RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 queen Yuhua Hamasaki wants drag to not give an 'eff' about anything
Season 10 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' is just two weeks in, and we can already tell all the queens this season are supremely polished and undeniably talented – one among the crème de la crème being Yuhua Hamasaki.
She is the first Chinese American contestant to appear on the show, but that is not the only reason for her to stand out this season. Yuhua is also a very talented performer, costume creator and comedian, who has just released her music video 'The Ankh Song.'
Now, those who have been watching the new season of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' already know the "wink-wink" reason for the title. If you're unclear look back at Yuhua's first runway outfit of the season, or at least Michelle Visage's comments on it.
Yuhua, who was inspired by children's music videos, sort of like 'Sesame Street,' says that she is using the music video to tell "the children viewers to get an ankh, which was featured in the premiere episode when I wore it on the main runway."
Further she adds, "The ankh symbolizes life and power, and the music video sorts of pokes fun of infomercials telling people to buy things and at the same time, it's trying to brainwash people at such a young age to grow up to following trends, even though there's a crazy lady, which is me, telling them all these things."
Yuhua is of the opinion that since media plays a big role in controlling the views of the public and manipulating people's minds at a young age to think a certain way, she is flipping the script to use it to change people's mind and teaching them to accept the LGBT community more.
"We are slowly getting there, but there needs to be more to show that we are just regular human beings. We eat, breathe and love the same way as everyone else. The song is catchy and there are some phrases in the lyrics that a lot of Drag Race viewers would be familiar with," she says.
Along with being the launching pad for the careers of many drag performers, 'RuPaul's Drag Race' has also been instrumental in bringing drag to the mainstream. For Yuhua, personally, the show has given her the platform to travel all over the world, share her voice and talent.
"I think that's what's so fantastic about the show. I will get to meet a lot of amazing people around the world, and I think it may open my eyes too. It will be a chance to learn more about myself as well as the little communities that make up this world," she relates.
Like many other drag queens, for Yuhua too, getting selected to be a Ru girl was a dream come true. She says, "I have wanted this so long! I remember when it first aired on Logo in 2009, and at that time, I had just started doing drag not too long ago, so the show was part of my drag childhood! When I got the phone call that I was going to be on Season 10, I was thrilled. I was so excited but at the same time, I could not tell anyone. I did jump up and down in my room!"
While us, viewers, are on the process of watching the show unfold, the queens of season 10 are long done and dusted with the competition. Still, the show continues to have a huge impact on Yuhua, who claims to have heard RuPaul's 'Snapshot' being played during the runway while watching the premiere episode in NYC.
The moments behind the stage right before the girls are called out to the runway were her favorite. Yuhua elaborates, "That's when everyone is nervous, anxious, unsure, excited... basically a mix of a bunch of emotions. That's when we get really close and try to comfort each other because we know someone is going to be sent home that day and it gets really emotional."
Speaking of eliminations, we had to ask this fierce queen about Miss Vanji's heavily memed departure and if she should get the Shangela treatment. "Of course," is the two-word answer to it. Here is why, according to Yuhua: "She deserves it! She was sooo fabulous on the show. She was funny, loud, and sassy, and anyone with those characteristics should be allowed a Shangela treatment and come back on the show. When I heard her say her name three times before exiting, I thought she was so shocked by her elimination that she said her name wrong so she was trying it get it right the second time, and the third time. Little did I know, it was her middle name! Haha!"
Yuhua, however, will get to show us a few more of her talents this season, which includes "sew, design, act, dance, and comedy." So basically, all the challenges that Ru has prepared for the girls?
"I do everything and that's what makes me a strong competitor," claims Yuhua, adding, "I am a one-woman machine entertainer and I am not scared of hard work. If I were to pick, I would say comedy and designing/sewing. I'm funny, witty, sassy and full of energy, but at the same time I can sit down and quickly sew something fabulous to wear."
This Chinese American queen's "I am fierce and I don't care what you think" attitude is exactly what sets her apart from most queens these days. While many are worried about the number of Instagram followers and being Miss Congeniality (ahem, Ben), Yuhua wants to do drag for the same reason the first drag was created: "It was a political statement."
"The type of drag that I do is poking fun of everything, sometimes a little bit too much, but that should be okay because that's what drag is all about: saying and doing things most people are scared to do. Also, when do you do them, it should trigger people. If your jokes, music, acts, and looks don't make people think, then it is sort of defeats the purpose," she says.
Her description is very reminiscent of Lady Bunny, who as it turns out is one of Yuhua's biggest inspirations. "She is crazy, wild, vocal, and she don't give an eff about anything. Drag is not about pleasing anyone, it is about using your voice and speaking up about your beliefs and values. When you are in drag, you have the power to make change. That’s how drag used to be," she says.
Yuhua is also among fierce queens like Violet Chachki, Courtney Act, and Eureka O'Hara, who identify as gender-fluid. For the uninitiated, gender-fluid people are those who refuse to define themselves as male or female. "Sometimes I feel like I am closer to the male side of the spectrum and sometimes I feel more female. Sometimes I’m just myself," explains Yuhua.
This, as she points out, is very new to drag. "We’ve always had gay men who dress up in drag and that’s all we’ve ever really known about drag. But recently we’ve learned about bio queens, cisgender females who do drag. Also, there are drag kings -- cis females that do male drag — and trans queens, trans women or trans men who perform in drag."
"There are people who feel that to live in this world, you have to be straight. Then there are some people who accept that there are not only heterosexual people, but homosexual people who are part of this world and bisexual people too. And then they learn about transgender people and accept them as a part of this world. But what about those that don’t want to transition but are also somewhere in the middle. They’re just themselves. They don’t believe in genders, they just believe in being themselves, whether it’s more feminine or more masculine," says Yuhua, adding, "All these structures of masculinity and femininity were made up by people from generations ago. And it's something we still follow. That’s how we were raised. But that’s not for me."
Yuhua also opens about how she assumed that people would care about this aspect of her in the past, but as she kept performing, she learned to be more confident and later translated that persona on to her out-of-drag version as well. "So now, I don't even care what people think. I'm just here to live happily and comfortably in my authentic self, and I encourage everyone to do that because your life will be so much easier and happier."
Being the first Chinese American queen to ever appear on the show, makes her feel empowered. She claims, "Gender neutral people have been in this world for a long time, except we don't know much about it because it is not talked about as much as being LGBT. Asians, too, as we know, are underrepresented in the entertainment industry. We are expected to be lawyers, doctors, mathematicians and scientists, but we can also be talented and funny entertainers and even drag performers."
If you're a British fan of Yuhua, you can catch her live performance at the prestigious G-A-Y in London on April 12. The drag queen herself is quite excited about the event. In her own words, "I am so excited to be performing at G-A-Y!!! Not only is it my first time performing there, but it is also my first time in Europe!!!"
But, if you ask her about her remaining journey on 'Drag Race,' she is going to get coy and witty: "I will tell you what I told Miz Cracker in the premiere episode.... I'm not a real woman either!!!"
You can watch Yuhua and her sisters compete to become America's next drag superstar in season 10 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' which airs on Vh1 at 8/7c on Thursdays.