Yuhua Hamasaki is not only one of the most sought-after queens in town for her on-stage performances, but behind the scenes she's a divinely talented seamstress and garment maker. She added cast member to this season of RuPaul's Drag Race this season, and while she may have been eliminated third, something tells me we will be seeing a lot more of both Yuhua and her creations on stages all over the world. I caught up with her to chat about her now famous ankh dress, the #MissVanjie craze, and which of her fellow contestants she may have made garments for as the season was kicking off.
You were officially part of the Season Ten cast of RuPaul's Drag Race. While you may have gone home third, you are now officially part of that legacy. Is it a truly surreal feeling?
Oh yes, it's definitely crazy! After competing, I still didn't really feel like I was actually on the show (laughs). After it was announced, premiered and now with everyone talking about it, it has finally sunk in that I am actually on the fiercest drag competition show out there.
Many people saw five New York City girls included in this cast and through other areas of the country could have been more represented and the casting could have been more balanced. Did you feel that way?
I didn't think so at all. New York City has some of the fiercest and most amazing drag talent that there is anywhere in the country. To see that much of a representation from New York City was not a surprise at all. For me, I was very happy to see my sisters, it was just like home. I love them all, so it was truly no problem at all.
You are known as not only an amazing queen, but as a creatively amazing designer and seamstress, and in the past, you had already made garments for some of the ladies. How different was it stepping into a competition with them alongside you as opposed to simply designing their garments?
It was not that different at all. Off camera, we are still friends and sisters. If someone needs something I will help them, and if I needed something, I am sure that they would help me as well. We wanted to win fair and square and it was not about not helping them with a garment. Actually, during the casting I was actually making garments and costumes for some of my fellow competitors before we went in to film. I actually made things for Dusty Ray Bottoms, and I was fixing some stuff for Monet X Change. Miz Cracker reached out to me but I had to tell her I was too busy; I had to get ready myself as well. It's great also because I get to show off my creations also. If one of my fellow competitors are wearing them; it definitely gives me a sense of pride.
Speaking of garments, you created one of the most buzzed-about garments this season, with the infamous traffic tape dress, adorned with your now signature ankh on the top. What was the story behind designing that garment?
Actually, when I made the caution tape dress, I was picturing what RuPaul would have word if she were designing a dress like that; so I made a dress out of caution tape, that was what I was envisioning. A lot of my drag is inspired by what the future of drag could possibly look like, and the headpiece was inspired by the Teletubbies. They had those antennae on their head, so I was recreating that with an antenna on my head. I looked at it and thought it was too simple, so I tossed a bow on it. I walked down the runway and then Michelle (Visage) told me it was actually an ankh on my head!
Speaking of things that have gotten a great deal of buzz this season, your fellow contestant Vanessa Vanjie Mateo is going to go down as arguably the most famous contestant to be eliminated first, with the #MissVanjie meme taking over the internet! Can you believe it has caught on the way it has?
You know that is the crazy part about social media, you can't predict a trend. The littlest thing can be turned into something huge like that. You know, when she actually said "Miss Vanjie" on the runway, I thought that she got so anxious and nervous, in addition to being shook that she was eliminated, that she forgot her own name. I thought she was trying to repeat her name "Vanessa" but she kept saying it wrong every time, at least that is what I thought at the time.
What was it like lip syncing a classic Hole song for the iconic Courtney Love in front of her on the main stage?
It feels weird, but also makes me feel proud at the same time. It’s weird because of the fact I can’t believe I’m actually lip-syncing in front of her. It feels prideful because I actually have the opportunity to do it in front of her.
As you are someone with a specific eye for fashion, who do think has their own specific design or fashion aesthetic really flushed out on the show?
From this season, I would definitely say Kameron Michaels. All of her looks have been amazing!
Is there a part of the Drag Race experience that you think you would go back and change?
I would not change a thing. I gave it my all, I didn't half-ass anything. If I had half-assed anything, then I would be pissed at myself. I gave it my all, including the final challenge for me. I had this great vision that was inspired by Alexander McQueen and my culture that they unfortunately did not get. At the end of the day, it's my vision and I did what I wanted. If I had felt it was not one hundred percent, I would not have walked down the runway. No regrets at all.
What is next for Yuhua Hamasaki?
I am gonna keep doing me! That is what got me on Drag Race, and that is what RuPaul saw in me. Being stupid, being silly, being funny, and I hope to bring that to so many other cities!
RuPaul's Drag Race airs Thursday nights on VH1 (check local listing).