Self-improvement is a distraction. Even as the global pandemic triggers economic collapse, there’s pressure to stay productive. Memes are telling me if I don’t come out of quarantine with a new skill or side hustle then it wasn’t time I’ve been lacking, only discipline. I still haven’t unpacked all my clothes since moving to Milan in January, so lord knows how Artist, Television Debutant and Gender Illusionst Gigi Goode keeps focus. I check in to see just how bright the future is.

Tell me about your life as a creative in isolation?
SAMUEL GEGGIES(SG): I’ve been using my time very wisely and getting a lot done that I know I would not have been able to should I have been travelling the world. I think this was definitely a blessing in disguise. I don’t feel too hindered because of it, because, if anything, it’s been a motivator to stay on my shit and stay relevant, especially because RuPaul’s Drag Race is pumping out season after season with new girls. Now, we’re old news – we’re the runt of the litter here. We got the short end of the stick. We didn’t really get to have a run around the world that all the other girls got to have. We have not made nearly as much money as we should have been making right now. So, I think that’s a driving factor in making sure I’m on my shit.

GRAZIA: Normally I’d be talking to you from a dressing room on a world tour right about now. With so many nightclubs closed, what do you think the way forward is? What’s the future of drag look like?
SG: It’s currently upon us. I feel like that happened pre-COVID with drag and television. The fact that RuPaul’s Drag Race is so mainstream it’s literally like a miracle. It feels like finally, the queer community has a liberation and a welcome into society after so many years of taboo. On the other hand, it definitely has raised the standard of drag to the point where people who view drag through RuPaul’s Drag Race won’t necessarily want to go see a drag queen perform in a small town who’s not up to par with the drag queens they have seen on TV who have invested so much time and money into a single look. So for me, that’s the only downside.

Photography: David-Simon Dayan

GRAZIA: How do you keep one-upping your own standards when there is so much pressure?
SG: Well, I think that the most important point is that I’m one-upping myself. What’s been very beneficial to me – and this isn’t a recent realisation – is that my drag is not for other people. I’m so happy that other people are entertained by my drag, but at the end of the day, this is me being my own Barbie doll. I just want to look better than the last time I did. Or I want to perform better than the last time I did. I think when you hold yourself to that standard, rather than the standards other people have for you, that’s when you start to really creatively flourish and it’s just endless growth. I found that lately I’ve been really evolving my drag; I’m no longer really doing those crazy heavy white eyeliners for example. I don’t want to look the same next year as I do right now and the year after that.

GRAZIA: Do you think that style is something that can be inherited?
SG: That’s a tough question…Actually a lot of my friends who are stylists, models, or people in the world of fashion more often than not grew up in places like a trailer park or a run down home in the southern suburbs of nowhere. So I find that it could be an instinctual inheritance in that it’s something that these people felt that they needed to survive. I certainly felt that way. I definitely think that fashion, clothes, hair and outward appearance – as vain as it sounds – was so crucial to my growth and evolution as a child. I can imagine that everyone else feels the same way.

GRAZIA: At what point in your childhood did you know that Gigi Goode existed?
SG: The first time that I got a wig. I was probably 10 or 11 and it was because I went downtown with a friend to go to the Aquarium. And while my dad was getting lunch, my stepmother took me and my friend to a wig shop and I found this black mixed human hair wig for $45. I remember that wig was something that I had on my head every single night. It was such an ugly wig, no lace and had a side bang.

The minute that I put on that hair though, I was no longer playing with my Barbies. I realised that I was Barbie. It was here that Gigi Goode was born.

Photography: David-Simon Dayan

GRAZIA: Is there a delineation in the overall tone and style between Samuel versus Gigi? How do you shop for Samuel?
SG: I have not shopped for Samuel in years. Once Gigi ended up on TV, I feel like Samuel left the building because now whenever I go shopping, it’s to buy things for Gigi. When it comes to my out of drag style I dress like I’m from the 70s or the 90s a little bit. All of my clothes are second hand thrift store. But I do love carrying designer bags. I love wearing nice shoes. But again, those things are interchangeable between Gigi, the gender fluid model, and Gigi, the drag queen.

