Trixie and Katya Bring Back the Laughs With 'Working Girls'

Trixie and Katya Bring Back the Laughs With 'Working Girls'

by Greg Mania

A few days ago, as I was going down the stairs to catch the L train into Manhattan, I heard someone from above yell, "YEEEEEEEEEP." I whipped my head around, almost expecting to see Katya herself at the foot of the stairs. This is what it means to be so deeply in love with these two biological women. Everywhere you go, there they are. Spending more than three dollars on a cup of coffee? "RIIIIIIICH." Getting ready to spill some piping hot tea? "Oh, honey!"

Now, following the raving success of their Guide to Modern Womanhood, the iconic drag duo and New York Times-bestselling authors are back-back-back again with their second book, Working Girls: Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Professional Womanhood, which is out now from Plume.

"When two people in wigs write a book, take it with a grain of salt."

Brimming with biting humor, both savvy and satirical advice, and hilarious, gorgeous photos to boot, Trixie and Katya take on the challenge of finding success in the workplace. From finding the perfect interview outfit, to asking for a raise, getting fired with dignity, and everything in between — do you actually hope that email finds us well, Beverly???? — the RuPaul’s Drag Racelegends also cull wisdom from their own esteemed careers to set you, the modern woman, up for success.

PAPER caught up with the stars of UNHhhh over Zoom to talk about co-authorship, their writing process and the possibility of a trilogy, below.

What was it like working together on another book?

Trixie: I’m going to do something unprecedented, Greg, and tell you the truth. Writing books is really hard — it’s fun — but it’s hard. There are a few close friends in my life who, when I complain about writing a book, go, "Oh, we just figured you had someone write the first one."

Katya: Oh, my god, no shit.

Trixie: And maybe we should. It’s so much work.

Seriously. Everyone is always asking me when I’m gonna write a second book, and I’m like, "I’m still tired from writing the first one!" What was your writing process like for this book compared to the first one?

Katya: I had a 24-year-old girl hold a gun to my head.

Just any 24-year-old girl, or did you know this person?

Katya: It was my assistant.

Got it.

Katya: Let’s just call it a labor of love and, of course, love is used generously.

Trixie: We had a lot of notes we gave ourselves after the first book. For example, the pictures took a lot longer than we thought. Also, once the whole book was put together, we thought we had written Homer’s Iliad — and it was a pamphlet.

Katya: A generous pamphlet.

Trixie: This time around, if we had an idea that we were interested in, we consciously decided to make that section bigger. We tried to make this book meatier because we’re talking about women in the workplace. Of course, it’s satire; you should not follow most of the "advice" we give in this book. But we are satirizing the trials and tribulations of just trying to survive and make a dollar.

Right. But I also think there are some tidbits one can cherry-pick and apply to their own professional lives as they see fit.

Trixie: For sure. We also cover things like what it’s like to be ambitious and actually get the dream job. There is a lot to talk about, from being hired to fired, figuring out what to wear, and everything in between.

How did you organize who was going to cover what?

Katya: Because we have such very different relationships to work, it was pretty easy. I took the topics that involved not working and she took the topics that involved working.

Trixie: So, for example, she took quitting.

Katya: Quitting, vacation, retirement, getting fired, not showing up to work, dying.

Trixie: And I talked about things like how to ask for a raise, how to fire someone, things like that.

Katya, I remember at one point you said you might be interested in writing fiction, maybe a thriller or something of the ilk? Do you still want to do that?

Katya: Absolutely fucking not.

Trixie: I think what she’s saying is, "I wish I was the person who wants to do this."

A suggestion of a person who wants to do this.

Katya: Yes, that’s it. What I meant to say, Greg, was that my sincerest hope is that I undergo a complete personality change that would allow me to enthusiastically undertake that endeavor.

So it’s just something that’s marinating in the back of your head.

Katya: Yeah, it’s in the oven. But that oven is set to about 15 degrees, so it might take a while.

Trixie: It’s kind of like how I’m the kind of person who wants to go to brunch — I want to be invited — but when that day comes, I’m canceling. But I want to be the type of person who shows up in a fun, Sunday outfit. But if you don’t invite me, that’s a problem.

Katya: Right. If a publisher doesn’t knock on my door in five months and asks about book number three, I’ll be very offended.

Did you feel any pressure with the second book since your first did so well?

