Kim Chi cozied up with us in her room at The Standard, East Village to spill a little tea before the show. Read on and take a sip—no sugar needed.
KIM CHI: On the first night I went out, yes. Honestly it was between that and Lucy Lube. I just wanted something stupid, but neither of those names were really me. When people do drag for the first time they always pick one of those wordplay names, some generic white girl name like Samantha or Ashley, or something they can’t afford, like Mercedes or Diamond.
Well, I did see that Jaidynn Dior Fierce has started going by just Jaidynn Fierce.
I guess she can afford Dior now!
Guess so! So your makeup is iconic, not just on the show but, like, in the world. How did you first get into makeup and how did it lead to drag?
I’ve never done makeup prior to doing drag. Pearl from season 7 and I were best friends before we started doing drag, and one Halloween he was like, “I want to go out in drag. Do you want to do it with me?” So we went to Walgreen’s, yes Walgreen’s, got some brushes, picked up makeup at a costume store, played around with it, and went out. We got our first booking that night.
I can’t stop staring at your face. Your textures, shapes, and colors are so complex. How planned out is your concept before you begin application?
Usually when I do photoshoots I go crazy with the makeup because it’s something I’ll do only once. But when I’m doing regular gigs and am wearing the same costumes multiple times I do my standard Kim Chi face which is a strong white line under the eye, and then I change it around that.
Miss Fame has done her series “Painted by Fame.” Would you ever consider doing a “Painted by Kim Chi”? What other queen do you think would look good with your makeup style?
I try to do a different makeup every time. It may look similar but there is always some different detail, whereas Miss Fame has a signature look, so I don’t think it would work as well for me. But if I had to pick, I think the Kim Chi face could good on Jujubee because she has a similar square shaped head. It would be a real challenge for something a really narrow jaw like Laganja or Naomi Smalls.
Michelle Visage said you, Bob, and Naomi were not the top three she would have predicted. What are your thoughts on that?
I guess Robbie Turner was gone too soon? I thought Acid Betty had a good chance. I knew Bob would be. I was hoping to be!
Bob said you were the worst dancer in drag race history. Do you agree with her?
I never said I was a good dancer! So what do you expect out of me? I don’t think all drag or performance needs to be based around dancing.
True. And one of your many talents is leaving quip-y comments on other queens’ social media, so much so that the kids on Reddit have started calling you Shade Chi. Have you gotten any backlash from fellow queens?
That nickname came from Bob on the first episode! The thing is, though—all the people I make quips to are my friends and are things I’d say in person because that’s how I joke with them. So no one has taken offense. Everything I say, people post it on Reddit saying something like, “Shade Chi strikes again!” and then someone else responds saying, “She’s not even that funny!” But I’m not trying to make strangers laugh. I’m having a joke with my friend. Not everything is for you!
We love Shade Chi, but we hardly knew Shade Tree. You were one of the few contestants to utilize that feature on season 8 in an early episode, then we never saw it again. What happened there?
Actually all of us went in there every night and said lots of shady things. There’s only 10-15 min left for everything in between the mini challenge, runway, and critiques, so it got cut out because of time and other things happening in each episode. But I wonder where that lost footage is.... Anyway, I think this season is benefitting from being 90 minutes long.
Are you liking season 10?
This season is my favorite since season 6. I didn’t care watching seasons 7 and 9. The queens were great but I didn’t like the challenges. Every season you can tell who top three is, but this season they’re all great and it’s really hard to predict.
Who are your faves?
All of Aquaria’s looks are great. I love Vixen’s attitude. I love everything about Miz Cracker. She’s so funny and so weird in the best way possible. I feel like her brain doesn’t process things like a normal person. Monet is great. She kills all performances and is great on a mic. Asia O’Hara is another one to watch out for. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while. Monique Heart is also entertaining. I love the noises she makes.
Vixen has been a polarizing character this season. Did you know her working in Chicago?
I was one of the first people to book her. I have never seen this fighting side of her. She always shows up on time for her gig and leaves right after. When you actually do gigs with queens, it’s not like RPDR where producers ask you, “So, tell us about the racism in our community.” That doesn’t happen. You just do the number, get the money, and go. But as a viewer, I think she makes really valid points about the community and racism. And also, I love the drama!
What do you think of this insanely viral Miss Vanjie meme?
I don’t think anybody expected it. I feel like if you try to be a meme, it won’t happen, but that is the perfect instance of how something can go viral on its own.
Totally! Actually there’s this really funny GIF of you dancing with Miss Vanjie’s corset during the episode 1 runway. How meta, right?!
When she started dancing, she took it right off, and I didn’t want it to break on the floor, so I just took it! That scene was actually really fun to film. They had really good catering with maple bacon, and we all to joke around and dance together.
I’d really love to see all your makeup looks in a coffee table book by Taschen. Do you have any cool deals or partnerships coming up?
That would be amazing. I actually have a line coming up but I can’t tell you what it is. You know, contracts.
Cryptic! OK, well do you want to plug or share anything to wrap this up?
Buy my merch?