BY Jonathan Nunez
Hometown Queen Yuhua Hamasaki Hosts ‘Diamonds in Drag’ at NYC’s DragCon
New York’s Yuhua Hamasaki rose to international prominence on the 10th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Since that time, she has traveled the globe, working hard to bring drag back to what it once was: an art form that was bold, unapologetic and authentic.
“Somewhere along the line, drag became a vessel for achieving fame, getting attention and making money,” she says. “All that is great, but drag used to be about making a statement. The original queens didn’t care about being liked. They didn’t watch what they said. They were not concerned with gaining or losing Instagram followers. Those queens only cared about projecting their true selves, and in doing so, they inspired others to do the same.”
On Sunday, September 30, Hamasaki returns to NYC for DragCon. She will host the “Diamonds in Drag” show with performances by other “Drag Race” favorites, including Aja, Gia Gunn, Jiggly Caliente and local queens. We spoke with Hamasaki from Canada, where she is currently on tour.
Have you been draping yourself in diamonds since “RuPaul’s Drag Race” made you a star?
I’ve been drowning myself with drag since “Drag Race,” and I am so thankful that I am able to show the world how fabulous drag is. I encourage everyone to try drag at least once! It will give you a much different outlook on life.
You mean a less serious outlook?
Yes! Life should be fun!
What has the show meant for your career?
It has meant a lot of things. I had felt like I had reached a glass ceiling working in NYC, and that was why I originally decided to audition for the show.
It seems to have gotten you outside of NYC!
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has given me a platform like no other. I believe that as drag entertainers and LGBT people, we should never be boxed-in to work only nighttime bars. We should have the same opportunities as heterosexuals: to be in films, on TV and in music—anything we want to do! The show has showcased drag queens as entertainers, and I am so thankful to be traveling the world to spread the love of our art.
Are you excited to come home for DragCon?
Oh, yes! It is going to be like a huge reunion! Many of the queens travel so much, so this is one of the few weekends that everyone can come together under one roof and catch up. We also get to meet the fans.
Do you enjoy meeting the fans?
It’s incredible! I love hearing how much drag means to people. I’m especially floored when some people tell me how much of a role model I am to them. Me? A role model? I can cry, seriously. It’s such an honor. Fans should know I am just as excited to see and meet them. DragCon is going to be a very fun and emotional weekend for us all.
Why did you choose to host the “Diamonds in Drag” show?
A lot of young people want to see a drag show, but they cannot because they are not yet 21. The main purpose of “Diamonds in Drag” is to allow those who are underage to enjoy a live drag show. I believe that drag is not just about entertainment; it is also educational. My hope is that young people will walk away from seeing us on stage and reflect our confidence into their own lives.
A whole smorgasbord of queens will be performing “Diamonds in Drag.” Who are you most looking forward to seeing?
I am most looking forward to showing off the NYC local talents to the audience. A lot of fans of the show only know drag from “Drag Race,” but there are plenty of local talents within NYC, like Bootsie LeFaris, Holly Dae, Honey Davenport, Jada Valenciaga, Pixie Aventura. I am so honored to be showcasing them!
Who let Sherry Vine on the bill? (Kidding! We love Sherry Vine!)
I love Sherry Vine! Do you know the first time I ever did anything with her was for her parody music video of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”? She titled it, “I’m Gonna Sh*t My Pants,” and it was a huge viral hit back in 2010.
What are you going to do if Aquaria shows up at “Diamonds in Drag?”
We could always use someone as coat check.
As long as she knows “Diamonds in Drag” is YOUR show. Love you, and can’t wait to see you at “Diamonds in Drag!”
Likewise! Happy DragCon weekend!
“Diamonds in Drag” takes place Sunday, September 30,
from 6 – 10 p.m. at The Helen Mills Theater (137 West 26th Street).
Meet & greet at 6 p.m. $30 – $72 tickets at EventBrite.com.
Follow Yuhua Hamasaki on Instagram @yuhuahamasaki