May 04 2018

Hot Tea with Aquaria and Monét X Change

New York-The Standard Interview

What do you get when Melania Trump and Maya Angelou walk into a bar? Another night at Miss Girl.

This week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party at narcbar at The Standard, East Village was themed around the highly anticipated “Snatch Game” episode, where the contestants impersonate a celebrity and answer questions in game show format. Our guest stars this week were two of NYC’s premiere drag performers: Aquaria, who arrived as FLOTUS in a fitted white dress, and Monet X Change, dressed as the late poet in a caftan and oversized sunglasses. While we had some technical difficulties airing the episode, these queens delivered serious SHOWS.

Prior to their performances, Monet and Aquaria dished with us about their New York City sisterhood and how season 10 is one of the tightest races in RPDR history.

Read all of our "Hot Tea" interviews here.
The Standard

THE STANDARD: You’re both NYC stars already, how did you enter this competitive scene?
MONET X CHANGE: My first big gig was Saliva Tuesdays at The Ritz [in Hell’s Kitchen]. It was a wild party, people used to shit out apples and do the craziest stuff. It brought people from all over New York together, Hell’s Kitchen girls, Brooklyn, upstate; at like 2am everyone would do these out-of-the-box shows. It was my injection into the scene and [showed me] how colorful and amazing it could be.

AQUARIA: I mean like, I just got into whatever I could. I am into a lot of things, whether it’s performing or club life, so I just started picking up guest spots, at Frankie Sharp parties, Susanne Bartsch parties, and turning fun fierce looks that were also fashion. I just wanted to, like, make myself known, like “bitch, I’m here, can I have a glass of prosecco?”

How has New York drag changed and evolved since you started?
MONET: Brooklyn was the real experimental drag scene, most of Manhattan was post Times Square Giuliani, very clean, top 40 music. Whereas Brooklyn would do also do top 40, but Lady Gaga “Paparazzi” where they were hanging from the ceiling covered in blood. Now we are at a tipping point where no one wants to be Wonderbread; they want to live in color. With the exception of Bootsie LeFaris. She’s gonna keep it safe for the rest of her life.

When did you two first meet?
MONET: We didn’t really work a whole lot together! Well, you came hot out the bag girl! So I knew she was fierce.

AQUARIA: Didn’t you and Miz Cracker book me at The West End?

MONET: Oh my God, yes! I was like “Girl you are better than this, fuck those hoes. You need a bigger platform than the damn Upper West Side.”

AQUARIA: So instead of doing that, I went do Drag Race, and like... [Aquaria stops talking to watch the TV, where the current episode is playing] wait what was the question?


The Standard

Your history together!
AQUARIA: Oh, yeah, so Monet became like, my girl. So when I walked in the workroom I was so happy to see her, but also knew she was going to give me a run for my money.

MONET: But we were really close on set!

AQUARIA. Yes, which was nice because I was in a very uncomfortable place filming Drag Race so I gravitated towards her warmness and kindness.

There were FIVE of you from New York this season -- which means Ru must have seen something in all of you. What do you all bring to the table?
MONET: I think we are all very different styles of NYC drag. Me and Cracker work a similar Hell’s Kitchen system but Yuhua does like, Lucky Cheng’s and shit, all the touristy things, and Dusty Ray does more theatrical, village shows. And Aquaria does both Brooklyn and Manhattan.

AQUARIA: Basically getting drunk at the club [laughs] We all have a really fierce caliber of drag and put a lot of effort into what we do.

You two seem to kiki well. What are your dynamics with the rest of the NYC queens?
MONET: Yuhua and I fight all the time because she’s a fucking lunatic.

AQUARIA: Yuhua was the first queen to book me at her show in the city, Dusty passed on her title of Ms. Look Queen to me, and me and Cracker were actually born in the same hospital on the same day. [laughs]


The Standard
The Standard

A decade of Drag Race is serious. What do you think season 10 is bringing that no one has ever before?
MONET: RuPaul seems to genuinely like our cast, he’s been very interactive with us

AQUARIA: Yeah, even Eureka who was here last season says Ru is like a completely different Ru this season. I don’t know if it’s the Emmys or what, but we are a fierce group of girls he really likes.

MONET: But we’re by no means hanging out with Ru, but when we are filming scenes he’s kiking and being conversational with us

AQUARIA: Of course every time he asked me where I got a piece of clothing, it was something thrift store and not designer.

It was intense to have a ball challenge so early on in the competition. How did you prepare for these looks?
AQUARIA: It was unexpected but we were happy we got to turn out so many looks within the first few episodes. So we got more bang for our buck, you know? And bitch, that’s what I do best so I felt, like, comfy.

MONET: And being able to showcase that many looks really showed how we could all turn it and how tight the race is this season. It always feels tight but like, season six for example, we already knew at this point that Bianca del Rio was going to win. Now it’s still anyone’s game.

What were your first impressions of this cast?
MONET: With Blair [St. Clair] I was like “Oh, this little girl, she’s going home first or second. From back swamp boopity bop wherever she’s from, she’s done.” But she ended up being a really fierce competitor and had great looks and knew herself and her brand. She surprised me a lot. I knew Asia O’Hara was a pageant girl but didnt know the extent of her pedigree -- and the shit she packed in her suitcase! Like that damn dandelion she wore on her head [last episode], where did you get that girl? How did you pack that?

AQUARIA: They all gotta go at some point, was my first impression! No but really, I got sent in [to the workroom] last, so I didn’t get to see the other entrances or meet anyone which I thought put me at a disadvantage at first. A lot of them knew who I was from online or like, from word of mouth. I was very intimidated by Mayhem because I’m a huge Mayhem fan, but beyond that [to the other girls] I was like “let’s see what you got.”


The Standard

Aquaria, was the drama with The Vixen as severe as it was portrayed?
AQUARIA: Everything regarding the edit played out as I experienced it. It was a deep series of misunderstandings, she, you know, didn’t get where I was coming from and I didn’t get where she was coming from.

Let’s talk about the guest judges. Shania Twain seemed like a snooze.
MONET: Oh, she was very boring. God bless her, but she wasn’t a very exciting judge. Tisha Campbell-Martin was the most colorful guest for me, but the rest were kind of wack. I wanted something fun, like, where’s the Khloe Kardashian?

AQUARIA: [across the room] did you just say Kalorie Karbdashian?!

OK and my final question - Monet, are we going to see the sponge in every episode?
MONET: I definitely had it all the time. You’re filming for so long and I have oily skin, so I was able to blot my face and my titties. I didn’t intend for it to become a thing the way it has! More than anything I didn’t need those Reddit trolls coming for me. Nasty.





Writer
Cameron Keady
Photographer
Morgan T. Stuart