Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Aja: Diverse Looks and High Energy

A true performer is someone who can captivate the room simply by being present. Aja is a performer who resides in NYC that focuses on doing full looks that could easily stop traffic and she also mixes that with high energy performances that will leave anyone gasping for air. Her looks have many different influences and she has proven time and time again that she can put a variety of looks together, and no one will know what to expect. She recently released a hip hop track and is working on more music in the future. 

1. Who is Aja as a performer?

Aja is a unique polymerization of sci-fi robo-technology, 90's ballroom culture, & kawaii harajuku inspiration. She's spacey, cute, and kinda rachet. I like to say she's kind of like a powerpuff girl stripper. 😅 She's a dancer, a rapper, an actress, a comic, and an idiot.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag?

I started drag when I was 17 which was 5 years ago! I started doing drag as a joke because my cousin told me I could really go somewhere with it. I still can't believe I got here. That's the real gag to me.

3. How did you come up with your drag name?

Well my name Aja is Hindi for "come here" and I heard it in this Bollywood song called "Jimmy Jimmy Aja Aja" (Atleast that's what I think it's called)

4. How has drag changed your life?

Drag has changed my life and affected me in so many ways. From helping at my lowest moments in life to even the little details. Literally from helping me from my panic disorder and PTSD to helping me gain the confidence I needed to thrive.

5. How is New York drag different from drag across the world?

New York drag is so crazy. There are so many types of drag in NYC. I feel like there's so many mini niches of drag here. Yet most queens are fall into their own category. Like myself! I don't think there's really another queen in NYC who's doing what I do.

6. If you had to relocate somewhere else, what would you say that you would bring to the drag community there?

I could bring a sense of high energy performance that not every community has but also, there's a huge lack of people who serve looks and fashion who also do high energy dance performance. That's something I could bring everywhere.

7. If you could travel anywhere to perform, where would you want to go and why?

I just recently performed in Chicago, LA, and Austin and honestly my favorite was Chicago. I want to go back! But somewhere I haven't been yet; probably somewhere more international! Berlin, London, Stockholm all stick out to me!

8. What is your favorite performance you've ever done?

Ah!!! Honestly I have many of my own favorite numbers to do... (Does that make me conceited???) Well my favorites are between my fast paced impeccable lip sync to "Look at Me Now" by Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, and Lil' Wayne. But for a dance track.... My all time favorite is underground club house track "Utopia" by Bang La Decks ft Dominique Young. The line "Welcome to my fantasy world.." Sets me off!

9. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

That I have touched people and inspired them. I am just a human doing what I love and it's insane to know that I can have an impact on even just one person. It makes me want to devote my life to changing others for the better.

10. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment so far?

My biggest accomplishment is being able to travel, building a social media family and having people just appreciate my drag! Also having several successfully parties and hosting gigs before I had even turned 21!

11. You recently released a song. Do you see yourself releasing more music in the future? What should we expect from you?

Yes! I haven't had one lately to work on it but there are some really cute and cunty tracks in the making. I'm going to be working with an old friend who slays the tracks. Some of you may know her as B. Ames. I'm going for banjee rap meets ballroom femme queen.

12. What is a makeup product you can't live without?

DEFINITELY- WET & WILD H20 WATERPROOF LINER. This $5 eyeliner is by far my favorite. And the concoction of highlighters I mixed in a tub.

13. Do you have a most embarrassing moment during a performance?

I don't really ever get embarrassed to be honest! I don't take myself too seriously so I'm always having fun on stage. I've fallen before; missed a lyric or 2 but at the end of the day I got tipped and people liked it. (I still don't know why) So I guess it was worth it!

14. What is something not many people know about you?

A lot of people don't know that I am actually kinda tall. I'm 5'11 without heels. A lot of people kind of assume I'm really short... also a lot of people don't recognize me out of drag.

15. If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

It would be the power to control time and space! This is me saying that I just really want to be Sailor Pluto though.

Follow Aja:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aja.marievontease
Instagram: @ajathekween
Aja's song: https://m.soundcloud.com/aja-queen-511898012/slaying-w-bang-la-decks/reposts (basic demo from her iPhone) 

Photo Credits:

Santiago Felipe: http://santiagofelipe.com/

Adam Ouahmane: https://www.facebook.com/adamouahmanephotodesign/?fref=ts

The Drag Enthusiast:
Twitter: @DragEnthusiast
Instagram: @dragenthusiast
Tumblr: dragenthusiast.tumblr.com

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Erika Klash: Drag Taken to the Next Level

Erika Klash is any gamers wet dream. Her aesthetic is based off of one of a kind cosplay looks that pay tribute to many different video game characters mixed with an ode to Japanese fashion and lots of color. She is based mainly on New York but is currently working on taking her drag to other places as well to showcase her talent. 

