In a RuPaul’s Drag Race season full of New York City queens, one had to be the first to fall. Unfortunately for Yuhua Hamasaki, on Thursday night’s episode, she became that first.
Yuhua’s performance in the season’s first acting challenge cost her dearly, and despite some aggressive lip-syncing for her life, she was no match for Mayhem Miller on Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.” She was the third queen out of the season.
After her elimination aired, INTO talked with Yuhua about her time on the show, trying to explain her looks to the judges, and who she’d have done if she got to Snatch Game.
INTO: How many times had you auditioned for Drag Race?
Yuhua Hamasaki (YH): Three times.
What do you think made this audition process different from the last two?
YH: I was authentically myself. When I submitted tapes before, I was thinking, what are they looking for? What do they want to see? What would make them like me? But on this tape, I was just being myself. I didn’t care if they liked it or not. I was just being my stupid self, my silly self. If they like the tape, they like it, and if they don’t, then they don’t like it. And I guess they liked it!
You walked in as one of five New York queens this season – a record for number of girls from the same city. What was your strategy for standing out among so many of your local sisters?
YH: Like I said, just being myself. Because RuPaul picked you for a reason. Some girls, when they get to the competition, they get into their head. ‘I should do this, I should do that. I’m doubting myself.’ But I think if RuPaul picked you, it’s because she saw something in you. So that was my strategy.
Speaking of New York queens, a lot of people draw comparisons between your makeup and that of season 6 winner Bianca Del Rio’s. Is that intentional at all?
YH: Not at all. We just both like big lashes. If you actually look at our makeup in detail, you notice that our makeups are very different. Her contour is different, her eye makeup is different, the way she paints her eyebrows, the color scheme we just happen to both have big lashes. And we both have good teeth. So when we smile, we look kinda similar.
People always compare drag queens from prior seasons. I get compared to every Asian drag queen who’s ever been on the show. Gia Gunn. Jujubee. Ongina. Manila. Jiggly Caliente. Every Asian girl. People are always going to compare.
Do those comparisons bother you?
YH: Yes and no. No, because they were all fierce competitors on the show. But yes, at the same time, there is a stereotype that all Asians look alike. They’re comparing me to all Asians. Including Kim Chi! I mean, her drag makeup is completely different than mine. But I’m being compared to her.
You come out strong in the first episode with your caution tape dress, which I really liked. What was your process in making that dress?
YH: When I designed that dress, I was thinking about, ‘What would RuPaul wear down the runway? Down the red carpet?’ I remember seeing her walking down the runway every week for all 10 seasons, and she would wear these big, flowy gowns. So that’s what I was thinking about.
Monét X Change, your New York sister, referred to you at one point this season as a seamstress and not a designer. Do you think that’s a fair distinction?
YH: I think she was being sarcastic and sassy during that interview. As drag queens, we throw shade all the time, but at the end of the day, we’re still sisters.
I know you actually made some garments for your New York sisters. Did anyone this season wear something you had designed for them?
YH: Believe it or not, Monét X Change, the next week, for her very best drag, she wore something made by me, [the red jumpsuit].
Michelle Visage clocked you a couple of times for talking back on the runway. What is your response to that criticism?
YH: I don’t think it’s talking back. It’s more like explaining myself. If you don’t understand it, I’m gonna explain it to you. If I don’t explain it, then you’re not gonna get it, and then I’m gonna be sent home. So I’d rather explain than be sent home.
Had you made it to Snatch Game, who were you going to do?
YH: Believe it or not, Christina Aguilera! It was so funny when she walked in week one, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I auditioned as you for Snatch Game on the audition tape.’ And I was gonna do her.