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Plastique Tiara is determined to show Asian excellence on All Stars 9 & beyond

Plastique Tiara is determined to show Asian excellence on All Stars 9 & beyond

Plastique Tiara
Courtesy of Plastique Tiara

"That's the theme for this whole Drag Race run: I want it to be so incomparable that it's, like, funny. I'm so happy to see that people are gagging," Plastique Tiara tells Out in an interview.

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As Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month comes to an end and we're immediately ushered into Pride Month in 2024, Plastique Tiara finds herself at the intersection of Asian and queer pride while competing on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 9.

Eight fierce queens have entered All Stars 9 not only to compete for a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, but also to represent different charities and raise money for those organizations. When it comes to Plastique's choice to represent The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), the stakes feel even higher.

"Since the pandemic, our community has felt like we were under attack — physically and emotionally. But AAPI Heritage Month means that we are seen, and I feel prouder than ever," Plastique tells Out. "The Asian American Foundation has raised so much money to fight back anti-Asian hate, to teach AAPI history in schools, and to fund organizations that elevate our presence in the media. Picking TAAF was a no-brainer for me."

The average drag enthusiast is mind-blown by Plastique's 11.6 million followers on TikTok and 2.5 million followers on Instagram, which make her the most-followed Drag Race queen across social media. But while she's undeniably popular and an A+ fashion queen in Mama Ru's queendom, Plastique is actually standing out for her confidence and her pride in who she is.

Plastique Tiara

Courtesy of Plastique Tiara

"I kind of lost who I was, within my work, for some time after season 11," Plastique says. "I had to sit down with myself and ask, 'Okay, who am I doing this for? What am I about? Is there more to me than just being a pretty drag queen?' That's when I thought about visiting my homeland of Vietnam. I moved here when I was 10, 11 years old… so I hadn't been there for 14 years."

She adds, "Many people would come up to me saying that they could relate to my story, but the Asian experience [is even richer when] you live through it. That's when I asked myself, 'Okay, if I'm not going to do it, who's going to?'"

When Plastique visits Vietnam as an adult, she's immediately mesmerized by the country's landscape, beauty, and culture.

"There were things that influenced me growing up that I didn't even know that I had in me," she recalls. "It felt like a reality check. I found my purpose. This thing that I do, drag… it's so much bigger than me. Coming back this season, I had to fiercely represent my heritage and where I'm from."

Plastique Tiara

Paramount+

Raised by her grandparents, it takes some time for Plastique to go live with her mom. "That's when we finally met each other," she says. Plastique and her mom first go to Sacramento for a few months, but as the economy crashes in 2008, they subsequently move to Houston. "We lived in Houston for two, three years," she notes, "and then I was in Dallas up until four years ago. That's when I really moved to L.A."

Plastique grows up with Vietnamese culture at home while slowly immersing herself into the American society that she's now also a part of. It's oddly difficult to explain the immigrant experience — also felt by this writer — to someone who doesn't have similar points of reference. It's exciting, but also isolating. It's promising, but also discouraging. It comes with all of the standard challenges in the so-called American Dream, but it's also remixed with legal procedures, language barriers, cultural blindspots, and a desire to assimilate that can be both productive and destructive.

"When you're surrounded by a different culture, trying to learn English, trying to blend in, and trying not get bullied… you do lose a little bit of the essence of where you're from," Plastique says. "For a long time, it was like, 'Just try to blend in. Just keep your head down.' Growing up, I didn't learn to express myself. I didn't learn about individuality."

She goes on, "Drag was powerful because I looked in the mirror and saw a different version of myself… the most beautiful version of myself. But, over time, it's changed from me trying to be something beautiful to me seeing that expressing who I truly am is beautiful. Like, that's where I'm from, that's what I've learned, this is my real experience."

Plastique Tiara

Courtesy of Plastique Tiara

Between Anetra's hard-fought finalist placement in season 15 to Marina Summers' pitch-perfect run on UK vs the World season 2 to Nymphia Wind's historic crowning in season 16, Drag Race has been really highlighting Asian queer excellence as of late — and Plastique's run on All Stars 9 feels like the perfect continuation to this wonderful momentum.

"I think it's about time!" Plastique says. "For a long time, since Raja, and Kim Chi, and even me [in season 11], being an Asian queen felt like that one queen who's in the cast but is going home either middle-of-the-road or early-out. In this moment, like me coming back [onto All Stars 9], we all have a sense of pride and a mission that we want to prove… not only to the world, but also to our community. We want to showcase our culture and our art. It just feels correct, at the end of the day."

Plastique is also proud of the sisterhood that they're developing between themselves. "Me and Nymphia, we talk over DMs all the time," Plastique reveals. "I haven't met Anetra yet, but I think all of us Asian queens are interconnected somehow. We just have this camaraderie like, 'We need to stick together. We need to do well.' [laughs] It's definitely a sisterhood that is tighter than the rest."

She adds, "Every time I meet someone who is Asian and does drag, it's always a kiki. We just always have love for each other."

When asked about the stunning, exhilarating, insane, mind-boggling photo shoots and videos that she's created to showcase her looks on social media, Plastique giggles with excitement.

"I have an amazing team behind me. Anyone can have a vision, but if there's no team, it cannot be done," she says. "I had this vision that I really wanted to carry out: I wanted it to be overkill. My team in Paris and my team in the U.S. definitely collaborated and made that vision possible."

Plastique declares:

"That's the theme for this whole Drag Race run. I want it to be so incomparable that it's, like, funny. I'm so happy to see that people are gagging."

Last but certainly not least, we couldn't let Plastique go without asking about the Sailor Moon references she served in the "Drag Queens Save the World" performance of All Stars 9.

"If you know Sailor Star Fighter, Stage On!, they're the first drag superstars of the universe. So honestly, for me, when I got the prompt in my hands, this was a no-brainer. It's celebrating our culture, celebrating anime, celebrating fantasy, and it's something in drag."

Plastique explains, "Growing up, there weren't a lot of Asian queer influences out in the world, so Sailor Moon and anime became every Asian kid's obsession. Especially for the queer community. I can't say much, but…" she stops herself, giggling.

Without giving anything away, we ask if there will be more — much more — that's still to come. "I was going to slip," she replies, "but yes. Oh, yes."

New episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 9 are streaming every Friday on Paramount+.

Plastique Tiara

Paramount+

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Bernardo Sim

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim is a writer, content creator, and the deputy editor of Out. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.