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Drag Race's Aja: 'Drag Has the Power to Change a Society'

Drag Race's Aja: 'Drag Has the Power to Change a Society'

Last Words With Drag Race's Aja

The Advocate interviewed the RuPaul's Drag Race star about her elimination, The Resistance, and the power of drag.


It was Flashback Friday this week on RuPaul's Drag Race. The contestants were tasked with an acting challenge: a drag parody of Beverly Hills: 90210, which was dubbed "9021-Ho."

Appropriately, Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth appeared as guest judges of the hilarious skit, where the queens gave high drama to retro high-school hijinks. Afterward, contestants served their best big-hair looks on the runway.

Alas, not every girl could be the popular girl at the prom, and Aja was asked to sashay away. The Advocate spoke with the New York performer about her elimination, her own high school experiences, and The Resistance.

This week was all about going back to high school. What was your own high school experience like?
It was very weird and strange because I had a rough middle school experience. I was bullied a lot and I actually don't remember having friends. People just thought I was weird. So, I went in to high school portraying myself as a bitch because I was scared of being bullied all over again. Nobody could tell me nothing. I was very defensive.

Did you go to prom?
I didn't go to prom because I ended up dropping out of high school before I got to that point. Now, I actually love to reenact prom photos in my meet and greet. I think it's hilarious making up for that lost opportunity.

Were you a fan of 90210, which was spoofed this week?
I didn't watch the show at all, so definitely not a fan. I didn't know much about it until we had to do this challenge. I was too busy watching In Living Color or Moesha as a kid.

You pushed back at Peppermint for this week's group acting challenge. As a result, she switched your part. Do you regret this decision?
Yes, I regret the decision and think I should have just taken the role and shown a more comedic side. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but in light of it all, these things happen. I've made my peace with it.

The judges thought your performance in 9021-HO fell flat. Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
No, because even the judges said it themselves, they were nitpicking. I don't think any of us did terrible. Maybe if I had a different character, it would have been better.

Who is your "big hair" inspiration?
It was a little bit inspirited by porcelain dolls meets Vivienne Westwood. It was Gothic, Renaissance, porcelain doll. I loved it!

This week, the contestants also discussed their parents. What was your family's reaction to your coming out?
I never really had to come out. They just already knew. It was just a known fact with my family. They have been super supportive of me being gay and doing drag.

What was your reaction when Peppermint came out as transgender last week?
I've known Peppermint for years and I've always loved and accepted her since day one.

Do you think all women (drag kings included) should be allowed to compete on Drag Race in future seasons?
I think it would be lovely to have a drag competition that is inclusive of all types of drag performers. The show would have to change formats though. RuPaul's Drag Race is formatted to display drag queens specifically and based around femininity. A show with drag kings would have to be an entirely different show if you want to be objective on the challenges.

What was going through your mind when you had to lip-synch?
I was just thinking, "Here we go again." Of course I was hoping it would go well, but you never know... it could have been a mess too!

Has the election changed the way you thought about drag, and your goals as a performer?
The election has made me feel like drag needs to be a bigger thing. It's such an inclusive art form where everyone is welcome. Because of where the country is politically, I think drag has the power to change a society. The idea of drag is to break down the binary of gender. We can apply those same principles to break down political binary positions as well.

Are you a part of The Resistance against the current administration?
I am for standing up for what you believe to be right. Nonviolently.

The Pulse massacre was addressed this season. Did Orlando make you more fearful, or change your experience when you perform at gay bars?
It was a very frightful event for all of us in the gay community. For weeks after, I had this fear that maybe it might happen again. Since then, I think it has brought the community together and we're coming out of it stronger and more resolved to protecting these safe spaces.

What was the highlight of your time on the show?
Untucked! There is nothing better than having a drink, sitting back and talking all the shit in the world. It was a lot of fun.

What would you show the world, if you had more time?
I really wanted to show the world my more comedic side. I have this energy about me that allows me to make people laugh. I wanted more time to show that.

Who are you rooting for among the remaining contestants?
It's impossible for me to pick just one. I know Shea and Peppermint the best and know they deserve to be crowned, but honestly all the queens are so talented and could be America's Next Drag Superstar.

What's next?
Working on my music and releasing a lot of content pretty soon. I am going to continue to tour, perform, and use my voice to encourage people.

Thanks, Aja! Watch the performer serve one last lip-synch below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.