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RuPaul’s Drag Race Star Aja on Death Drops, Pokémon, and Her Rap Career

Aja. Photo: VH1

Spoilers ahead for RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 3.

Has anyone ever leveled her pussy up quite like Aja has since season nine of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Sadly, in Thursday night’s Andy Warhol–themed episode, Aja’s off-brand soup-can look and gorgeous but anachronistic disco runway landed her in the bottom two with Shangela. The breakout star of AS3 was ultimately eliminated by BeBe Zahara Benet, despite the fact that she’d helped Ms. Cameroon sew her outfit. The next morning, Vulture caught up with the youngest-ever All Star to talk Brooklyn drag, Pokémon eleganza, and her burgeoning rap career.

How was your viewing party last night?
It was great. I got eliminated in Chicago again. [Laughs.] It was the same exact place, same exact spot on the sofa. It was funny to relive that moment. It was the same — I still had about an entire bottle of Champagne to myself.

Do you feel like you got your RuDemption?
A lot of people say this is a redemption for me, but honestly, it felt like my first real shot at Drag Race. I agreed to do season nine knowing that my life was really not in the right place at the time. Doing Drag Race was the only way I was going to get out of this situation I was in — a bad living situation, bad place, bad people in my life. If I didn’t have season nine, I wouldn’t have gotten through it.

I made the sacrifice, went on TV, made myself look like an asshole, and got out of that situation. Then I show up at the reunion, the producers are like, “Whoa! Where was this personality? Who are you?” And then I get offered a spot on All Stars, and I’m like, “Wow, this just doesn’t happen every day. I actually have a chance to go and show me.”

Would you make the same soup-can look again if you had the chance?
Absolutely! Maybe it’s not what the judges knew me for, but the challenge wasn’t to make a can based on what the judges knew me for. It was supposed to be a can about what I knew myself for. Nobody’s going to know me better than myself, and I think I’m fucking sweet, so hey! [Laughs.] I wanted to go with something that matched the colors that I love: soft pink, pastel, neon. At the end of the day, nobody’s really going to drink these soups. Except [BeBe’s] peanut soup, because apparently that’s a real thing.

Do you have any regrets about helping BeBe with her sewing?
I helped someone and I don’t ever regret helping anyone. Everything happens for a reason.

Which anime movies or series have influenced your drag the most?
Oh, there’s just so many. Anime gives me a place to feel my oats. I’m particularly influenced by the magical girl subgenre of anime, like Sailor Moon, which was basically the gateway drug of anime for me. When I was young, I watched the American version and I became obsessed with the horrible dubbing, then I started watching the actual Japanese version and I fell in love with it. Then I started watching more action-based ones, and I love a strong female lead [in] Kill la Kill and Future Diary.

I really recommend that people watch anime — it’s so fun. Anime has a place for feminism and strong female energy, and I think that’s something we don’t get to see in a lot of media. Even on the road, I watch anime. I got my boyfriend into anime. Anime!

If you had to create a drag look inspired by a Pokémon, which one would you choose?
It would definitely have to be a fairy-type Pokémon. It would have to be either a Jigglypuff or a Clefable. The original, OG fairies. You cannot get any better than that. You know, a lot of people think that because of my very quote-unquote “banjee” attitude, that’s my aesthetic, that I’m a fiery person. No. I think that my style is very soft and sweet and very fashion, but my attitude is a little edgier. I feel like a little fairy-type. I just want to, I don’t know, do magic.

You’ve got a single dropping next week. What can we expect from your new music?
You can expect me to dive into rap from a drag perspective. A lot of the Ru girls are doing club music, pop music. I’m sticking to rap, not just from my drag perspective, but also from my out-of-drag perspective. The only other queen who’s really doing music in and out of drag is Trixie Mattel. It’s cool to get several different perspectives in your music, especially when your drag character is slightly different from your real-life person. I literally have to go to the recording studio right after this — I’m recording a song with Shea Couleé.

What was running through your head before your unbelievable death drop in the talent show?
The thing is, nothing was running through my head. Because if I was thinking, I wouldn’t have done it. Humans cannot do that while thinking.

What makes Brooklyn drag so unique?
There is a stage for anyone and everyone. If you put on a blanket and a roll of toilet paper on your head, you can go on a stage. Because that platform is so open, you get to explore different perspectives of drag. Every now and then, a big, big shining star will hit the stage, and you just have to realize, This girl would have never had an opportunity in other places. I feel like I was one of those girls.

How old were you when you got started?
I was 16 when I started doing drag. I started off the first few months being a bedroom drag baby, just taking selfies in the bedroom, and then that same year I started sneaking into the clubs, doing the competitions. I was a competitive drag queen from the start. I was always out to win.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Star Aja on Death Drops, Pokémon, and Rap