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What’s the biggest misconception people have about drag queens?
Ongina: Um I think that people think that drag queens have to have big hair and they have to have a certain type of aesthetic to them.
Where I think that drag queens can be anything from being, you know, somebody who wants to dress up as kind of the party kid all the way to possibly a glamorous diva. I think that there’s a lot of people when they want to see a drag show, they want to see a full on … you know.
Of course if you’re going to come watch a female impersonation show you’re going to want to make sure the person is full on female. But I don’t necessarily agree with that — there’s different types of art when it comes to drag. I think it’s really how the artist translates that art. For me, I translate it as a bald, hat wearing fierce queen so …
Which kind of touches upon my next question. One of the most distinct features about your drag flair is the fact you rarely use wigs in drag. Have you always been a rule breaker?
Um, no, I’ve not always been a rule breaker. I hate how hot it gets under a hairpiece or under a wig so — I wear wigs, it’s not something that I never do. If you’ve seen me on the show, I’ve worn wigs. If I go to the clubs sometimes I’ll wear wigs and I like it. I serve real fish, but it’s not really what I love to do. I’ll do it because I want to change it up a bit. It’s not to say that I will never do it, I just don’t do it as often as I will wear a headpiece. I would rather spend $500 on a hat, than I would on a lace front wig.
Can you explain to some of our drag-challenged readers exactly what it means to be a “Fish”?
Oh, Fish is when you’re serving [Ongina starts giggling], when you’re serving realness. That means Fish is when a female impersonator or drag queen is so womanly like that she can be mistaken for an actual real woman. When somebody says, ‘Ooo honey, she’s so fishing it!’ it’s not trout!
Was it a Herculean task to transform some of the Plain Janes on the show into drag divas?
Yeah, yeah, because some of them were really hard to get through to! I mean you have to really build the level of trust, and let them touch you. One of the things I had to overcome with my students was building that trust and I wanted to make sure they felt comfortable with me, knowing that this is the idea and we are going to move forward — I want to make sure they are comfortable.
I want to make sure you’re not afraid to take the risk with this idea, and I want to make sure you feel empowered to do this idea. The strategy I had was gaining their trust and then once I gained that it was easier for me to say, ‘OK, then we’re going to shave your hair today and put a headpiece on you so you look like Ongina.’ [She chuckles].
That might take some trust!
Yeah, I’m a slut.
Are there any juicy tidbits about the show can you dish on?
There are definitely juicy, juicy things that you’re going to see in the show! There was a student of mine that was a very difficult student. I’m not going to say anything more — but you’ll see how difficult it was to work with women just in general — and how difficult it is to makeover people.
Tensions rise. Situations happen and certainly some of those things happen in the show that makes for a juicy episode. So watch out for that! There’s definitely a lot more drama than you would think. Any situation where you put drag queens and women in one room for a makeover show …
Now, be honest — what was the worst fashion faux pas you ever committed?
The thing is I like to take risks, I’m kind of a risk taker in life. People have criticized me for the things I have worn and things like that. But if I like something — I don’t give a shit about anybody else that thinks my fashion might be off. But I’m a fierce bitch so I don’t know if I have any faux pas.
But seriously before I met my makeup artist — I have a makeup artist whose name is David Rodriguez, and he’s really amazing. Before I met him, I didn’t really know how to put on makeup as well as most of the queens do. I went out one night and I met David out in Los Angeles, and he was like, “Ooo girl, you should really let me do your makeup!” And I was thinking, ‘What the [bleep] is wrong with my makeup?!’