“Everyone’s been asking me so much and I think they’re disappointed that it’s gone.”
Yas, you read correctly, Soju wants another “oozing” medical condition. Good for her! If you’re unfamiliar with the Korean performer, we’ll provide a little backstory: last week, the star made her debut on the 11th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and told the world all about her cyst.
After losing out on a lip sync to The Best of Both Worlds by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus against Kahanna Montrese, Soju was told to sashay away by Mama Ru. However, like Miss Vanjie, the queen became a viral sensation and the subject of hundreds of memes, which is why we had to ask about it. Y’know, the cyst.
“You know what? Now I feel like I should just grow another one!” she tells us. “Everyone’s been asking me so much and I think they’re disappointed that it’s gone! I feel like they want me to say, ‘It’s getting bigger and large and in charge.”
Does it make sense now? In celebration of her short but iconic appearance on the Emmy Award winning series, we caught up with the Shot With Soju host to discuss her time on the show, Asian representation on mainstream TV, and why we need to have a discussion about the “politics of drag”.
Hi Soju! I know you’ve been asked several times but how’s the cyst?
You know what? Now I feel like I should just grow another one! Everyone’s been asking me so much and I think they’re disappointed that it’s gone! I feel like they want me to say, ‘It’s getting bigger and large and in charge.”
Would you say that your cyst was a blessing in disguise?
Oh my gosh! I guess so, a medical condition turning into a blessing. I didn’t think it was gonna be such a big deal. You never know how they’re going to edit it, if it will be in or out. So at the time when I said it, I kinda felt like, ‘Why did I even mention that?’ Then after watching the first episode and seeing the reaction, it made me feel, ‘Well thank god! At least I shared that.’
When you’re in those situations, it’s like word vomit.
Yeah! Ru said something about that stage really brings a lot of emotions and feelings, and especially if you’re in the bottom two, you turn into survival mode where you feel like you just have to share as much as you can to explain your look. And there was no explaining my look, so I had to explain something! It just all came out.
I feel robbed because I wanna hear what you have to say on every runway…
I mean… Honestly though, I was going through so much that I don’t know what would’ve happened if I stayed because I would’ve continued to be in pain. When I did come back home after shooting, it took me at least another week to actually feel 100%. I don’t know how it would’ve been if I stayed longer. I guess that’s another blessing in disguise because I was going through so much at that time.
How did you feel overall after your elimination?
I just felt so tired and drained. It was everything that I wanted to do – right? I wanted to be on Drag Race so bad and I did everything that I could to be ready for it. All that momentum and all that excitement and the stress went away after that. Then your body is left kinda hollow, you know? You just feel a bit empty and like you’ve lost your purpose, so it took me a little bit to find my way back into the reason why I wanted to continue doing this. It was a little bit difficult emotionally.
As well as your cyst, you went viral on Twitter for your twirl in the Miley lip sync – how does that feel?
It’s funny to me, because I am so heavily involved on social media. I obviously have my YouTube channel Shot With Soju. Everything is connected in a way, so when the fans were going off about my twirling, to me I feel that strengthens my brand because that’s what people expect from me. I thoroughly enjoy it and I keep telling people to make the memes! They only make me stronger!
Looking back on the episode now, how do you feel about your runway?
You know what? I said it before and I’ll say it now, there was no excuse for that look! I was very confident walking down the runway, and I should’ve Vanjie’d my way back to that exit and not turned around and shown them the backside. As soon as I saw my backside on the TV screen I was like, ‘Girrrrrrl!’ I wanted to hide under a rock.
Well, like Miss Vanjie, you made quite the impression with just one episode. Would you ever return if asked?
Listen at this point, if they asked me to come cater food or to pop out a box like Shangela, I’ll do what I need to do. I feel like I’m in such a different place now and I’ve learned so much. We filmed that last year, so I’ve learned so much throughout this time and I feel like I’m ready for a redemption.
Were you gagged to the high heavens to see BJ aka Miley Cyrus in the werkroom?
Yas! I’ve never been next to such a big celebrity in my life, so just to see her there… Initially, I was so shocked but her presence… she’s so chill and so down-to-earth. The way she was talking to us, it made my nerves go away, and made me feel like she really wanted to be there to help us. I was so thankful for that, it actually helped me get through the episode.
She was without-a-doubt one of the best judges the show has ever seen.
Oh yeah sure! Obviously I would’ve loved to meet Lady Gaga too! But Miley Cyrus, what she brought to the show was different. Again, so genuine and she did not act like she was a superstar. She just made it seem like she was one of us.
Your time was cut quite short – was there anything in particular you wish you had shown?
