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After a yearlong reign as America’s Drag Superstar, the time has come for presiding RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Sasha Velour to relinquish her crown to one of season 10’s current ladies-in-waiting. But before Thursday’s grand finale airs at 8 p.m. ET on VH1, Velour wanted to impart some royal wisdom upon her successor. So, earlier this week EW invited her to crash a round of video interviews with the current quartet of finalists Aquaria, Eureka, Asia O’Hara, and Kameron Michaels — and the results were as inspiring and colorful as the fashions synonymous with Velour’s name.
“As drag queens, we know there are different types of drag, but most people in the world just think that it’s just the Hamburger Mary’s [stereotype],” Aquaria — responding to a question about the season 9 champion’s impact on the community — says prior to Velour’s surprise entrance. “And she puts on a damn good show.”
After Velour sashays into the conversation (accompanied by a shocked Eureka’s signature shriek), she offers some valuable perspective to the girls following in her footsteps.
“People are really seeing that drag is an art form, that it’s so much more than self-expression…it’s so much more than politics and a ‘f—’ you to the system — although it’s definitely that, too,” Velour says. “It really is a beautiful art form that touches so many people’s lives. There are no limits to what kind of bodies, which types of people, which genders, or what races can do amazing drag, and I think the audience is clamoring fighting with each other more and more to see drag represented as fully as it possibly can be. And there’s work to be done, too, to make our little world of drag better for us and for the amazing performers that we have in our umbrella.”
Velour then asks her season 10 sisters if they feel an added significance to Drag Race‘s current edition drawing to a close at the tail end of LGBT Pride Month.
“It reminds us about community and what this title means, and what even just being a drag queen on national television means and the weight that it has,” Aquaria says. Velour adds: “Pride, to me, is a celebration of the past because we have come such a long way from the very first Pride parade marking the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, so it’s a celebration of all that we’ve accomplished.”
She continues: “All four of you have accomplished so much this year, but it’s also a commitment to keep fighting. I can’t wait to see what you do after the show, now that your chance to make beautiful art that touches our community is just beginning.”
Read on for more highlights from EW’s kiki with the season 10 girls.
How The Vixen shaped the narrative for queens of color (and Asia explains her recent fashions)
AQUARIA: [Fans] see a lot of what The Vixen was doing as just like, ‘Oh, crazy drama! This is so wild, she came here to fight!’ I think the same people who weren’t getting the message in the first place are going to continue to not get the message, and I think it’s for us as Drag Race girls to try to continue to uphold her message.
ASIA: If someone is a fan of yours, until you say, ‘I don’t agree with this,’ they’re not going to pay that situation any attention. Until the show is 10 seasons in — and although all of us are very relevant right now — in 10 years there are going to be 140 more girls that have come through the ranks, and the fan base is going to be even more divided as far as who they love and who they don’t love. Until people are constantly in the forefront day after day and year after year saying, ‘No, we need to change this in our community,’ that’s when things will start to change.
AQUARIA: It needs to be across the board. Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean you can’t speak out… I’ve found that in the past there have been plenty of queens that have not tried to embrace whatever message of change that needs to come out of a situation. There still continues to be queens who think too much of themselves and their fame and popularity to humble themselves and try to get a different message across.”
EUREKA: We’re actually very lucky that the show presented the narrative…there’s a lot of legacy to come from season 10. Not just that, but there’s amazing talent. There are a lot of people in our season who are very equality-forward and are working to create change. Asia’s obviously been making a lot of political statements in the art form in the way she’s been dressing at events.
ASIA: People have constantly asked me why my face is covered or why they can’t see me or at times couldn’t hear me, and that’s always been the case. They’ve always not been able to see or hear certain people, and it’s interesting that only when someone is presented with a physical representation of how they actually perceive someone or perceive a group of people do they notice [that group] actually exists.
Asia also opens up about that tense exchange with RuPaul at the reunion
ASIA: I don’t look at it as me pushing back or standing up to someone. I look at it as every opportunity is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with someone else. I didn’t think I needed to push back or that I needed to say something. Those are my actual feelings in the moment. People view it as me standing up for The Vixen. Although I welcome that, that wasn’t the idea. The idea is if you’re in a situation and you feel like someone is misunderstood and if you see two ends of a spectrum that can’t meet without your help, most people are inclined to help that situation.
