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Part anime, part cosplay, all New York, Aja brought a charged-up version of herself into the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 workroom this season, showing growth, maturity and the same penchant for death drops we knew and loved her for. (She even gave birth to a viral moment with that eye-popping ‘death drop from above’ in the Talent Show episode.) During our All Stars 3 Aja exit interview, we talked with her post-elimination about heading back into the workroom so quickly after Season 9, portraying an icon in the Snatch Game challenge and who she’s rooting for to take home the All Stars crown.
You had a fantastic showing on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. With the experience now in the rearview mirror, how does it feel?
It feels great! I do wish I could have made it to the end, though. There is absolutely no other way to put it; I feel amazing.
What made you want to take another crack at the crown when, as a member of the Season 9 cast, you had completed your season so soon before?
I went back because during my own season, it was not the time in my life for me to do Drag Race. I felt that I needed the show to elevate myself, not just in drag but where I was in life in order to be in a better place. With All Stars I felt like I went in already in a better place, with not just resources but with the best people around me. I think All Stars was an opportunity that I did not want to miss, and I am so glad that I did it.
When you hit that workroom again for the second time, who were you surprised not to see?
I mean, OK, honestly girl, we all have big mouths. We all knew who was going to be there! [Laughs] I mean, Valentina and I were hanging out almost every day until I left for All Stars, so she would have told me if she was going to be there, and I knew she wasn’t.
Who are you pulling for to snatch the crown out of the ladies still in the race?
Who else? I totally think I should still win! [Laughs]
All Stars is known for its twists and turns throughout the competition. Do you like having these twists come up, or do you like being able to concentrate on simply putting out the best Aja there is during competition?
If it gives me another five minutes on television, I don’t care if they are having us thrown off a building into a jacuzzi that turns us into skin and bones! If they can make a meme of it, then girl let’s do it. I mean, I did help create “Is she gonna jump from there.”
Obviously New York is well-represented with the Season 10 cast of Drag Race. What advice do you have for the ladies?
I can tell them this much: Drag Race is not all about being “yes mama!” You have to walk in and just not give a fuck. There are two ways to succeed in Drag Race: One, you have to either be so hyper-focused on every little thing and be very stressed, or walk in and be like “I don’t give a fuck!” That way you can’t be immobilized by fear.
You have so many girls who walk through the door and are super-talented, but some end up immobilized by fear or other underlying issues. It’s always something, and it happens to the best of us. It happened to Trixie Mattel during the Snatch Game challenge — she got so in her head. The best advice is to walk in and not think that you won but just have fun!
Many people don’t know that during your original season of Drag Race, Crystal LaBeija was almost your Snatch Game character. You finally got to bring her to life during the All Stars 3 Snatch Game. Why was it so important to bring a gay icon like Crystal to life?
I think it’s important to know Crystal LaBeija. She’s not just an icon in the drag world, she’s an icon in the queer world, the trans world and for people of color, which are all things I identify with. I wanted to show the world someone who people said was being sour, bitter and nasty because she spoke her mind. What they did not realize was that for her to have such a prominent and strong voice and to do drag in the ’60s, that spoke volumes.
People need to know about our history and the people that were involved, and who led the path for the little queens of color to have a voice. There’s still a lot of racism in the drag world and everywhere. The more who know about people like Crystal, you realize you do have a voice and you can utilize it.
What inspires you to keep being the best Aja there is?
Honestly, I am pretty convinced that my life runs on fumes and body-made Addrerall, because I don’t know where I get my energy from. I constantly amaze my boyfriend with how much energy I have. I think I have a drive that just constantly makes me want to have fun and make the best of everything. That translates into my performances, I think. I want to be the best me that I can be always, and I think I have a naturally competitive nature towards not just others but myself. I always want to make something better than it was before.