Well I did bring some sickening runways, and I’m gonna wear the hell out of those throughout my career! Those weren’t cheap! I think what I really wanted to show was my acting challenge and Snatch Game, because I really wanted to do Jennifer Coolidge. No one’s ever done that and it’s so surprising to me! I really wanted to do the silly challenges because I think I excel in those.
You’ve made me so upset. Jennifer Coolidge!
Honestly! When I came to America, Legally Blonde was really popular and that’s how I learned English. I watched movies like that, like Bring It On and Charlie’s Angels. Jennifer Coolidge’s character was my favourite in Legally Blonde, American Pie, A Cinderella Story.
During your episode, you celebrated your Asian heritage so wonderfully – was this important for you to do?
Totally. That was my goal to be on Drag Race and to show off my artistry, and to have Asian representation, queer Asian representation on mainstream TV. I will continue to do it throughout my career, and it’s the most important part of my drag.
Do you think we’ll see much more Asian representation in the mainstream in the near future?
Yes! I think it’s happening now with movies like Crazy Rich Asians. I looked up to Margaret Cho back in the day and Connie Chung. We had a few, but I feel like people are coming out a lot more now, Awkwafina, Ken Cheong. There are shows and movies that Asians are producing and directing. We need more Asian singers and I think it’s only gonna grow from here.
Following the premiere, you were being called out on Twitter for wearing flats, despite living with Tendonitis. You seemed quite upset so I just wanted to make sure you were alright?
Oh yeah totally. I think what made me upset was to see people judge my drag because of the flats or what I’m not doing. I feel like people need to focus on what I am doing and what the queens are trying to do, instead of judging them based on a standard that’s been around for way too long. Everything has to evolve, culturally. To be so closed-minded about the art of drag and saying what is and what isn’t a proper way of doing drag is such an old school way of thinking. I feel like we need to look at the politics of drag. I think these days, more-so than in the past, we have to open our minds to what we view as what drag is.
It must be frustrating because the people who attack you on Twitter don’t even do drag, and they’re telling you how to do… what you do?
Yeah. I don’t know who said this, but ever since American Idol, people got so much power because they got to vote and they got to voice their opinion in saying who’s better and who’s not better. Ever since then, and with reality competitions, everyone feels like they have a right to voice their opinion, which they do, and which I appreciate. But I feel like there’s a way to communicate that, and I think we need to focus a little bit more on ways to communicate differences of opinion. There’s no dialogue, and it’s just about attacking. Critiquing is different, it’s leaving room for improvement, but when you’re attacking someone, that’s not critiquing.
How have you found the reaction from fans overall?
It’s been amazing. I did not expect such love from the fans and they have been so supportive. They’ve been rooting for me constantly, and I just get so emotional just talking about it because I didn’t think it was gonna happen. I thought people were going to laugh at me and people were going to judge me for leaving so early. Overall, everything has been so positive and it helps me continue to grow.
I think fans have resonated with you because you’ve come across so relatable.
A lot of people have been saying that the way I come off on the show is genuine. That’s all I really know how to be. I’m not the tongue-popping, throwing myself on the floor kind of drag queen. I don’t know how to be that. I think it’s quite cringy for someone to act like that when it’s not coming out naturally. You guys have seen in the past that it doesn’t come off very positive. So I just be myself and I think people appreciate it. Michelle Visage also said that I come across really genuine and I think that’s why I got on the show. My difference from the other queens is that I’m me, and I’m the K-pop drag princess that is always smiling and will always try to have fun and find a silver lining in everything.
Your profile has massively lifted since appearing on the show, even with just one episode. What can we expect from Soju now, other than your YouTube series?
I am throwing my K-pop parties all over America. I’m trying to bring it to the UK actually because I know there is a huge fanbase there. My K-pop party is all inclusive. A lot of times when clubs are having a K-pop night, it’s like one or two K-pop songs and it’s also in very straight clubs where queer people don’t feel that comfortable. In my parties, not only queer people but even the straight people come to my party and we play K-pop all night! People are on the dancefloor, know all the moves and words to the song and it’s so positive. For me as a host, I love seeing that. I’m also going to be coming out with my K-pop single soon! I have a lot of projects coming up, I’m currently writing a short film about queer Asians and what it means to be a gay Korean in this day. Come on this journey with me!
The next episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 airs tonight on VH1.
Yas honey! We love drag so much that we’ve given it a brand new section on our website. Snatched is your go-to portal for all things fierce, from exclusives with your favourite RuPaul’s Drag Race queens and profiles on the up-and-coming queer artists that you need to get into. Sickening, no?