Yuhua Hamasaki, one of the most beloved queens ever to hit the New York City nightlife, is a true entertainer and performer as evidenced by the vast number of titles she has collected. A real team player always, Yuhua is in high demand, which is not surprising given her humor, her beauty and her kindness. Happy Chinese New Year, Yuhua!
So what are you up to since we last spoke?
Same ol’, same ol’! Still cross-dressing! Still breathing! Still Asian!
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Guangdong, China. I moved to the United States with my family when I was seven years old, and this year in October would make it 18 years in the states. I speak Toisanese at home while in China, Cantonese in the city that my family and I lived in, and have to learn Mandarin in school. Upon moving to New York, I learned English through watching a lot of American TV shows, listening to American music, and I read a lot of books when I was younger trying to learn the language. Little did I know, a few years later that I would be forced to learn Spanish for nine years from middle school to college as part of the school curriculum. My Chinese is terrible, I forgot all of my Spanish except knowing how to talk dirty, English is the only language I know fluently, and sometimes, even that is broken too.
What’s the funniest or most embarrassing experience you have ever had while performing?
It’s always a wig malfunction with me! I think it might be the mass amount of hair I have that sometimes when I wear a wig over it, it ends up poofing off because my real hair is trying to escape. Or if I wear a ponytail and if I dance too much, it falls off because there was too much movement. Yeah, yeah. There’s tricks to keep the hair on, but I like to do wig changes throughout the show, and with it being too tight, it can get in the way of limiting the time of changing. Just a few weeks ago while performing at my Friday night show at Boots & Saddle, I was kicking and dancing to Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.” I didn’t even know my ponytail fell off until I was back on the stage and saw that my hair had fell while I was performing off-stage in front of the audience. There’s a video of it that someone posted it on Facebook! It was funny to watch. Another time was during the Miss Fire Island Coronation last year when I was performing outdoors, and it was so windy that the wind blew my clip-on bangs backwards right after I started the song. Kind of embarrassing! There’s numerous of other times, but these two are the memorable ones. Nowadays, I don’t even care anymore. If I feel like it’s falling off, I just take it off and use my real hair. Haha!
If you could change places with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Laverne Cox! Oh my God! She is such a pioneer for the community! She is the first trans woman of everything, and she is representing the LGBT community very well! She is intelligent, ambitious, motivated, kind, talented and such a kind heart.
What’s the favorite title that you hold and why?
Miss Fire Island. I remember seeing the year Logan Hardcore won in 2011, and I remember saying to myself, I want to be that girl. The following year, I entered and won for 2012. I remember preparing for it months and months prior to the pageant on getting everything together. I remember telling myself that if I were to enter, I want to win. I don’t want to re-enter the follow year. I didn’t want to waste any time and money if I’m already entering it. I also had the pleasure of being one of the judges for last year’s pageant, which was sort of a different experience for me while sitting at the judges’ table. Also, it is the longest-running pageant I know here in New York. Pretty meaningful! This year will be the 50th Annual Miss Fire Island pageant, which is coming in September 2015!
If you could change anything in your life, what would it be?
Nothing! I’m happy! You live, you learn, you grow! Except maybe a few inches taller?! And, oh God, I wish I wasn’t blind and can still have perfect vision without wearing my glasses. Sometimes it limits a lot of activities for me if I don’t have my contacts with me.
Who taught you how to paint?
In the beginning was just trial and error. I would watch the way other girls paint, YouTube videos, etc. It wasn’t until in 2011, Jiggly Caliente said, “Bring in your makeup. I’ll teach you how to paint a softer look for an Asian girl.” We both showed up at The Web (when it was still open) on a night that we didn’t work, and from then on, I learned to blend. Haha! Should I be Yuhua Caliente then?!
Tell me a little about your family growing up.
Always the oddball! Never fit in and never really lived up to what they want or preferred from a Chinese son. Things really got bad as I got into my teenage years, because I was learning more and more about myself: that I like boys, I like to dress up, I like a lot of feminine things, I like makeup, and a lot of these feelings I [wasn’t] able to express with my parents. We became really distanced, and I ended up going out to the gay bars and clubs a lot when I was 16 with a fake ID, because I didn’t know where else to find people that were like me that were able to share things in common. Since I wasn’t able to find it at home and in school, I decided to reach out to the nightlife world.
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Everywhere! If I’m getting paid, my ass is there! If any venues or event coordinators are reading this, contact me! I’m at email@example.com!
What do you like best about drag?
I get to yap whatever I want and get away with it! And it’s so much easier to get money out of people to tip you! I also developed a new hobby for sewing from drag: I make mostly all of my costumes and for other queens as well. I knew how to sew somewhat while growing up. I learned that from my mom. But Cheng Cheng has also taught me some new techniques and gave me advice on how to sew better. It’s become a fun part of drag for me that my designs are currently for sale since last year at the Patricia Field store at 306 Bowery Street. Go buy!
What is the one thing that you would want me to know?
I’m a fake woman. The cover of me on this issue’s Get Out! magazine has a lot of Photoshop. I don’t really look like that in person, but for the right price, I can. But thank you Preston Buford for making me look fly! You can also find him on www.virtualpreston.com. And oh! You can find me at Lucky Cheng’s in our current pop-up location at The DL (95 Delancey Street). Also, come see me at Boots & Saddle Friday nights from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. before we move to our new location later on in the Spring of this year! And yes, three and a half hour show! No excuse for not showing up or missing it! I’m sure ya’ll can find some time to squeeze in and stop by the bar.