Film/TV

Come Through Queens! Meet the Contestants Slaying Season 9 of 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

Who will stay and who will sashay away?

Photography by Eric T. White / Interviews by Shelby Black

Season 9 of RuPaul's Drag Race is upon us, and set to be bigger than ever. The show has a new home on Friday nights on VH1 and a cavalcade of amazing guest judges like Kesha, Lisa Kudrow, Joan Smalls--and the premiere kicking off with one of the most highly-anticipated guests of all, one Lady Gaga. PAPER shot and spoke with Season 9's 13 contestants about their inspirations, aesthetics, and drag icons. Check them all out below before tuning in tonight to see who will sashay away and who will be crowned the ultimate Queen.

Trinity "The Tuck" Taylor

Who are your biggest influences and icons?

RuPaul obviously! She has changed the direction of where drag has gone and turned it into something relatable, mainstream and positive!

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Country pageant girl with an edge! Showing a lot of skin! Most know me for having the best tuck in the business!

Eureka O'Hara

My name is Eureka O'Hara! I'm from Bristol, TN, country as a biscuit.

How'd you come up with your drag name?

My mom's name is Eureka and I saw it fitting my female side being named after my mom. My family name is O'Hara.

How'd your drag journey begin?

My drag mother is a former Miss Gay USofA at large, Jacqueline St. James, and her pageant side and polish really taught me how to own my craft. Plus she's a trans woman so the confidence and the passion that she has for life and our LGBT community taught me how to be a better person.

Eureka O'Hara

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

My mom is a total inspiration, she's this 6'2", afro-having German crazy woman. Also Mae West: she's sexy, she's thick, she's funny.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

I really want to give vintage, 1940s housewife that has a lot of money. I have a lot of versatility but I'm also a lot of fun.

Jaymes Mansfield

I'm Jaymes Mansfield!

How'd you come up with your drag name?

It's actually a combination of my birth name James and the actress Jayne Mansfield. I like to tell people it's because I'm a huge Jane Austen fan and I like Mansfield Park the novel but that's only if I have to impress somebody smart.

How'd your drag journey begin?

I was originally a puppeteer but then I realized that I should be the star instead of sharing the spotlight with a puppet! So I threw her in the backseat and here I am!

Jaymes Mansfield

Who are your biggest influences and icons?

I looked up to all the old drag queens of the 1990's: Charles Bush, Hedda Lettuce, and especially RuPaul. I love the beauty of natural features.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

I always want to look like the most eccentric woman you've ever met. Like, will this get me on worst dressed? If it will then I'll wear it.

Aja

My name is Aja, pronounced "Ah-ja."

How'd you come up with your drag name?

From the Bollywood film Disco Dancer. They have this song in it that's like "jimmy, jimmy, aja!" and it just means "come here" which matches me because I have this energy that gravitates people towards me.

How'd your drag journey begin?

I grew up on in the streets of Brooklyn, NY and all the girls had their little mini cropped fur jackets and coats with the high ponytails with hoop earrings. I wanted to be that but still fashion.

Aja

Who are your biggest influences and icons?

I've never really been inspired by other drag queens. My main inspiration came from Japanese anime like Sailor Moon; just the thought of being able to transform into a magical girl, me!

Describe your drag aesthetic.

The streets of Brooklyn meet the streets of Tokyo. Something cute but something dangerous, a little fashion, a little hood-chic.

Farrah Moan

My name is Farrah Moan, I'm 23 years old, and I live in fabulous Las Vegas!

How'd you come up with your drag name?

It's a play on words for pheromones. They play a big role in a person's sexual attraction to another person, and my persona is very much based on making people question their sexuality. I've always loved Farrah Fawcett then moan came to me during, well, I'll let you use your imagination on that one!

How'd your drag journey begin?

My first performance was in a drag contest in Austin Texas called "Austin's Next Drag Superstar," and I placed first runner up. A week after crowning, I was asked to host and produce my own show and it's been almost 5 years since!

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

Michael Andrews, Larry Edwards, Frank Marino, Christina Aguilera, and obviously RuPaul! Also, all the queens that paved the way and fought for the community so that this is all possible for all of us.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Fashion, fetish, feathers.

Kimora Blac

Kimora Blac is the true drag vixen and also the Kim K of drag, highly trendy and always ready to serve the hottest body to the stage. She seems like the bitchiest drag queen in the world but deep down inside she is so warm and sweet and the nicest girl you'll ever meet. Kimora Blac loves to serve face, so when you see her live watch out for your husbands. She's not like any other queen because she has self-confidence and she know she slays everything all day.

Kimora Blac

How'd you come up with your drag name?

Kimora Blac was originated from Kimora Lee Simmons and Kim Kardashian all in one. The Blac comes from the color of her soul, all of her clothes, and her obsession with strippers to represent Blac Chyna.

