RuPaul's Drag Race is back! And while yes, we could sit here and complain that we have moved beyond the point of oversaturation, so much so that this is unsustainable and will cause the series to truly be a trend, instead let's just naively believe all is right and get into this latest season of queens.
On this week's episode, we kicked things off with a full roster of queens competing for the crown. Fifteen contestants, and more than a few outsized personalities (hi Vanessa Vanjie Matteo, hello Silky Nutmeg Ganashe), made for what felt like a slightly long slog. That's not counting the fact that the mini-challenge, which featured cameos by alumnae for a photoshoot, literally doubled the cast.
For the runway, queens had to create their looks based off of the materials from past queens (Ru wants to make it clear that there's a Drag Race herstory OK!) and the results were varied. Brooke Lynn Hytes, "Queen of the North" as she's been called since she's from Canada, came off with a polished look that not many others had. But she's quite familiar with competing as a former Miss Continental. Though she won, A'Keria C. Davenport and Miss Vanjie also made pretty strong impressions.
For the lipsync, Soju and Kahanna Montrese wound up in the bottom. Soju's waist-less gown, inspired by a traditional Korean garment, didn't win her much favor with the judges and didn't help her much in the performance either. And though Kahanna is not yet proven to be the lip sync assassin that her drag mother Coco Montrese is, she did what needed to be done and backflipped her way back into the game.
Here, we talk to Soju, who came into the show with an avid fan base and international presence, about what she hoped to do on the show, being a YouTube queen, and going viral for having a cyst on her taint.
"Oh, it's gone now," she tells Out. We're glad girl. We're glad
Coming into the season, having been watchingDrag Race for so long, what was your impression and what were you hoping to do on the show?
I really thought I knew everything. I came in, kind of like Sasha Belle when she was like 'I've done my research and blah blah blah.' That's kind of how I felt. But, most importantly, I just wanted to go in and have fun because I just wanted to be there so much. When I finally got there, I wanted to look into every corner and look behind the walls. I actually got in trouble sometimes because I would be roaming around the set, looking at how the furniture was made and stuff. But I just wanted to have fun and explore.
Thinking about that, we all know that the entrance look can be a big deal. What was the thought process behind yours? I know that being Korean is a large part of your brand as a queen.
I wanted to give people something that was true to me and still drag so I ended up going with a dragged out version of my taekwondo uniform. It's made by Hekature in Chicago and I just wanted to give something that was true to me and my Korean culture, and I've been doing taekwondo since I was two years old. So it's a big part of my life. My drag is sort of a dragged out version of my life.
I could have worn the prettiest gown, trust me I had the resources. I chose to wear what I wore and that's why I'm so happy with it. The response was very polarizing, but people that got it, loved it, and that's all that matters to me.
Can you explain the polarizing part?
Well some people just really didn't understand it. They thought I was just wearing a karate uniform and that it wasn't showing my body and all that. But there are taekwondo athletes that are men and women and there's no "femininity" or "masculinity" when it comes to that uniform. Plus, I added this cape on it that would give it more of a drag flare. What I was trying to do is challenge what drag is. There's Kim Chi, who did a great representation, but you don't really get to see Korean drag queens often. For me, I could have went in there with a simple gown or something you guys had seen before and probably gotten a "toot" for it but that bores me. If my drag doesn't excite me, I don't want to do it.
Right after your entrance there was that moment with Ariel Versace where she asks, "Are you an entertainer or just a blogger," referencing your work on YouTube --
I thought that was really interesting. Ariel and I are friends now, and I joke about it, but I found it interesting that another social media queen would come at me for being a YouTube queen. I find that really funny and ironic, but I think she just wanted to ask me a question and be sassy about it. That was cute.
What was it like to come in basically already having your own brand?
I think being a YouTube queen and being able to have traveled around the world and perform before Drag Race, I got to do these things because of YouTube. I'm very thankful about that. There was a lot of pressure, that I think I put on myself, because I thought people were going to expect something from me because they know me. But when I got in the room, everyone was super chill and didn't really give a crap where I was from. So it really just me thinking I had to live up to something.
Having been on the show, you've now gone viral for your whole cyst revelation which has now been made into memes. Do you now regret having that conversation or how you feel in general?
I live for the memes! I'm a social media queen so I feel like I thrive on the memes; the more memes, the stronger I get. I do not regret it now. But onstage, of course I regretted it! I was like "What did I just say? What did I just tell not only RuPaul but the rest of the worlds?" That I have a freaking cyst on my taint. That's all over VH1. But as soon as I got backstage and was kiki-ing with my sisters on Untucked, they just made me feel so good. We were laughing and having a moment. I didn't think it would go viral, but I'm still kind of glad that I did it.
I know you also do a K-pop party called Seoul Train and I would love to hear about the importance of that series.
Of course! Seoul Train is a K-pop party where we invite local performers and sometimes international performers that DJ or perform or host. It's really important to me because my whole purpose behind my drag is to spread Korean culture in America and to show more representation of Korean queer communities in America. I think that's important because there's so many Asian kids, not just Korean, that are in the closet because they feel like no one is going to back them up. So my parties are all-inclusive; it's not just for drag performers, it's for any performer that wants to enjoy K-pop music. We come together under the umbrella of K-pop, but there's a feeling of community and protection. I want people to feel like they are not alone.
What's next for you?
I'm going to be releasing new music, and I'll be adding more dates to Seoul Train and obviously there will be a new season of Shot with Soju happening soon with the first, premiere episode being with Margaret Cho. All the information for my upcoming projects will be on my new website, which I'm pretty excited about.
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