She didn’t come to read books, she came to turn lewks, henny…
You may recognize Aquaria from her stunning Instagram posts, or her unique runway looks from this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. IN caught up with the 22-year-old season 10 queen for a little Q&A ahead of her appearance this upcoming Saturday at the Green Space Festival’s launch party in Toronto. We spoke about her first trip to Canada, her performance inspiration, and her unlikely role as a body positivity activist.
Aquaria, Toronto is really excited to have you this weekend at the Green Space Festival launch party. What can you tell us about your performance this Saturday?
I can tell you that it’s going to be in Toronto at the Green Space Festival launch party, I can tell you that much. (Laughs) No, I’m super excited to be in Toronto. It’s my first time in Canada, so that should be fun. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to buy or make new costumes since Drag Race, so I am going to be bringing some different looks of mine, but also some of the stand out looks of mine so far from the season, and I’m going to be doing some numbers that have to do with those looks. Costuming and outfits and performances, they’re my thing, so I want to bring that to Toronto, just as I would anywhere else!
What are you most excited about with performing in Canada?
I’ve never gotten the opportunity to meet my Canadian fans, so it will be nice to meet all of them. And I love performing anywhere so it’s always a pleasure to be on the stage and I’m just happy to be involved!
Awesome! Going back to your costuming/fashion. You studied fashion in New York and your drag aesthetic is very unique to Aquaria. Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re creating new looks?
For me a lot of the time I like doing things that make an impact. The representation that that I always go back to is a pop star. Whether it’s Lady Gaga or Madonna I love the way those women in pop music have always made an effort to create a specific vision, or a specific fantasy with a look. And that’s how I kind of like to go about things. If I’m giving you disco-something one night, then I’m giving you the full-on disco, but with a bit of a spin to it because I don’t like to just give you something straight up and dry. I like to put my own take on it because I think I have my original inspiration, but I also have art history inspiration that pop into my head. Or other cultural references that I like to pull out.
I like to just really mix a whole lot of things in a blender, and then wear that as a look for the most part. It’s like you can have a basic house salad, or you can have the crazy, re-done salad, you know, with all the fancy shit in it. Both are them are salads, but I’m the fancy salad.
You come from the New York drag scene, and you’ve entered the competition with a pretty large social media following. How do you think that prepared you to compete on the show? Or even for life as a drag performer after the season ends?
I think I’m used to being received by a lot more people than just a small bar. So I know that there are a lot of varying opinions of what I do, and how I do it. It’s given me an advantage because I have the support, but it’s also given me a disadvantage because I have a lot to live up to, and people will be watching my every move, and waiting for me to screw something up.
So there’s the stress of that, but I think in general, having the opportunity to travel before Drag Race, and have a large fan base before drag race has just been very helpful to me as an artist, and very validating, because it just shows that people really enjoy my work, and apparently a lot of them do. And I’m not even trying to please too many people, I’m just trying to be me. So if people are liking me being me without even being on TV, then I’m happy with that, and glad to be doing what I’m doing.
We’re about half way through the season. Have you noticed any ways that your career has already changed just by being on the show?
Yeah, I mean, getting on Drag Race in 2018 is definitely a fantastic way to cement yourself in the world of drag, and to make a name for yourself. And you know I’ve only won one week, and I’ve been safe every other week. I don’t think I’ve had too many falling moments, and I think people respect that. So the fan base continues to grow, as different people have the opportunity to see my art, I get to travel to different places, more opportunities to do press things, and talk about my art and share it with the world in a magazine, on a runway, in a television screen. The more I can share me with everyone else, the happier I am, and I think that the first half of the season has gone by I definitely have experienced more of those good vibes coming my way.
You are the youngest contestant on this season of Drag Race (Aquaria was 21-years-old at the time of filming). How old were you when you started your drag career, and who or what inspired you to start it?
I started drag in the fall of 2014, and what inspired me to do it was that it encompasses all of my favourite artistic aspects, and it just feels very correct for me to be doing. And there’s some things about drag that challenge me whenever I’m performing or going out, I need something that can interest me, but also push me further, and try to challenge me for lack of better words.
After the season ends, what do you want Aquaria to be remembered for?
Ideally I’d like her to be remembered as the winner, but I don’t know if we’ll even make it that far. So let’s hold off on that for now. But beyond that, I want to be remembered for what I do in real life. But in regards to the show, the fun runways that I’ve put out and the interesting take on these assignments that I put out. My drag is not anything particularly revolutionary by any means. But I think it’s something different from what we often see on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I think that it’s something that a lot of people don’t realize they can connect and relate to.
I would never think of myself to be an inspiration when it comes to body, and body positivity, cause you know I’m like the skinny little popsicle stick walking down the runway. And in fashion especially that kind of look is particularly applauded. But I’ve had many girls, guys, whomever, reach out to me because I don’t frequently pad, or do the hourglass body, and let me know that I’m very inspiring to them, and I encourage them to love their lack of curves more. Because being a quote-on-quote woman, or whatever doesn’t mean that you have to have a curvy body. So it’s just nice to know that I’m inspiring people’s perception of gender, of shape, and just playing with all that, screwing it up and messing with people’s perception of beauty.
Finally, what’s next for Aquaria?
Well, we’ve still got a little bit of the season left to pretend like we’re famous superstars, I think all of us from season 10 are just basking in that. I’ve got a lot of fun tour dates coming up for the summer, and into the fall. And I want to work on a lot more fashion and video projects. I’ve always been heavily involved in the fashion lifestyle, so I want to keep that going, keep pushing my art, and learning new things and just turning out stuff that makes people happy, because I think what I’ve been doing has made a lot of people happy. I just want to continue to prove to them that I’m the queen that I say I am, and that I’m the queen that people want me to be.
You can catch Aquaria Thursdays on RuPaul’s Drag Race and this Saturday May 5, at Just a Taste: the Green Space Festival launch party at the 519 Community Centre in Toronto.