1. Who is Erika Klash as a performer? 

Erika Klash is the video game, anime, and harajuku drag queen of the world! I do cosplay looks, I do makeup looks, and I do kawaii looks, all while performing the stupidest and campiest drag numbers.

2. When and why did you begin doing drag? 

I saw live drag for the first time in Spring of 2013 (Battle of the Seasons at the Grammercy Theatre in NYC) and both Mimi Imfurst and Alaska blew me away. It was then that I realized that drag had all of the edginess and subversiveness that I felt had been missing from theater, (my other artistic passion). I got in drag for the first time later that year and I just kept going from there!

3. How did you come up with your drag name?

Erika is what my mom would have named me had I been designated female at birth. Klash comes from Mario Clash, which is an obscure Mario game for the Virtual Boy. The ill-fated Virtual Boy was an experiment in 3D technology, and I consider myself to be a 3D video game character.

4. How did you learn to paint your face?

Practice, Miss Fame tutorials on YouTube, and looking at other queens' faces. Once you know the basics of how to feminize the face, the rest is research, trial, and error. Whenever I need advice on what products to use for a fantasy makeup look, I always visit the amazing Abracadabra in NYC (where I also have a lip stain named after me).

5. Out of all the looks you've put together, which one would you say is your absolute favorite?

It's hard to pick one so I'll talk about one of my latest looks: Manga Pop Art! I wanted to imagine what a manga character would look like if their illustrator drew them in Lichtenstein pop art style. I have some more amazing stuff coming up! 

6. How long does it take you to get into drag?

Depends on the gig! If I'm doing fantasy makeup for a photoshoot or for hosting party it can take up to 5 hours. If I'm rushing from my day job straight into a show and doing standard drag makeup, I can get into drag in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

7. If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

JAPAN! I would love to perform in the Harajuku district alongside Ladybeard, or even at the Nintendo headquarters.

8. What is your favorite thing about doing drag?

I've always been a feminine person, so to be able to reclaim my femininity in a powerful way is so awesome. In the world we live in, anything feminine is either attacked or commoditized. So being able to put on a costume, and, in a weird way, still access a very genuine part of myself, is very freeing and exciting. In that way, the experience of doing drag is more complex than people might think.

9. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment so far?

I have a few proud moments, but I'd say the biggest one lately has been winning the title of Miss Nerd NY 2016! I am also very proud of The Austin International Drag Festival. I was an Ambassador of Goodwill for the festival's second installment which happened back in April of this year, and the festival is continuing to grow and make it's mark on the drag world.

10. What is something not many people know about you?

I had a crush on Peter Pan when I was a little kid!

11. If you could change anything about the drag community, what would you change and why? 

The inclination that people have to self-stratify and self-divide. I find that in NYC, because the drag scene is so big, people divide themselves up keep to their own cliques, rarely going outside of their comfort zone. I never really feel like I have any one place where I fully belong because my style is so out of the box, so I just try to work everywhere and get along with everyone. I wish there were less boundaries.

12. Who would you like to work with in the future?

Mimi Imfurst, Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman, Phi Phi O'Hara, Shannel, Charles Busch, Chad Michaels, Hedda Lettuce, just to name a few. These are all queens who I deeply respect for their uniqueness and commitment to their art. Their drag is over the top, character-driven, and fierce!

13. Who would you say is your biggest inspiration and why?

WOMEN, especially the ones in my family! I grew up with a single mom and two sisters, and I saw the challenges they have faced in their lives, some of which were due to their sex/gender. Their sense of kindness, strength, and resilience is what keeps me driven today. Anytime I'm in drag and a woman tells me I am gorgeous, I say "NO! This is FAKE. You are the TRULY gorgeous one."

14. What advice do you have for younger performers that are just beginning drag?

I'd say that every performer should find that one thing that is unique about them and nurture that, while also balancing that with a sense of adaptability. Define your brand but also broaden your skill set so that you have many different ways to apply who you are and what you do. That's the key to being unique and growing as an artist.

15. Where do you wish to take your drag career in the future? 

I would really love to bring more drag into theater. I have always been a fan of Charles Busch, and I want to bring some more of that draggy subversiveness and edginess back into it. Drag Race would be nice too! But more than anything, the opportunity to do more drag! The feeling I get when I put on a good show with good people is so incredibly fulfilling. I want to continue traveling with my work.

Stalk Erika Klash:
Instagram: @erikaklash
Twitter: @erikaklash

Photo credits:

Jessye Herrel: http://jessyeherrell.com