Capital Pride Concert
Sunday, June 10
Capitol Concert Stage
3rd and Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Asia O’Hara took home the titles for Miss Gay USofA in 2007, All American Goddess 2012 and Miss Gay America 2016 but still had to audition three times to compete for the crown on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Hailing from Dallas, the 35-year-old veteran drag queen has now fought her way to the final five on season 10 of the drag competition show and secured her spot as a headliner of the Capital Pride Concert.
O’Hara will perform at the Capital Pride Festival/concert at 7 p.m. on the CAPITOL Concert Stage (3rd & Pennsylvania) as part of the HOT 99.5 event. It’s free. Details here.
Speaking with the Washington Blade, O’Hara dished on who she thought went home too soon, the truth behind reality show editing and what it was like getting slapped by RuPaul.
WASHINGTON BLADE: In the beginning of the season you went out of your way to help the other queens during one of the challenges and didn’t leave time for yourself. Do you regret doing that now?
O’HARA: Not at all. My viewpoint in competition is a little different than others. I feel like as long as you make it to the next week, it’s a win. Although it was scary to be that close to the bottom, once I realized that I was not lip-syncing or possibly going home, then I was fine. It’s like an investment. Sometimes it’s risky and it’s scary at the moment but once you realize that you’re going to be fine and it paid off, then there’s no sense in regretting the risk that you took.
BLADE: Why do you think the judges didn’t connect with your Beyoncé impression in Snatch Game?
O’HARA: The entire goal of the Snatch Game is to make Ru and the judges laugh. Beyoncé is not somebody that is known for being comedic. On top of that, she no longer does interviews, so it’s hard for people to connect with her personality because people don’t really know her personally. I thought that since her personality is ambiguous it gave me a lot of room to play and do whatever I wanted. Some people that are celebrities just have infectious personalities and they’re successful primarily because people just love them and their personalities. She, unfortunately, is probably not one of them. She’s a celebrity because of her talent. I think that’s why the judges had trouble connecting with her.
BLADE: You were one of the only people that broke down the Vixen’s wall and said you understood where both she and the others were coming from. Did you feel like she heard you?
O’HARA: Absolutely. I know for a fact that she did. It’s one of those things where approach is everything. I know that she heard me and understood where I’m coming from. I think that I just acknowledged that I understood what she was saying and didn’t think she was just bat crazy is what gave her the ability to be openminded with what I was saying.
BLADE: What’s your relationship like with her now?
O’HARA: It’s great. We don’t talk all the time but we text back and forth about funny stuff and talk about our goals in the future. Every time we see one another we hang out. I was recently in Chicago, which is where she lives, and she came out to the show and we hung out in the dressing room. Honestly, it’s no different than how it always was. Other than that brief moment where she was obviously upset that I said her name for who I thought should go home. But we’ve always had a great relationship.
BLADE: Where do you get your life wisdom from?
O’HARA: I don’t think that I’m wise. I was older than everybody. I think that’s just how that works. Mayhem (Miller) and I were the two oldest contestants. “Drag Race” was a new avenue for me but I’ve done drag in multiple facets of the community. Pageants, being a showgirl, being a backup dancer, being a show director, doing charity drag and now a reality show. So I’ve seen drag from multiple points of view. I think it’s sometimes easier for me to understand and communicate in the world of drag because I don’t have just a one-sided perspective of what drag is or should or should not be.
BLADE: Another memorable moment in the season was when you got accidentally slapped by RuPaul. What was that like?
O’HARA: To be honest, it was quite fun because it was so great to see her so concerned. She legitimately for a split second was concerned that I was hurt. She didn’t know what direction that was about to go in. That to me was the funnest part just to see how nervous she was. She was like, “Oh my god is she about to act a fool? Are we going to have to go stop the cameras so she can see the medic?” That was the funnest part for me because she’s completely in control of every aspect of the competition. So to see her in that brief moment not know what was about to happen was quite refreshing.
BLADE: How do you feel about the way the show has been edited versus how it felt in the moment? Do you think you were fairly represented?
O’HARA: I think everybody is always fairly represented. People love to say that editing changes things. They basically take two or three days worth of filming and condense them into 78 minutes of footage. I feel like everything has been completely accurate for me and everyone. There were times I was terrible in the competition and it accurately showed that. There were times I was great in the competition and it was accurate as well. The editing has been exactly how I remember things happened.
BLADE: Was there anyone that you felt went home too early?
O’HARA: Absolutely. Now, when I say someone went home too early I’m saying they had more to offer the competition. I’m not saying I don’t feel like they deserved to go home based on what they presented that week. But two people I saw going further in the competition were Blair St. Clair and Monét X Change. Blair was one of the only people that on day one I thought to myself, “Clearly, she’s top four material.” I was really shocked when she went home close to halfway through. Monét X Change also had some great moments. I was surprised that she didn’t make it. Not initially, but as I got to know her and see her talent level, she was another person I could see making it to the end.
BLADE: Speaking of Blair St. Clair, how did you feel when she opened up about her sexual assault? Did it just come out of nowhere?
O’HARA: It didn’t come out of nowhere. The lead question that prompted that may have gotten missed I don’t recall how that happened in person. As we got to know Blair personally, we knew that there was something there. Unfortunately, what you don’t get to see on television, in any reality competition, is sometimes just being in the same room with someone and having a conversation with them you feel like you need to ask them, “Something else on your mind?”
BLADE: Aquaria is one of the younger queens. What was it like watching her approach the competition as a more seasoned queen?
O’HARA: It was great. The thing about Aquaria is that although she’s young, she’s more mature than most 21-year-olds and more mature than I was at that age. She’s very talented. It’s refreshing to see someone so young, so talented and so self-aware about their art. Of course when I found out how old she was I didn’t know what to expect. But as the competition progressed and I got to know her I was thrilled to know she was only 21.
BLADE: Was there any moment that didn’t make the cut featuring you that you wish viewers had seen?
O’HARA: Not really. There are more moments that I forgot happened that I was pleasantly surprised with. One logistic thing that probably just wouldn’t have made sense on television is that during the “Breastworld” challenge when I was playing the Para Salin character, the first half of that challenge they went through multiple times. I was sitting on the sidelines for probably 45 minutes before it got to my part because I was the last character to enter the scene. When I entered the scene the judges just erupted into laugher because I think they forgot I was even there because I was off to the side while they were working with the other girls. I thought that might make the cut but it probably was something production wise than it was an actual piece of the story. I think Michelle (Visage) even said “Oh my god, I completely forgot you were sitting over there.”
BLADE: What can people expect from your Capital Pride performance?
O’HARA: I call myself a chameleon queen. I don’t travel around the world presenting the same creative ideas that I presented in the competition because I feel like people like to be surprised and like something fresh and new. People can expect to be pleasantly surprised and see something that is authentically Asia but not something they’ve seen already on television.