This post contains spoilers for the April 14 episode of Ru Paul's Drag Race.
Since the very first episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, the show's judges have forced whichever two queens performed worst in that episode's challenge to lip sync for their life. But on tonight's episode, Charlie Hides did not. He just stood there, making weird motions around his crotch area next to last week's winner, Trinity Taylor. Meanwhile, Trinity worked the runway back and forth, whipping her hair around as Charlie floundered. It was sort of like a lip sync seppuku.
According to Charlie, it wasn't that he had no desire to save himself—he told VICE he was sporting an injury that made it hard to move. Still, his fate seemed to have been sealed long before the lip sync even started. Season nine's oldest contestant, Charlie Hides made his name in very new media, by doing celebrity impersonations of people like Cher, Madonna, and Lana Del Rey on his YouTube channel. Sadly, when it came to filming a mock morning show in this episode's challenge, Hides didn't show nearly the poise or comedic timing he did in his homegrown videos, leading the contestants and judges to say he was "too controlling." And for that, he was sent packing.
VICE: My biggest question for you is, why didn't you lip sync for your life?
Charlie Hides: Because I had never heard the song before [Britney Spears's "I Wanna Go"], I didn't know the words, and I had a cracked rib. But I thought I could still offer authentic 2007-era Spears, because I was dressed like a slut, I was dead behind the eyes, and I lip sync terribly.
How did you crack your rib?
It happened during the cheerleading episode. I had already cracked it twice before in the past. During rehearsals in that episode, I had to lift Shea—who, by the way, is half my age—not once, not twice, not 10 times, but 30 or 40 times. As I was lifting him up, I just felt this sharp knife to my rib and I knew what it was—me cracking an old injury. If you saw me in the Untucked aftershow after last week's episode, I'm practically catatonic, because I was corseted and I was in agony. But I looked fabulous.
I'm surprised we didn't hear more about that! It seems like it would be good drama for the show.
I did get asked about it on the runway while I was in my lingerie. I told them that I was duct-taped up rather than corseted. Obviously we filmed for 16 hours and only 20 or 40 minutes make it into the show. And I think they're actually afraid of having a lawsuit from AARP.
So who was screaming "Go Charlie!" in the background while you were lip-syncing on this episode?
Beats me. It's all a blur... all a blur.
You didn't hear that while you were performing?
No. In my head, I knew that I didn't know the words, and that Trinity was a fabulous performer. There was a side to me that just wanted to sit down at that point and enjoy her performance because I knew that there wasn't a chance in hell I would win without knowing the words. My knees were killing me because I was wearing those damn 9-inch heels. So I really just couldn't move. There was a side of me that just thought, "Watch the show! Enjoy it." I didn't have as much drive as someone like Trinity or Shea. And I wasn't as hungry for it as Eureka. Then again, nobody is as hungry as Eureka.
How do you feel about your performance now, looking back?
It was epically bad. But I knew I looked amazing. Throughout the show, every time I was on the runway, I looked amazing. I don't lip sync, I've never lip synced. I've lip synced twice in my life, and those times were to get on Drag Race. I'm a live performer. I sing live. I knew the words to, say, "Holding Out For a Hero" or B-52's "Love Shack" because I bought that record on vinyl. So it's kind of luck of the draw. If I had gotten "Love Shack," I would have at least gotten the lip sync, but I still wouldn't have been able to move.
Did you think about practicing lip syncing before going into the competition?
Well, you have to know what the songs are going to be. My strategy was to not lip sync.
We heard you say on the show, "Well, most performers in the UK don't lip sync." It seemed like a dig on the other girls and the tradition of lip-syncing in general.
No, not at all! It's just a cultural difference—I'm not saying one is better than the other. But 99 percent of girls in the UK do sing live. Also, we don't get tipped over here. There's no tipping, and Americans tip.
That's so European to not tip.
You mentioned that you knew some of the older songs, but not Britney Spears. You talked about a lawsuit from AARP. How do you think the age gap between you and the other queens affected your performance?
It's called Drag Race, and I knew the "drag" bit I could do, and do it very well, because I slayed the runway every single time. But the "race" bit—I was surprised how exhausting it could be. I arrived jet-lagged, then started doing these 19-hour days, day after day. I had trouble getting my mouth and my brain to work sometimes because I was just so tired. I think the younger kids had more stamina and energy to do 19 hours then get up and do it all again on two hours' sleep.
I think you did have the benefit of experience. As you said, you've been doing drag a long time, but drag has changed a lot in the past few years, mostly thanks to people watching RuPaul's Drag Race and responding to it. How do you think drag is different in this post-RuPaul world?
The queens are a lot more polished. There's girls like Farrah Moan and Aja, who are Instagram-famous, who look absolutely amazing and can have huge followings just because they look amazing. Also, because of Drag Race, there are tons of tutorials on how to achieve those looks on YouTube. So young kids can practice in their bedroom and be really phenomenal at makeup really quickly. When I was coming up, we had to learn it from the old showgirls.
You have a fairly large YouTube presence with your celebrity impersonations. Are you upset you didn't make it to the Snatch Game episode?
I'm hugely disappointed, yes, of course. I would have come alive—that's where I would have been able to show what I've got.
Is there anything you would have done differently on the show?
I would have brought sleeping pills. I just did not expect to be so jet-lagged and tired. I would get back to the hotel after a 19-hour day, and you'd think I'd just pass out, but my brain was buzzing and the adrenaline was running through me. So much had happened. Then I'd nod off, and twenty minutes later my alarm would go off. That's fine if you're doing that once or twice, but it was day after day after day.
Who of the remaining queens do you think has what it takes to go all the way?
Alexis. Surprisingly Trinity, because that girl has fire in her belly. And Sasha. I think it's between them.
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