Joining me this week for The Drag Race Illustrated is the fabulous Kim Chi, one of my favorite queens in the world and a good friend of mine! She's known for her elaborate and enormous headpieces, a keen editorial eye, and her exceedingly kind personality. So don't expect us to get too shady! Chad: By this point in the season, we've spent a good amount of time with the queens. Do you feel like you've gotten to know all of them pretty well, or are there still some that haven't gotten enough screen time?
Kim: This season, I feel like they've done a great job of giving most queens evenly distributed screen time. The only queen I still feel like I don't really know as a human being is Courtney. Perhaps she's too self-aware to show her vulnerability on screen?
Chad: That's an interesting thought--I was struck by her scene in the workroom with Ru! I thought it was pretty ballsy to seek advice on how to stand apart from the others in the competition.
Maybe it's in that ambition that we'll get to know her better--she'll push herself harder, and we'll see the results!
Kim: What I REALLY want to know about Courtney is how she managed to get that giant wing to the workspace!
I've worn a wing before that was only half the size of what Courtney had on the runway, and that still took up a full car to transport to the venue.
Chad: Ha! I've heard that LA queens can sometimes have an advantage, since they're local and can bring their whole wardrobe. But you'd think there must be SOME restrictions.
Kim: It does seem a bit unfair to the queens who have to bring everything over the plane...
Chad: Well, they could rent a U-Haul, I suppose.
So, you are well known for wearing outrageous (and magnificent) headpieces and costumes--do you think that helps you appreciate wild props like Courtney's wings, or have you seen it all before?
Kim: Television is the best venue to showcase larger and over the top costumes like the wing Courtney had on! If she were to wear that giant thing in the club, she'll be bumping into the party guests left and right, and those wings will be soaked in whiskey, Coke, and other random liquids by the end. Depending on how big the stage is, she might not even make it up the stairs! Wings are really expensive and time-consuming to make, and the one she had on was definitely one of the best ones I've seen in my lifetime! I nearly died when the whole thing opened up.
Chad: With someone like Courtney, I just assume she's wildly rich and famous, and she has a whole costuming team to craft these crazy looks. Should that diminish my appreciation for her runway looks, or not? Does it matter if a queen creates her own looks?
Kim: Best part about doing drag for me is, you get to create your own fantasy, but you can also choose who you want to include in the journey of creating a look.
My friends Danielle Mnop and Jo Control (of Plastic Factory) recently helped me complete a look for a GayGlow party.
Same with Courtney, I'll bet it was a creative collaboration between her and the artist that created those wings? If she has the resource and the vision, I don't see anything wrong with artists collaborating to help a vision come to life. I've certainly learned a lot of skill sets by collaborating with other people.
There are a lot of famous queens who don't even do their own make up, but it certainly doesn't make me appreciate them less. They know what their strength and weaknesses are, and if they have the resources to bring up their polish level, by all means, they should go for it!
Chad: Eloquently put! In Untucked, there was discussion about Joslyn and Adore's outfits, which other queens dismissed as "store bought." Do you think that sort of criticism is justified?
Kim: For the audience, television or in the club, I do believe you have to sell them a 'fantasy' and show them something 'special'. Personally, I don't want to see a beautiful queen in an outfit that could've come from a department store. They can purchase pieces from those stores, but how they alter and style them is what creates a fantasy. I do love Joslyn Fox. She seems fun, sweet, and someone I'd like to party with, but her runway presentations to me always feel like 20% away from being absolutely fab.
Chad: So, funny enough, when I asked my initial question about which queen haven't we gotten to know well, this is who I had in mind: Darienne!
Kim: Darienne was a sweetheart when I met her in person when she came to Chicago. I completely understand her sarcastic sense of humor, but when she's making her snarky remarks, a lot of the times it's a joke without a punchline, which in turn translates to being bitchy.
Chad: Yeah, I definitely agree that her humor can cut too deep, though I'm sad that it's defined her time so much on the show. Honestly, I'm glad the other queens called out her negativity on Untucked--although she sort of laughed it off, I think she got the message.
Kim: Hopefully we'll be able to see more of her sweet, funny side!
Chad: So, when we get this far into the season, some of the challenges can get really tight--do you agree that Adore and Trinity should have lip synched? I have mixed feelings about that decision.
Kim: I love Adore's personality. She always seems like she's genuinely having fun with everything they do on the show. She really brings the joyous spirit of drag.
