NYC’s own Yuhua Hamasaki, currently competing on the tenth season of Rupaul’s Drag Race, is out with her first comedic music video. “The Ankh Song” is a humorous tribute to the ancient religious symbol of life that represents both sexes. It’s perfect for Yuhua as she is the the first Chinese American gender-neutral drag queen to compete on the show!
Yuhua was seven when she and her family landed at JFK from China. No one in the family spoke English. She remembers looking out the window, seeing snow for the first time and realizing she wasn’t in China anymore. Yuhua found solace and an escape from American culture by watching Chinese soap operas. The actors and actresses often wore rich, imperial clothing and she loved how grand, dramatic, and brilliant the colors were. Yuhua incorporates many of those same designs in her drag today because she’s proud of them and wants to glorify that part of Asian culture. But she wasn’t always so proud.
Growing up, Yuhua believed the only culture worth being proud of was Caucasian. She remembers being ashamed at her face and olive complexion. She wouldn’t speak Chinese in front of her friends, or eat Chinese food or do anything at all that might remind people she was different. It wasn’t until she was older, when she began experimenting with first, gender bending, then drag, that she began to recognize her unique beauty.
“Drag represents freedom and power,” she explains. “When I’m painted, I am the narrator and the protagonist of my story. I can do and say anything I want. I can dress however I please. Drag shields me from judgement. It gives me confidence, happiness, and determination to be a better human being, in and out of my drag persona.”
She’s heaped many awards from her drag, including winning pageant titles and being named Miss Fire Island and Miss Stonewall. She’s also appeared on television in “The Carrie Diaries,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Mysteries of Laura,” and on “Saturday Night Live,” performing with Katy Perry.
An important distinction about Yuhua is that she identifies as gender-fluid. A gender-fluid drag queen may sound like a new concept, especially as most people still think drag queens are gay men dressed up as glamorous women. But just as there are trans-queens (transgendered men and women who perform in drag), bio queens (cis-gender females who perform drag) and drag kings (females that perform male drag), there are queens who don’t define themselves by male or female. They feel the conventional structures of masculinity and femininity —created by people from generations ago, that we still follow today because we were raised to believe them — do not apply to them. They certainly do not apply to Yuhua.
“I have a lot of myths to dispel during my time on RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she reflects. “In addition to educating the world about gender neutrality, I aim to prove that Asians in America can have a voice. The preconceived notions that we are quiet, obedient and vulnerable and only suited to be lawyers, doctors, mathematicians and scientists are all wrong.”
“I, for one, am none of those things,” she contends. “I am talented, funny and a multi-faceted entertainer who is making her mark in music, film, comedy, fashion, and anywhere else I want. All those bitches better watch out,” she laughs.