April 11 (UPI) -- Drag performer Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, born Jose Cancel, walked out of the competition into the spotlight last year after being the first eliminated drag queen on Season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race.
What made her short tenure unique was how she left the stage after being eliminated, saying her name in an almost hypnotic manner three times: "Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie, Miss Vanjie." The moment spun into countless memes and became a viral moment on social media.
Mateo was shocked at the world's reaction to her exit and the various people who recognized her moment.
"Everything from celebrities to little kids," Mateo told UPI. "I didn't even know some of the people watched the show!"
Mateo toured the country and meet her fans who have given her everything from cookies during a performance, to a used jock strap at a meet and greet.
Her intense fandom undoubtedly factored into RuPaul's decision to bring the 27-year-old Mateo back to compete in Season 11.Romance on Drag Race
Mateo has already made Drag Race history in Season 11 with her romance with fellow competitor Brooke Lynn Hytes. After other competitors pointed out their flirtatious behavior, Vanjie commented on it in a confessional on Episode 4, saying, "It's real fresh, out of the womb."
"You know, I'm going with the flow," she continued. "Those kisses keep coming, I'm gonna keep accepting them, if you know what I'm saying."
Mateo told UPI she was happy with her romance unfolding on the show.
"It happened naturally and is another branch of this beautiful tree of RuPaul's Drag Race," she said. "People get to see us meet organically, get to know each other, and date."
The show films around six months before airing on VH1, so Mateo and Hytes had to keep their relationship under wraps during that time.
Mateo said she knew of Hytes before filming Season 11, but that feelings only started to develop once they started competing.
"I knew of him and I had seen him around. I did not know him on a personal level. When season 10 aired and I was eliminated, Brooke wrote to me on FB messenger," Mateo said. "Hanging out on the show was what really brought us together."
Mateo started in entertainment as a backup dancer for Season 3 and All Stars 1 star Alexis Mateo, who would go on to become her drag mother. Vanessa said Alexis was "happy and proud" of her performance on Season 11 thus far.
"This time around I did a lot on my own vs. Season 10 I relied on my drag family," Mateo said. "This season, I knew who I was as an entertainer and performer -- I was more self-sufficient."
Born in Puerto Rico, Mateo said the island's drag performers have inspired her.
"I only know a few Puerto Rican drag queens but they have inspired my drag because they are fierce! They have inspired me to be a better performer and entertainer," Mateo said.Collaborating and making music
Mateo has already started to collaborate with artists outside Drag Race, performing with Ciara at a Drag Race viewing party in Los Angeles and appearing in Iggy Azalea's latest music video for her single "Sally Walker."
"Sally Walker" was Mateo's first music video. Drag Race alums Shea Coulee and Mayhem Miller and Youtuber and makeup guru James Charles also starred in the video.
Mateo expressed her admiration for Azalea.
"I have always been a fan of Iggy because she is so sickening," she said. "It was very inspiring to see someone do something I want to do and do it great."
She performed to Azalea's song on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last week.
Last year Mateo released a single of her own titled, "I'm Vanjie," and said she plans on putting out a full album soon.
"I am going to drop it like Beyonce though when people least expect it."