May 18 2018

Hot Tea with Pangina Heals

New York-The Standard Interview
Did somebody order a Thai iced tea!?

For this week’s RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party at The Standard, East Village's narcbar, we went international, hunnies. Drag Race Thailand just wrapped its first season and co-host Pangina Heals came to Miss Girl to slay. Before she hit the stage in her disco queen body suit, we gabbed with her about all things Thai drag. 
Read all of our "Hot Tea" interviews here.
The Standard
THE STANDARD: When and how did you first start doing drag?
PANGINA HEALS: There's no school for drag, so like every other drag queen, I did it at Halloween. And then there was a Lady Gaga competition where if you dressed the best like her, you got to come to New York, which I won. I passed out during the concert because I was so excited. It was a celebration of life. It opened my eyes to what drag could be and how people can just celebrate each other's differences, which is what America is all about.
 
Who would you say are your major influences?
Oh my god, Wonder Woman, Barbra Streisand, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey—just strong woman who experience struggle. I think we all can relate to that, the idea that talented, beautiful creatures have struggles and that's an empowering thing that we all learn from.
 
Which drag queen is your absolute favorite?
I love the wit, humor, and balls of Lady Bunny. I love Bianca Del Rio. I also love the aesthetic, fishiness, and intelligence of Courtney Act. Drag queens are like diamonds, they're all unique, so it depends what kind of jewelry you like.
 
How does Drag Race Thailand compare to Rupaul's Drag Race?
Well, the main difference is that we speak Thai. The second thing is we're Thai. [Laughs.] But no, it's different because honestly, drag is a Western art. Thai people are not as familiarized with it, so we look up to the West a lot, but we try to showcase our culture and what it means to be a Southeast Asian developing country on the show. Bitches cry more often on our show, too. It's every week.
 
Both you and Art Arya host the show. How do you think having two hosts changes the dynamic?
Lots of people compare our show to RuPaul’s, but really there's only one RuPaul. We apply our own perspective. Art Arya has a very high fashion view of things and I have a very light view on things because I drink a lot, so basically, it's a sisterly kind of bond between me and the contestants and with Arya it's more of a motherly bond. It's fun and we bounce off each other so well because Arya’s very proper and well put together and I'm just a hot mess. I am!
The Standard
The Standard
What makes drag in Thailand special?
We're very open to the trans community and showgirls. We call transgender woman “type two,” so we're very, very open with that. But people don't know about drag as much. They don't understand what it is for men who live the lives of men to dress up as women. Yes, it’s all under the same umbrella, but it's different, so we're trying to educate people that this is an art form. Whether you're doing it for money, for booze, for cash, for fame, for your happiness or other people's happiness, this art exists and people need to know that this art is available for the LGBT community to express themselves.
 
Rupaul's Drag Race usually has entertainers as guest judges but Drag Race Thailand featured beauty pageant contestants and business entrepreneurs. How did producers make these selections?
Well, Art's friends with most of them. [Laughs.] It's not just that. They're famous people who have millions of followers. They're basically the top of the top. In America, you guys choose judges because they're important to the LGBT community. But in Thailand, we wanted everyone to understand what our culture is about, so they brought in actors and famous people. Art worked in the industry for so long. She's one of the most influential stylists in the industry, so of course she has friends. I don't! I don't have any friends whatsoever except for you. [She points to her manager.]
 
[Vivacious, who is getting ready nearby, inserts “Don’t forget me, bitch.”]
 
What has life been like for the contestants of the first season?
They only have one year to be famous, so until the next season comes, they better cash in on that shit. I'm only joking (but not). Their lives have been great. Année Maywong is going to fly to Paris to do a fashion show. (She better get that visa done. I'm just saying.) Natalie is rich already, so it doesn't matter if she won or not. Dearis Doll is probably getting laid for once in her life. So, yeah, all their lives are going up!
 
What's next for Drag Race Thailand?
I'm asking the same question, too. I have no idea when season 2 is but they said we're going to do season 2 the end of this year and we're allowing the bitches to come in. So, all of the mean, catty people. We filtered them out for the first season because we want nice girls but season 2 is going to be full of c*nts. It's gonna be a c*ntfest.
 
What do you hope for the future of Drag Race Thailand?
Hopefully it becomes what Drag Race here is, with viewing parties, people hiring the girls from the season, and people just loving and cherishing each drag queen differently. That would be amazing. I don't know if that's going to happen any time soon, but here's hoping.
 
Photographer
Morgan T. Stuart
Writer
Cameron Keady