This show contains spoilers for the April 21 episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
With a show like Survivor or Naked and Afraid, injuries—and the possibility that contestants might have to quit—are to be expected. But not on RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show whose most dangerous challenge most seasons is when the library opens and queens read each other to filth. But leave it to Eureka O’Hara—season nine’s tart-tongued, big hipped contestant—to be sent packing because of an injury.
When Eureka came into the workroom at the top of the episode on crutches, it was obvious she was hurt. She explained that back in episode two, she had injured her knee in the cheerleading challenge, but had been fighting through the pain since. Still, she was a trooper and managed to impress the judges with her role in the episode’s challenge—a production of Kardashians: The Musical—and with her runway look. That’s why she was just as shocked as the rest of us when RuPaul called her up to the front of the stage and told her to sashay (or hobble) away, instead of the bottom two queens—Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Farrah Moan.
Ru explained that the show’s doctors thought it best she sit the rest of the season out, and Ru agreed. Don’t worry, though—Eureka was promised that she’d be back next season. But in the meantime, she spoke with VICE to fill us in on her upcoming surgery, how Mama Ru is taking care of her medical bills, and her feud with fellow queen Trinity Taylor.
VICE: Hi Eureka! How are you doing?
Eureka: Girl, I’m feeling gypped. I didn’t win the gig.
What happened to your leg?!
She got tired of carrying all this ass around.
You hurt yourself in the cheerleading challenge?
I landed wrong in a cartwheel, because the notion of physics is against me. I ended up with a torn ACL. I had ACL reconstruction [before the show], it was obviously hurting but I was trying to be cute and compete. The doctor and Mama Ru and the powers that be felt it was obviously more important to get it fixed.
So did you go right away to get the surgery?
Yeah. It was very difficult, I’ll be honest. Mostly emotionally, just because this has been such a huge dream of mine for so long. I felt like I didn’t get to win or lose—I just felt defeated, and like the world was against me, and that’s maybe not where I belonged.
How did it go down on the show? Did you know that you were going to leave when everyone started lip syncing?
Oh no honey. When Mama Ru said “Come on up here,” I had no idea what she was going to say. I thought maybe she and the producers were like, “Actually, Eureka is the worst, she should be lip syncing for her life.”
Did Mama Ru take care of your medical bills? Was this, like, workqueen’s comp?
World of Wonder [ Drag Race‘s production company] took amazing care of me. They covered all of my surgery. They knew how hard it was on me because I didn’t want to leave. But medically, I had no choice.
How is your knee now?
It’s pretty good. I’m coming to the end stages of physical therapy. Physically I’m doing really well, and I’m back to dancing. I couldn’t perform for five months because of the injury.
Was it easier for you leaving knowing that you’ll be coming back next season?
Honestly, no. I’m the type of person where I don’t believe anything until I see it. To me, I felt like they were just saying that to make me feel better; in my mind, I don’t think I was accepting of that at first. I got pretty low for a second.
Which of the two bottom queens owe you their first born? Who was going home if you weren’t asked to step out?
Honestly, I was already so emotional about that lip sync anyway, because Farrah and Cynthia were both, at that moment, huge emotional support systems for me with my knee hurting. Farrah was one of my closest friends on the show from the beginning. We clicked very quickly. Then, when Cynthia came in, she was such a positive spirit, and she was automatically helpful when she knew I was disgruntled by the pain. They’re very supportive people, and they’re also very close. I don’t know if either of them owe me their lives because I love them both so much it’s hard to pick one. And the lip sync was amazing. We’ll never know.
So, was this whole thing an elaborate ruse so that you wouldn’t have to be on a season with Trinity Taylor anymore?
No girl! I was looking forward to lip syncing and sending that bitch home. I knew it was eventually going to happen. They would have pit us against each other.
Do you think your feud was portrayed honestly?
I’d say so. Me and her have history. We’ve competed together. I always thought that she was very uppity, I always felt like she thought she was above me. Also, I feel like I’ve had very shady moments in the past with her in pageants, and in the past I’ve been disrespected by her, and I think she’s felt disrespected by me, so we already had that kind of tension. When tensions are even higher on the show, you’re going to react to them. Your fuse is short with that person. I would definitely say it was portrayed accurately. I was an adult, she was a child.