So this was originally going to a part of our NewYorkNowNext series focusing on the redonkulous amount of talented up and coming queens in the Big Apple but in the time it took to put this together, Asia Persuasia wrapped up her NYC drag career (at least for now) and is heading abroad to complete her doctorate. Instead this piece evolved into a bit of Asia reflecting back on her time here in New York City and a look ahead to what she thinks the future holds for her. Hopefully this talented young queen will again grace the stages of the city again someday soon in the future.
Chiffon Dior: Hi there Asia! I’m glad we’ve finally gotten a chance to talk here after meeting at the So You Think You Can Drag Finale. How are you doing tonight hun?
Asia Persuasia: I am doing good, thank you for asking. How about you?
CD: I’m still running around like a chicken without a head finishing Christmas errands. But I guess that is small potatoes compared preparing to uproot yourself and move across the Atlantic like you are my dear!
AP: Haha yes. Thank god I did my Christmas shopping early this year. Otherwise, packing to move out from the city would have been almost impossible.
CD: For those readers who don’t know, can you let us know about this new adventure you’re about to undertake?
AP: Well now that I have completed my MA (which is one of the reasons why I had moved to NYC in the first place), I am moving to the United Kingdom to pursue my PHD. I did my two years of my undergraduate here and two years of pre-PHD. Now I think it’s time for a change of scenery.
CD: What are you studying?
AP: I did a double MA in Gender Studies and MBA. For my PHD, I am pursuing for Sexuality and gender studies.
CD: What are you looking to do after you finish your doctorate? You might be a little bit over-educated to just be a drag queen.
AP: *Laughs* Well… I want to become a professor. I want to publish journal articles, original research etc. I also want to teach in drag where at the end of a lecture I perform for my students and then get tips from them! *laugh* joke #butnotreally.
CD: Well that is a whole new way of collecting tuition!
AP: On top of that I also plan to have my own business. So you never know. For now I’m just going to concentrate on completing my PHD and continuing to do drag at the same time!
CD: What do you know of the drag scene over in England?
AP: Nothing. My first exposure to the drag scene is here in NYC. So I’m really excited to explore the scene there and wiggle my way up. *laughs* At the same time I’m also nervous about starting over.
CD: I’d say its sort of like switching schools expect for the fact that you’re literally switching schools so it’s really a lousy comparison. What initially got you interested in drag? What was your first exposure to it?
AP: My first exposure to ‘drag’ (in the gender subversive sense) comes from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Where I’m from, when people say you do ‘drag’, it means that you are transitioning and you want to live your life as a woman. I did ‘drag’ when I was a teenager but I realized that it was not for me because I did not want to live my life as a female. And then RPDR came along and I got hooked. I realized that I didn’t have to be a woman all the time to perform and dress up as one. So that’s that! *laughs* I guess you can say i’m one of the post RPDR- queens. What initially got me interested in drag is the transformation aspect of it. Putting on make up is my favorite part of drag! I usually take my time to do my make up and it can take me more than 3 hours to get it done.
CD: For a post-Drag Race queen, you can certainly beat a mug gurl! Where did you learn your makeup skills?
AP: Awww thank you. I learned how to do make up on my own back during my teenage years from watching movies that involves makeovers (Clueless, Jawbreaker etc). I used to put make up on my cousins, however I acquired the skills on how to do drag make up from various sources: youtube, my drag mothers, my drag sisters and other queens. The skills that have been passed to me through these sources are then meshed together.
CD: So once you realized you wanted to do drag, how did you get your start here in the city?
AP: By going out in drag for free. *laughs* I used to go to XL every Thursday and Copacabana on Fridays. I met queens and would ask for tips. I still remember my first time meeting Chelsea Piers and asking her for advice which she gladly had shared. Through networking, I got to meet queens who had their own shows and they invited me to perform as their guest. My first performance was at TNT in Brooklyn, guesting for Scarlett Envy. But the push that I really needed, which helped to kickstart my career as Asia Persuasia was when I decided to join So You Think You Can Drag Season 4! Since that show, everything fell into place. I did not win SYTYCD, but it got my name out there. That was the exposure that I needed. From then on, I got many gigs and I was only nine or ten months into my drag career at the time.
CD: How difficult is it for you to up and leave NYC as your star is clearly on the rise in the drag world?
AP: It really is difficult because I worked really hard to get to where I am. And having to start over is going to a pain in the butt. Just thinking of the stuffs that I had to do and having to do it again makes me really nervous and scared. I guess only time will tell. We’ll see how it goes.
CD: So one of the things we’re here to talk about how the drag scene in NYC is in a state of flux. How do you think the scene has changed in the time that you’ve been around?
AP: The drag scene in NYC I believe has always been changing and it has been that way since before I moved here. In nearly two years of doing drag in the city, I have witnessed changes in terms of the ways that people do drag and in other people’s reaction to it. Drag has always been arbitrary to one’s conception of what it means to themselves, however the acceptance and celebration from the audience of the different kinds of looks that are served by the queens of NYC has taken a positive turn in the community which encourages different types of drag to emerge.
