Kahmora Hall won't be late to RuPaul's Drag Race stardom
Season 13's first eliminated queen opens up about green screen tree boobs, runway tardiness, and Mackie Doll excellence.
She lost two lip-syncs, endowed a CGI tree with perky breasts, stomped the main stage in vintage Bob Mackie, and caused a Gay Panic™ for her tardiness to the runway — all across the four-episode run-up to becoming the first eliminated queen of RuPaul's Drag Race season 13. It's a track record rarely achieved by the franchise's first-out queens, but one worthy of Kahmora Hall's beauty nonetheless, with the fanfare and spectacle of it all serving as a fitting opening act for the Chicago legend's permanent sashay into the Pork Chop Loading Dock.
"Even though I'm the first eliminated, it doesn't really feel like that. I've had the opportunity to be on multiple episodes and share my story and some of my looks, so it's not like I went 40 minutes and out!" Hall — drag sister to season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall — tells EW of her time on the show, which came to an unfortunate (yet entertaining) end Friday night, after her "wooden" acting challenge performance as a computer-animated tree trunk (which she amusingly attempted to give giant boobs, judging by the padding under her green screen suit) landed her in the bottom two against fellow Chicago icon Denali. "I thought I was going to be the Mackie Doll of trees, not just a thick ass trunk! That was a gag for me. I got padded for no reason!"
But it wasn't all for naught: Hall made a lasting impression across four episodes, and she's right on time to claim her rightful place in the Drag Race herstory books. Shortly after her elimination, EW caught up with Hall for a candid discussion on the four-episode run-up to her permanent residence in the Pork Chop Loading Dock, including what it's like to play a busty green-screen tree, what she's going to do with all that vintage Mackie in her closet, what really happened behind the scenes during her jaw-dropping runway mishap, and proudly carrying the Hall legacy for Jaida Essence Hall and beyond.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Kahmora! How are you holding up, now that you're a permanent resident of the Pork Chop Loading Dock?
KAHMORA HALL: [Laughs] I feel fantastic! Even though I'm the first eliminated, it doesn't really feel like that. I've had the opportunity to be on multiples episodes and share my story and some of my looks, so it's not like I went 40 minutes and out!
Are you doing this interview from your bathtub?
Unfortunately, not! I'm in my Pokémon t-shirt and some shorts in my office right now. It's still a look, but, that was so funny! Your edits and clips from that were hilarious.
We should celebrate, because this is the longest run-up to a first elimination ever after four episodes, it's like, we can just say you're so excellent that everything on episodes one to four was just the opening act for your elimination.
I love that my elimination is basically a big event, as it should be!
I mean, you're definitely going out as the queen who looked the best on her first elimination. Is this look indicative of what we would've seen from you every week if you'd stayed?
Of course! I meant it when I said I was the Mackie Doll. This runway was inspired by his Fantasy Goddess of Asia Barbie doll.
I should've known!
That being said, I had a bunch of looks up my sleeve. I wanted to show versatility. One theme that was constant throughout is everything was sparkly and rhinestoned. Don't let me fool you: This was not the best runway in my package. It just would've gotten better!
You gagged everyone with the vintage Mackie you had tailored because you're sample size! I know you met him before, but have you heard anything since you debuted his design on the show?
His PR agent got ahold of [a recent interview I did]. It was cool to have his social media share it. I message with his agent back and forth, she'll send him photos and interviews, so knowing that he sees pictures and photos, means everything to me. This was all worth it. I hope I get to meet him again soon! Maybe he'll have something from the archives…. Whatever he wants to let me borrow! This is what I wanted: Bob Mackie noticed me!
You made waves in a few other ways this season — girl, taking so long to get ready in the Werk Room! How much time had elapsed in those moments when we saw you panicking, like, everyone really went to the runway without you?
I truly only had an hour! I did my best. Bitch, how do I turn my four- or five-hour concept into an hour? I was struggling to do it in an hour and make it on time. I was late, yes, but I did my best! I didn't feel the most beautiful in my day look, but it got better and I learned a lot from it. I was only late once!
You looked great in both looks, so it was, well, late time well spent! In that episode, you also talked about your relationship with a boyfriend who doesn't like the fact that you do drag, and you tried to hide it from him — to a lot of people watching, I think that sounded concerning, and it clearly got you emotional. Are you still in that relationship or has what people have said about it online opened your eyes to some issues with that part of the relationship?
