March 23 2018

Hot Tea with Eureka O’Hara

New York-The Standard Interview
Oh, honey. It’s season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race! To celebrate a decennium of drag and the official start of our weekly RPDR viewing and queer party Miss Girl, hosted every Thursday at narcbar by an unparalleled panel of queens, we were joined by season 10 contestant Eureka O’Hara. Miss O’Hara, known simply as Eureka, aka the “Elephant Queen,” is a rare species of Drag Race royalty that has appeared on multiple seasons of the show. Having suffered a knee injury on season 9, she was sent home from the competition with an invite to return for the current season. But trust, miss girl, Eureka has risen from the ashes and is ready to fly.

Over touch-ups, smoke breaks, and cocktails at The Standard, East Village, we got the tea from Eureka on her fresh new style, S10 besties and frenemies, and the queens that inspired her Drag Race career.
Read all of our "Hot Tea" interviews here.
"Here's a spoiler," Eureka jokes, "I broke my right knee this season and I'm back for season 11! [Laughs.] "Whatever it takes."

"Here's a spoiler," Eureka jokes, "I broke my right knee this season and I'm back for season 11! [Laughs.] "Whatever it takes."


THE STANDARD: How has your RU-turn to the show been after being sent home on season 9?
EUREKA O’HARA: Honestly, it’s just been interesting. I’ve worked really hard to get to this point, so now being back is such a breath of fresh air. Finally, it’s here. It’s been almost two years since I had my surgery in 2016, so it’s a sigh of relief to have another chance. I’m feeling excitement, fear, nerves, but mostly excitement. I’m so happy to be here.
 
You say in your “Meet the Queens” video: “I’ve started doing drag like I want to.” What do you mean by that?
I was raised by an old school pageant drag queen, so my aesthetic was very that. It was tailored by a nice, overdramatic wig, pageant gowns, all that. I was doing drag how I was taught and afraid to go more against the grain, doing avant-garde fashions and having more fun with it. Now I feel like my drag is my own. I can take any fashion and make it fashionable for the big girl, doing things that show a lot of skin or have a sexual innuendo. I’m doing more of an adventurous Eureka style, because she’s big, sassy, slutty, fun, exciting, crazy, and campy.
 
Yes, she is! And along with your rebrand, the show itself seems to have refreshed itself, with a full-production promo and a redesign of the werkroom. Did that energize the cast?
Absolutely. I think that energy also came naturally because [the producers] also casted the group differently—they casted a lot of big, exciting, type-A personalities. This cast is a lot of passionate people, and this is their opportunity to be something and somebody. I think this year more than others there are a lot of girls that aren’t as well-known or established. Most of them are hardworking, hustling passionate drag queens, and you can tell they’re excited and are going to do anything it takes.
The Standard
The Standard
How long have you been doing drag?
About eight years.
 
A decade of drag is a long time. How did season 10 step up to stay relevant and engaging?
I can say that [this season] is going to have one of the most iconic makeover challenges. There will be a couple of really big confrontations. People like that. But I think what really helps is this is a new set of characters people get to know and fall in love with, and on top of that we have real life stories that people can relate to. That’s what keeps people engaged every season.
 
So, do you agree that the show can feel kind of meta, because a lot of the girls, especially the super young ones, have never been drag queens in a pre-RPDR world? Their characters were born and have grown with the show on air. How does that influence their behavior?
Oh, totally. [All of us] have watched season after season, so girls are coming in with catch phrases, with ideas of what they want their characters to come across as. Also, the part that gets into some girls’ heads is they have these lingering thoughts of what they shouldn’t be doing. Don’t be the bitch like Phi Phi O’Hara, don’t be someone without a whole lot of personality like Courtney Act. There are these examples from which they’ve learned what not to do, which for some affected them in a bad way.
The Standard

How do you avoid this?
When you don’t allow yourself to show who you really are, then the world won’t get to, and it’ll mess up your competitive nature on the show. With this season especially, you’ll see there’s a handful of girls whose characters you think you already know, and you expect them to come in giving you so much more, but they let shit get in their head.
 
Can you please tell me who?!
Girl, we haven’t even watched the first episode yet! [I’m speaking with Eureka outside as she’s having a cigarette.] Also, move to my right—you’re a snack and I’m big so I’ll protect you from the wind.
 
Aw, thanks, Eureka! Speaking of which, as a returning queen, did you give the girls mother hen vibes or did they resent you for having a leg (or knee) up on the competition?
At first it was very, “Eureka’s the mother hen. Let’s get advice from her,” and then as the season progressed and the more the competition took a play, I think there were moments the girls might have thought I had an unfair advantage and felt I shouldn’t be a part of this anymore. It’s definitely something I had to work for.
The Standard

Did you have any close squirrelfriends or extreme frenemies?
[No matter what], there’s going to be confrontation and competitive drama. There were times I had words with girls where I had to be, “No, baby, that’s not what I’m here to focus on.” I did make a lot of amazing friends, though. I am the closest to Kameron Michaels. We are both from Tennessee, and I thought, well, if I can’t eat that ass I’ll at least be best friends with him.
 
Okaaay! If you could bring back any eliminated queen from a past season for a second chance, who would it be?
Kimora Blac. I think she really elevated herself after the show, and she’s one of those girls who came in super prepared with one of those characters she wanted to give rather than naturally being herself, and it hurt her. She’s one of the coolest, easiest people to hang out with.
 
As a viewer, what’s been one of the most inspiring moments of RPDR?
Latrice Royale is the reason why I auditioned for Drag Race. When I saw her on the show, a big Amazonian woman who was doing well, I was like, “I can do this.” [Also], when Darienne Lake came down the runway as an elephant, I told myself I’m going to be on that runway, on Drag Race, and be the Elephant Queen. Now’s my time.
 
I’ll raise my trunk to that. Where did that nickname come from?
I’ve been obsessed with elephants forever. I have a huge elephant collection. My drag children used to call me the Elephant Queen. Elephants are all about community, about family. They’re big, strong, and can be misconstrued as dangerous, but they hold a lot wisdom, love, and courage. Plus they’re gentle giants, which is what I am. I am big as hell but I am a huge ball of heart.
 
What’s your go-to lip sync song?
“Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. Always!
 
And what are we gonna get from Eureka this season?
You’ll have to see, but I’m gonna fight my bitter fat ass to the end.
Writer
Cameron Keady
Photographer
Morgan T. Stuart