Trixie: Let’s be honest, this is a book about work and getting paid. When you write your first book, you’re not going to be entitled to the same payment as your second. I always wanted to do a good job with our first book, so we could prove ourselves. Then when we got to the second book, maybe we could get a larger budget and things like that since our first was successful.

So much rides on your debut, because that sort of dictates how easy — or not — it will be to sell your second. Would you consider yourselves publishing professionals by now?

Katya: Oh, yeah. I know exactly what you mean. Let’s just say this: The first time you get kidnapped, it’s a shock. The second time, it’s an inconvenience. The third time, you know exactly what to do. Thank you.

And that’s your MasterClass on publishing.

Katya: Yes. By the third time, you know to grab the steering wheel or get the gun or whatever.

Trixie: I hope people read this book because, all jokes aside, it is the most work we’ve put into something that probably pays us the least. It literally is a labor of love.

Absolutely. And you can tell. It’s organized well; every joke fits exactly where it’s supposed to and it flows perfectly from start to end. Are you going to go for a trilogy?

Katya: I think the third book would be a children’s book with Smell-O-Vision stickers.

Scratch n’ Sniff.

Katya: Yes. I think we’ll aim for a grade K through three readership.

Trixie: Yeah, you know how they do books that teach you a lesson? Maybe like a cautionary tale about going to church.

Yes, I love that.

Katya: And it’s just, like, four pages long, but thick cardboard pages.

My kind of book. What was your revision process like for this one?

Katya: It was a lot of revising, and more revising, and then some more.

Are you someone who keeps making changes until it has to be pried out of your hands?

Katya: No, not exactly. You kind of have to shove it into my hands, but once you do, I’ll get paranoid about typos or jokes I might regret telling. There’s a section in this book where I’m comparing Domino’s icing to 9/11 that I’m still a little iffy about.

I’m not. I collapsed a lung from laughing at that one.

Trixie: And if we make any references, it’s about super A-list celebrities who can take a joke, you know? When two people in wigs write a book, take it with a grain of salt.


Trixie: Honestly, anything that I wrote that I thought was funny or cool in the moment will probably be something I look back on five years from now and think is stupid. How do you feel about any piece of your work a year later? You’re over it. But in a book, it lives forever. It’s kind of inevitable.

Exactly. In some ways, it doesn’t matter how many times you want to change something, because no matter what you end up with, you’ll probably be over it in a few years. And if you aren’t, that means you aren’t growing.

Trixie: Right. I think what we’re trying to earnestly do with this book is make fun of the systems in place. We don’t necessarily have to agree with said systems in place, but we are going to jokingly talk about how to navigate them.

Yes! We all know capitalism is a scam, but we’re all sort of forced to participate in it.

Trixie: Yeah. And you know, your dream job could suck and you might love your shitty job. It varies from person to person. But there are some universal truths we stick in there. Like in the firing chapter, I talk about making it quick, and not flowering it or cushioning the blow too much. Just let them go and move on. We joke about how to dress for success, but that is real. We dress like rich, famous people, and then people started treating us like rich, famous people.

Do you two ever workshop your sections with each other?

Katya: No!


Trixie: I don’t think she’s even read mine.

Katya: I have read yours!

Wait, at what point in the process do you two read each other’s work?

Katya: I’m going to be honest, I didn’t even read her sections in the first book until it came out. Tea.

Trixie: This time I went through the sections more to make sure mine were in agreement with hers. Honestly, I’m happy with the work I did, but her sections are really the reason to pick up this book. They’re so fucking funny.

How do you feel now that it’s making its way out into the world?

Katya: I thought I couldn’t feel more excitement than the first time, but boy, was I wrong.

Trixie: The fun of it was being in the zone and typing jokes that make me laugh, or thinking about them making Katya laugh, and that was the joy of it.

How are you hoping your fans experience this book?

Trixie: It is an advice book, and whether or not you agree with any of the things we’ve written, there are some nuggets of truth in there. From being the new employee to becoming the boss, there’s advice for every stage of your career. Honestly, what anyone should take away from this book is how to not be the worst person to work with. It’s also just a great book to share with your work bestie; maybe there’s a section in there that reminds you of your co-worker or boss, and you can laugh about it.

Katya: And let’s be real, I just want people to laugh. And smile. That’s all we can hope for.

Greg Mania is the author of the memoir Born to Be Public.

Photography: Plume/Penguin Random House