How'd your drag journey begin?

Drag has always been a part of my life, it's the easiest way for me to be creative and to show people my talents, beauty and just being fierce. It's definitely been a roller coaster ride and it's only the beginning.

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

Miss Amanda Lepore herself and Kim Kardashian, she's my obsession.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Sexy, fun, gorgeous, beauty body, sweet seductive! She always dresses new school and it's always sexy current and always slays!

Charlie Hides


I'm Charlie Hides, the world's oldest Drag Racer & amateur theoretical physicist!

How'd you come up with your drag name?

Conveniently my stage name can also be found on all my passports, not very original.

How'd your drag journey begin?

On a drunken road trip with Mother Theresa. A bottle of tequila later I found myself dressed in a French Maid costume swinging around a pole in a strip club in Calcutta.

Charlie Hides

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

Alexis Carrington Colby inspired and informed my most iconic drag moments, as did Miss Piggy.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

My drag aesthetic is ever changing, a veritable cornucopia of Haute Couture and Krafty Kween realness. I've been called the "Neoprene Queen" but Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets nasty when she drinks tequila.

Sasha Velour

It's Sasha Velour.

How'd you come up with your drag name?

Sasha is my actual given name, and I love the sound of velour, it's a luxurious fabric but also very cheap and affordable. It's draggier than velvet.

How'd your drag journey begin?

I say that I've always been doing drag because I look back at family photos and there I am in a wig and my mom's tap shoes. I've always been drawn to evil queens, beautiful princesses, and femme monsters but I didn't really start performing until after college about five years ago. It's been a really spiritual experience for me.

Sasha Velour

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

I looked to a lot of historical figures like RuPaul, Divine, Leigh Bowery, Kevin Aviance, the New York Art Drag Innovators. They pushed the boundaries in terms of beauty and gender.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Femme figures who are strong, powerful, and not afraid to show it.

Alexis Michelle

I'm Alexis Michelle and I can be the mistress of the senator.

How'd you come up with your drag name?

My legal name is Alex Michaels -- see what I did there?

How'd your drag journey begin?

Halloween, 1997. The rest is herstory.

Alexis Michelle

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

Currently: Charlie Hides' style, Aja and Farrah Moan's makeup, and Valentina's sparkle.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Expensive looking. Actually, my shit is pretty expensive these days.

Shea Couleé

Hey, hey, hey I'm Shea (or Miss Couleé if you're nasty)

How'd you come up with your drag name?

My middle name is Shea, spelled "Kyei" (Swahili for 'Beautiful Boy') Couleé is a reference to 'Coulis' the desert. And a mix of coulo which is "ass" in Spanish. (Because I have a good good one)

How'd your drag journey begin?

I was watching Drag Race and thought, "That looks fun!"

Shea Couleé

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones, Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Josephine Baker, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Equal Parts Bougie and Banji.

Peppermint

I'm Peppermint, America's favorite flavor.

How'd your come up with your drag name?

Peppermint is my candy of choice.

How'd your drag journey begin?

My grandmother used to dress me up in Boy George drag as a child.

Peppermint

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

Marsha P. Johnson and RuPaul

Describe your drag aesthetic.

Rihanna meets Mrs. Roper.

Valentina

Hello, it's me, Valentina!

How'd you come up with your drag name?

I really wanted my name to be something special, something that is very on brand with the type of drag I represent. Valentina was just right; it's sophisticated, Latino and it's flavorful just like the salsa.

How'd your drag journey begin?

I feel like it's still the beginning; I'm looking forward to how the rest unfolds. My biggest introduction to the drag world has always been makeup. Growing up studying the performing arts, I always had my paint for the stage, so when it came time to paint as Valentina, it all came natural.

Valentina

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

My mother, she's my favorite person in the whole universe and I couldn't possibly be Valentina without giving her credit. She is so beautiful, so very kind and in many ways I want to be just like her.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

A glamorous Latina goddess who loves fashion, beauty and luxury. Think of her as a romantic telenovela actress, a charismatic Miss Universe, or as I like to think of her, the greatest superstar who ever lived.

Nina Bo'nina Brown

I'm Nina Bo'nina Brown, sue me.

How'd you come up with your drag name?

Nina came in a dream, Bo'nina came from someone yelling it in the crowd, and Brown was because I ran out of creativity.

How'd your drag journey begin?

When I was sent down from planet Bad Bitch Uranium.

Nina Bo'nina Brown

Who are your biggest icons and influences?

God, myself, my mom, Naomi Campbell, Rupaul, and anything I find beautiful or interesting.

Describe your drag aesthetic.

It just can't be described.

Season 9 premieres tonight at 8pm EST on VH1!


Makeup Bruce Dean Wilhelmina Artists using MAC Cosmetics

Hair Isaac Davidson Wilhelmina Artists using Bumble & Bumble

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