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Like a Virgin: Drag Star Kim Chi on Her Single-Minded Ambition

Drag star Kim Chi on her single-minded ambition
Photography: Ruben San Miguel

The RuPaul’s Drag Race season eight finalist opens up about sexuality and society.

The immaculate Kim Chi is still a virgin, and that's just fine by her.

"It's, like, someone who hasn't had a taste of Chipotle isn't going to crave Chipotle," says the 27-year-old season eight finalist of RuPaul's Drag Race.

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After a candid moment on the show in which she spoke about her recent weight loss, the world learned that the Chicago-based, avant-garde, anime-inspired performer had never so much as been on a date with a boy.

"Maybe someone will see the beauty in me, one of these days," Kim Chi said wistfully on episode two while painting her face in the mirror. Fellow contestant Bob the Drag Queen then responded to the camera, "I don't think Kim Chi knows what she looks like. She's still a virgin because she's not aware that she's a good-looking, 6-foot-4 man."

During the season finale, a fan asked Kim Chi which member of the Pit Crew -- RuPaul's scantily clad, hunky assistants -- she'd most like to lose her virginity to. "None," she flatly replied, because she didn't want to "catch anything."

"People said I was STD-shaming," she says. "That's not what I was trying to do. I was just trying to make a joke out of it," she says.

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On the show, Kim Chi's endearing lisp, inability to dance, and constant struggle to walk in heels -- all of which RuPaul found thoroughly amusing -- earned her a legion of adoring fans. On one episode she proclaimed, "Shady gays believe in no fats, no fems, and no Asians. As someone who is all of the above, I understand your pain." She took it a step further on the finale, performing an original song titled "Fat, Fem, and Asian."

Her enigmatic backstory was also a draw. Chi, who grew up in South Korea, revealed on the show that her parents, divorced and living in Chicago, did not know she was appearing on Drag Race, or that she was a drag queen at all, or even that she was gay. That remains true today.

Yet newfound drag superstardom has not translated into warm sheets for Kim Chi, despite her landing on a global drag tour after the season aired.

"A lot of drag queens, they go on the show, they travel all over the world, and they get what they call 'road trade,' but I don't think a lot of people see me as a sexual being," she says. "I don't think I'm asexual. The idea of sex is just not something I'm familiar with."

Kim Chi gave hookup apps a try, once, to immediate dismay. "When I signed on, everybody's like, 'Oh, my god, is that Kim Chi? You're my drag mom!' And I'm, like, you know, this is just not going to work out."

When she returned to Chicago after taping the show, she was shocked to learn that all her closest friends had jumped into relationships, seemingly overnight.

"Society's always asking, 'Are you dating anybody?' " she says. But I don't think dating is everyone's thing. If you're happy being single, then just be you."

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