Television

Interview: Aja on Her EP "In My Feelings" and 'Drag Race' Musicians

The RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3 legend spoke exclusively to Twin Cities Gay Scene ahead of her Pride block party event at Lush nightclub.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

Fresh off releasing her debut EP In My Feelings last month, the multitalented Aja is headlining Lush's Pride Kick Off Block Party this Friday, June 22. I had the chance to speak to the Brooklyn-based queer performance artist about her whirlwind rise to fame, creative music videos and more.


With RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3 airing within a year of one another, multiple DragCons, and gigs around the world, have you had a chance to sit and process it all? 

Honestly, I can start to process it when I’m dead [laughs]. Being in an industry like this means nonstop work, and there really isn’t any time to process it. You just have to keep an open mind and let it flow. The only thing you can really do is direct the current.

What’s your favorite song on your new EP In My Feelings?

My personal favorite song off the EP would have to be “I Don’t Wanna Brag (feat. AVG JO)." Which is also my next music video. It will be released this summer and will feature some cool cameos. 

The music video for “Finish Her! (feat. WNNR & DJ Accident Report)” was gorgeous. Where did you get your inspiration for it? 

My inspiration for “Finish Her!” was pretty much Mortal Kombat. Basically, it was a huge metaphor for me saying I’m killing the game, and I am surpassing the expectations of the people who do not believe in me.

You join a long history of Drag Race alums who are also recording artists. Who are some of your favorites? 

I think there are some immense talents in the alumni. Some of the girls are very talented. I think Blair St. Clair has a great voice. Adore Delano has pretty much her own genre. And then there is Shea [Couleé] who is also killing the game. Trixie Mattel being the only country queen in the mainstream. Love all talents.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

If you could have a Ru girl sing a hook on one of your rap tracks, who would it be? 

Honestly, I’m not sure, but it would be a pleasure to work with any of them.

You’ve kept it real when it comes to bad fan behavior at meet and greets. A lot of queens dance around those issues. Have you noticed a positive change in fan behavior since you addressed those issues on live streams? 

I never really pointed out fans having bad behavior at meet and greets. But I did bring attention to a mutual respect when it comes to big arenas such as DragCon. I think it is important for people to be mindful of all the sacrifices coming from all different places to make that amazing of [an event] happen. I received a lot of different reviews from these comments. But mostly they were positive. It’s good to know the fandom is respectful and understands mostly where we’re coming from as the artists.

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

With all the amazing things you and the other RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants are doing, it seems the sky is the limit. What would you love to accomplish next? 

I want to be signed on to a major record label and continue my work as a recording artist. I’m starting to use my drag less as a means of a theatrical performance, and more of a queer expression. So Aja is becoming part of who I am every day. I also want to tour the world doing burlesque shows. Violet [Chachki] got to tour with Dita von Teese, and I think that’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to channel burlesque like them and other queens like BenDeLaCreme, and now I have the resources to make it happen. 

 Photo: AjaKween.com

Photo: AjaKween.com

What can fans expect at your Lush Pride Kick Off Block Party gig June 22? 

Expect lots of fun. I’m insane, I’m crazy. Expect emotions and love! I’m such a human. 


Purchase tickets for the Lush Pride Kick Off Block Party here.

A VIP meet and greet experience with Aja is available here.


What's your favorite Aja song? Tweet me! @DerekPlease

Interview: Bebe Zahara Benet at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2018

Hometown hero! The legendary Season 1 winner gave Twin Cities Gay Scene an exclusive interview for our Pride 2018 Part II issue. 

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Flanked by two ripped go-go dancers, the official Bebe Zahara Benet booth at RuPaul's DragCon was the definition of vivacious - much like the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 1 winner and All Stars 3 finalist herself. Our third time meeting, we spoke about past memories and enjoyed a lively interview full of boiling hot tea. 


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Derek: We’re here from Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine - your hometown of Minneapolis, in the house!

