As of writing, social media is utter bedlam. Gay Twitter has fallen. Pangina Heals stans… are in mourning. Drag Race fans haven’t witnessed pandemonium like this since… well, honestly, last week, when the aforementioned Thailand co-host shockingly chopped Jimbo from UK vs the World. On this week’s episode, Pangina suffered a similar fate when Blu Hydrangea unceremoniously chose to eliminate her from the competition – prompting fans to question whether the “current All Star rules” should be scrapped entirely if the strongest talent aren’t going to reach the final.
“I couldn’t hear anything Ru was saying at that moment. It was like an out-of-body experience where I don’t remember anything after the name “Pangina” was called and until after my makeup was taken off,” the star tells GAY TIMES. “I was hysterically crying, really hard. You saw that breakdown on television, right?! [Laughs] It was a full on panic attack, heartbreak. For me, it just showed how much I really care to be on the programme that I love like this, and how much I was giving it my all.”
Although she didn’t sashay away as the first ever ‘Queen of the Mothertucking World’, Pangina became an instant fan-favourite with viewers due to her charismatic confessionals, awe-inspiring lip-sync smackdowns and, of course, her runways (see header). Her Mariah Carey impersonation on Snatch Game may not have hit all the right (whistle) notes, but Pangina Heals will go down in herstory as one of the most championed and sickening contestants the show has ever seen.
Here, we speak with Pangina about her ‘heartbreaking’ exit from UK vs the World, why she has “no regrets” about her time on the series and her ambitious plans for the upcoming third season of Drag Race Thailand.
Pangina, I should not be talking with you today. I did not expect…
Erm, I don’t think I expected it either. Honestly, when I was watching the lip-sync with Blu I was basically like, ‘Go Blu! You better win this lip-sync!’ I didn’t expect it, but we all signed up to this. This is a competition. Everyone has to go home at one point or the other, so how can I be mad at Blu? Obviously I’m heartbroken, but I am not angry at Blu whatsoever. She made a decision and, if I did that in a certain challenge during a competition, I have to take the fact that I have to go home.
Can you take me back to the moment when you were on the stage with the rest of the bottoms and Blu revealed your lipstick?
In the beginning when we were all in the bottom, I was like, ‘There is no way that I will be going home’ because I won two weeks and I thought I was doing really well. Generally on Snatch Game, I did not think I was the worst. But having said that, when we were up on the stage I was like, ‘It’s fine! I’ll see you next week! I’m not going to go home.’ I was cheering Blu on, ‘Go for it! You better win this!’ because I had a feeling that Baga [Chipz] most likely would be eliminating me because she was close to Jimbo, which made sense. It’s fine. It is what it is. And so, when Blu called my name, in the beginning I thought she was talking about Juju because she was like, ‘I’ve been a fan of this person for so long…’ I thought, ‘It’s got to be Juju,’ but when she said my name, everything went white. I couldn’t hear anything Ru was saying at that moment. It was like an out-of-body experience where I don’t remember anything after the name “Pangina” was called and until after my makeup was taken off. I was hysterically crying, really hard. You saw that breakdown on television, right?! [Laughs] It was a full on panic attack, heartbreak. For me, it just showed how much I really care to be on the programme that I love like this, and how much I was giving it my all.
I mean, RuPaul and Michelle Visage’s faces said it all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them look that shocked at an elimination before. They were… pissed.
Yeah. With Ru and Michelle being shocked… I think I saw Michelle cry as well, and I didn’t expect it. We talked after the show and Michelle was like, ‘You did really, really well. Your country should be proud.’ In that moment I was just really grateful, but I think it was a gag for everybody. Clara [Amfo] cried as well. It wasn’t shown on camera, I think, but Juju was crying hysterically like when she was lip-syncing with Raven, you know?
Why do you think Blu actually chose to send you home? Do you think it was strategy?
You know what? I hate that word. I honestly hate that word. It’s a competition. Whatever you choose to do, it’s your choice and it’s valid. I’ve been called a snake, a strategist or that I was playing a game. It’s not Monopoly, it’s a competition! You can’t win them all! This is the biggest show in the world. I get to show who I am in the fullest extent and I’m proud to show my culture, my fashion, my acting skills – all of that. I couldn’t be more proud of myself because I have no regrets. I wouldn’t do anything differently, which is why I’m not sorry about it. I don’t feel bad. Yes, I was heartbroken but I made eight new friends! All over the world, they get to see what I can do. If people didn’t know what Thailand was or who Pangina Heals is, now they might.
I agree, your Mariah was not the worst of the episode. Your first comment about cooking the lambs was brilliant…
I haven’t watched it yet! I’m nervous. This is the first time I have not watched an episode yet, because there’s a lot of triggering moments. I am waiting until I have at least five bottles of wine in me and then I’ll go watch it.
Has Mariah reached out yet?
I don’t think she knows me yet. It’s just a matter of time! I’ve actually locked eyes with her in her concert, she came to Thailand before. I was sitting front row, she locked eyes at me and I was wearing her outfit from the VMAs. She said, ‘I love your ensemble, darling.’ Literally, everything went white as well! Biggest moment of my life.
This season, you were criticised for sending home Lemon and Jimbo – people are now saying that Pangina Heals is banned from Canada!
Fans are also arguing that you eliminated Lemon and Jimbo because they were strong competition. Did you have a specific plan for eliminating queens?
