Drag performers like Charity Kase are truly few and far between. Merging monstrous glamour with a keen eye for fashion, this dynamic performer certainly made her mark during her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. While her Drag Race run has concluded, Kase still had plenty to share during our discussion. From her courageous and open discussion on her HIV status to her individuality on the Drag Race main stage, Kase stands by her eye-popping and diverse choices and remains a unique and dynamic talent in the RuPaul’s Drag Race lexicon.
Michael Cook: So many people were upset to see you leave RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, you have such a unique perspective on drag.
Charity Case: I am kind of upset as well, but in two ways. I am upset, but I there is a massive sense of relief there as well. At this point in the competition, I was done giving my all and kept feeling like I was overlooked. There was nothing that I could that could please or impress. I am not saying that I did everything perfectly, because I definitely didn’t, but there is only so much that you can take, especially with something that is so personal.
MC: The Drag Race experience is so truly personal to so many people. When you entered the competition what is the one thing that you wanted to ensure that you displayed about your drag?
CC: I wanted to showcase my versatility. That was the most important thing to me. Not only do I do all of this monstrous horror stuff, but I also do this fantastically exquisite and polished traditional and cookie cutter drag. I can do fantasy creatures and special effects, but my drag is so wide in variety and I really wanted to showcase that.
MC: When you started down the road to doing drag, did you start on a traditional route and then veer off to truly define your own looks and aesthetic?
CK: You know, I never really did traditional drag. Even from the start, it was always conceptual, conceptual drag is what has always really inspired me. I find that so much more exciting than a beautiful gown. No mater how beautiful it is, I would rather it be some sort of character wearing it with a story. I want storytelling in my imagery; I think that is what draws me to these mad creature characters. I think it also comes from me starting my 365 Days Of Drag in 2017 where I did a daily look for a full year. I wanted to show my versatility, try different makeup skills, change my face shape and play with lights and shadows. I am trained as an artist so I think that really comes into play with shadow, light, shape and dimension. I like to change my makeup so I don’t recognize myself. That is what gives me a kick, looking at myself in the mirror and saying “who is that”?!
MC: Well you dressed as a cat doing a lip sync to a Spice Girls track in front of Emma Bunton herself truly is something we never will see unless it’s on RuPaul’s Drag Race!
CK: (laughs) Maybe in my dreams you would!
MC: Is there a performer or queen that truly inspired you and the drag aesthetic you follow?
CK: John Waters, Leigh Bowery, or Divine. Those characters who did it their own way and didn’t care. RuPaul said to me on the runway, “you have come out here with this idea that you are going to do it my way, and you don’t give a fuck”. It was supposed to be a critique, but that was exactly what I was doing They knew that, and I have a reason for doing what I do. It’s political and I am not going to mold myself to fit into a stereotype of what everyone else is. I don’t see it as beneficial, positive, or helpful in any way.
MC: You spoke openly about your life and your HIV status in the workroom. Did you plan to go into the experience being completely forthright about your status?
CK: I was very open about my status beforehand and always have been. I try to use my platform for the benefit of the HIV positive, queer, black as well as the trans communities. I try to use my platform to educate and teach wherever I can. I think it is important that if you have an audience like I do and you are representing a community, that we use our voices. Not just to educate ourselves, but the people that surround and follow us. I always planned on talking about my status, but I was not sure how intense or deep I would get on it. It ended up being an intense trauma therapy session, which was lovely. I have had amazing response and I feel like for the first time in my life, something I have done has made positive change. Not someone in the street or a friend, positive change to thousands of people; I feel really content with that. It is really rare to see people talk about HIV on television here in the UK, I can think of perhaps two people in my life that I have seen do it. I am so proud to now be one of those people.
MC: What is on your list of things to do now that Drag Race UK is in the rearview mirror?
CK: Jump out of a plane (laughs). I have always wanted to jump out of a plane. I want to go backpacking across Asia also. I want to eventually kill Charity Kase off, have it on the front of a magazine “Charity Kase Murdered”. I want to take this character to the extreme and then kill her off. Then I will go into more design work and behind the scenes work for film, television and creature creation. I have lots of options. I don’t want to be forty years old at Heaven nightclub in London dressed as a monster, that is not what I want. I love my job, I really love it. It has a time period and there are so many things I want to do. I am a painter and a seamstress, and would love to do more behind the scenes stuff.
MC: What is the one thing that Charity Kase has taught you the most about yourself?
CK: That’s a hard question…when Charity Kase came about, I was a shell of myself, with no self confidence and no self esteem. I had bad habits that were not healthy, and I am not proud of who I was. Charity Kase gave me self confidence and an understanding of who I am. She gave me the ability to accept that the things that happened to me are okay. Charity Kase taught me that I am valid and worthy.
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