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:
Jessye Herrel: http://jessyeherrell.com
Thomas Trinity: https://www.facebook.com/TheThomasTrinity/
DanielKevin Melton: http://www.danielkevinmelton.com