RuPaul's Drag Race star Ra'Jah O'Hara on what Yvie Oddly really smells like
Warning! This post contains major spoilers regarding the most recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11. Read at your own risk!
The Big D has bowed out.
Though she valiantly fought her way through RuPaul’s Drag Race as the lip-sync assassin of season 11, Dallas native Ra’Jah O’Hara finally met her match Thursday night in the form of a burlap sack and some (partially pilfered by Plastique Tiara) tree bark during this week’s farm-to-runway challenge.
Between bumping heads with Yvie Oddly and Scarlet Envy (to admittedly hilarious effect), Ra’Jah crafted several exquisite (and criminally underrated) looks on the main stage during her Drag Race tenure, yet struggled to marry her ambitious perspective with the task’s temperamental organic materials. She ultimately found herself in the bottom two for the last time, losing to A’Keria Chanel Davenport after committing the cardinal sin of removing her hairpiece mid-song to reveal real hair underneath — a stunt that has cost fellow competitors like Monique Heart and BeBe Zahara Benet lip-sync victories in the past.
In the wake of her Drag Race exit, Ra’Jah chatted with EW about her lip-sync assassin status, the “triggering” act of working with Yanis Marshall, and, after her iconic line reading of “Bitch, do you bathe?,” finally reveals what Yvie really smells like. Read on for the full conversation, and tune in to the next new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 next Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET on VH1.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hello, Miss Ra’Jah! I wish we were talking under better circumstances, but I guess this is just how the Big D crumbles.
RA’JAH O’HARA: This is a good circumstance because now you get to talk to me and get to know me a little bit better. I’m thinking about it optimistically. I don’t want it to be sad and how The Big D crumbled; this is just the beginning!
You did slay a lot of bitches this season. How does it feel being the season 11 lip-sync assassin?
It’s a blessing and a curse, because “lip-sync assassin” means I was in the bottom the most, but it also means that I got to show what I can do as an entertainer, performer, and showgirl. So, I’m glad that I got to showcase what I do well.
I imagine it’s difficult to navigate the fandom as a lip-sync assassin sending their favorites home. Did you feel the heat last week when Scarlet went home?
There’s been a lot of criticism, but there’s also been a lot of love. I got a lot of flack for the lip-sync against Scarlet. I don’t make the call, so I’m just there to do what I do. My job is to entertain Ru and the judges, and I did that. I’m excited I was able to show them and also show Travis Wall a little bit of my dance technique last week.
I’m glad you got to show Travis that, too, because you’re probably still having Yanis Marshall nightmares.
Oh, Yanis Marshall… that was an experience; a triggering experience! But that’s part of the pressure cooker we call the show.
I was disappointed that, throughout the season, you didn’t get the credit you deserved for some of your runway looks. Your Monster Ball stuff was great! So, I thought you’d kill this challenge. But, burlap pants for this one? Girl, to quote your critique of Scarlet’s outfits: Those pants had some “bootyholes” on the side.
The fabric worked totally against me. Going up to the runway, walking to the runway, the day before the runway, everything was looking good and feeling good. But, I guess I ate too many burgers, baby, and busted out the side. Those pants gave me the blues.
I love that you took a risk instead of just hot-gluing something. Having been in the bottom a lot and already skating on thin ice, do you think that was maybe too big of a risk and do you regret it?
I don’t regret taking the risk, because there’s no reward without risk. That’s why I auditioned for this show. I wanted to put myself out there to see if I had what it took to be on the show, and, auditioning on my first time, I got on! Even though it didn’t work in my favor and it was literally the death of me in the competition, I will stand behind the fact that it was a look that went through a machine on a sewing challenge. And I still have the outfit, so, it’s available!
You still have it!?
I don’t have the pants, because I had to remake a look to go with the bustier.
What’s the bottom part, now?
You’ll have to stay tuned!
What’s up with Plastique stealing your tree bark? How did it feel seeing her win for a look she created with stolen materials?
