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Drag Race star Megami on why she’s ready to bust some liberal bubbles

'Drag Race' star Megami on why she’s ready to bust some liberal bubbles

Megami
Courtesy of MTV

Plus why she’s taking her case of ‘protecting queer art’ to the conservatives, too.

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When a cast is as unique and talented as that of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16, every elimination stings. That was especially true this week when Megami was shockingly asked to sashay away after a strong performance in the Rusical. Her only sin? Being a part of one of the best Rusical’s in recent herstory.

While this New York artist and self-described queen of cosplay’s time may have been cut unexpectedly short, one thing is undeniable, and it's that she made her mark on the show. From her instantly iconic (and subsequently memed) variety talent show, in which she gave a deeply sincere lipsync to 4 Non Blonde’s ‘What’s Up’ while holding up a sign calling to protect queer art, to leading her girl group team to a win after being picked last, to her many moving mirror chats, Megami is a queen who snatched our hearts even if she didn't take home the crown.

PRIDE sat down with Megami to talk about her time on the show: both her most triumphant moments and her lowest. She opened up about why she has no regrets about her talent show performance and how she really feels about how it's taken off in the fandom.

Megami holding up a protect queer art sign

Courtesy of MTV

PRIDE: I've enjoyed your journey so much this season; you've absolutely touched my heart. As you reflect on your time on the show, how are you feeling about it all?

MEGAMI: There are so many, so many complicated emotions because this has been my dream for almost a decade at this point. I accomplished it, I got here. Thousands and thousands of people apply to be here, and for whatever reason, I was one of the 14 people actually selected. I'm so incredibly proud of myself. With hindsight ... there are things I would change and that I would do better, but at the end of the day, I am proud of myself for accomplishing a thing that only about 200 people in the world have ever got to experience.

That's such a good way of looking at it. I am curious, though, what moment are you most proud of, and what would you change?

I'm certainly most proud of my win. A bunch of people have gotten on Drag Race, but not everyone gets a win next to their name. So I'm very, I'm so incredibly happy I made an impact. I did it and people got to see a part of my talent that maybe they wouldn't have gotten to otherwise. And what would I change? Maybe not be as democratic and fair, and really just put my foot down and be like, 'I'm taking the role that I want, and that I know, I will do well at.' That's definitely something that I could've changed. [Laughs]

Yeah, Plasma definitely got that memo after that last casting experience. I will say, right out of the gate, you made a huge impression with your talent show number. It was so sincere, and the sentiment is such an important one. It's since taken on a life of its own with other queens performing using the signs. Have you seen them? What do you think about it?

Oh, I've absolutely seen all of it, every performance and every meme that I get tagged in. It's another complicated thing that I've ultimately come around to see the positive side of it. Because in the beginning, it was definitely something that, like you said, was very sincere. It came from my heart. I have 60 seconds to speak to people around the country to speak to millions of people at home and I want to send a message that I felt was important.

A lot of this fandom sees us as kind of cartoon characters and treats us as if we're not actual people. We're just characters on television. But no, I'm not a character in, like, Grey's Anatomy or something. I'm a real person, this is my art, this is who I am. I want people to not be apathetic, especially in an election year like this, when there’s so much on the line.

Sometimes people in their queer bubbles — especially in very liberal cities like New York or LA — don't see the bigger picture across the country. Not only queer people watch Drag Race. Not only the most liberal queer people in New York watch Drag Race, everyone across the country watches it. There are a lot of straight people who watch it, moderates, and even conservatives who watch it. I just wanted to say something to those people about, like, 'If you love our art on television, then you have to help protect us; we can't do it alone.'

Looking forward at this year, I feel like my message will only become, unfortunately, more relevant. But in terms of, like, the joke of it all, I love making people laugh [and] I can find I can see the humor in it. If it becomes a meme, and people remember me like that, that's fantastic. That's what you want, to be remembered, to be stuck in people's minds. So hopefully, I am.

Yeah, and every time they remember it, they're gonna remember your original message, which I think is so important because Drag Race is fabulous and can feel like a kiki, but the art of drag is revolutionary at its core. But let’s shift gears and talk about that win. That challenge started off kind of heartbreaking, with you being picked last. But in the end, not only did you win, but arguably you led your team to that win with all the help you gave them. Can you talk about what that rollercoaster felt like for you?

I've always been the chubby, awkward geek all my life, so I kind of just hit the target right on the bullseye of things that are personally traumatic to me. Getting picked last and then not only getting picked last, but getting picked last in front of RuPaul, and now on national television.

After several weeks of a lot of stress and anxiety, it was just like the breaking point for me. I just needed to let it out. I'm so I'm so happy that my team truly rallied behind me and made me feel valued in that moment. I was just thinking in my head, 'I cannot go home for this. This cannot be my narrative. This cannot be how it ends for me.' So I double down.

I wrote my verse, [I helped Nymphia with her verse since] it's not something that she does [and helped] Geneva edit down her verse into something that fit better into the song — and I helped with the choreography. I really was like, 'I'm gonna take the reins and we're gonna fucking get this done.' I didn't want to go home on that note. I'm so incredibly happy that people got to see that I do have some talents besides holding up signs.

This week’s episode was so incredible, truly one of the best Rusicals in Drag Race herstory, which makes the judgment really case of splitting hairs. How do you feel about it?

If I had to leave — not that I wanted to — at least I can say I didn't leave on a bad performance. There are times when... you know, you're in the bottom because you were awful; you completely messed everything up. At least I can say, I didn't mess it up, I did everything I could, and I did it pretty well. Even we, going into the critiques, had no idea who was going to be on the bottom because everyone really stepped it up and made this Rusical one of the best they've ever had. The songs are amazing. And are like gonna be stuck in my head forever.

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author avatar

Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.