This is TV…. I'm happy I got to share my story, but it's not the whole picture. My boyfriend has always been very supportive of me, but knowing that I got on the show and seeing that drag is my passion and is more than just a hobby…. I do have the support that I need and I'm in a good place. I just don't want people to worry.
I think that's where our concern was: We get to know you in some capacity over this show, and I want to make sure you're happy.
I'm happy that I have the support that I want and need from my boyfriend and my family. It makes me regret not sharing this part of my life with my family, and this experience has brought me closer to my family!
When it comes to family, people were holding you to a standard of your drag family as well, especially Jaida, your sister. Do you think that puts unfair expectations on you?
A little bit! Being from the House of Hall, Jaida just won, so I knew there would be eyes on me, not just from the judges but the other contestants. It was so much pressure. But I've been waiting for this moment for so long, this was my time to shine. This is about Kahmora, it's not about the other members of the House of Hall. I kind of forgot that along the way, as the episode progressed, because I got in my head and started feeling the pressure. I did feel the pressure from that, knowing that Jaida just won. I wish I had more fun. It was my moment to shine, I shouldn't have lingered on that!
Leading up to your elimination, you made a good impression! You had me laughing so hard in the challenge. You wearing the breastplate under the green screen suit, girl, that was so funny! Did you think that tree was going to have CGI boobs!?
My character was a great mystical tree, so I thought I was going to be this voluptuous, beautiful, glamorous oak tree! I didn't know I was going to be a thick ass tree trunk! I thought I was going to be curvy with limbs and beautiful hair! That's why I was dressed for the part.
So you did wear the plate thinking you were going to have tree bark breasts?
Yes! I thought I was going to be the Mackie Doll of trees, not just a thick ass trunk! That was a gag for me. I got padded for no reason!
It's a really great image, the little green screen nipples peeping out. Ross directing you to get your "I was rooting for us" right was great, too. How many times did you have to rehearse that line, and why couldn't you get it right the way Tyra Banks did it on America's Next Top Model?
It was more than 20 times! I just remember the camera crew rolling their eyes every time I got it wrong [Laughs]. I felt like it was my third chance they'd given me. The first time was in the Pork Chop Loading Dock, then no one got eliminated last week, so this was my third chance to prove to the judges that I'm not just a walking hanger and I could be funny! I wanted to be something silly and out of the box for me. I was so concerned about landing the lines and being perfect that I forgot to have fun.
Can you do the line reading properly, right now?
Oh my God! I think it was [clears throat in Tyra Banks for flawless execution] I was rooting for us!
You did it!
I emphasized the right words! Can we just go back in time? That's all I want right now!
We can go back to talk about the critiques you received this season. The judges said you had no personality, is that something you'd ever heard before?
That's what was frustrating because back in Chicago, people know I'm a sweetheart, but I love a good kiki. I have a silly side to me. In my "Phenomenon" performance, I tried to make silly faces and sing and rap the song. So it was like, am I just delusional? In the acting challenge, I thought I was doing great and giving variation in my voice, but clearly, I wasn't! Maybe I am delusional?
It's hard for people to understand the pressure you're under. I can see how it would make someone feel buttoned-up. Why was that such a difficult thing for you to overcome? You got emotional about it on the runway!
Standing there getting my critiques, I kept thinking that it was my third chance, and I was disappointing them. I felt like I failed every time. Even though I felt confident, it just wasn't translating on the outside. It was really frustrating.
In the lip-sync, it read like you were already defeated. Or was that the weight of the dress?
It was a little bit of both. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to move in the dress as much as Denali. I knew she would do what she does best, I wouldn't expect anything less. I knew the show must go on and do what I do best: Serve face and look beautiful. When you know, you know when it's your time, and for me, I kind of knew it. I kept moving and that's all I could do.
We've seen a tradition with first-eliminated queens popping up again in recent seasons, should we keep an eye out for Kahmora Hall cameos as a tree?
I don't want to give anything away, but, I will say Kahmora is a great ac-trees, so she will be making a debut at some point on Instagram. Please check that out!
RuPaul's Drag Race season 13 continues Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on VH1. Keep up with EW's comprehensive coverage.