GRAZIA: Is that how you identify as a whole? As gender fluid? Or is that Gigi?
SG: As a whole, I’m gender fluid, 100 percent. Sometimes I’ll talk about me out of drag as my boy self. And sometimes I’ll be dressed like a boy and I’ll refer to myself as ‘She’. All of my friends refer to me as ‘She’. My mother sometimes calls me Gigi, sometimes she calls me Sam. My dictionary definition is just whatever you want, anything or everything or nothing at all. I don’t get offended if somebody says the wrong thing… I don’t try to correct them. It’s however you see me in whatever moment in time you see me, that’s fine. That’s your prerogative.

GRAZIA: What would you say to somebody who doesn’t understand the concept? How would you explain Gender Fluidity to somebody?
SG: I think the best way to explain it is that it’s not something you have to think too hard about. Sometimes I lean more on the feminine side of things. Sometimes I’ll be more on the masculine side of things. And sometimes I feel that I am neither of those things. I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the person for the example.

It’s not your responsibility to try and figure out what I am, but it is your responsibility to respect my own identity. And if you are uncomfortable about it and you do feel the need to ask me about pronouns, by all means do.

In my personal instance it’s different from a lot of people who identify as non-binary, fluid. Even trans in that I know a lot of people would appreciate people asking their pronouns before anything. And then there are those who prefer you abandon pronouns and just use their names. So I think if someone is unclear about the concept, there’s this really handy thing called Google. And just for the time being, just respect me and call me by my name. And then when you go home, you can Google it. But you’re right. It does feel like there is some sense of a responsibility to explain myself when people are genuinely curious because otherwise when will they learn?

You’re so young. Do you feel a level of responsibility to educate teens who may be wayfinding in their gender or lost?
SG: Yes, I do. I don’t think anybody feels comfortable with what’s going on in the world. It’s just a matter of a responsibility that I have to educate myself as well as use this huge platform that I’ve been given to educate.

And you never know who could be seeing something that you’re posting, who may or may not have Karen as their mother. And who may have the power to sway Karen’s opinion about something because that they’ve been paying attention to on the TV.

So I think when I realised that, it came time for me to educate myself, it came time for me to put on my big girl panties and just use this for as much good as I possibly can. No pun intended.

GRAZIA: Speaking about online cultures, what have you learned about your own real world from these virtual worlds?
SG: That the virtual worlds aren’t real. For me, I use my virtual world as a portfolio. I don’t use it as a means to interact with people about things that are completely unnecessary. I don’t even have a Twitter anymore. Twitter to me exists solely for the purpose of negativity and just empty means, which I – don’t get me wrong, I love me more than the next girl – but I feel like I can find those on the Explore page on my Instagram just as easily. I do love social media. I think it has brought so many incredible things, not only into my life, but it’s created platforms for so many people across the world that would not have had the platform, had it not been for social media. But people aren’t treating social media like it is their real life and they’re treating it like that is the be all and end all. ‘As long as my picture looks this way, then my life will reflect that picture’. When in reality, that is very rarely the case. And it’s just not real. People are taking things way too seriously. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is not to take things too seriously.

GRAZIA: Hopefully people can unplug themselves from the matrix and try and get back to some semblance of normalcy and interaction in the real world. Because again, I think that in lockdown, it just invites more opportunity for you to have empty conversations and throw things at people when you’re bored, when you’ve got nothing else to do.
SG: But I will say, I don’t know why I feel this way, but I do feel that we are on the precipice of some sort of change, some sort of shift when it comes to the fandom. So I’m looking forward to the shift. Let’s hope there’s some kind of renaissance.

Follow Gigi Goode @thegigigoode

“LOOKING GOODE, FEELING GORGEOUS” was first published in the eighth edition of GRAZIA International. Purchase your copy here.