EUREKA: I think it was amazing that they got to see you call up and talk about us being humans and how as an LGBT community, drag queens are supposed to be a representation of…a way to bring people together. That’s one of my favorite things about you, Asia, is, you literally fight all the time. In our season, she was very much a mother hen and a caretaker, so she was always the one to guide us and be like, “Y’all need to stick through this and get through it together.”
ASIA: It’s Pride month and our pride started with people standing up for something they believe in or standing up for what’s right, so how could I sit somewhere and not stand up for something that I thought was right?
Is Kameron a “thirsty” introvert? Plus: Eureka gets a lesson on the “skin flute”
KAMERON: A lot of people — including myself — didn’t see me in this space with these three other girls, but I think it’s really important for me to be here. A lot of people don’t understand introverts. I got accused of walking into a room and not speaking to people, and it’s not that I am ignoring people, it’s just that a lot of times I don’t step out of my shell for fear of rejection. And that’s what a lot of introverts deal with: We have a lot of self-doubts, which you can see me doing throughout the entire season. I’m so in my head and worried about myself and how I’m being portrayed or the actions and words that I’m saying that I forget to acknowledge other people. It’s not out of shadiness or forgetting to do that, it’s just I’m so worried about what I’m doing and how I’m being perceived, and I think a lot of the girls misunderstood me.
EUREKA: I linked up with her too quick. You know, I’m always trying to be friends with the pretty girl. It’s like the fat kid m.o. to make the hot ones your friends. Back to high school, you get treated better if you’re friends with all the hot girls.
KAMERON: I was clearly never popular in high school. I was very much quiet in the corner. I had, like, two friends. I was the nerd loser in high school… I was never a popular kid and I didn’t like being around popular people. People see the person I am now, but that’s not who I was when I was little. All that stuff is new to me. I’m the underdog quiet person, the nerdy kid who was in band.
AQUARIA: What did you play?
KAMERON: I played the clarinet.
AQUARIA: Oh, I played the skin flute!
EUREKA: The skin flute? Is that weiner? Ew! Weiner weiner, chicken dee-ner! Not the skin flute, that is the weirdest thing I’ve never heard.
AQUARIA: Well, there’s plenty of s— you say that we’ve never heard before, too.
EUREKA: You love it as much as you love your skin flute. I accept you for your skin-fluting. We’re all-inclusive girls today… Where is this term from? That is so funny. We just call them d—s where I’m from. No, we call them weiners. They’re weiners.
On a show that makes everyone a star (here’s looking at you, Miss Vanjie), why is winning still so important?
KAMERON: I’ve had so many people reach out to me through social media and say how inspiring it is that I am in this moment, because a lot of people feel like they’re not enough, and the self-doubt and all the things that introverted people deal with, to see someone in this position like me pushing through that self-doubt in a cast full of extroverted people is important… You can overcome it and find your confidence.
ASIA: Obviously, I came to the competition for further opportunities for myself, but also for further opportunities for drag. Like I’ve said from day one, I wanted drag to evolve, grow, change, and thrive. I come from a place where I’ve seen drag be great and be worshipped, and I’ve seen drag go through lows where we have been laughed at and ridiculed. Thankfully drag is at an all-time high. I thought coming here would be a prime opportunity to shed light on the fact that we are people and that magic always comes with a price, and the price of that does not have to be as steep as it has been in the past.
EUREKA: I remember doing drag and being homeless. I remember my family not appreciating drag. I remember people in my life telling me I was making the wrong decision because I wasn’t successful at it. Now that I am successful, people appreciate it more. I’ve always been searching for a place where I felt like I was enough and I was worthy, and drag gave me that place. As a bigger person, as a loud person, as someone who’s been pushed around since I can remember, I finally found a place where I stand upright. As a bigger person, we don’t get to win a lot. I’m that representation of a bigger girl finally getting to win something…especially being an overly effeminate, plus-sized gay male. I’m hairless, overly effeminate, and in the world of gay male society, that’s completely unacceptable. There are very few even willing to pay attention to that. So I find my strength in drag. It’s literally everything to me. Winning is that ultimate goal for me to tell myself that I am enough and I am worthy and that this is my place, and I can create change for other people who have suffered just as much as I have.
AQUARIA: You’re like the postman of drag: always delivering.
EUREKA: Yeah, deliveries! Like the pizza man. God, I would love some pizza.