Ladies and gentlemen, the library is open. If you've ever wanted a chance to read notorious drag queen Willam Belli, your opportunity has arrived—literally—in the form of Belli's new book, Suck Less: Where There's a Willam, There's A Way, out today on Grand Central Publishing. It's a deranged quasi-self-help tome that doles out advice on how to become a "hairless creature of god," "ways to make your dick look bigger," and "fucking shit up on reality shows for your benefit."
The latter is something with which Belli has intimate experience, as the only queen to become famous from RuPaul's Drag Race not for winning, but for being mysteriously disqualified from its fourth season after breaking various show rules. (To this day, Belli refuses to say exactly what those rules were.) The ensuing drama was enough to secure Belli a permanent, if unofficial, spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, along with legions of devoted followers.
But Belli has proven he's more than just a flamboyant flash in the Drag Race pan in the years since his appearance—the versatile queen is also a genuinely talented actor, with roles in Nip/Tuck, Southland, American Wedding, and Because I Said So. His popular YouTube channel is a comedy goldmine, spawning viral hits like the Alicia Keys parody "Boy Is A Bottom." He's modeled for American Apparel, performed around the world—and now, he adds a brilliantly twisted book to his list of drag-ccomplishments.
We caught up with Belli and dished with the queen's queen about his new book, his passion for drag, and why his "flower continues to blossom like a Bloomin' Onion from Outback Steakhouse."
VICE: Congrats on your book, gurl! Why did you choose to write a book, and why now?
Willam Belli: I've been friends with Neil [Patrick Harris] for a while, and when he was gearing up for [the Broadway revival of] Hedwig and the Angry Inch, he wanted to learn about the ins & outs of drag a bit. In helping out a friend, I figured out that some people might care about some of the shit I know. So why not write it down, along with 19 typos (I'm a drag queen, not a scientist).
How are you uniquely qualified, as a drag queen, to help people "Suck Less"?
Listen—by the time I'm 40, I'm either gonna be super famous or dead. I have a fuckload of fun and waste no time on covering all the bases in my book: topics like getting outta DUI's, piercings, makeup, taking your clothes off for money, and especially fucking shit up on reality shows for your benefit.
In your book, you touch on your infamous Drag Race disqualification. Looking back on that season of Drag Race, would you do things differently now? Or are you glad things went down like they did?
Breaking rules was always in the plan for me. I never planned to stay past a certain point because I had a show to do in NYC at Fringe Fest. At the time, I was still attempting the acting thing. Now I just make a living being myself. So, short answer—no. I wouldn't change shit.
Was it hard to translate your personal brand of humor into a bona fide book? What do you think is the most revealing part of the book, in terms of your personal life?
I recorded tons of it into my phone and just transcribed it after. It's how my editor told me I could capture my "voice" in print. The most revealing part was talking about how I used to be an underage prostitute in a Dave & Buster's parking lot. I wish I was lying about that, to a degree.
What was your favorite part of this to write?
The quiz about reality shows, because I can't get sued for asking a question, now can I? I don't blatantly say what I did on RuPaul's Drag Race half a decade ago [to get disqualified], but I allow the reader to read between the lines for sure.
Why do you personally do drag?
A lot of people in my field complain about the travel, or bemoan things like "I hafta be in drag six outta seven days this week," and I wanna donkey punch them. It's like, "No, bitch—you don't HAFTA be in drag six days. You GET TO BE in drag six days." Our jobs are amazing. We make people happy. I'm incredibly fucking blessed that people care. I don't know how to do anything else and lack any skill that would be applicable on a résumé. Drag is what I know. The gigs are my life.
It seems like there are more drag queens that ever these days. How have you managed to stay relevant?
Creating content and never being afraid to try something new have been my two hallmarks. I'm lucky to not have to worry if World of Wonder or Logo will like what I'm doing or not. I just do my own thing, and my flower continues to blossom like one of those delicious Bloomin' Onions from Outback Steakhouse.
What are you looking forward to most about your upcoming book tour?