That’s a really good question. According to Wikipedia, I can no longer enjoy maple syrup, obviously. I can’t enter Canada anymore! But, I can’t own up to things that I don’t do or I don’t feel. I will always apologise for something if I did something wrong. And so, I cannot lie. When I went into this, I did not have a strategy. Obviously, when people hear this they’ll be, ‘No, that’s not true Pangina. You eliminated Lemon and Jimbo.’ Based on the fact that the judges collectively – and me, watching the performance – thought who was the worst… Now, in the week that Lemon was performing and eliminated, did I think that Lemon did the worst in the group? No. But because she was chosen as the bottom two, I had to make a choice. So, with that being said, I did not have a strategy because I was going into it as a judge mentality from Drag Race Thailand. You’ve seen girls on Drag Race Thailand where they had a great track record, and if they fuck up once, they can go home. And that’s exactly what happened to me and that’s why I’m not mad about it. For those people who continue to be mad about it, please continue! It’s not my problem.
As is the case with any season of Drag Race, there’s been a few trolls in the queens’ DMs. How are you personally dealing with this and making sure you’re preserving your mental health?
It’s not easy. It’s really not easy. I thought it was over when I’m eliminated… No, it’s not! But, I like to create comedy from tragedy. Whenever they’re saying all these hateful things, this craziness, I just laugh at it because you take the power away from them. You just have to find a way you battle it. You can either choose to go on… I do have days where I just want to stay in bed and not leave the room because it’s so heavy, but I focus on the love because I know there’s so many people who actually love and support me, and I can feel it. Just because they hate on me online doesn’t mean that the tour I’m about to do in America is going to be cancelled, so… fuck ’em!
Like you said, there’s so much love to counteract the hate. Now, the world – not just Thailand – is utterly obsessed with Pangina Heals. Rightfully so, you demolished this entire season, even when you fell into the bottom – that slot machine runway was insane. How has this whole experience changed your life?
Thank you! Oh my god. Well number one, I’m officially a RuGirl now! That alone opens so many more doors. When I came back to Thailand, I got to do things that I never thought I was going to do. I became the brand ambassador of Pulse Clinic, which talks about sexual health awareness, and I’ve never seen a drag queen become a brand ambassador in a global situation before in Thailand. Or, I had another deal where I had billboards up, and that increases visibility of queer people in Thailand – you would never see a drag queen on a billboard in Thailand! I am just so thankful that I am doing the things that I wish I could’ve done, and I was in Vogue Thailand, so there’s endless possibilities.
What would you say is your proudest moment of the series? There was your runways, the lip-syncs and, of course, the waaking! There’s so many to pick from…
I would say, memorable moments, is the lip-sync with Janey. The one I did to the Vengaboys because, honestly, I grew up to the Vengaboys. So, I knew the song. I didn’t have to learn it. When it came on I was just like, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna throw down to this song!’ For some reason, I felt like I left everything in that lip-sync on that stage. I literally wasn’t lip-syncing for the world, I was lip-syncing for my life! I was a fan of [Drag Race] for so long I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh bitch, you’re in the top two!’ I was, in my mind, ‘You’re in the bottom, and you gotta save your life!’ I was doing the most that I could. Watching the show, you always think, ‘If I had to lip-sync for my life, I could’ve done this or that.’ Me, looking back on both my lip-syncs, I am so proud that I did not mess up or not know the words or trip and fall. The judges enjoyed me, and hopefully people did too. Looking back, I would say my lip-syncs.
In my opinion, you are one of the best lip-sync artists we’ve ever seen on Drag Race. Both of your showdowns were jaw-dropping. Do you think that, if you were in the bottom on this week’s episode, lip-syncing for your life, you’d still be in the competition?
Obviously! Yes! Let’s just speak facts… Okay, here it is. God, I sound like Mo. Here we go! This is it. I felt like, in the competition, the best lip-syncer would be Janey and I already beat her once. So, to another song, maybe I could do it again? Maybe not? But, I’m not “fretend” like Cheryl said! Fretend!
I have to talk about Drag Race Thailand. A third season has been confirmed, we’ve been waiting years for this and I can’t wait until it sashays onto our screens again. Is there anything you can tell me or are you under oath?
I think I am under oath! But, I can tell you things that I would want to do if I get the opportunity to do it again. Number one, I’mma speak English the whole time! That is a given, because I speak faster in English and then I revert back to Thai when I get super excited or distraught or mad – as you’ve seen! So, I wanna make sure I speak in English the whole time. It’s so great to have queens from all over Asia and, so, if we do a season three I would love to see more queens from the Philippines, Singapore… We already had one from Singapore, but from other places whose culture has not been showcased yet, where we can all come and learn from each other.
Has being on UK vs the World impacted the way you will judge on Thailand?
[Laughs] No! I’ve judged for two seasons – I get paid to send girls home! So, I know what’s up. It’s not gonna change, obviously, but one thing that I think I’ve learned as well is that, in Thailand, we were quite heavy when it comes to judging on the runways. It would be interesting to change that format a bit and literally make it 50/50 or lie heavily more on the challenge at hand. That I can definitely respect.
Would you be here for Drag Race Thailand introducing All Star rules for a future season? Lip-syncing for the win?
I don’t think we have enough seasons to do an All Stars yet, because we only have two seasons, but if we were to do an All Stars, why not? I would love to see the queens be in this situation where it’s cutthroat and you get to see how people think, etc. It’d be really fun! Why not?
What’s next for Pangina? Besides Drag Race Thailand…
I’m going to be travelling and doing my UK and US tours, and just travelling all over the world to see all you lovely people out there – all my Fanginas! I can’t wait. You can read the comments, but to feel that human interaction and for me to perform for you guys, oh my god… It’s going to be reliving the dream, and taking over the world. My club is going to be open soon, the House of Heals, so come and visit us at the House of Heals in Bangkok anytime! Most likely I’m not there yet because I’m still in the US, but why not?!
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs the World episode 4 is now available to stream on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.