Plastique Tiara Talks Learning from Alyssa Edwards, Asian Visibility & More After 'Drag Race' Exit
On Thursday (April 25) night, RuPaul’s Drag Race got down and dirty with Johnny Five-O, as the queens took on their next improv challenge as deranged criminals on the parody cop show L.A.D.P. (Los Angeles Drag Patrol)
A few queens got off scot free; after twerking her booty up and down the boulevard, Ms. A’Keria C. Davenport earned her second main challenge win this season. But two queens were officially booked, and only one got bailed out. In a high-octane lip sync to Fantasia's 2006 song “Hood Boy,” Vanessa Vanjie Mateo managed to get out of her cuffs, while Plastique Tiara was sent down the hill.
Plastique spoke to Billboard the day after her elimination about Asian representation, her drag mother Alyssa Edwards, and what Drag Race is really like.
How are you feeling after watching your elimination?
It's kind of freeing, in a weird way. Because halfway through the competition, I realized that I forgot to have fun, and I was just so concentrated on trying to win, and trying to win the next challenge, and trying to be the best I can be so the judges can validate me. But I forgot to have fun, and watching it all back, I can tell when I didn't have fun any more. So it's almost freeing, because I can move past that feeling, and say, "OK, so that's what that was!"
What was your tactic in facing off against Vanjie in that lipsync?
Going into it, I knew Vanjie was going to dance the house down. This was basically a song in her repertoire, you know? Like, she can... she can do a lot with this, and so going in, I had ten inch heels on, so I was like, "OK, I can't dance." So I really went in more with feeling the music, feeling the message of what the song was trying to say, and I lip synced for my life, queen!
Was your little back-of-the-stage nod to your drag mother Alyssa Edwards planned?
You know, first of all, when I watched Drag Race, Alyssa was always one of my idols, so to have her adopt me now was amazing. So, I watched Alyssa lip sync on the show and in live performances so many times that I think I learned for her. [Laughs.] So, in the moment, I was just like, "Oh, OK! Let's do this!" It came naturally to me. "My leg is going up here."
I think there's a big divide between expectations of Drag Race and the reality of Drag Race. What were your expectations when you came in, and how did they stack up to the real experience?
When I walked into the workroom, I was very ready to win. So, I came in with all of the clothes, with all of the hair, with all of the makeup, and I was like, "Well, I've got all of this. I'm set." But, the competition is so much more than that. It is so much harder than clothes and hair and makeup — it's exploring yourself, and ... throughout this competition, I had a breakthrough with RuPaul, and it really made me realize that maybe I'm not so sure of myself. Maybe I needed to take some more time to learn about me, and can present me to the world.
However, going through that experience on a worldwide platform has connected me with so many amazing fans, and I have gotten so many messages from fans all over the world saying that somehow, my experience has helped them to be more like themselves, and to not feel afraid. They could really relate to how I felt during that time. I'm just very grateful to have gone through this. You know, some people were saying, "Maybe you should have waited," and maybe if I had waited I would have done better. But, if I waited, I would never have seen this platform that I have today.
There was a joke Silky made during the reading challenge that a lot of fans are calling out as racism against you, since she spoke in fake Japanese, while you are Vietnamese. Did you agree with them when it happened? Do you agree now?
In the moment it felt... surprising. I was a little surprised by it. Watching it back, I feel like, you know, we're all human! The best thing to do is to just learn from this experience. I love all of my sisters, and we're all still close, so you know, sometimes we fight. But this experience is so special, and the only thing you can do is really move forward and take this as a lesson. There's not enough Asian representation, especially queer Asian representation today. For me, being on this show was very important, and I'm here to try and spread awareness about it, and I think that the fans would appreciate us growing as a community, too.
That's something Michelle brought up in this week's runway when she was speaking about Asian pride. Looking back on your time at the show, do you feel like you accomplished your goal of spreading that awareness?
Looking back at it, I am very happy with how everything went down, because I'm a first generation, Vietnamese, queer man, who is going on this TV show to dress up as a woman. [Laughs.] Not sure if that's been done before on national television. My story was very different from everyone who was on the show with me at the time, so I was very happy to be able to represent my community, and to represent the little kids out there who share the same experience with me. I want to be the voice that, growing up, I never had. I'm proud. I'm just proud.
You have a new song out called "Irresistible," and it's a bop! What was the message you wanted to send with this track?
I did this song to pay tribute to the confidence that drag gives me. Plastique has done things that Duc never could, so I wanted to give back to the fans something that could cheer them up. If I, this little Vietnamese boy, can do it, you can do it, too. I'm living my dream as we speak, so for me, going forward, I just want to conquer all of the platforms. I'm out here to really tell my truth and my story, and hopefully people can relate, and it can help lil Asian boys and girls out there who are fearing that being different is something wrong. Maybe I can help with that, because I felt that once upon a time, too.