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Interview: Catching Up With Yuhua Hamasaki

Yuhua gonna remember her: Yuhua Hamasaki spills the T in this exclusive interview with IN Magazine…

Though her run on Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race may have been not as long as we wanted, Yuhua Hamasaki was one of the season 10’s most memorable queens. IN recently caught up with Yuhua ahead of her last Canadian tour stops out west.

We talked all things from the importance of all-age drag shows, the cultural differences of tipping drag queens, and that iconic reunion look.

IN: You’ve been performing in Canada for the last few weeks, doing a number of shows in Montreal, and you’re heading out west for the next few shows. Was this your first time performing in Canada?
Yuhua Hamasaki: It is my first time performing in Canada! I was in Canada when I was a kid, around 15-years-old. I went with my parents, but you know usually when you travel with your parents you don’t get to do much. But this time is the first time I actually get to explore Canada. Canada is so progressive compared to America. I mean, it is completely, completely progressive!

IN: How have Canadian audiences been different than American audiences?
Yuhua Hamasaki: One thing that I’ve noticed that there’s a culture here in America where they (the audience) tip the performers. In Canadian culture, I’ve noticed so far that they don’t tip the performers. But like every other audience members, whenever they see a drag performer come out, whenever they’re good funny, or whatnot, they laugh and they get rowdy. So that’s been the thing. But other than that, that is the only difference I’ve noticed.

IN: How would you explain your drag to someone that has never seen you live before?
Yuhua Hamasaki: I’m witty. I’m sassy. I’m sarcastic. I’m funny. I’m bubbly. I’m full of energy. I’m all of everything mixed into one!

IN: You competed on the Season 10 of Drag Race. How has your life, and even performing changed since being on Drag Race?
Yuhua Hamasaki: It’s changed so much! Before I would just perform locally in NYC. So with the show, and this platform has given me so much opportunity. I’m able to travel the world, and to cities that I’ve never gone to before. Just two weeks ago I was in the U.K. and then the week after that I was in Canada. So the show has given me so many opportunities just to travel and perform and show the world just how fabulous drag is. Before the furthest place I’ve ever gone is New Jersey, and now I’m going to different cities, different countries, different planets, different galaxies, universes, everywhere!

IN: Where is one place you haven’t been but would love to perform in?
Yuhua Hamasaki: I’ve always wanted to perform in Asia, because I’m Chinese, so it’s kind of like my duty, and my calling to perform for my country. So I think that’s where I want to go eventually.

IN: Your reunion look was something totally different from what all the other queens were wearing… what inspired you to go with that look?
Yuhua Hamasaki: Because it was the reunion, it was the last chance to make an impression for the audience, the world, and whoever is watching. I mean, there were 14 of us, but 13 of us are getting eliminated. So how do you stand out from the rest of the girls? I figured everybody was going to go back and look “pretty”, and try to look expensive. Why not just try to make a statement, and leave a memorable look and experience for the audience members. So that’s why I decided to go for the opposite direction. I decided to make it funny, make it memorable, and also make a statement about it.

IN: Where do you hope to see your drag take you in the coming years?
Yuhua Hamasaki: I believe that drag is not just for working in a bar, in a club, or festival, or theatre, or pride. I think that drag is for everyone. It is more mainstream than that. I think that since heterosexuals have had the opportunity to be on film, TV, and do music and do great things, I think LGBT people should have the same experience. We should be able to do drag in TV, film, movies, and music.

IN: Drag Race has made drag accessible to mainstream culture. How do you find that the audiences have changed since it’s become so much of this cultural phenomenon?
Yuhua Hamasaki: Of course! 10 years ago… I started drag before Drag Race happened, and the only way to get to a drag show, was to go to a gay bar. The only way to see a drag queen, was at a gay bar. It was taboo to talk about 10 years ago. But as RuPaul’s Drag Race became more and more shown to the public, people became more accepting of drag queens, and also of the LGBT obstacles, and whatever difficulties they face. So it has opened audiences up to those that are under 21, and not just LGBT people. When we go to Drag Con, the people that come to see us are young fans. They are 13, 14 , 15-years-old. They’re people who face difficulties growing up, being bullied. Not only because they’re LGBT, but just because they are different. Because of their culture, race, their religion. I mean a lot of straight people come to Drag Con as well, just because they feel like they don’t fit in to what the norm is, or what the media portrays as beautiful or normal.

IN: What’s your favorite part about performing and being a drag queen?
Yuhua Hamasaki: I have the opportunity to express myself, and have fun, but also I like entertaining people, and making people laugh. I enjoy people going “wow” because of what I’m doing. That’s the thrill I get from this. As a child I was very, very rigid. I was very quiet because I knew that I was different. So I tried to hide myself, and keep a very low profile in my childhood by being quiet, and not talk too much. I knew that if I talked too much, or if I was myself too much, people would find out that I was not heterosexual. So now I have the chance to be myself, and just live out loud. I have the opportunity to get back all those years as a child that I didn’t get to live truthfully.

IN: After you finish up with this tour, what is next for you?
Yuhua Hamasaki: I want to continue performing for different people. Just show the world how fabulous drag is. I think everybody should do drag at least once in their lives because they will discover how to not take life too seriously. If something messes up, don’t stress about it. The next thing that I’m doing is Dallas pride. I’m there for a whole week. One thing I’ve been managing to do is all-age group shows. I did that in Montreal when I was there for Pride, and I’m doing it again in Dallas, and again when I’m back in New York City for Drag Con in late September. I think that the problem with young fans, or young kids that want to see a drag show is that they don’t have the opportunity to see it because you have to be 21 to get into a bar. And that’s the only way that drag queens are performing. So with these all-age drag shows, kids can see a drag show if they’re under-21, and still have the same experience to watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Drag shows are not just about entertainment, it also about education. It’s a lived experience that’s also about educating young minds, and people to live their lives truthfully, and to not be scared of who they are, and to just be loud and proud, and not care what people think about them.

You can see Yuhua Hamasaki live Saturday September 1 at the Waterview Event Space in Vancouver, and Q Nightclub & Lounge in Regina And Sunday September 2, at Evolution Wonderlounge in Edmonton.

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