Bebe Zahara Benet: [Squeals excitedly] Noooo! Well, you guys know I represent Minneapolis because the past DragCons, you guys have not been here. Were you here last year?

D: No, this is my first DragCon.

BZB: How is it? How do you feel?

D: Amazing. It’s so fun! We’re here the entire time. 

BZB: Tomorrow is like, going to be ridiculous, now it’s more quiet. Tomorrow that is like when everybody decides to show up.

D: Yeah! I’ve seen some of your residencies in Minneapolis, like Queendom.

BZB: You have, like at the Pourhouse?

D: Yeah, at Pourhouse!

BZB: You see, this is called support.

D: And then you tried to teach us how to do fans at the Gay 90s. [Laughs]

BZB: Oh, did you see the “Jungle Kitty” fan? You’ll have to take a picture with it.

D: Oh, yeah!

I took a picture with the fan - and one of her dancers!

BZB: It says, “I'm Pussy Bitch.” YAAAAS! It does. [Laughs]

D: Oh my God, that’s amazing. [Laughs]

BZB: It’s an attitude, and it’s a state of mind! It’s very that.

D: What was it like going back to RuPaul’s Drag Race after all the years between Season 1 and All Stars 3?

BZB: Oh my gosh, what was it like? You know what’s so funny is I was very - when I was asked to do the show - of course at first I turned it down a couple of times because I wasn’t sure why, when had already won the show and the title. It’s not as if I needed any validation. But, when I thought more about it and to see how far the show has come many years from when I started. I was very excited to come, you know I would say the seasoned queens can always learn new tricks, but it was very important to also show this whole new generation of fans a different aesthetic and a different point of view of drag. I think that coming to the show and coming a voice there was very very, necessary. For people to know where the foundation all started. So, I was very excited and honey, I was excited to come and see my face on HD, honey! [Laughs]

D: Oh, yes! It’s beautiful.

BZB: I wanna see my face on HD! You know? It was amazing and I had such a good time, I really did.

D: Yeah, that iTunes HD… you look SO good! Oh my God.

BZB: Oh honey, I said I was going to come and make sure she’s painted now.

D: The big twist of the season was that you were coming on, and you weren’t announced right away. How was it keeping that secret, even though a lot of people had already kinda figured it out?

BZB: You know, it was very easy for me to keep it a secret because remember when we started Season 1, being able to be quiet about the season or anything about that was very, very important. I mean even worse than now, you know. So when Season 1 happened, when I did Season 1, nobody knew - even my family. So going to All Stars was like “okay, whatever,” you know what I mean? Plus, I didn’t want to ruin the surprise because I knew people were going to be SO surprised at seeing me walk through the door. And I just really wanted them to have a moment for them to be like, “oh! Did she really show up?” [Laughs]

D: Yeah. To be gagged!

BZB: Yeah! We needed a gagging moment. And I’m sure that was… Was that a gagging moment for you? 

D: Yes!

BZB: Because I knew there were rumors around, but was that really a gagging moment when those doors opened?

D: Yeah, ‘cause I don’t trust anything except for the actual show. [Laughs]

BZB: [Laughs] When it happens, right! 

D: I don’t trust Reddit, or whatever. 

BZB: Did you love the show? What did you think of All Stars?

D: Oh my God, yeah. I was so happy that you made it to the end, ‘cause if you hadn’t make it to the end, I would’ve been… 

BZB: Well did you have any doubts that I was going to make it to the end?

D: No, I just mean because of the fact that everybody was voting each other, I was worried that they were going to like, snub you out sooner.

BZB: Oh, they tried it! [Laughs]

D: Yeah. [Laughs]

BZB: They tried it, because what I had to do was to be good - and even better than good - to not be voted out. Because I knew coming into the show, as much I love the entertainers, they were like, “She’s already a winner why is she here?" So, if I was in the bottom, I would have been gone. 

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D: Yes!

BZB: I love the glitter [gestures to my cheeks], it’s like you are trying to copy me. I live! Minneapolis in the house. Thank you guys for representing.

