Q&A with Drag Queen Aquaria about Her Pennsylvania Roots, Queer Fashion, and Her Funky Drag Race Family
Werq The World 2019 lands in Pittsburgh at Heinz Hall on Saturday, October 12. The tour cast includes Pennsylvania native and Season 10 winner, Aquaria, who graciously agreed to a Q&A with our blog.
it’s always important to frequent your local bars, clubs, and theaters to find talent that sparks your particular interest. There are always tons of queens at open drag nights or competitions, so making an effort to attend these not only can help you find your new fav queen, but also encourages the local up and coming talent by giving them someone besides their friends to perform for.
Born and raised in West Chester, she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York during which time she focused on womenswear. Aquaria rose to fame performing in New York City before becoming the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10.
NOTE: A new contributor to this blog agreed to bring their drag expertise to the table to help me create this Q&A, you know her as E! The Dragnificent, a 14-yr old drag queen who has been performing the art form for the last five years. E! loves the creativity that she can express with drag — the theatrics, the costuming, the stage makeup, the movement, the acting. E! has been a featured headliner in the Austin International Drag Festival, and has headlined and performed drag in many Ohio and Pennsylvania productions. But, E! loves Shakespeare as much as she loves Ru Paul. E! is a Freshman studying Musical Theater at a performing arts high school, and has won top honors in Shakespeare competitions for the past several years. Even if she’s not in fake lashes and heels, she takes on each theatrical opportunity with tenacity and sincerity. E! is a creative kid who just loves performing.
I appreciate E making time out of their summer to research and prepare questions as she is much more informed on drag culture than me.
Your Name: Aquaria
What are your preferred pronouns? I respond to he, she, and they. She preferred in traditionally more female-presenting drag (or at all times to be safe).
How do you describe your identity? I really don’t overthink it or even contemplate it too much. I’d just say I’m whoever I feel like each day, but a superstar at all times.
Please tell us about your very first impression of Pittsburgh: I’ve loved Pittsburgh the couple of times I’ve been in the city. They queer community here is really cool and creative and crazy and rough and tumble and polished and informed. It’s a funky city with a funky group of people that reside there, but that’s exactly what I love to look for in a good time.
Please tell us about the first LGBTQ person that you knew and what impact they had on your life. I genuinely don’t quite remember as my memory’s not always the greatest and I never dwell on concepts like that I suppose…. I’ve always been obsessed with fashion, the theater, and entertainment in general, so I’m there were many queer influences I encountered earlier in life that I didn’t even notice.
There are special nuances that are often not considered with designing and dressing queer people.
Do you have a before show ritual? Basically do you do, or have, something to get you performance-ready and in the zone? If you do please explain what that thing is and how it can help other drag artists get performance ready. Before I hit the stage I always make sure to stretch my body and do a quick warmup of a few jumping jacks or something to get my body ready to move. I also think it’s really important to engage your mouth muscles so whether I’m performing live or not, I will always do a couple of silly vocal warmups to channel my energy into my expression.
I know that you used to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology to study women’s wear, and you are an amazing fashion icon. Why do you think it’s important for the fashion industry to accept drag artists into the general industry, fashion shows, or fashion events? I think it’s not necessarily about acceptance and more about our mutual admittance of how closely tied fashion and drag have always been. They both inform and inspire each other and neither would thrive as they do without the existence of each other. I think including drag performers in fashion is very important not only to show appreciation for our ideas and take on style, but to also help close the gap when it comes to things such as sizing and fit for people of all body shapes, particularly in relation to trans/queer/etc. bodies. I’m grateful often fit samples from designers but there are often many things overlooked when pulling clothing for shoots for people like me. From shoulder size to slightly larger feet and beyond, there are special nuances that are often not considered with designing and dressing queer people.
How has Drag Race and the Werq the World tour helped you to inspire and connect to others and to other drag artists? I always feel like I’m bragging when I go on to friends and queens about how lucky I feel to be apart of the largest drag tour around, but it’s so true how incredible an opportunity it is for me and the queens. Being able to be on stage almost every night in gorgeous theaters across the world performing for around 1,000 to 8,000 people is something any performer could ever dream of and having the support from our production (cast and crew) to create the coolest show possible is so inspiring. Every time I head back on tour, I’m always trying to outdo myself and elevate not only my performance and looks, but to also help evolve with my cast mates as we continue to give the fans life.
What is it like being in the Drag Race family? It’s definitely a funky universe because it has its ups and downs just like with any family or organization. There is a lot of love not only for what we do, but also for our community and our fans and despite any drama or shade, I believe that most of us genuinely do want the best for each other and are really appreciative of this major moment in visibility for even just a few drag performers. I am excited to hopefully see this family expand, not only in size, but also in diversity, however there’s no denying the positive impact this program has had on the world and I can only imagine things to get even better.
Southwestern Pennsylvania has been wrestling with very recent bigotry targeting drag artists in particular — both drag queen bingos and drag story hours were cancelled during June (!) due to safety concerns. As a Pennsylvania native, what do you suggest the larger LGBTQ community and the general population do to support drag artists of all ages and resist these silencing tactics? It definitely takes a little life out of me every time I read about news topics like that and even more so during our Pride month. An important part of teaching is by showing, and one way to show close-minded people that events like drag queen story hours are enriching and truly positive experiences is by standing our ground and asserting the harmlessness of such events. Being brave in the face of adversity is often hard, but continuing to support a community that wants to have these events helps tell other people that drag queens are completely harmless people as we wouldn’t volunteer our time if we didn’t have the same love in our hearts for the youth of this world as parents do for their children. The outdated prejudices that surround the LGBTQ+ community about sexuality and moral are clearly still prevalent in many adults minds, so teaching the youth not to vilify people like drag queens is crucial to a more equal future.
What is your love song for LGBTQ youth? A Deeper Love by Aretha Franklin is by far one of my favorite go-to songs to feel amazing about myself and being a special part of such a beautiful community. I don’t know how someone could listen to this track and not feel empowered in any life situation.
An important part of teaching is by showing, and one way to show close-minded people that events like drag queen story hours are enriching and truly positive experiences is by standing our ground and asserting the harmlessness of such events.
Who are some of the younger drag artists or drag artists from Pennsylvania that we should be paying attention to? I feel so terrible not having any certain names that come to mind regarding either of these questions (mainly because I still see myself as a young queen lol) however I think it’s always important to frequent your local bars, clubs, and theaters to find talent that sparks your particular interest. There are always tons of queens at open drag nights or competitions, so making an effort to attend these not only can help you find your new fav queen, but also encourages the local up and coming talent by giving them someone besides their friends to perform for. There’s definitely a drag circle of life, and showing out and supporting new queens in your city and tipping them is the greatest gift you can give any performer, especially ones who value every dollar they receive.
Where can readers find you on social media? As always, AgeOfAquaria.com is your best source for all things me including links to my merchandise, tour dates, social media and more. You can find me at @AgeOfAquaria on YouTube, and and @AquariaOfficial on .
Thank you, Aquaria. Tickets for the October 12 show start at $57.50 and can be purchased at the Heinz Hall website.
Originally published at https://www.pghlesbian.com on August 20, 2019.