Phi Phi O’Hara- Learning From The Past & Working On The Future
RuPaul’s Drag Race has slowly become one of the best reality shows on television. In order for a show like this to work, there has to be a particular formula that the viewers can feed off of. Things such as intriguing competitions, the handful of contestants that you root for to ultimately win, and the one or two people deemed the villains that you love to hate, or hate to love. The latter couldn’t have been any truer than season four finalist Phi Phi O’Hara, who was truthfully the first queen ever on that show to have so much controversy and outright public anger than ever before.
Phi Phi was a fierce competitor on the show, whose bold talent both on and off the runway made her one of the most dynamic queens of that season. Problem was that she got into an on camera scuffle with season four winner Sharon Needles (the infamous “Party City, Showgirl” fight) which turned most of America into team Sharon and very little for Team Phi Phi. Up to that point Sharon was seen as the outcast of the group, or the underdog, so it seemed as if people saw Phi Phi as being the bully in all of this when really she was just standing her ground. She spent most of the reunion show defending herself when in fact she should’ve been celebrating making it that far in the competition.
Now two years later, Phi Phi has done an amazing job at turning the original negativity she encountered and doing a complete 180 for all the RuPaul’s Drag Race fans. On the “Battle Of The Seasons” tour she stood out the most for her performances, one notably that I attended in my home town of Huntington, with her spot on depictions of Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards and Meg Griffin from the super hilarious animated series “Family Guy”. Phi Phi sat down with me and my RPDR writer David Baxter last week to discuss her drag career both before, during and after the show and her new song that she released called “Bitchy”. Take a look.
So how did you get your start in the drag world?
I was 18 & back in Texas where I am from. It was done on a dare actually. I thought that drag queens were really gross actually, they really scared me. Someone said that I couldn’t do it, and I am always up for a competition so I did it and it went from there.
What made you want to enter “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?
When i was a viewer of the show before I got on I would see certain competitions and think “Oh, I could do this so much better than they can”, and then when you actually get there its completely different. I did it originally for the exposure, but I also wanted to win. It is the top of the top in drag right now, so I figured I would take the chance and see where it got me.
Of all the cooky and unique challenges that you did during the season, what was your favorite one?
I would have to say the wrestling challenge early on. We could legally beat people up and not get kicked off, which was pretty awesome.
You’re public perception during the show pretty much was that people thought you anything from being a bitch to jealous to this and that. What was your thought on all of this during it happening?
I think people take reality television way too seriously. I’m totally not like that. The only times I was ever really bitchy was when I really wanted to get something done. You become very passionate and determined to finish it, which can be misconstrued as bitchy. I’ll be honest I had one emotional breakdown during the season. I was at home and cried because so many people were mean to me, that’s not what I wanted people to see. We thought it was going to be funny, and they totally just ripped me apart. I had to cry just to get it out, then I’m like FUCK it. Let your haters be your motivators.
You’ve obviously saw that RuPaul’s Drag Race won’t be doing the “You’ve Got She-Mail” line anymore due to the backlash from the trans community about that one particular mini-challenge. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it is absolutely ridiculous. What bothers me is that there are bigger issues to worry about, especially in the transgender community, than sitting there and picking apart a show that has given a positive spin & outlook on the transgender community. What really pisses me off is that a lot of the people, not all, say to me “You don’t represent the T in LGBT.” My usual response is “Don’t segregate me into being just the G in LGBT, it is spelled together for a reason. My opinion matters just as much as a lesbian, trans or bi person’s does”. I can understand why there was anger towards the she-mail game, but the “You’ve Got She-Mail” is meant to be funny. It has nothing to do with the transgender community, and it will only have a negative connotation if you put it there.
Season Six is more than halfway over and there are some strong contenders who could win in a couple of weeks. Who are you rooting for?
I hate that question lol. I really like Bianca of course, that is my boyfriend’s best friend. I really love Ben & Adore as well. I think they are fun.
You have released a song called “Bitchy”, which can really be left open to interpretation. What is the song about?
It really is an F U to the haters. It basically says “You can call me pushy, bitchy, crazy and all of that but I am done letting it get to me”. I worked hard to get to where I am and I’m not letting anyone take that away from me.
Do you feel like since you were on the show two years ago that the tides have turned in your favor and people have really started to support you as opposed to what it used to me?
Oh completely, absolutely. There is still a bunch of fools out there that go off for no reason and haven’t even taken the time to meet me or get to know me outside of the show, but whatever. I am not here to impress everyone. As long as I impress the fans that have been there all along and the new ones that come with then I am happy.
Rumor has it, and I pray that this is true, that they are doing a “All Stars Two”. If you are chosen, are you going to keep the same fierce attitude that you did in season four or change things up a bit?
I’m going to go in to win, that’s for sure. When I was there in season four originally I had this “Texas” mentality of “Pageant this, Pageant that”. I think the good thing about the show and now living in New York is that it has opened myself up to all different types of drag, and has pulled me out of a show completely. The moment that I stopped caring about what everyone else had to think and just wanted to have fun was when I really started to enjoy it, and I hope that reads more if I get chosen for “All Stars Two”.
In conclusion, what are you hopeful for in the future?
I really just want to do stuff as Jeremy. I’m grateful for the drag and happy it is there of course, but there is another side of me that I want the public to see. I now have a Youtube web series with “World Of Wonder” where I get to be a boy in it, which is very exciting. I think too many people do drag and then they lose sight of who they really are. For me I never really want to forget that before there was Phi Phi there was Jeremy, so just remember where you come from.
Want to know more about Phi Phi (and Jaremi) and where they are going next? Make sure to follow Phi Phi on all of her social media outlets. Best of luck in the future!