D: Thank you.

BZB: We got to represent Minneapolis, so say hi tomorrow.

D: If I see you I’ll be like, “Hey!” [Laughs]

BZB: I will know exactly who you are. Thank you guys!

D: Well, thank you so much!


Special thank you to RuPaul's DragCon and World of Wonder for giving us the opportunity to cover their Los Angeles 2018 convention. Buy tickets to RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2018 here.


What are you doing for Pride this year? Let me know! @DerekPlease on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter

Interview: Asia O'Hara on How Winning Miss Gay USofA Prepared Her for RuPaul's Drag Race

The Season 10 star gave an exclusive interview to Twin Cities Gay Scene magazine & DerekPlease.com ahead of her June 22 stop in Minneapolis, MN.

Photo provided by PROJECT PUBLICITY, INC.

How often do you get grilled for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 spoilers, and how do you react?

Every time I walk out the door or pick up a phone! I know better than to reveal any important plot points. The producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race ain’t playing.

Photo provided by PROJECT PUBLICITY, INC.

Your skin is amazing. What’s your skincare routine like?

Cleanse, tone, eye cream and hydrate.

If you could only lip-sync to one artist for the rest of your drag career, who would it be?

Towkio.

11 years ago you were the youngest person ever crowned Miss Gay USofA. How did winning competitions like that prepare you for Drag Race?

Competing in pageants taught me discipline. You gotta be all in it to win it - mentally, physically and emotionally.

Photo taken by DerekPlease.com at RuPaul's DragCon LA 2018

What were some of your favorite moments from RuPaul’s DragCon LA 2018? 

Getting to hang out with the other queens was so much fun, but meeting all the young kids who have the support of their families was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the weekend.

Give us a tease of your event coming up on June 22 in Minneapolis at Union Rooftop!

Prepare yourself for the joining of the two most fabulous things on earth: feathers and rhinestones. 

Photos provided by PROJECT PUBLICITY, INC.


Flip Phone Events is presenting "Planet Glitter + Gaga-Rama with Asia O'Hara" on June 22! The event will take place at Union Rooftop in Minneapolis, MN.

This 21+ event will feature three floors of glitter filled fun! It's set to star Asia O'Hara, Cee Cee Russell, Nocturna Lee Mission, Genevee Ramona Love, Julia Starr, Lila Vera and Sunny Kiriyama! Line-up subject to change.

The first floor will feature glitter makeovers, a chill zone and more. The basement level will be all Lady Gaga, all night - including pop-up drag performances, and music by DJ IZZIE P.  The rooftop level will feature music by DJ Fancy Restaurant and pop-up drag from Asia O'Hara herself!

Buy your tickets here!


What has been your favorite Season 10 moment so far? Tell me! @DerekPlease on all platforms.

Watch: "Drag and The Simpsons" Panel from RuPaul's DragCon

The special panel was moderated by Raja and featured Simpsons writer Carolyn Omine and actors Tress MacNeille & Yeardley Smith.

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Did you hear? RuPaul will guest star on The Simpsons this fall! The episode, tentatively scheduled to air November 2018, will feature Ru helping Marge Simpson unleash her inner drag queen. 

Simpsons royalty Yeardley Smith, Tress MacNeille and Caroline Omine sat down with literal Drag Race Season 3 royalty Raja to discuss the episode. They also talked about The Simpsons' history embracing drag and LGBT culture.

Watch the full 31-minute panel below. I was in the front row of the audience, so read on for my top 10 favorite moments from the experience!