Consequently, there is (almost) no standardized notion of what it means to do drag. Anything goes. You just have to constantly polish whatever looks that you serve, which is something that I try and challenge myself to achieve. Of course there are queens who still uphold and perpetuate the one sided view of drag that privileges their opinion on what drag is. That, to me, is the most annoying aspect of doing drag. I have come across these types of queens who constantly say ‘you should do this,’ ‘wear this,’… I mean STFU. I don’t judge your drag, so stop judging mine. You don’t have to do my sort of drag, u just have to accept the fact that there are different kinds of drag. If i didn’t ask for your opinion then have a seat and keep it to yourself. On top of that, maybe work on your drag as well before u try and read on others. All in all, the drag scene in the city have always been in constant state of change and it’ll continue to change. I’m excited to see what those changes to the drag scene will be in the next few years when I return.
CD: With some of the more established queens in the city moving on to new projects and phases in their careers, there is the beginning of a vacuum at the top of the proverbial drag food chain. Who do you think is poised to fill the void?
AP: I do not know for now who is going to be the next big stars. Everyone (almost) have the potential to be a star and to pin point a few is very hard. You can be up this year and no one is going to know you the next one. NYC drag scene is very unpredictable with regards to this sort of thing/
CD: What do you think your personal style of drag brings the scene that is unique?
AP: Oh my god, that is such a difficult question, but I’d like to think that I bring my power of persuasion, pun intended, wherever I go. I’m the Asian that is a sassy and happy-go-lucky. I don’t know if i answered that right though, but basically I’m the sassy, happy-go-lucky Asian girl who persuades. *laughs*
CD:I would imagine that it’s difficult to predict with your situation about to change so much but what sort of goals do you have for yourself that you want to accomplish?
AP: Since I have only been doing this for a hot minute, there’s so much that I want to accomplish. First and foremost, I want to be polished in all aspect. I want to be able to do my face right, to deliver stellar performances and host a show. I want to travel and perform around the world. I want to share my ‘persuasion’ to the world.
CD: Gurl, if you’re not doing your face right, I should just quit now and never paint again!
CD: Normally I ask the gurls where they can be seen but that’s not exactly the case here. Can you share with us what your final shows in New York were like for you?
AP: Well for my final few shows in NYC I decided to be a guest at various venues that meant a lot to me during my stay in the city. I did Ritz with Marti Gould Cummings because that’s my go-to bar and who doesn’t love Ritz? I did New World Stages with Sutton Lee Seymour (LOVE YOU SIS! Congrats on your Glammy!)! My drag career took off because of this venue, thanks to So You Think You Can Drag. Also, I was Boots and Saddle with Yuhua Hamasaki! That was a lot of fun! Also, I was at TNT, where I was born! That was emotional for me. I saw some people who I remembered when I first performed there. They said all these nice things about how much I’ve grown in terms of my performances and look. I was a wee bit overwhelming. And my last gig ever was on the 27th at my home bar Fairytail Lounge: Sickning Saturdays. Putting on my make up for that final gig was kind of hard and it was emotional! Thank god I had started early (and my friends know that it takes me couple of hours to do my face normally). I was just sad, knowing that that was going to be my last ‘face’ because I probably wont be doing drag for a while now. At the same time I was also excited knowing that the next chapter of my life is about to begin.
CD: What was going through your head after you finished your last show? Did you have any difference in the emotions?
AP: Wiping off my make up after the final gig , I had a strong sensation of relief. It’s very dramatic. *laughs* I felt so sad but at the same time I was embalmed with feeling of happiness. Putting away the last pieces of drag in the box along with rest of my drag stuff that was waiting to be shipped somewhere was a bit melancholy. Basically i had mixed feelings about this but I know Asia will be back sooner or later, so I figured there is no need to be so sad.
CD: How would you like New York to remember Asia?
AP: Hmmm, now that’s very hard. Well, I honestly want NYC to remember the Asia that I was when I was here, the sassy little petite Asian girl!
CD: I think we’ve just about reached the end here Asia. Thank you so much for your time and I wish you nothing but luck in your adventure across the pond! Do you have any final words of wisdom before you go?
AP: I just want to say thank you to everybody who’ve made my time in NYC fun, tolerable and awesome! For the shady ladies, you can shove it! *laughs* Jk but really though! Thank you for those who’ve helped me, my drag mothers, Digna Shei and Rhea Litre and my sisters with whom I’ve grown extremely closed to, Fifi Dubois, Laganja Estranja and Miz Jade! And those who’ve given me advice and opportunity to grow as an artist, all of you will always be remembered and god bless! And to you Miss Chiffon Dior! Thanks for this opportunity to share my experiences with your readers and thanks for hanging in there because this interview took awhile for us to complete! I just want to say thanks to everybody who I’ve worked with, queens and photographers, those who’ve given me the opportunity to grow. Oh my god! One more: to my Aunt Kara Sucia! Thanks for doing most of my hair pieces! Love ya!!!!