[Sighs]. Of course, you know I felt some type of way. It wouldn’t be Ra’Jah without my commentary. I felt slapped in the face, but I didn’t really want to make it a big deal, but I did kind of make it a big deal. I was hurt and in my feelings about it. When Ru did the walkthrough, she told them to steal from the best, so… [Laughs].
Why didn’t you call out Plastique on the runway?
At that point, it would’ve just been me being angry, and it would’ve been me in my feelings, because who’s to say that with or without the extra material, I still wouldn’t have been in the same position? At that point, it wouldn’t have made a difference to say she stole the material from me, only to have the judges say, “Girl, she made something better than you, so it doesn’t matter!”
Still, that strikes me as something the Ra’Jah from a few weeks ago might’ve done because you did butt heads with Yvie and Scarlet throughout the season.
I don’t know that I butted heads with them. Yvie and I had a couple of exchanges, but I don’t know that we butted heads. The first go-round, yeah, the second go-round was like, girl, if you don’t know the proper way to talk to me by now, just don’t do it. With Scarlet…. we still haven’t settled it, so, I don’t know.
You did come for Scarlet in Untucked last week for saying your name to Ru on the runway, but you did the same thing to her. Why did you feel mad at her for saying your name, but you weren’t willing to let her say your name?
That’s one of those situations where I was in my feelings. I’d been in the bottom so many times. Since the entire group said Scarlet, I said that she should’ve said herself, which is true. If she looked down the line [she would’ve known she was] in the bottom, and the question [was] basically then, “Who do you want to lip-sync against?” I personally wouldn’t have chosen me. It was like, why would you say me? Girl, I’m the lip-sync assassin. I’m sending hoes home left and right! [Laughs].
I loved that attitude. You even said that the judges kept putting you in the bottom because they wanted to be entertained. Why didn’t that faze you?
I won’t say that it didn’t affect me, because it definitely fazed me. Some of those reactions you see out of me were because of my placement in the competition and how I underperformed and didn’t live up to my own personal expectations. But I wasn’t really shook or fazed about being in the bottom, because entertaining is what I do. I’m an entertainer first: The character comes second, the look comes second, but the show is what comes first for me.
But, in the end, you had to lip-sync for a fourth time. And you took your hair off! The girls who do that without a wig underneath usually lose the lip-sync! Why did you do that?
I don’t really remember. I blocked this part of the experience out. I do believe it was only clipped on because it wasn’t actual hair, it was some material that we got. I think it was in the process of falling off, so I just yanked it off so it didn’t fall.
One more thing I’ve been dying to ask you: You previously said that Yvie smelled bad. I believe the iconic quote is: “Bitch, do you bathe?” Can you please describe Yvie’s smell for me?
[Laughs]. I would rather not. I would rather not.
Not even a tease! What’s getting a whiff of Yvie like!
[Giggles] I don’t want to continue to be shady because I love Yvie. Seriously, I love everything she does and I think she’s an incredible artist, entertainer, and performer. And of course, maybe I shouldn’t have said that she stunk on national TV because now I’m going to have to answer questions about what she smells like. But, there is an underline of cigarette smoke. We’ll just leave it at cigarette smoke.
My late grandmother used to smoke, so when I smell cigarette smoke on clothing, I think of her. To me, that’s a positive thing! See, we’re making this positive!
Okay, right [Laughs].
Last question: If you stayed, who would you have done for Snatch Game?
My first option was Grace Jones. Although Grace Jones has been done, nobody has properly embodied the character. I also wanted to do something fun that I knew Ru would love, but it would be absolutely unexpected: LaToya Jackson. I love La Toya Jackson. Did you watch The Masked Singer? She can really sing! My other option was going to be Marla Gibbs from The Jeffersons.
Hopefully we’ll get to see those someday!
Yes, hopefully! This ain’t the last that you’re going to see of Ra’Jah.