Vietnamese queen opens up about honoring Alyssa Edwards and rejecting Asian stereotypes

By Joey Nolfi
April 26, 2019 at 01:08 PM EDT
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Warning! This post contains major spoilers regarding the most recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11. Read at your own risk! 

The freshest tilapia of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 is, unfortunately, sleeping with the fishes.

Vietnamese beauty Plastique Tiara — perhaps the most gorgeous queen to ever grace the Werk Room — met her untimely end on Thursday’s episode, after a so-so performance as a rowdy criminal in this week’s Cops-style acting challenge and an intense lip-sync against Miss Vanjie.

With the spirit of an iconic drag house fueling her, however, Plastique (drag daughter of All-Stars 2 contestant Alyssa Edwards) put up a fierce fight on the main stage, providing the emotional heart and soul to the pair’s take on Fantasia Barrino’s “Hood Boy” while Vanjie balanced the set out with spectacular muscle and hardcore dance moves. A showgirl to the end, Plastique even capped her performance with a moving callback to Alyssa’s go-to lip-sync gag as she rested her booted leg on the side of the stage before sashaying away.

In the aftermath of her shocking elimination, EW spoke with the departing lady about her fishy sensibilities, her touching tribute to Alyssa during the lip-sync, and how she really feels about Silky Nutmeg Ganache’s cringeworthy “read” during the library challenge. Read on for the full Q&A, and tune in to RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 when it returns Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET on VH1.

Mettie Ostrowski for EW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hello Plastique! I was genuinely hoping that I wouldn’t have to do this for a few more weeks, I’m so sad you’re leaving this early! Was watching this like reopening an old wound?
PLASTIQUE TIARA: You’re so sweet! Right after, it was a feeling of disappointment because I’m very hard on myself. However, looking back on it, I had a great run, and I made some memorable moments. I was out there telling my story and made an impact and represented for Asian, queer culture.

Still, it was strange that a gorgeous biological woman such as yourself competed against drag queens on this show. Was that strange for you?
[Laughs] It can be problematic these days for bio-queens like myself. Just kidding!

In all seriousness, I know how much representation for the Asian community means to you, and on this episode, Silky implied you were Japanese. That caused a stir on Twitter. How did that feel to you in the moment, and have you spoken to Silky about how she can grow from that situation?
We’re all human and I love all of my sisters. It’s ok that we make mistakes sometimes, as long as we take it as a growing experience. I’m just proud to be out there on a national television show with a platform where I can express myself and raise awareness about Asian culture, because Asian representation is limited in mainstream media.

What do you hope this situation communicates to other people?
I hope that it spreads more awareness that Asians don’t all look the same, and that we all have different characteristics.There’s beauty in each country, nationality, and ethnicity!

Your story of bridging gaps between countries also ties into your infamous pop culture revelation: that you didn’t know who Beyoncé was until four years ago!
I wish I would’ve done it for sympathy [from the judges], but, honestly, it was the truth! It was my story and I was afraid to tell my truth, then. I was embarrassed to say it out loud because of what people might say. But, afterwards, I had so many messages from Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans. They were like, “Thank you for speaking out loud because we were afraid to say it in fear of people laughing at us!” I was uplifted by those comments…. But, maybe I did make a fool of myself.

I don’t think you should be embarrassed about it. It’s your truth! What did you think about Beyoncé when you finally did learn who she was, though?
Girl, when I first moved here, I didn’t know a thing about anything! It was a shock. I didn’t even know being gay was a possibility! When I found out about Beyoncé, who is this African-American beauty who is so talented and is popular on a worldwide level, I was like, wow, this is crazy! If she can do it, I can do it, too, being a little, queer Asian boy!

Is learning about pop culture what bridged the gap from your old life and being a drag queen?
I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race! I loved the concept of me expressing myself in a way I could never if I looked like a boy. I was always interested in art, photography, and beauty. The first queen I watched was Jujubee [on season 2]. She’s who drew me to Drag Race as an Asian-American out there living her life as a beautiful woman on the show! It was incredible and I’d never seen something like that before.

You did such a wonderful job this season, and I thought you did wonderfully in the lip-sync. I thought you connected with the song better than Vanjie did. And, statistically, you performed better than her throughout the season. No shade against Vanjie, because I love her, but do you think the judges kept her because of her legacy even though you performed better?
I don’t think so. I think Vanjie is an amazing performer and she’s a good friend of mine. I wouldn’t discredit her by any means. She’s an incredible performer. Despite our track record, she has shown that she is trying her best, and there are moments where she’s pushing herself and getting out of her comfort zone in order to show the judges that she’s not the girl who went home first in season 10. Watching the lip-sync now, she was giving all her energy and all that she is. I think it was a fair choice!

When you put your leg up on that stage to honor Alyssa, though, it literally brought a tear to my eye. Did you always intend to do that if you had to lip-sync, or did you think of it in the moment?
Honestly, it was both! I’ve always watched Alyssa Edwards. She’s an all-time favorite of mine. When she asked me to be her daughter, I was ecstatic. But, just from watching all of her lip-syncs and studying her moves, it just came naturally to me!

What did Alyssa say to you after your elimination?
When I got home, she was like, “Wait, what?” She always tells me — even before Drag Race — “You’re always going to be a star, no matter what.” For someone to say that to me, it means a lot.

Well, here’s to you being on All-Stars 5! Would you come back?
If I was asked back, maybe I would! There are so many great contenders out there, but I guess you’ll have to see.

I also imagine watching this season on TV gave you a lot of important context, like when you saw that A’Keria was the one who fed Ra’Jah the information about your boyfriend’s video in Untucked.
I was very surprised because I never realized that that’s what happened. I haven’t spoken to her about it. A’Keria is one of those queens who I considered to be one of my good friends, even though we didn’t talk to each other that much. Same with Ra’Jah. So, watching it back, it was surprising. But, I guess we’ll see at the reunion how it’s going to go down!

I thought that you opening up to Ru about your family situation was so brave. Has that situation gotten better since you’ve been on TV?
They’ve never watched the show before. Funny story: I have a very lovely, amazing fanbase in Vietnam, and my grandparents actually found out that I was on TV. I don’t know if they know if I’m on TV doing a drag show, but they found out that I was just on TV in America. When they came back here, my grandpa was like, “Good job!” That meant a lot to me. I don’t know if he knows I’m on stage performing as a woman, but him saying that is what really matters to me.

Well, you definitely stole hearts this season, but you also allegedly stole other things, from Ra’Jah’s tree bark to Brooke Lynn Hytes’s plastic neck water on the runway, and, apparently, the other girls thought you were hoarding Ariel Versace’s wigs from them? Have you always been a closet thief or are there other explanations for these things?
[Laughs]. For the bark, we’ll have to see at the reunion how things went down. All I can say is that I don’t steal and I never will. The water with Brooke Lynn, I just happened to bring it, too. We actually compared ours and were like, great minds think alike! And Ariel’s wig, I guess you’ll just have to watch and see what happens.

I saw that you wiped your Instagram today. What’s this project you’re teasing?
You’ll just have to get off the phone and watch, girl! I wrote a song to celebrate the confidence of me in drag. There’s a music video out on my YouTube channel right now. Growing up, I never had any confidence in myself and, being Plastique in drag, it’s a gift to me. So, this is something that I want to give back to the world, saying that you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do!

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