RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars eliminee Aja: 'I absolutely wish I'd never helped Bebe with the dress'
She looked like Linda Evangelista. She sparkled under the disco ball. She’s le chic freak from Brooklyn, but in the end, Aja did not survive elimination on Thursday night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. The season 9 alumna’s growth was evident, from her fashion, makeup, and her smile, darling, and it made her one of the most-beloved queens to join the All Star hall of fame. Unfortunately for this queen, the we-are-family approach to the competition did not pay off. Even after Aja helped Bebe Zahara Benet with her dress, it was Bebe who decided to ax Aja.
So what’s the tea? Has Aja learned how to pronounce France Joli? Was Bebe being shady, or was she just playing the All Stars game? Read ahead for EW’s full interview with Brooklyn’s coolest queen, in which she explains her “all over the place” references, why she regrets helping Bebe with her dress, and how she can’t wait to douse her burgers from Hamburger Mary’s in ketchup.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Brooklyn is mourning, and so are all of your loyal fans. You were really blind-sided by Bebe’s decision to send you home. You sincerely thought you had this challenge in the bag?
AJA: I honestly feel like Studio 54 was a place where fashion kind of transcended from different eras, obviously from before. The point that I was trying to go for was references from different eras. I wasn’t just trying to have what I would call a basic disco look with an afro and obvious disco dancer look. I really wanted to embody a little Grace Jones, Cher, and I’m still going to say “Frances Jolie,” because that’s just how I say it. When Bebe sent me home, well, when I was in the bottom, first of all, I was shocked, but you know, like I say, it’s All Stars, and you never know what can happen. It was, again, one of those moments like when Kennedy was in the top and Milk was in the bottom, and I guess Bebe had already made her mind. At the end of the day, I didn’t even think I was going to make it that far, so I was fine and I was happy with whatever turned.
So you’re okay with the decision, even though your look was superior to Shangela’s?
I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions that happened in that episode [laughs], but what can I do? I’m only in control of myself, and I can control what kind of energy I’m going to put out there, so I’d rather feel more satisfied with it than beat myself up about it or be angry; it would be pointless.
You helped Bebe with her dress because she needed the help; looking back, do you regret doing that?
Oh, I absolutely wish I’d never helped her with the dress, because now I’m like, “What would’ve happened if I didn’t help with her dress?” I’ve been asked if I made the whole dress, or just sewed it. Honestly, I just made the base, but without the base, she wouldn’t have been able to construct the entire garment. But also, I’d rather help someone. I don’t care that she sent me home after I made the base of her dress; I was a little more distraught with the fact that she didn’t give me credit for it, or like a personal “Hey girl, I won the challenge, thank you.” Then again, it’s a competition, and everyone is just out to win, so it doesn’t really matter. I’m not hung up on the little details, I’m just like, “Work, congratulations, live your life, sis.”
Kennedy Davenport sort of commented on you being a little too confident in this challenge, especially since you won the mini challenge — gorgeous look, by the way. Do you think you got too comfortable?
Absolutely not! I think drag queens are creatures of insecurity, and if anybody thinks that I really was that confident, then they really need to reevaluate their judgment of character. In reality, any drag queen before leaving the house is like, “OMG, my lash is on the floor, my cheeks look uneven, my lips look like a butthole.” Nobody sits there and goes, “Work! I look perfect, yes!” We do that as a joke. I was sitting there having fun. We’re on TV. I’m not here to be worried and concerned about every little thing, I’m here to have fun, and a lot of girls leave Drag Race with such a bitter taste in their mouth because they didn’t enjoy the experience. I’d rather have enjoyed the experience and had fun and then go home or win, thinking, “You know what? I did that, I had fun.” So, I really don’t care what anybody thinks about how I was acting [laughs].
On that same note, you pointed out that your “conversation” with Bebe before the lip-sync was all her and didn’t allow you to plead your case; do you think that if you had the chance to talk, the outcome would’ve been different?
I think it would’ve been the same, so I don’t think it really mattered. I would’ve enjoyed being able to plead my case. There’s not really much in the editing — what you see is what happened. Again, what can I do? I feel like Bebe and I have very contrasting personalities. I felt like I was being a little lectured and being told that I did a great job. I was thinking, “This is not about me doing a great job. You know the point of the deliberation is for me to plead my case,” but she made her decision, and there’s nothing I could’ve said that would have changed that.
The Drag Race fandom can be vicious — you know this more than anyone — and they can be very protective, so when you tweeted that your elimination doesn’t warrant hate and racism, was it because you were seeing this type of feedback toward Bebe?
Here’s the thing: I’m a big social media queen. I love social media, I go everywhere! I’m on the Reddits, I’m on the blogs, I’m everywhere! You can’t get rid of me. I see everything that happens, and there were a lot of people being hateful toward Bebe on Instagram and Twitter, and I just thought it was my place, even though I didn’t agree with her decision, it doesn’t warrant hate toward anyone. It’s not Bebe’s fault. If you put it into perspective, it’s a show, get over it! We’re supposed to do this. If you don’t agree, just root for who you want to root for without tearing someone else down. I know what it feels like to be on the other end of that, so I don’t want that for anybody. I’d rather say something about it. I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I can’t control the fans, but the least I can do is try to put a message of peace out there.
Because the fans came for you hard during your season.
Oh girl, don’t get me started!
So how do you feel about Bebe after this? You two are good?
I feel like Bebe and I are just two adults, and we handled the situation accordingly. We’ve spoken about it, I still don’t agree, and that’s okay because adults don’t always have to agree on every situation. But we don’t have to dwell on it because it doesn’t make sense to harvest energy like that. I’m telling myself, “Live your life, girl.”
Now I want to talk about your looks. Your runway was flawless, but the judges docked it for not being disco enough and for getting your era references wrong, especially when Ru read you for the France Joli moment.
When I said my references were all over the place, I didn’t mean that they were messy and unorganized; I knew what I was doing, and what I executed was what I wanted to execute. I am happy with my outfit, and when I saw it, I still think I had one of the best looks. I had several messages from people in that era that I received last night. Emails, Facebook messages, texts, from a lot of people who were really involved in the Paradise Garage and Studio 54 era telling me, “Girl, I wore that hairstyle” or that the outfit is absolutely something people had there. I’m not mad because my references may not have been agreed with by the judges, but I feel like I did my job. There’s this misconception about younger queens that we don’t know our references, but also I was, at the time, a 23-year-old queen who went on the show and educated the world about Crystal Labeija, and Andy Warhol was actually one of the judges at that pageant. People don’t know these things, maybe it was taken incorrectly, but I did know my references. When you’re getting judged, you’re going to fumble when you’re told you are wrong about something, and I still stand by “Frances Jolie.” I’m not going to say it France Joli because that’s so extra! You know what, she would’ve been proud. I still respect Ru, and it is her job to educate the children. I don’t take that for granted.
Now the twist is finally here, and Thorgy and Milk both have hinted that it is going to be grand and an amazing TV moment. There is even a theory about some lip-sync battles à la Burlesque, where one girl lip-syncs to take the spot of another girl. Are you ready for your revenge?
Honestly, I don’t even remember what happened at this point. I’m just saying something’s going to happen, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be great.
But how do the Spice Girls play into the challenge RuVenge?
You know, I really just think that everyone at home will have to wait and see.
Finally, how many burgers from Hamburger Mary’s have you had, sis?
Well, considering the episode just aired last night, I’ve not received my prize yet. When it does happen, I will be an incredibly disgusting human being and douse my hamburgers in ketchup.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on VH1.
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars