There were many surprises in this week's episode of RuPaul's Drag Race, which tasked its bewigged competitiors with staging a faux awards show, the DESPYs. Sleepy-eyed Pearl shocked the gay world by throwing some nightshade back at RuPaul, after being criticized for her low energy. The criticism worked, however, and Pearl emerged from her shell. She told some jokes, scored some laughs, and emerged the winner of this week's challenge alongside her partner, Max.
Another surprise was not so joyous. America's favorite drag housewife, Mrs. Kasha Davis, was forced to sashay away after losing the lip-synch challenge to Kandy Ho. The Advocate spoke with Davis about her elimination, her hero Joan Rivers, and the importance of finding time for a cocktail.
The Advocate: Hi, Kasha! Did Mr. Davis have the boxed wine chilling?
Davis: Of course he did! He knows his wife, and he loves that I drink boxed wine, because I spend too much on department store gowns to drink the expensive stuff!
How did you prepare for RuPaul's Drag Race?
Well, we all know I auditioned all seven years, but I spent the last 44 years of my life admiring divas! Stage, screen, and family, and I have always had a fondness for the kitsch and the camp type of humor. You know, you think you are all prepared, but frankly, it's quite the journey, and truly one that I am grateful to have been a part of. It's drag camp, and you learn so much about yourself both as a performer and as a lunatic.
Your Joan Rivers impersonation was absolutely amazing. What inspired it?
Ru asked us to present the look ... who better to talk on the red carpet than our lady Joan Rivers. I was very proud to have been able to play her there for a bit, most especially with her passing. Her work ethic and stamina have always been something I truly admired about her.
Was Joan a hero of yours?
Yes! Absolutely. Many divas like Joan have realness about them. The dirt, the grit and grim, and of course, the glam. I love a story about a woman who struggles, fights, and is independent and successful. This reminds me of my mom, Tina, Liza, Bette, and Joan -- they are so powerful! They struggle and fail, but what's always most impressive to me is ... they rise up when others think they are a done deal, and come back again and again.
What is your favorite real-life awards show?
"Real-life awards show" -- are there any? I like the red carpet part of all of them! I really liked the Grammys this year with Annie Lennox. She rocked!
Gay producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan just announced that they would no longer be running the Oscars next year. Who do you think should produce -- and host -- the Oscars next year?
It's always nice to mix it up. I'd be happy to host with Katya. I know we would kill it! Except we would write our own material, and I would have a double vodka tonic right before I went on.
You later revealed in Untucked that Katya wrote most of the material for the DESPYs -- and cherry-picked the best lines for herself. Do you still stand by this?
No. The humor was what it was, but I can honestly say, looking back, that I was attempting to please Kathy and Katya too much versus just being myself. It's the trap I got myself into the first six years of auditioning! Be yourself, Kasha!
Michelle Visage said she admired your talent, but that you could have done better. Did you agree with the judges' critique?
I most certainly agree that I could have done better with certain aspects of my performance. I took some things literally. And I also don't know how to "play games." The reality show business is one that Ginger Minj is obviously playing well, in that she gives them what they want and it's aired! I was laughing with my husband that I have never seen myself so quiet!
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would change about your performance or its preparation?
If by performance you mean the lip-synch, I wish I didn't hike up my dress so far that you could see my black Walmart girdle! Otherwise, I enjoyed watching it!
Would you have done anything else differently?
I would have attacked that stage with more of my own material and truly played up the "tipsy housewife"! I would have also worn different earrings. [Laughs]
Were you surprised by your elimination?
Yes. I was pretty sure I was staying. It was my first lip-synch, and right after we performed, I thought, OK, you got this! But them bam.Wrongo bongo! Regardless, I walked away grateful, positive, and looking forward to a successful career. I wanted to people to say, "Wow, she's positive, and a lady!"
Pearl really did a 180 this episode -- winning the challenge after almost being eliminated. What are your thoughts on her performance and progress?
Pearl is an amazing talent who gets shit from me, because I envy her attitude and her carefree youthfulness. I actually called her the other day to apologize for snapping at her, because of how she handled Ru's reaction. But frankly, after watching it, I think it took a lot of balls to come at Ru and call him out on how we felt treated!
Do you think the judges were fair in choosing her over Trixie?
At the time, I was shocked, and when watching the show, I feel the same way. Trixie has a very unique and interesting outlook on drag, and her wit and comedy are quick and colorful. She will go far ... .she's touring in Europe, for goodness sake! But it was very clear Trixie won that lip-synch.
Earlier this season, Tempest Dujour told us that "ageism is real." Do you think age is a factor at all in the competition?
I think it's only because much of the demographic that watches the show is younger. We all have hang-ups on age, and frankly, the only difference is old people don't have Instagram! I have been very happy with my response from young, old, and in between! So many kids get to look up to the queens on the show, and I find it my responsibility to give them something to strive for if they choose. Growing up, I had nothing like that!
Was there a Drag Race challenge or a skill that you were disappointed you didn't get to show the world?
Of course -- Snatch Game! I had Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers, and Dame Edna all set to go! But I got to pay homage to my darling Joan, so I feel pretty gosh darn lucky!
Who is your favorite among the remaining queens this season?
Ginger, for playing "the game." Max, for creativity. Pearl, for storyline.
What are the must-see destinations of an LGBT visitor to your hometown of Rochester, N.Y.?
We have an amazing artistic community with upcoming festivals almost every weekend, starting in our spring, which is like July! Kidding! Additionally, the theatre community is so strong, and we have a Fringe Festival that happens in the fall as well as Image Out, which is a film fest. Oh, yes, and our jazz festival is very popular. Just visit from May to October -- otherwise, it's the North Pole!
What first attracted you to drag, and what inspired your drag name?
My daytime career at DialAmerica kept me from the ability to perform consistently, and I am nothing without being on the stage! It's depressing if you stay away from it. My husband and I visited Provincetown, and we saw the amazing Miss Richfield 1981. And I have to tell you, we went back every night to see her! She truly blew us away, because she wasn't "trying to look pretty," and she was incredibly funny. I thought, I could do this! Well, for the nine hours it took us to drive home, Steven and I had it all figured out. Mrs. Kasha Davis (first pet, angry poodle, first street). The "Mrs." part came from my drag mom, Naomi Kane, because she thought I was more "prudish" in comparison to other queens. Ever since, I keep reminding myself that Mrs. Kasha Davis is me with an exclamation point... and a whisper of gin!
What do you think are the qualities and skills required to be America's Next Drag Superstar?
I think that it takes the ability to entertain and cross over! It's about taking the shows out of the gay bars and into the mainstream! It's a gift, no matter how you place in the competition, and it's up to each of us to share this gift and give people a great time and someone to look up to! Also I think it's important to wash your drag ... some queens are pretty bad at keeping their tights clean. [Throws up in mouth]
What should a drag queen always keep in her purse?
A business card, a man wallet, and lip gloss!
What's next after RuPaul?
My single was released today, "Cocktail" on Amazon and iTunes! My one-woman show premieres in New York City at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 21, May 12, and May 26, and it's a hoot and holler, and will leave you with something more than just a comedy show! It's my life story thus far, and it's about loving yourself and accepting others!
Why did the drag queen cross the road?
To get to the other bar.
Is there time for a cocktail?
Always! As a matter of fact, it's time for me to mix another!
Thanks, Kasha! See the music video for her new single, "Cocktail," below.