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Aquaria on the 'Magical Double Save' That Won Her the Crown

Aquaria

America's Next Drag Superstar discusses the finale of RuPaul's Drag Race and her intent to be a "megaphone" for the marginalized.

dnlreynolds

It is the dawning of the age of Aquaria. RuPaul crowned the 22-year-old Brooklyn native Thursday as the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Afterward, America's Next Drag Superstar chatted with The Advocate about the finale, including the "magical double save" that kept her in the competition. Aquaria also discussed the gratitude she feels toward her supportive family, the importance of drag in turbulent political times, and her intent to become a "megaphone" for marginalized people.

The Advocate: Condragulations, Aquaria. How do you feel?
Aquaria: To be quite honest, I'm feeling a little dead, but ... I am feeling so grateful, and I would not have had yesterday go any other way, obviously. I couldn't be in a better place right now, except maybe living in Manhattan instead of Brooklyn.

If you could compare the taste of victory to any food or dessert, what would it be?
Anything that'll get you fucking full. It is like Thanksgiving dinner. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving dinner, metaphorically at least it is very much that. It is just like buying the whole 80-piece sushi boat at a Japanese restaurant and just scarfing that all down and feeling full. And potentially having to worry about your mercury levels.

With maybe a Philly cheesesteak on top.
You know, I can go for those right now.

Because of the way the finale is taped, you found out you won last night like the rest of us. Where were you and what was your reaction?
I was at the Samsung 837 theater. I don't know if those numbers are correct, but I was there in New York City on 13th and Washington. And it was really great being able to watch that in my hometown. The top four were watching all in our own personal room, but to be crowned in front of the audience at the actual theater space was just, you know, I wouldn't have had it any other way. This is where I grew up. That's where I got my start in drag and this is where my heart will forever lie. So it was a perfect ending to a perfect experience for me.

I heard Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness helped pin your crown on.
I have learned that that is what happened! I was a little busy and was not quite paying attention to anything, but I heard he is the "tszuj-er" on the Queer Eye. And thank you! I've been a little busy these past couple of months. So I have not had a chance to catch up on anything on TV except for myself and a couple of episodes of Pose. So maybe Queer Eye will be next on one of my long trips to Australia or whatnot.

Add it to the queue! What was your parents' reaction to your win?
Whether it was with drag or with sports or in school or whatever I was interested in, my parents were always supportive of me. And it's been nice to have the television show for them to watch because they can only see so much of me from online and from even coming to see me at a show. But to understand my experience with Drag Race was very thorough for them and very insightful. They've just become my hugest fans even though they started as my biggest fans to begin with. They're just over the moon.

It was so nice to see them at the finale as an example of what a supportive family of a queer kid can look like.
A lot of people don't have that. And I definitely recognize how lucky I am to have that type of support and it certainly means the world. I hope that kids watching this show can see the type of love that you can find, whether it's in your birth family or your, uh, what do we call the family you make?

A found family.
We'll go with that! But I also hope for parents who are flipping through the channels who come across Drag Race, they see that [and] they can learn something from this experience as well.

You seemed pretty confident in your chances of winning throughout the season. Was your win what you expected or are you surprised?
I went into the competition wanting to win. ... All my looks were planned out. All my moments were as rehearsed as they could've been in the time allotted. And I put my best foot forward every day I woke up and went to set. So I knew that if was the best me that I could be, I could at least just go as far as I possibly could for myself. I think I'm a winner, and I felt that back then, and to finally have the validation of that now is really wild. But it also just seems -- in the least cocky way -- it seems right because I did really want it. I saw it and I worked for it. Worked really fucking hard for it. And I got it.

I was at the taping. After you lip-synched against Eureka in the first round, the crowd started chanting Eureka's name, and it seemed like the audience was rooting for her to win. What was going through your head in that moment before RuPaul announced the tie?
I know that I could have given a better performance in that first lip-synch. But I also knew that I did the best that I could do given the situation at that moment. Eureka had tons of very exciting, more traditional drag queen reveals. And those are very exciting to the audience. Eureka turns it out anytime she performs, and for a lot of the people who don't expect for a big girl to turn it, they are always beyond surprised. I just felt a little, not alone, but I was just like, well, if my time has come, you know what, bow out gracefully and be respectful. But to have it a result in a mysterious magical double save was something that I think I was clearly working for all season. And I couldn't have been more grateful for that moment because me and Eureka fought until the fucking end, and it was nice for both of us to at least have that last chance to turn it the fuck out for RuPaul.

I was a little surprised that RuPaul so strongly linked the show to politics this season. In the finale, we saw this video that ran through the Obama presidency, the gay rights movement, the Resistance. What do you think is Drag Race's role in today in politics and the LGBT rights movement?
Every time we get in drag and bat an eyelash, it is a political statement. ... We're living in a rotted fucking time. It definitely could be more rotted, but it definitely could be a lot more accepting for a lot of people in the world. There are families that are being torn apart for senseless reasons. There are people who don't understand some of the core aspects of being a decent human being. And I think drag in any means is a way to at least spark a conversation, whether it's about something that is not necessarily political or something that is directly political, like a lot of the performances that the Vixen does. There's always a message to come across with drag, and it is for us to be queer leaders and to have our voices be heard.

What does it mean for you to be America's Next Drag Superstar in an era when our community is under attack?
It's wild. I know that I have massive shoes to fill and a very important message to continue to uphold for our community and for the world. And this is something that I plan to learn more about daily. But I just see that there's a lot that I can do as far as sparking change and helping amplify the voices of marginalized people. And if I can be your megaphone, like please let me be that megaphone, and let's shout it from the rooftops.

dnlreynolds
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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.