Trixie Mattel is expanding her pink empire by mixing paint, business with pleasure, and — most importantly — vibes on her new TV venture, and EW has an exclusive sneak peek at the process.
Switch “f— my p—y with a rake, mom” with “hit my wall with a sledgehammer, dad,” and you have the general foundation for the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner, cosmetics mogul, and New York Times best-selling author‘s new Trixie Motel renovation docuseries chronicling her newest venture as she transforms a Palm Springs mini-resort into the queer destination of her dreams.
“I’m a drag queen. This motel is the ultimate stunt that no other drag queen or other celebrity would even attempt because it’s psycho. It’s psychotic to do this,” Trixie exclusively tells EW. But, like the exhibitionist of excellence that she is, she and her longtime partner, David Silver, decided to go public with their $2 million investment in the form of a Discovery+ reality TV show co-produced by Property Brothers stars Drew and Jonathan Scott, which sees the group making over all seven rooms of the dilapidated Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn with help from project manager David Rios, interior designer Dani Dazey, and scores of superstar helpers.
Discovery+ Trixie Mattel says her life is one big ‘Pretty Woman moment’ on ‘Trixie Motel’
The Trixie Motel property itself is exactly the kind of Cali-chic, retro-tinged, dipped-in-pink destination you’d imagine the Drag Race All Stars 3 champion would concoct: Feather chandeliers, avocado-on-pastel glass windows, flamingo lamps, all mixing together to create a space fit for the human-sized doll at the center of the Trixie fantasy. But the process of getting there is at the heart of the show, with the cameras capturing the drag icon as she preps the space like a queen getting ready for a gig: hammering at drywall (while wearing a full face, heels, and wig), shopping for décor with hospitality legend Lisa Vanderpump, and, of course, putting as much strain on her love life as is appropriate when millions of investment dollars are on the line.
She’ll have a host of celebrities — whom she describes as people she “tricked” into doing “free labor” — to assist as the motel’s rooms come together, including Lisa Vanderpump, Iggy Azalea, Zooey Deschanel, Katya, Mo Heart, Jaida Essence Hall, Nicole Byer, Jonathan Scott, Leslie Jordan, Jonathan Bennett, Juno Birch, Brittany Broski, Gigi Gorgeous, Emily Hampshire, Orville Peck, The Old Gays, Very Gay Paint’s Nic Scheppard and Jenson Titus, and Belinda Carlisle.
If it all goes right, the Trixie Motel brand could expand around the country.
“David and I would love to open a drag club in Palm Springs. I’d love to open other motels and have those Trixie Motels reflect wherever they are. They’d match the vibe. The Trixie Motel Palm Springs is very California, very desert, so maybe one in Nashville that’s a little more yee-haw that’s aimed at bachelorettes, or one in Florida that’s like a true vacation bungalow. Or maybe a Trixie Campground where drag queens are camp counselors with clip boards and whistles, and it’s adult gay men in camper uniforms playing touch football and s—,” she says.
“For Trixie, it makes a lot of sense. Trixie at her heart is a parody of American capitalism,” the entertainer explains. “So it’s like, come live in this world, and we’ll put a hold on your card while you’re here.”
Fans can check in to Trixie Motel for an experience of their own when the series premieres June 3 on Discovery+. Watch EW’s exclusive sneak peek, see more first-look images, and read our full Q&A with Trixie below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Madame, don’t you have a motel to be running? Who’s looking after the children at the motel while you’re on tour with Katya?
TRIXIE MATTEL: My partner is there right now. It’s not just a renovation; it’s also a business. Finishing the renovation when we were filming, it’s like, okay, now we have to set up a business, a POS system, hire people, it’s quite an endeavor. We’re business partners in this … He knows that the best thing for the business is for me to be out working.
Episode 1 is so fantastic, I …
Can you believe that [room] reveal? I think everybody’s drag is valid, everybody’s décor is valid. We f—ing ate, and that was one room. We showed the girls what they should’ve f—ing did. I love renovation, but painting rooms white and adding vases ain’t s— to me. We’ve snapped on these rooms.
If drag was a room, it would be the room on episode 1. This project is interesting because it’s so different for you. How did you get the idea not only to buy this motel with David, but to turn it into a show?
I’m Native American, and we lay our ear to the ground and listen to the bison. I feel like in business that’s what I’m always doing … My partner and I were watching A Very Brady Renovation during COVID, and we had a joke about a “Trixie Motel” because of the play on the words. Then we were like, what if we actually did? We looked at residential properties, and found this one…. It’s the only commercial space I even looked at it. RuPaul says that the universe gives you stage direction, and it was waiting for us. We thought of the motel business together, and he was the one who said we should make it a TV show. I was already talking to the Scott brothers about another production, and I said, “Well, I have this other idea,” and they hit the roof. They were like, “If you close on that property, let us know because we want to make that show.” Cross-dressing is a job that’s not supposed to afford you anything. You’re not even supposed to have a car. I was lucky if the gig gave me a drink ticket. It’s crazy to be in a position after touring and saving my money to be able to purchase this business.