  1. Yeardley Smith performed her iconic Lisa Simpson voice live.
  2. Tress MacNeille voiced Crazy Cat Lady from The Simpsons and Mom from Futurama live.
  3. The RuPaul character unveiling! The audience was gagged.
  4. The panelists talked about what separates The Simpsons from fellow FOX animated sitcoms like Family Guy.
  5. They played a video reel of drag moments from The Simpsons series, which ended with a hilarious Miss Vanjie crossover meme. 
  6. Hardcore fans brought merchandise, including DVDs and Lisa Simpson plush toys, for the panelists to sign after the session.
  7. Carolyn Omine gave Simpsons merch to audience members who asked questions.
  8. Plenty tea was spilled on next season - Season 30. Yes, three-zero!
  9. Moderator Raja professed her love for the show since the beginning, and dressed up as Patty Bouvier for the occasion. 
  10. The audience was so excited, more people raised their hands to ask questions than time could allow. This is the true sign of a hot panel! 

Special thank you to RuPaul's DragCon and World of Wonder for giving us the opportunity to cover their Los Angeles 2018 convention. Buy tickets to RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2018 here.


What's your favorite episode of The Simpsons? Let me know! @DerekPlease across all platforms.

Interview: Chad Michaels on DragCon, Cher, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The All Stars winner gave us an exclusive interview - featuring a hilarious cameo from Sharon Needles.

 Photo: DerekPlease.com

Photo: DerekPlease.com

Few Ru girls have the sort of long, illustrious career Chad Michaels has worked for. From being a resident performer in Las Vegas, to winning the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, Michaels has always managed to stay on top - all the while remaining a humble and gracious queen. It was an honor to meet her twice on Friday Preview Night at RuPaul's DragCon, and see her as a panelist on the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Presents: Seeing Stars: Cher and Madonna and Britney and Tina... Oh My! panel. This interview took place at her DragCon booth, the second time we met her.


Derek: Hey, we met earlier over there, at the [Dream Girls Revue booth].

Chad Michaels: (remembering) Yeah, yeah! Totally.

Derek: I was wondering, what does DragCon mean to you?

Chad: To me it's all about the fans, I mean, this is our one time of year to really get out and meet like the people who don’t get to come to the shows, necessarily. There’s a younger set, there's the kids, and then there's the people who just don’t go to drag shows.

Sharon Needles walks by and snorts loudly into the microphone.

Chad: Look who that is.

Derek: It’s an icon!

Chad: It is an icon.

Sharon: Icon (points to Chad), retard (gestures to self). Icon (points to Chad), retard (gestures to self)

Sharon continues to her own booth for a meet and greet session.

Chad: It’s my friend Sharon Needles. So yeah, it’s all about the fans and just, know you, getting to connect and see everybody. Give a little back to everybody that supported us.

Derek: Yeah, and you're obviously an icon yourself.

Chad: Thank you.

Derek: From Cher’s last album, Closer to the Truth, what was your favorite track?

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Chad: I loved “Woman’s World.” I think that was really my favorite. I just like the... I like a dance song. I like an upbeat song. I rarely perform a ballad, so anything that is mid-tempo to upbeat from Cher, I’m down. That's what really gets an audience excited. There’s always an appropriate time for a Cher ballad, but when I’m working in the club and I only got a 3-4 minute set, I want to hit the audience and bring them up. So for me it was “Woman’s World," you know? Yeah.

Derek: What are you looking forward to the most this weekend? 

Chad: Let's see... this weekend I’m looking forward to the Mamma Mia! trivia that I’m doing tomorrow. So I’m collaborating a little bit with Mamma Mia!, which is very much an honor for me. So we're doing a little bit of trivia tomorrow at 11:15am. It's emoji trivia. So you're going to have to name the ABBA song using the three emojis provided. So that's what we're doing. And that's a fun thing for me! You know?

Derek: Awesome! Yeah. 

Chad: It's awesome!

Derek: Well, thank you so much for doing an interview.

Chad: You're welcome! Alright, I'm off. Be well, you guys, and have a good time.

Derek: Have a good time at your party you're doing tonight!

Chad: Thank you.


Special thank you to RuPaul's DragCon and World of Wonder for giving us the opportunity to cover their Los Angeles 2018 convention. Buy tickets to RuPaul's DragCon NYC 2018 here.


What's your favorite Cher song? Tell me! @DerekPlease on all social platforms.