By Juno Dawson
Mrs Kasha Davis, it is felt by many, went home far too soon on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7. Now, on the eve of her first UK tour, she spills the tea on Season 8, her time on the show and Ru-veals what it’s really like to compete in what has become cultural zeitgeist.
When I speak to Mrs Kasha Davis via Skype from her glorious home in New York State, she’s putting the finishing touches to her first one-woman show on UK soil – There’s Always Time For A Cocktail – which visits London and Brighton in May.
The show isn’t quite what we’ve come to expect from former Drag Race stars. "There is no bad drag," she tells me. "In fact, sometimes the best drag is bad drag! My show is a little like what you’ve seen with Jinkx Monsoon: it’s a cabaret style show with no lip-synching. I’m singing live and I’m story-telling. I happen to be…MIDDLE AGED, so I have some life history!"
The show premiered on a cruise ship last year, and Kasha was surprised by the reaction it received. "I wondered if it would have cultural significance, if it would be something that would hit home. I was surprised… People were laughing and crying along with me. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions."
Like many drag queens, Kasha’s story started in the "laundry room of a small town in Pennsylvania wearing my mother’s padded bra and Avon lipstick." After "dabbling" in drag at Halloween and the like, Kasha eventually fell in with fellow Drag Race alumni Pandora Boxx and Darienne Lake. In particular, the work of Miss Richfield 1981 inspired Ed Popil, the man behind Kasha, to get into drag. "She is a comedian and she sings, and I was like 'I could do that' because she wasn’t very pretty!"
"My husband and I talked about it, and we decided I could do drag after work if it didn’t interfere with it. That was how it started…it just took off!"
In the early days, Kasha shared a drag mother, Naomi Kane, with Pandora and Darienne. "Naomi has now passed," she tells me sadly. "She just pushed us to be the best, to wear the nails…and NEVER TAKE THE HEELS OFF! It was a great experience." And so Mrs Kasha Davis was born.
As well as a husband, Kasha is also the father to two daughters. It’s so tedious to ask parents how they balance work and family life, but Kasha is no ordinary housewife. "I auditioned for all seven seasons [of Drag Race] and I think they questioned if I could handle everything. I was a director at a call centre, a part-time parent and drag queen! But when I first met the girls they were seven and ten. Now they’re adults. It worked out timing wise, as a lot of the commitments – getting ready for shows and proms and stuff – has passed. It’s given me freedom to focus on Kasha Davis."
"They come to the shows. When they were younger they would get dressed up in the drag and do little shows for us. Any little girl – or boy – ever would love having a costume shop in the basement!"
The conversation inevitably turns to Kasha’s time on Drag Race. I’m not sure there’s a polite way to ask about the general level of fan shadiness around Season 7, considered by many to be the show’s weakest outing. But I ask anyway. "For me it was a wonderful experience. I’m often told 'it wasn’t my favourite', but for me it changed my life! I owe so much to RuPaul."
"I think the problem was, coming off Season 6 with Bianca winning, that’s very difficult for anyone to be compared to. We had sort of a 'fashion season'."
Kasha was vocal – on air – about the younger queens, notably winner Violet Chachki and Pearl making it all the way to the finale. "They earned it, but in a different way than I was used to. All drag is good and we all learn from each other, but there is an entitlement that Drag Race has given a lot of queens. For some of them, that’s all they know. They know drag from YouTube. They don’t understand what it is to perform or what it is to work. That aspect was lost on some of them."
"But after [the show] they get to tour and work that out. The proof is in the pudding – can you stay? Can you have the longevity?"
Some past contestants (Willam) have hinted that life on Drag Race is far from the loving sisterhood often presented on air. This is my chance. I ask Kasha about the reality of reality TV. "I have nothing bad to say about the show. But I’m lucky…I don’t get any hate coming at me. When you get a lot of hate, it doesn’t go against the fans, it goes against the show. People say 'oh I was edited a certain way'. Well, I’ve met all the queens, and they ARE how they were edited! They are! One of my great friends is Darienne Lake and she talks about how they edited her to be a bitch…but she’s a bitch! I love her to death, but she is a shady bitch!"
"Is it hard work? Yes. It’s such long days, but it’s SO COOL. Think about doing something you love, and imagine being able to do it 24 hours a day. It becomes so intense that it starts to take over. It’s a mind game as much as it is a chance to put your art across."
"I went into it thinking it was a show, not a competition. I tried to support the other girls, not beat them. You do create a very strong sisterhood. If I were to do it again, I would go into it balls-to-the-wall and try to win it!"
Finally, I ask Kasha if she’s watching Season 8, currently airing in the States (if you’re following along online, don’t miss my weekly Ru-cap). "I love Robbie Turner," she says, "because there’s so much similarity in what we like to do." Kasha hosted a red carpet event to launch the new season in New York. "I can’t deny Bob… the charisma is there. He just grabbed the microphone off me and off he went! He is confident, he’s funny, he’s pretty."
Bob The Drag Queen has been compared to Season 6 runaway winner Bianca Del Rio. Is that a fair comparison? "Oh they’re different! But they performed together and inevitably performers rub off on each other. They worked together for years." She wraps it up, politely worried she’s gone too far.
No desperate housewife, I’m now convinced we didn’t see enough of Kasha on the show. Mrs Kasha Davis is a pro: warm, funny, open and gregarious. I, for one, look forward to meeting her for a cocktail in May.
'There’s Always Time for a Cocktail' is at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern, May 19-20, and Brighton’s Bar Broadway, May 22-24. Tickets are available from www.inbloomentertainment.co.uk/tickets
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