RuPaul's Drag Race can change a performer's relationship with their art form — at times, irrevocably so. What was once a hobby or creative expression can become a fulltime all-consuming job. A space meant for joy and freedom could become plagued with critics and overbearing gossip. And while the mainstreaming of drag in general can cause this, a stint (or two on Drag Race) can surely expedite it. And as a result, some performers can change (or, in the case of the artist formerly known as Tyra Sanchez, end) their relationship with drag.
"I've been wanting to stop performing in drag for years now," Jaremi Carey, who performed as Phi Phi O'Hara on Drag Race wrote in a recent post to Twitter. "When my hobby became a job ... it kind of killed it for me. I love the reaction and response I get for creating amazing pieces and characters and with drag becoming mainstream it has created a pool of 'experts' who have no experience in the art than entering their Netflix login, and [in my opinion] soured the fun for me."
"I don't plan on stopping drag," Carey continued. "I will continue to create and ONLY attend LARGE tours or conventions in drag which will be announced when those are scheduled. But as far as performing at bars, brunches, or events of similar caliber, I will be stopping all together soon. I haven't decided when exactly but so far the plan is 2020 will be the last year, maybe sooner."
Carey notably competed on Drag Race season 4 and All Stars season 2 but skipped the reunion.
"Phi Phi has never been real ... always a character because 'Jaremi' at the time wouldn't work for my drag name when I started," Carey wrote. "Phi Phi has been a great vessel for my art to come alive in but at the end of the day, I realized I never needed her to show my art."
Over the years Carey has been doing projects under the name Jaremi, including their month-long cosplay as various Harry Potter characters. This work — as well as other things like hosting Twitch streams — is likely to continue. A recent popular series Carey has embarked on is hosting a "ball" challenge within Nintendo's Animal Crossing game.
"My art will continue, my creations will continue, and my passion for entertaining will stay here and ALWAYS be fierce, but under my given name Jaremi is the artist, I'm here and not leaving, the Phi Phi name will be exiting shortly," he wrote. "Hope that clears stuff or answers questions many of you have been asking me."
To that end, Carey already seems to be initiating the process of changing his social media handles.