RuPaul’s Drag Race
The new season gets a lift from three Chicago queens.
Wed Jan 18 2012
Photograph: Michael Jarecki
After a painful dry spell (there hasn’t been a local contestant since first season’s Jade), RuPaul’s Drag Race revs up for a fourth season, beginning January 30 with three Chicago queens representing the City of Big Shoulder Pads. We sat down at Nookies in Boystown and got to know the Princess, Phi Phi O’Hara and DiDa Ritz. One word: fierce!
What is the origin of your name?
Phi Phi O’Hara It was originally Phoenix O’Hara, and that’s because I brought the fire to the stage. Some of my friends would call me Phi Phi as a nickname, and there was already a Phoenix on a past season so I wanted to change that up.
How did you get into drag?
The Princess In high school I was in the marching band, so it’s just an extension of being able to perform in front of a crowd. I saw my first drag show when I was 18 and I was like, “I want to do that.”
How do you approach the art form?
DiDa Ritz I’m very open to fashion, so for me, my take is to be brave and wear what I like. Going out in a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt to some people may not be drag, but to me it’s the silliest thing and that’s my personality. My favorite is Hello Kitty. I’m very much a little girl still.
What was it like meeting RuPaul for the first time?
DR I had met RuPaul prior to Drag Race at a Borders downtown. She was doing a signing and I was the first one in line. She got there at 6pm, I got there at 2. They say some people you meet have gold light shined on them. I thought that about Ru.
Who do you think was one of the toughest competitors?
PPO I didn’t go in with the mentality of who is going to be better than me. The entire time I just thought, “I’m the number one here, I’m the fiercest one here, and none of these other people do anything for me but backup dance.”
Did you see a lot of romances, alliances and backstabbing?
TP From the moment we stepped through the door. There was everything from backstabbing to talking shit about people to making friends to their face and then turning right around and talking smack about them. I tried to be neutral.
How was RuPaul as a mentor?
PPO We call her Mother Ru because she really is motherly. All the judges that are there might say stuff that is really strong and might hurt you, but in reality they’re there to help you and it’s up to you to listen.
Describe your drag future.
PPO I want to make serious music as a boy. No one has done that, make serious music as a boy and as a drag queen.
DR To be in Vegas working at the Diva show. I want to do everything. I put mogul next to my name because that’s what I want to be.
TP I really love fashion. I love making all of my stuff and so I want this to be the start of the wheel moving toward having my own line or brand.
Why we should tune in this season?
PPO I don’t know what the hell they were thinking. We were jumping through fire. I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s insane.