Trinity is very polished, and I love that she's able to completely change her make up with every challenge. It was such a pleasure to see her grow throughout the competition, and I wanted to see more from her. This week wasn't her time to go. Both of their lip syncs were hella entertaining to watch. I think both of them have a solid career lined up post-RPDR.
Chad: I really hope that's the case. I agree that Trinity grew tremendously throughout the show, and she's proven herself to be talented, ambitious, and a class act.
Chad: I agree with everything you said about Adore, too--though her playful personality hurt her in the interview challenge.
However, I expected Joslyn and Trinity to be lip synching--any idea why that didn't happen?
Kim: I think in terms of reality television, that would've been way too obvious for the viewers?
Chad: Yeah, that may be true--I couldn't help but feel like Ru decided Trinity's storyline had been pretty much wrapped up. And they wanted to light a fire under Adore's ass.
Kim: They've done an underdog story the past two seasons, so perhaps this season they're looking to reward a seasoned queen?
Chad: Well, Bianca certainly seems to have some unstoppable momentum. It was interesting to see her fall short in the talk show challenge.
Kim: She's an insult comic (in her own words) and perhaps not being able to insult/crack a joke at the expense of her talk show guests hindered her?
Chad: She doesn't seem to have any trouble expressing warmth and wisdom in the workroom, but maybe you're right. I was actually surprised at how many queens struggled with this challenge--who would have guessed that it's so hard to make it look so easy?
I have to tell you, I was SO relieved that Dela did so well. We only saw a short section of her interview, but she certainly seemed at ease and relatable.
Kim: I thought Darienne might be able to nail this challenge - she came across very comforting and nurturing when I met her.
Chad: Yeah, these sort of challenges can be totally unpredictable that way! And next week is the makeover challenge, which could be even crazier! I feel like those ones always end badly.
Kim: Whoever gets Bianca will be super lucky! To be able to wear that amazing custom lacefront....
I mean that hairline is so ridiculously good!
Chad: So, tell me, WHAT is your obsession with these wigs?? These are, like, some fancy custom jobs?
Kim: A lot of the times, queens have to spray their roots to hide the hairline, but you can tell Bianca's lacefronts are customed to her head, strand by strand.
Her hair game is unclockable!
Chad: Ha! Add it to the list!
Kim: No $11 wigs from Amazon on Bianca's head!
Chad: I really loved this week's runway--you know I love those outrageous costumes! Aside from Courtney's wings, were there any others that stood out?
Kim: I loved the holographic glitter on Darienne's eyelid. It pulled the sparkles in her gray dress nicely. I loved Trinity's look -- also made me wonder how she brought that delicate thing over the plane. Ben's was my absolute favorite. Her runway look was odd but pretty, and the way she walked it out sold the whole package for me.
Chad: I loved Dela's outfit, though it's so elaborate and outrageous that it was really, really hard to draw!!
Chad: If you had been in this runway challenge, what animal would you have been?
Kim: I think I would've chosen the bird of paradise, giraffe, or a pig. Probably the pig, though.
Chad: Ha! Only YOU could make that glamorous! Would you have a pig snout? Ears? A tail???
Kim: I would probably make a giant wire head, kind of like the ones seen in Thom Browne's fall 2014 collection. With a giant, glittery snout.
Chad: Oooooh wow!
Kim: But so big that I can barely fit through the runway doors.
Chad: HA! See, THIS is why I want to see YOU on the show.
Thanks so, so much to Kim Chi for chatting with me this week!
Kim hosts DRAG CARNAGE, a monthly drag show in Chicago that she produces with NEVERLAND, an amazing group of artists and designers. Their next events are DRAG CARNAGE CARIOCA at Hydrate on May 2nd, followed that night by the “WE LOVE BRASIL” Carnaval extravaganza, which Kim describes as “a tribal circuit party that infuses party and art.” (I believe they'll also be debuting some fabulous new shirts and merchandise there, designed by yours truly!)
You might also recognize Kim from my own work drawing the CHICAGO QUEENS, and she shows up as a superhero in my comic THE QUEENS, which makes its print debut this Monday, at TRANNIKA'S MOST WANTED. We'll have a pre-show release party with many of the girls who appear in the comic, like Shea Coulee, Trannika Rex, Ruby Dee, and of course, Kim Chi! Oh, and this shady queen named Raja will be there, too, if you've heard of her.