Who Is Willow Pill?
Willow Pill is a 26-year-old drag performer from Denver, Colorado. Coming to global recognition as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14, she revealed that she has been diagnosed with cystinosis, a chronic illness she has fought her whole life. Learn more about Willow's life on stage and off it as she takes part in RuPaul's Drag Race Season 14. See how she uses drag to combat the struggles of her chronic illness.
Where Did Willow Pill's Drag Name Come From?
Willow Pill is a drag queen and a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14. We were first introduced to Willow Pill in our introduction to RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14: Meet the Cast. She shared how the first part of her stage name came from the character Willow Rosenberg on Buffy the Vampire Slayer "because I always wanted to be a lesbian witch" and the latter part because of her chronic illness, cystinosis. Due to her illness, Willow has to take numerous medications. She keeps a positive attitude regardless of the adversity she faces telling despite the number of pills, "they're all delicious."
What Is Cystinosis? Willow Pill's Chronic Illness
Cystinosis is a disease caused by an abnormal buildup of a certain amino acid called cystine. It is a rare but life threatening disease that impacts several parts of the body, especially the kidneys. In Willow’s case, it affects her muscles, eyes, throat and kidneys. During her Meet the Queens interview for VH1, which aired before the Season 14 premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race, she shared that she has to take “20 something pills every day.”
Willow has had the disease from birth and went through a kidney transplant when she was just 14 years old. She shares the shocking reality that “my health has kind of been rocky throughout life and questionable in the future.” She faced kidney failure and dialysis and it is a part of cystinosis she will continue to live with.
How Does Willow Pill's Illness Relate to Her Drag Style?
The first episode of RuPaul's Drag Race premiered in 2009, when Willow was 14 years old. She has watched the series since season 1, when she admits to being "a young closeted queer," and knew she wanted to be a part of the show and drag culture. Cystinosis brings darkness into her life, but she takes that darkness and throws it into her drag to create an experience we all enjoy. She has taken her adversity and used it as inspiration. The darkness she speaks about can be overwhelming, but drag is an opportunity for her to transform it into art and cope with the challenges her cystinosis brings.
Congratulations are in order for Willow landing a spot in season 14's cast and fulfilling this dream of hers. She is a queen representing those who face lifelong illness and proving a chronic condition does not have to limit you. Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race have flocked to show Willow Pill support. Willow is definitely using her platform to raise awareness of cystinosis, perhaps even somewhat unintentionally, as searches for cystinosis skyrocketed online shortly after her first episode aired.
The Meaning Behind Willow Pill’s RuPaul's Drag Race Talent Show Performance
The inspiration from her chronic illness in Willow's drag was evident from the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14. The premiere episode was entitled “Big Opening No 1” and that is what Willow gave us. During the talent show maxi challenge, Willow Pill delivered a jaw dropping performance. Her adorable but psychedelic aesthetic shone through in a chaotic yet comedic skit while she lip synced to “Only Time” by Enya. Looking like an angel ready for bed, Willow spilled wine and spaghetti into a bathtub, then a toaster, before she dove into the electrifying food-filled bath. If you say you fully understood it you're lying - unless you are RuPaul, of course. Mama Ru gave Willow the ultimate praise, saying she loved it and even adding, “I come from that world of drag.”
Willow got emotional hearing RuPaul’s words, tugging on our heartstrings as she explained, “I’m just swallowed by the darkness in my head and to translate it into humor and have you understand, just means everything to me.” She gave us a piece of herself, being vulnerable about the gloom her cystinosis causes. Her performance of self-care in quarantine was tumultuous. It hinted at being locked down while facing a serve medical condition during a pandemic where individuals with any underlying illnesses are at greater risk.
When the episode aired this past week on VH1, Willow Pill was a guest on the popular YouTube channel Roscoe’s for an RPDR season 14 premiere viewing party. Hosted by famous drag performers Kara Mel D’Ville and Batty Davis, the party also featured iconic RPDR contestants Denali and Adore Delano. On Roscoe’s, Willow Pill further explained her inspirations for her talent show number. Willow shares that once she saw Enya’s “Only Time” as a song option, she had to pick it. Seven years ago in her high school days, Willow created a video with the same concept of throwing random things in a tub to “Only Time.” It was the start of her comedy, just having fun with her friends. And in Willow Pill fashion, she found a way to turn the humor dark and make a suicide joke because it is a battle she faces alongside her chronic illness.
“I pitched the toaster idea to them thinking there was no way they would allow it,” Willow says. But the RuPaul’s Drag Race producers did. We at home embraced the pain and Willow helped us laugh through it.
Drag Sisters: Willow Pill and Yvie Oddly
The chaotic unexpectedness of Willow's talent performance comes as no surprise when you find out her drag sister is Yvie Oddly, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11. In the Season 14 premiere, Willow revealed that she met Yvie when they made a short film together in college. Yvie has taught Willow much of what she knows in the drag world and have often performed together. The two created a song, “Sick Bitch,” where they embrace and celebrate who they are. The video and lyrics pay tribute to Willow's cystinosis, speaking to the journey with her kidneys and her various medical treatments. The start of the catchy chorus is “I’m a sick bitch figuratively but also very literally.” In this song, Willow again turns her darkness into inspiration to create art we all can enjoy.
Everything the Internet Wants to Know About Willow Pill
Out of Drag: Willow Pill's Real Name
- The face we see in the confessionals belongs to Will Patterson, who identifies as genderfluid and uses the pronouns she/her and they/them. She started drag five years ago and, although age 26 now, has a baby face bound to keep looking 26 at 62. Drag is not only a fun outlet for her but a prosperous career.
What Is Willow Pill’s Ethnicity?
- She is an American originally from her hometown of Denver, Colorado but currently located in Chicago, Illinois.
- Rumors circled about possible ties to an Asian ethnicity, but those rumors are false. They most likely stem from assumptions about her low almond eyes. Cystinosis actually causes Willow problems with her eyes, lending to their look. The chronic illness also affects her throat and muscles.
What Are Willow Pill's Most Memorable Quotes?
- "Where am I?": Her entrance quote in the RPDR Season 14 premiere
- "Hi, children of the Lord!"
- "The naughtiest thing about Christmas is that Santa has a fat cock." Said during a RuPaul's Drag Race Untucked! interview
Willow Pill's Drag Queen Look
- Willow's wig in Episode 1 was styled by fellow Season 14 contestant Daya Betty
- The word "Angel" was purposely misspelled in Willow's entrance look for the other contestants to underestimate her.
- Willow is the first queen on Season 14 to get a name yodel, being referred to as "Not a Big Pill, but a Willow Pill" by RuPaul.
Willow Pill's Talent Performance to Enya's "Only Time"
- Even though production approved for the toaster to be thrown into the bathtub, the toaster sits visibly on the table beside the bathtub at the end.
- Willow decided to allow viewers to take their own artistic interpretation on the toaster.
- She requested a rotisserie chicken, but that idea was rejected by production, so she had to use spaghetti.
Willow Pill on Social Media
For all things Willow Pill follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and check out her website. Honeysuckle will also keep you updated; here you can revisit Willow’s premiere performance on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 14. Stay tuned for more RPDR episode recaps!