are just [someone to] give you a funny joke. Queer people have been here historically since the first group of people would ever around. And we certainly been around all of Hollywood, but our stories have never have not historically been told by us. And when it's told about us, they're told by people who don't know anything about us and are played by people who don't know anything about us. So you get an inaccuracy just like it wouldn't be proper to write Crazy Rich Asians with no Asian people, you know? It just wouldn't make sense. And so it's really important to give opportunities, but let's not only hire, let's say Asian people when we're doing Crazy Rich Asians, or a Crazy Rich Asians 2. Let's hire them everywhere at every opportunity that we can. And so I take that same approach."

"Of course, race and gender and sexuality are not the same thing, but they can be intertwined. My culture as a Black woman is very, it might not be the exact same as every other Black woman who's cis, but certainly in line with other Black folks," she continued. "My experiences and my childhood and growing up and the things that I did and the TV shows that we watched and people, we looked up to--a lot of that is the same. And I'm so happy to be able to celebrate people like Ana Horsford, and even And RuPaul, who is an icon whose been around as a trailblazer for 30 years or more. It's great to be able to do that, but there are so many more of us who are waiting for our opportunity to be recognized. And so I'm grateful for this interview."

Of course, if you're a fan of Peppermint, then you are well aware of her famous phrase "Is it fashion?" which became viral after an episode of The Pit Stop with Bob the Drag Queen. As far as Beep's outfits in the film, did she rate them as fashion?

"They were all mostly my own clothes. So no, I would say no, it's not fashion," she laughed.

You can judge for yourself while watching The Bitch Who Stole Christmas, which airs Dec. 2 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on VH1.

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