'RuPaul's Drag Race': Aja Talks the 'Handmaids' Twist, Internet Hate & Memes

Aja RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3
Courtesy of VH1


On Thursday night (Feb. 22), RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars paid homage to the paragon of pop art, Andy Warhol, by throwing a “Warhol Ball.” Each of the queens was tasked with creating two looks for the runway: one, a self-branded soup can, inspired by Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup paintings; and two, a disco queen look, inspired by Warhol’s favorite nightclub, Studio 54.

With the Lip Sync for Your Legacy rules in effect, Trixie Mattel redeemed herself from last week, and lip-synced against BeBe Zahara Benet to Diana Ross’ classic disco hit, “The Boss.” BeBe walked away the winner and elected to send home Aja, despite the fact that Aja helped BeBe put together her look for the runway.  

Aja talked to Billboard about dealing with internet hate, that “handmaids” twist from the conclusion of the episode and more.

So in your own words from last night, that was some shit. How are you feeling?

I'm feeling great, honestly. I didn't know how I was gonna react to the episode, because I hadn't seen it and I was like, "Hmmm, I wonder how this is gonna go." But I feel like everything played out exactly how it happened, and I was just like, "Ok, werk." You know, I was just at home thinking hoping that everyone would see how the challenge was. You know, all of the jush, and all of the T.

I mean, I think they did, because the internet clocked your face when BeBe told the judges that she made that outfit.

[laughs] Girl!

You helped sew that look for her. What was going through your head when she decided to eliminate you?

Well see, I didn't make the whole look, I made the base of the outfit. But obviously without the base of the outfit, she would’ve had to hire a seamstress. But you know, at that moment, I kind of waited because a lot of the girls on the runway who had help with their costumes were saying it. Shangela was like, "Oh, Trixie helped me."

I also helped Kennedy with her outfit, and Kennedy also said, "Oh, Aja helped me with the measuring and stuff, she helped me put this together." So when BeBe didn't acknowledge that, I was a little cracked at first. I was like, "Uhhhh, ok? That part? Werk." But you know, I didn't really care after that. I mean, it just sucks when you help somebody get to that point, and they don't even say, "Thank you." But I mean, I'm an adult. I don't regret helping her at all, I'm so happy for her.

Yeah, and with all of that being said, there were some fans online who took this way too far. And I loved your response on Twitter when you said, "It's a show about mostly men in dresses."

And then there’s me [laughs].

How do you even begin to deal with that?

I think, as someone who has dealt with a massive amount of hate, especially last year from the fandom, this is what I've kind of come to the conclusion of: I posted that update to let people know that you shouldn't be hateful, because it's wrong -- but I shouldn't have to do that. There's nothing that I can do that will actually stop the fans. Like, they're going to do it regardless, and that's something I learned from being on both ends of the spectrum.

I can say "Stop, or I'm gonna come to your house and fill it up with chlorine and glue and feathers" — I don't know, that's really stupid [laughs] — and people would be like, "I don't care, fuck you, die!" People are going to say it.

Like, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey — when people are saying mean shit to them, are they telling you "Stop, don't say that?" No, because they're too busy living their lives. So I feel like drag is getting to that point where a lot of these Drag Race girls are becoming bigger names than we were becoming before. And the fandom is out of our reach. What we can do is be educated and say, "Hey girl, chill." But at the end of the day, we have no control over that. I really wanted to make sure that I did my part, as someone who has been there, and just let them know, "Y'all need to chill."

You highlighted a lot of icons this season, like Crystal LaBeija and, inadvertently, France Joli. Why is that important to you?

I feel like Drag Race has a wide demographic of young viewers, and one thing that a lot of people judge a lot of the young children of our generation on is not being well-versed in pop culture. I'm one of those people who is very researched and well-educated in a lot of my references, in things like fashion and icons and music, so I feel like it's my job to let the children know about these icons and these people. Because maybe they’ll say, "Oh, Aja's young and she knows about Crystal LaBeija," and maybe they'll be interested in those people, and will want to research them, too.

And honestly, I wasn't that cracked when you mispronounced France Joli, because I straight up didn't know who that was, so good on you.

Well I will still always pronounce it “Francis” Joli. I will never stop saying that, because that's how I was taught to say it, and I will not stop saying it. [Laughs.]

So there's been a theory circling the internet. Fans said they noticed that one of the secret "handmaids" at the end of the episode had tattoos that looked strikingly similar to yours. What do you say to that?

It might've just been Amy Winehouse, honestly. [Pause.] Yeah, I don't know what else to say [Laughs].

Ok, great! Now I feel like in season 9 and in your season, there is one crown that you took -- you were the queen of memes. Do you have a favorite Aja meme?

Ok. I am guilty of using my own memes. [Laughs.] But I don't know, I think my favorite meme to use now is the recent one of "Oh boy, here we go," from when Shangela and Trixie were having their little dispute over the Thorgy note. Ugh, that was so gooooood.

Me every week when I see leaks starting to flood the sub just a couple hours before each episode from r/rupaulsdragrace

So the cast of season 10 was announced last night! Do you have a queen who you're really pulling for?

I kind of live for all of them. Like, I've known about this cast for more than I think I legally should have, but I really live for all of them, there's not one who I don't like. They're all sweet, brilliant people. I can't wait for the world to get to meet them and realize what terrible monsters they are, and how filthy and disgusting and crazy they get.

Last thing I want to ask -- do you have a favorite local queen that you want the readers to check out?

I think ... well it's not necessarily just a local queen, but everyone should check out my drag house. It's the Haus of Aja [Dahlia Sin, Kandy Muse and MoMo Shade], and they're three queens of color who are just living their best lives, and they all represent a different aspect of drag. It's always great to share the spotlight with my good old children.


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