Inside Kim Petras' Big 'Saturday Night Live' Debut

Inside Kim Petras' Big 'Saturday Night Live' Debut

Kim Petras is wiping away tears, careful as to not smudge her snow-white eyeshadow. Hours prior, she performed her No. 1 hit “Unholy” on Saturday Night Live with fellow queer musician Sam Smith — and now, she’s coming off the immediate high of an intimate moment with the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. These two back-to-back experiences would be overwhelming for anyone, but they hold special significance to Petras, who’s had her sights set on mainstream success since releasing her first single “I Don’t Want It At All” back in 2017. Clearly, she’s doing something right.

That day, Petras shared her latest track, “Brrr,” a darker electronic follow-up to “If Jesus Was a Rockstar,” which she dropped at the tail end of 2022. With pounding, icy production that many fans are comparing to Petras’ late friend and former collaborator SOPHIE, “Brrr” is relentless and ominous, as she sings about “knowing what you want and finding someone who isn’t intimidated by you that will come closer and show you how cool they are,” she tells PAPER.

At the SNL after party, show guests and their plus-ones crowd into the back of Manhattan’s Rosa Mexicano, sipping margaritas and gushing over Sharon Stone’s iconic surprise cameo during a dramatic performance of Smith’s song “Gloria.” Smith towers over the crowd in a pair of impossibly high platforms and asks how late Flaming Saddles Saloon is open until (4 AM), joined by their new boyfriend, fashion designer Christian Cowan. Elsewhere, there’s skate legend Tony Hawk and host Aubrey Plaza, wearing a Megadeth t-shirt and bottle-blonde hair.

Suddenly, Petras and her cohort — creative director, glam team, managers — all excitedly make their way toward the front of the restaurant, moving as one pack. What’s going on? “Madonna’s here,” sitting casually in a booth with photographer Ricardo Gomes, fresh off the announcement of her global tour. Petras’ interaction with Madonna appropriately draws a small crowd, as radio’s newest disruptor chats with the woman who made it possible for something like the Slut PopEP to exist. Petras references Confessions on a Dancefloor and divulges that it made her feel less alone listening to it at home in Germany as a teenager.

With a solo spot on Late Night With Seth Meyers lined up for Monday night, Petras decides to end things early and piles into a Sprinter van after signing a few autographs and posing for paparazzi outside the venue. The ride home is a Madonna singalong with everyone shouting lyrics of “Back That Up to the Beat,” the 2015 Rebel Heart demo that’s been rereleased after going viral on TikTok. “I’ve been drinking Krug Rosé and sometimes lemon drops,” Petras repeats, carrying that one soundbite from the van to her hotel room before removing her wig and saying “goodnight.” As quickly as she appeared underneath Smith’s gown earlier on SNL, Petras disappears, pet Pomeranian in-hand.

Tune into Late Night With Seth Meyers at 12:35/11:35 C.

Photography: Tori Agosta