On Wednesday, September 20, Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds, struck Puerto Rico, drenching the island in feet of water and setting off a humanitarian crisis. Now over a month later, the response from the US government has been found lacking. Enter…..Phi Phi O’Hara??
Just a single tweet from the iconic drag star ignited the flame of compassion and before she knew it, dozens of Drag Race alum answered the call and the Queens United/Reinas Unidas benefit show for Puerto Rico was born. Our own Sidney Stokes was able to get a few words with Phi Phi in the days leading up to the historic event.
Hello Phi Phi! Congratulations on putting together such an amazing show to benefit an incredibly worthy cause What inspired you to set up this show? (Get tickets here!)
Thank you Sidney! My husband is Puerto Rican and has personal ties to this disaster as he had many family members there at the time he was unable to talk to. Plus, seeing the news about a false hope in a so-called leader of the free world not doing his job, I felt I had to do something! I have a voice and a platform and wanted to use it to show the world and Puerto Rico that REAL leaders aren’t those just elected….a REAL leader takes the bull by the horns and gets stuff done.
What was the reception of the queens when you asked them to do it? What has surprised you most about this experience?
I was very surprised at the response from my fellow alumni. It was amazing to see a few of the girls ready to drop everything and do the show. From the many donations by the girls, to them reaching out for donations from their network of fans and close ones…to putting aside all differences to come together for a positive event is truly inspiring.
What do you think the message a benefit like this sends on behalf of the LGBTQIA community?
I hope this shows how much power we have. LGBTQIA community are known from civil rights movements and so on to be outspoken and powerful in numbers. I feel this benefit is also showing how we can come together no matter what and get something done if we put out minds to it as well. This benefit show goes beyond any sensationalized TV show to the real root of who we are as humans and that is that we care for each other and we care for the people of the world.
Has the show turned out differently from where it is now compared to when you started out? Did you ever imagine this becoming perhaps the largest gathering Drag Race alums in a single show?
Thirty girls under one roof….HOLY COW! No, never did I think I would have pulled together the LARGEST RuPaul’s Drag Race show ever! I couldn’t have done it without the help of donations, the amazing Chad Kampe of Flip Phone Events, and really the girls. This has all happened within a month and started as a tweet from me…..I am beyond grateful and can’t wait to make a difference.
What advice would you give to people in the community that want to get involved but can’t make it out to Minneapolis?
Get involved. I know it sounds cliché but it is true. If you can’t make the show I have a crowdfunding page through YouCaring.com (Editor’s Note: WERRRK.com will be contributing and we ask the WERRRK.com Universe to donate anything you can as well. It is literally life and death for fellow Americans and every single dollar counts!). If you can’t donate money, shares and retweets are free. ANYTHING TRULY HELPS. Also education is important….getting involved also means educating yourself. I don’t think people really understand how bad it is in Puerto Rico! By people becoming informed and sharing that information, maybe, hopefully people will also want to step up to the plate and call upon their elected officials and so on to do their job!
If we gave you a bedazzled microphone and you could speak to the people of Puerto Rico right now, what would you say?
I would say get your money back for the bedazzled microphone and donate it to Puerto Rico! *Laughs* No, but in all seriousness I want the people of Puerto Rico to know the WORLD is watching and really wants to help. I want them to know we see them, we hear their cries and we are honestly trying and doing what we can to help. I might not be able to raise millions like certain celebrities but I hope this money helps a good amount of people and their families sleep a little better at night. Trump is a pathetic and sad representation for any true American….because when a TRUE AMERICAN sees someone struggle, let alone an entire island….they put their hand out to help and not just to throw paper towels at people.
Editor’s Note: It was just announced yesterday that Billboard Pride will be providing an exclusive livestream of the event as well!