Katya Zamolodchikova, real name Brian McCook, has been a fan-favorite RuPaul’s Drag Race drag queen since she first appeared on season 7 of the show. After that, she returned for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 2 and went on to launch the wildly popular web series UNHhhh with fellow Drag Race queen Trixie Mattel. She certainly one of the most successful Drag Race contestants despite having never won the show.
Katya serves Drag Race fans just about everything they want in a queen: beauty, style, talent, intelligence, and humor to spare. Always ready with a shady read for herself as much as for her competitors, fans immediately fell in love with her weirdness and wit. Though she’s not strictly a comedy queen, almost no one from Drag Race is as funny as Katya.
10 “H-E-A-R, Bitches! I Am Here!”
Katya said this in a confessional when she made the top four on Drag Race, but fans without sharp memories could be forgiven for thinking it was a Werk Room entrance line. It’s Katya’s sense of humor to a T: smart, but playing stupid. She wants people to think she’s dumber than she is, but really she’s checking to see if they’re smart enough to catch the joke. If half the room laughs and the other half blinks in confusion, Katya wins.
9 “I Can Move My Body In A Compelling Way. It Usually Compels People To Leave The Room.”
Katya may want people to think she’s “not a dancer per se,” but really she’s just underselling herself. In addition to being beautiful, stylish, and funny as hell, Katya is also a gifted acrobat. Few other queens know how to use their bodies as well as Katya uses hers. Fans can’t forget when she walked the runway on her hands. Even dancing queen Alyssa Edwards had to give it up to Katya in that moment.
8 “We Put On These Giant, Latex Frog Costumes And Go Through A Fiery Obstacle Course.”
This non sequitur came out of Katya’s mouth when she had to describe the “Snatch Game” challenge in a confessional. It’s a great example of classic Katya weirdness.
Clearly bored with the prospect of a spouting a rote explanation possibly fed to her by production staff, Katya let her imagination wander freely into weird territory seemingly just to entertain herself. She quickly apologized and dutifully described what “Snatch Game” actually is, but not before showing viewers how her mind works.
7 “It’s A New Day In The Werk Room… Um, I Hate These ‘New Day In The Werk Room’ Confessions.”
Fans still call it “reality TV” even though everyone has known for years how calculated and artificial the genre really can be. There are always those moments when reality TV casts speak “off the cuff” to the camera in a way that makes it obvious production staff is prompting them about what to say. This Katya quote is iconic for how it demonstrates her inability to be phony on camera. She just doesn’t have the attention span for it.
6 “80% Sexy, 20% Disgusting”
Katya said “80% sexy, 20% disgusting” to describe a look she presented on the RuPaul’s Drag Race runway, but she could have been describing her aesthetic in general. It’s not that Katya ever looks disgusting, but she’s not afraid to be gross in her conversations, confessionals, or any time she opens her mouth. But it’s always hilarious, and the dicotomy between her beautiful runway looks and her raunchy sense of humor is what makes her so lovable.
5 “I’m Not Actually That Young. I’m Just Ignorant.”
Katya often makes herself the butt of her own jokes, and even when she doesn’t, she’s usually in on the joke. But not always. During a challenge in which she was teamed up with Mrs. Kasha Davis, the latter pitched a few jokes with old references that flew over Katya’s head. But when she was explaining herself to RuPaul, 30-something Katya took the blame for not getting Kasha’s jokes: “I’m not actually that young,” she said. “I’m just ignorant.”
4 “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, Talent. What Do These Qualities Have In Common? I Don’t Know. I’m Not A Scientist.”
Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race know very well what four elements it takes to be a great drag queen: charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. Those who don’t get the joke can take comfort in knowing that not all the queens on the show have gotten it either. Katya surely got the joke and turned it into a joke of her own with this iconic quote, once again drawing laughs by pretending to be a lot dumber than she is.
3 “The Only Point Of Me Coming On This Show Is To Show That I’m A Monster.”
Some queens return to the RuPaul’s Drag Race world for an All Stars season to redeem themselves in some way for their past behavior. Phi Phi O’Hara comes to mind.
She was the villain of season 4 and returned for All Stars season 2 insisting that she was going to be nicer the second time around. Katya, though, isn’t that kind of queen. She didn’t have anything to apologize for, nor would she want to. With her tongue firmly in her cheek, she joked that she came to All Stars season 2 to be even worse.
2 “I Feel Confident, I Feel Sexy, I Feel Stupid.”
Just like when she said she was “80% sexy, 20% disgusting,” Katya was describing one particular look when she called herself confident, sexy and stupid. And just like the other quote, she could’ve been talking about herself in general when she said this. “Confident, sexy, and stupid” isn’t just how Katya looked on the runway; it’s practically her entire raison d’etre. But that’s why Drag Race fans love her. They wouldn’t want her any other way.
1 “Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova. But Your Dad Just Calls Me Katya.”
Their performance of “Read U Wrote U” at the climax of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 2 was iconic for all queens involved: Detox, Alaska, Roxxxy Andrews and Katya. They all delivered memorable verses, but Katya’s was arguably the funniest and best of them all. This introductory line from her verse told viewers everything they needed to know about Brian McCook’s drag persona, Katya Zam. It lives in every Drag Race fan’s brain as the very essence of their favorite queen.