Pangina Heals entered RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs The World as a well-known performer from Thailand (and co-host of Drag Race Thailand) and departed the competition a beloved, dynamically entertaining, (and stunning) queen. While her elimination might have been shocking, Heals has recovered and is looking towards a massive new tour, and continuing to embrace and celebrate her Thai culture whenever she hits the stage. I sat down to talk to Pangina for an extensive chat about her Drag Race experiences. those All-Star rules, and how she interweaves her drag into her celebrated and beloved Thai culture.
Michael Cook: Your elimination from this past season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs the World was shocking for so many people, most of all seemed to shock yourself. How does it feel now?
Pangina Heals: I am still alive, I am okay.
MC: What is it like to have such a extremely positive reaction from the fans?
PH: (Pauses). It is so touching. I recently had a meet and greet and someone just said “thank you for representing Southeast Asians so well; I feel like I can see me in you”. Asian representation is so important to me and that was so touching that I almost cried. We didn’t have that when I was growing up, I didn’t have other drag queens who looked like me or of the same heritage. I think it was the best thing that. could have done; be me completely and just try to kill the competition. For the fans to have just received me so well, I am just so grateful; it is just the best thing.
MC: It was a true game changer to have someone who was once a judge (on Drag Race Thailand) now for the first time ever, be a competitor. What was that like from your perspective?
PH: You know that moment when the coffee just hits? That is what it was like the whole entire time (laughs); because I had never been judged by RuPaul before. I had watched the show all my life, so there was always that feeling like “what would you do if you ever had to lip sync”-and then it happens. It’s like “you better not fuck up”! That feeling, the whole entire competition!
— Pangina Heals (@PanginaHeals) February 23, 2019
MC: Every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race is a game, and any season of All Stars, including the inaugural season of UK vs The World, All Stars now-legendary elimination rules applied. Blu Hydrangea’s now historic elimination of you was to some people a strategic move, while others found it to be cutthroat. Do you think you would have done something similar had you been in that position?
PH: Honestly, what I say won’t matter anyway because I did end up eliminating two of the strongest girls. Even if my criteria was to see who was the worst in the challenge, I was judging the way that I would have on Drag Race Thailand. Obviously, the bottom two of the week, sometimes I don’t agree with it, but those were the cards that I was dealt. Would I have eliminated the strongest girls? Tempting but I wouldn’t. I would go off of the fact that “you did the worst, you go home”. I thought that I was playing a fair game, and it may not seem that way, but that is my truth.
MC: As a judge/co-host on Drag Race Thailand, many feel that that series revolutionized Drag Race as a whole, showing that it was poised to become a global force and showing that the fanbase was truly everywhere! Do you think Drag Race was represented as wonderfully as so many do?
PH: Oh, for sure. Art (Arya) had such a creative input in the show, she put in so many aspects of what it is. The textiles in the challenges, our culture, our language, our point of view. In almost every aspect of the challenges, including what the judges were wearing, we would try to make to make it Thai. We would have a theme of using Thai textiles, or if we were talking about food in a challenge, we were talking about Thai food like green curry or as many things as we could. With as many things as we could, we wanted the world to fall in love with our culture as much as we did.
MC: On UK vs the World, you were the only representative from Drag Race Thailand, while all of the other countries were represented by at least two girls, and others by more. Was there much more responsibility representing your country solely on your own and what was it like representing Thailand on your own?
PH: I felt the biggest responsibility and I think that is why when I was eliminated I was crying. Not because I had lost, but because I felt like I wasn’t representing my country well or had done well for my country. After the initial shock, it was like “bitch, there was nothing you could have done better, you need to forgive yourself”. I excelled at all of the challenges, got two Ru Peter badges and what I presented down the runway was the best that I could have done. Every skill that I learned and practiced during the eleven classes that I took before leaving for the competition, I feel like a grade-A student already.
MC:You were clearly upset by your elimination, and it was emotional for both your fellow competitors and the viewers at home. Where does that deep passion for both your craft and your culture stem from?
PH: The passion for the culture and the pride that we have as Thai people is linked to the pageant system as well. In Thailand, we’ve had two Miss Universe crowns. When anything comes that is related to the pageant system, we always wanted that third crowd. For me, as someone who is very into pageantry as well, it was this feeling that we needed this for Thailand. We’ve been wanting it for thirty-three years, we’ve not had that crown, so it is obviously linked to that.
As for my craft, I feel like I’ve been put onto this Earth to do drag. Not only does it make other people happy but it makes me happy too; it heals me. Every time I step onto the stage, I feel like I’m doing something right. All of those years of hardships trials, and tribulations it feels like this is validating. It feels like, after the eleven years that I’ve never quit drag and you’ve now gotten to this point, it was worth it. It feels like every single time I am doing drag, I can learn more. It is a journey, it is never ending. For me, I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing drag.
MC: What is next for Pangina Heals? Sky Casper Entertainment has set up a packed, but sure to be amazing US tour for you!
PH: I know! This is my third or fourth US tour now, and I am still falling in love all over again, and all of the beautiful people I get to meet and fall in love with also; AHH! Life is fulfilling, life is great, don’t be sad for me. This is just the beginning.
MC: Drag many times, does not hide who you are, it reveals who you are. What does your drag reveal about you?
PH: That I am goofy, that I am stupid, that I am not just stuck with just one thing. That I am a chameleon. It reveals that I have a really big heart and that I really care for other people. I want to make sure that ever other person is happy and it shows that I am proud of who I am. Drag allows me to be who I am because of it.
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