Discovery+ Trixie Mattel and Zooey Deschanel get to work on ‘Trixie Motel’
You also can’t pass up an opportunity to include scenes of you in full drag going at a wall with a sledgehammer. What’s harder — construction, drag, or both at the same time?
Oh, drag is the hardest for sure. Demolition is fun. Breaking things, smashing things, and this motel — spoiler alert — it’s not show-ready. It’s not in drag. It looks horrible to start. But, what I found the most difficult about renovation was time, and everything costs more than what you want it to cost. To purchase a $2 million property and then start renovating, it puts some strain on the pockets which puts strain on your relationships. Most people who do this, this is their one job, so in the series you see me balancing my cosmetics company, going out into the country to do gigs, I have other businesses to tend to. It turned a juggling act into juggling chainsaws.
You stress a few times in the first episode that this is “for real” and not made-up — it reminds me of what you told me when I interviewed you on tour, about how a lot of the time drag queens aren’t taken as seriously as businesspeople. Did you have experiences at the start with investors or businesspeople in this industry that didn’t take you or this motel seriously at first?
My life is one long Pretty Woman moment. Today I was at a guitar store in Dublin picking up a plug and I was like, “Can I have a professional discount?” and they were like, “For who?” and I was like, “I sold out the venue down the street.” All of my businesses have grown slowly. I guess it feels fast, but it wasn’t that long ago that I was traveling the world by myself with my suitcase doing club gigs. Everything I’ve done has grown from a small seed. You have to let the quality of the work speak for itself, because that’s something nobody can really say anything about. With this motel, it’s ovah. It’s so incredible. Nobody will walk through this place and compare it to anything that’s ever existed. Sleeping in these rooms, it’s like going to sleep in an art installation. It makes every other hotel look like four walls and a bed. If a drag queen owns it, you can’t exactly make it the Kimpton. You need to go bigger.
Discovery+ Leslie Jordan and Trixie Mattel cozy up to the ‘Trixie Motel’
Have you envisioned any serious ambitions beyond Trixie Motel or the bar that you own in Milwaukee, to turn this into a chain?
David and I would love to open a drag club in Palm Springs. I’d love to open other motels and have those Trixie Motels reflect wherever they are. They’d match the vibe. The Trixie Motel Palm Springs is very California, very desert, so maybe one in Nashville that’s a little more yee-haw that’s aimed at bachelorettes, or one in Florida that’s like a true vacation bungalow. Or maybe a Trixie Campground where drag queens are camp counselors with clip boards and whistles, and it’s adult gay men in camper uniforms playing touch football and s—.
Lisa Vanderpump is a guest on episode 1. What’s the best piece of advice she gave you?
Vanderpump said, “Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much,” and, oh my God was she correct. Anything she puts her name on is built by hand. They go shopping for flowers in the restaurants at five in the morning every day. She really gives a s—. We admire that one another gives a s—. She’s a big inspiration in that sense. We had so many guests, there are eight episodes and 17 celebrity guests. It’s crazy. I’ve had more looks on this show than probably most seasons of Drag Race.
Discovery+ Lisa Vanderpump and Trixie Mattel get to work on ‘Trixie Motel’
We also see a brief shot of Katya in the preview. What are her contributions?
Well, what do you think? Let’s just say she doesn’t do manual labor. She gets the total princess treatment. Out of all the guests, she does the least amount of anything. We work together on so many things, I couldn’t finish the process without having her eyes on it. She’s there, she smokes, she looks great … She definitely gags. These before-and-afters are jaw-dropping. Most home-reno shows are like, “It’s jaw-dropping!” and I’m like, “Mary, that’s drywall.” This is crazy. Hand-done prints everywhere you look. Ceilings painted, floors painted, hand-done murals. It’s just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Every single person delivers and contributes. We’re talking famous people that I trick into doing free labor. Nicole Byer, Orville Peck, in their drag doing full labor. Nicole Byer in a wig painting a wall? Orville Peck doing demolition with me with biceps and a leather mask on?
You cry when you see the final room at the end of the first episode. It was so sweet seeing the vulnerable Trixie side come out in something other than music. What about this process moved you to tears, and how do you think the fans are going to react to this side of you?
What people don’t see is this is a real relationship. It’s me and my partner embedded $2 million into a project going, “Are we insane? Is this stupid? Are we crazy?” When you see the room with a candle lit and a record player on and furnished like a room, you are walking into literally the exact vision you had, it’s surreal … we took this huge gamble together. Gay married? Ain’t s—. Having kids? Ain’t s—. All my dreams have come true. Because this is truly 50-50, it was an affirming moment of we’re on the trail of some real s—. It’s some s— that can outlive both of us, it’s so sickening. I love my partner, he’s never done this before, it’s easy to get a boner emotionally when you see your partner do something really well. This is somebody who I’m not even sure cleans his own apartment, so seeing him swing a hammer, to go from that to the end of the series when the motel is finished, like, how the f— did we do this? People have full divorces putting wallpaper in a bathroom. This is an entire motel. I got emotional because it was like seeing into the future. We thought of something brilliant, we pursued it, and this is going to be the most lit thing that’s ever existed.
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