Straight from 2014 Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion week, I caught up with Alexander Pope, a fashion designer on this season’s “Project Runway”, to discuss his transition from drag DJ to Broadway to fashion and, finally, world domination . We talk about it all: From DJing at the hottest minimal electro clubs to becoming friends and co-collaborators with me, Acid Betty – The super hybrid drag bitch of the world who notably became famous for the fashions designed by Alexander Pope.
Congratulations on ALMOST winning season 12 of “Project Runway”! Do you still hate me for convincing you to do it?
Almost is the right word, honey! I only hate you part of the time now.
Did you ever think you would be on TV or in reality TV?
No, I never thought I’d be on reality TV. It’s not my favorite genre at all. But TV, yes, I knew I’d be on TV. It’s in my blood.
Did you think you would go farther? You only had ONE more challenge to go the one for you, the couture challenge. What do you think you would have designed?
Honestly, I didn’t think I’d get as far as I did. I mean I know I have superb technique and I can definitely sew like a mad woman, but I always thought of myself as too esoteric or over the top design wise. It was a major effort for me to tone down my designs and make them more commercial. My training has always been to go beyond. I knew since going in to the show what I would do for that challenge. I mean, that’s what I do for a living! I was really looking forward to it. Then MAYBE I could have actually won a challenge!
As I sat almost front row for your fashion show, I overheard someone say you could be the next Alexander McQueen. Alyssa Milano publicly confessed you were her favorite. What do you think about that?!
It was surreal at its best! I was super stressed and uberbusy, but I tried to enjoy the moment as much as I could because I knew the moment would fly by. The response was amazing. I mean the whole audience gasped when my unconventional finale look transformed. I even got a huge applause from everyone backstage! It was unreal. Yes, someone did say I could be the next Mcqueen. I could never be as talented or as unique as he is. Period.
You have a costume background, obviously helping me transform my masculine self into the gorgeous darling Acid Betty. You didn’t always create costumes, so how did this happen?
I was contemplating doing an extra year at college for it but decided against it. Then I moved to New York right out of college without any job prospects and just fell into it by chance. I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s something I feel I was meant to do in the beginning. Let’s face it, all the wild and fun techniques I know, I’ve learned from costuming and not college. I have been able to hone my skills working on Broadway, so I’m able to take that and translate it into fashion. It’s a lot easier to take a step back then to take a step forward.
Years ago when we would hang out in drag, you would DJ as Anarexia Hurls. What was that like?
Wow, I’ve been DJing since 2000 or so, and I usually spin synth music. New Wave, electro, minimal, etc. I haven’t DJ’d in several months now. I kinda gave it up to work on my fashion line and focus on Project Runway. I’m ready for the next phase of my life.
Where did Anarexia Hurls come from?
Anarexia came from an accumulation of several friends. I was out dressed up decades ago and one queen said to other, “Damn bitch, you’re skinny! You must have anorexia!” It stuck. I think Anarexia was born maybe 1992 or 1993. Or was it 1913?
How does your drag persona or DJing reflect in your fashion?
I have always thought fashion and music are one. I mean, you dress the way that the music you’re into dictates and vice versa. And my drag persona was just a hyper-realized version of the woman I’d love to dress.
Do you make Acid Betty wear the same things you make real woman? SHE IS female realness in drag, right?!
HA! RIGHT! No, Acid gets her own wardrobe. Strictly freakish clubwear for that high-class clown she channels. I go above and beyond with Acid Betty, she lets me go there, and she’s definitely not afraid to stand out.
Would you say Acid Betty is one of your fashion muses?
I would say yes if I were you! Umm, no, not at all. Not even a little bit. Nada, zip, zilch. Designing for Acid is a blast. I have full reign to do whatever my twisted little mind can think of, and I know she’ll TOTALLY be for it. Not only will she be into it, but she’ll work it to the max! Then win a Glammy for best dressed.
What do you think about today’s drag and nightlife scene?
Drag queens these days are about disposable fashion, just like girl fashion. That whole fast fashion thing offends me. It should be about quality! If I see one more drag queen in some shitty $5 spandex dress I’m going to hurl!
For me, drag sorta found me when I felt a missing niche in the drag scene. Which came first for you: drag, music or fashion?
Music came first. That’s how I found myself. I realized that I wasn’t alone in the world. Then everything spiraled from there, and I became this thing in front of you.
Where can we buy your amazing work?
Soon to be available on my website, AlexanderAPope.com
Thank you, Alexander. We look forward to your freaky fashions!
Acid Betty signing off!