Chiffon Dior: Hi Pattaya! It was so nice to meet you a few months back at Pieces but I’m even more excited to sit down and talk with you gurl! How are you doing tonight?
Pattaya Hart: Hello there Chiffon, I’m doing well. It was a pleasure meeting you and Pandora Boxx that night as well! I just moved into a new apartment and all, so pretty much been busy with heavy-lifting, packing and unpacking!
CD: Moving is never fun, especially when you have two separate wardrobes to deal with! What part of the city did you move to?
PH: I didn’t move that much further from where I was, from Hamilton Heights to Washington Heights, only 21 blocks uptown. I’m still a Heights girl!
CD: How does that part of the city treat a working gal on her way to the subway or to her Uber?
PH: I’m a subway girl, uber sometimes when I was running later than I expected. It’s great, I’m only three blocks away from the train at the new place.
CD: Wait, drag queens run late??
CD: So I’m thinking your story doesn’t start in Washington Heights though. Where are you from originally Pattaya?
PH: I’m originally from Bangkok, Thailand
CD: Now which subway line is that on?
PH: *Laughs* Pattaya is the name of a very famous city in Thailand, where it’s well-known as the city of Ladyboys!
CD: What was it like growing up in Thailand?
PH: Very cultural. I was born and raise in Thailand so I grew up with pretty conservative culture, but my family (especially my mom) is very open-minded and not so uptight. The school system is tough there, so that forces me to be kind of a nerd-ish. I’m saying that as a good thing.
CD: That is something that has also fascinated me. To me at least, Southeast Asia has always seemed to be socially conservative but Thailand is world famous for their lady boys. How do those two things mesh?
PH: Ladyboys and sissy boys have always been a part in our sub-culture and every day life. You’ll see one or two (or maybe more) sissy boys in every school. It’s pretty common. I feel like the conservative part only comes to play with official/governmental issues but most of the time, they have been cool with it. But last year, when one university decided to fire this one transgender teacher, because she’s openly trans, that case got a lot of heat from the entire country.
CD: So the ladyboys are treated well? No one tries to dictate what bathrooms they use?
PH: We’re pretty much accepting the ladyboys. We consider them as girls and most all girls don’t mind sharing bathroom with them so there has never been a bathroom case in Thailand, at least not that I know of. I think the bathroom issue here is so ridiculous, people who are against it are just filled with hated and they’ll just come up with any BS excuse or reason to say that transgender people will do harm to others.
CD: How did you wind up in New York City from Bangkok?
PH: I graduated from University and had been working in the marketing business for two years,. But then I changed my mind and wanted to pursue a dancing career so I quit my job and came to NY to start my intense dance training.
CD: What made you want to pursue a career as a dancer?
PH: I did a year of exchange student program during high school. I was in Kansas City for a year — that changed me a lot, I became pretty outspoken and very active in arts and activities. While I was working a 9 to 5 office job, I got bored and missed dancing, so I start taking ballet class during the weekends. One day there’s an open call audition for a big Broadway-style production show, Man of La Mancha in Thailand. I skipped work to go audition and I made it onto the cast. The message from that show gave me new meaning of how I should pursue my life and so that was it, all thanks to Don Quixote!
CD: What was your first exposure to the world of drag?
PH: A dance friend here in NYC made me watch RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2, and they haves have called me Jujubee ever since! I love the show, I was team Pandora, Tatiana and Jujubee!
CD: Gurl! Do not get me started on season two! We will be here ALL night!
PH: I didn’t get personally inspired until season 3 came along. Watching Raja and Manila turned it out week after week really inspired me and I could totally relate to both of their creativity! *Laughs*
CD: That is something I don’t think the show gets enough credit for, how diverse the casts have. There have been queens of almost every background so far.
PH: No Thai ladyboys though! I’m still waiting for a call! *Laughs*
CD: Well you could be vanishing ANY day now in that case! We’re just waiting to see which queens here in the city suddenly are going on a cruise that just happen to have no WiFi!
PH: Well, I used to perform on cruise ships so I can assure you that no wifi life is real! It costs 10c per minute and it’s slower than a McDonald’s free wifi hotspot! That’s why I go to Starbucks when I need to mooch free Wifi! *Laughs*
CD: So from watching Drag Race, how did you make the jump to actually sliding on a pair of heels?
PH: My friend told me there was a weekly amateur drag competition where winner gets $100 and I want to make money so I tried out so my first three times were at Peppermint’s show “Cattle Call” at Therapy.
CD: So if you got Pattaya from the city in Thailand, where did the Hart come from in your drag name?
PH: It’s from Roxie Hart, from the musical Chicago. I’m kind of a Musical Theater geek. It’s also kind of a play on word too (pat to your heart)!
CD: So in those three times at Peppermint’s show, did you manage to take home the hundred bucks?
CD: Last year you kind of came out of nowhere and finished as first runner up to Fifi DuBois in the prestigious Miss’d America pageant in Atlantic City! How did that come about for you?
PH: It was my very first pageant. I’m best friends with Serenity Lopez, who was getting ready for her first time competing at Miss Continental (and she, same as me, out of nowhere, placed 3rd Runner Up!). So we were kind of preparing together and we kept inspiring and encouraging each other in preparation for the pageant. In fact, Serenity gave me lots of pointers about become a pageant queen. It was quite a challenge for me, transitioning from a showgirl type of queen into a polished pageant queen but this experience taught me a lot about drag and I’m so happy I did it!
CD: Give me the tea here gurl! Will you be back this year to claim that crown?
PH: I would love to, but I’m still debating. Going back to compete again means I have high expectations for myself that I have to to….and I don’t mind topping things. *wink*
CD: Well that is some different tea than I was expecting! *laughs*
PH: *Laughs* We will see!
CD: For someone that hasn’t seen you perform, how would you describe your style of drag?
PH: I’d say my drag is fun, silly, sassy and creative. Picture Chita Rivera, headlining the Pussycat Dolls show at Disney Land.
CD: I have to say, that was not a sentence I expected to hear today!
PH: “But it’ll make sense later” – Miss Fame. But really, it’ll make sense when you see me perform! *Laughs*
CD: No, I totally get the visual! You mentioned before that you ultimately want to go back to Thailand, do you have any drag goals you would like to accomplish before then?
PH: Of course, I would love to maybe one day make it onto Drag Race. That would give me the opportunity to travel the country and maybe the world where I can showcase my craft. Also I would love to headline a Broadway/showgirl/cirque revue show somewhere. Those two would be my ultimate goals for drag.
CD: In the meantime, where can people see you do your thing?
Besides working for Screaming Queens Entertainment and NYC Stilts around the city, I will also be guest-performing at Bootsie LeFaris’ Saturday night show at Pieces (where we met) on Saturday July 23rd and guest-hosting with Vivacious, “mother has arrive” at Hogshead Tarvern on Sunday July 24th. And I will be at Boots and Saddle on the 26th! I also teach dance classes (jazz and musical theater style) at Steps on Broadway every Monday and Wednesday (Look for Plu Sayampol on the schedule). And you can follow me on Instagram! (Here)
CD: Thank you so much for you time Pattaya. I really enjoyed getting to talk with you for a bit tonight. Do you have any finale words of wisdom for our readers?
PH: Celebrate life, be proud of who you are and respect others the same way. Live loud, stay strong and be safe.
For more on Pattaya Hart, please check out here website here.