I talked with scene queen and human cartoon Erika Klash about her incredibly evolving looks, her ambassadorship with the Austin International Drag Festival, and some upcoming gigs in Brooklyn and the East Village.
Thotyssey: You’ve gotten pretty well-known in nightlife for turning these very cosmic, surreal club looks. I know you’ve said you’ve been influenced by video games and cosplay. Were these elements always there in your drag, or did they evolve later?
Erika Klash: I think the fundamental idea of video games, anime, and Japanese street fashion (my major inspirations) were always there from the start, but over time what I have wanted to do and have been able to do has evolved. So, I’m finding more and more ways to express and apply all of those source materials through my drag.
For example, my fantasy makeup looks were only really possible once I had learned my way around makeup.
Yes, we’ve all been inspired by watching your looks evolve over time… I loved that adorable/horrifying blue rag doll look from Look Queen.
By the way, just curious, what do you think of Phi Phi O’Hara’s 365 Days of Drag project?
I am so in awe of how Phi Phi is managing to do all of these looks! She certainly is making Drag history and it is so exciting to watch. She is giving EVERY queen a run for their money and its amazing and intimidating all at once .
When she was doing those 90′s cartoon looks I immediately thought of you! Ok, so let’s talk about the Austin International Drag Festival, where you’re serving as a NY drag ambassador. Congratulations, first off! How did your involvement come about?
I applied to perform at the first festival on a whim. This was the first event of its kind and I was a relatively new (5-6 months old) queen, so I was looking for exposure and a place to meet other queens I wouldn’t normally meet. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to perform. When I went to the first festival, I had a great time. The whole atmosphere was loving, supportive, diverse, everything I was hoping it would be. It’s gotten a good amount of press and quite a lot of people know about it, but I wanted to be a part of keeping the ball rolling, so I applied to be an ambassador for the 2nd festival, which is happening in the last weekend of April. We have had a great run: I’ve been working with Crimson Kitty, Chris of Hur, Goldie Peacock, and Jizzabella, to fundraise and promote.
What are your duties as ambassadors?
Mainly we are the official representatives of the festival for the New York area, including the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey scenes. We throw fundraisers (first one was back in December) and the next one is on March 18 at Bizarre Bushwick. We are also a resource / point of contact for performers and prospective performers in our area. There is some volunteer work we do at the festival as well.
I was going to ask you about the Bushwick event. I see you all are performing, and selling art work?
Yes, we have all of the ambassadors and some performers slated to take part, and we also are raffling off some artwork. It seems a bunch of us are great visual artists!
Very cool, good luck! The lineup at Austin looks incredible by the way… Lots of queens from Drag Race, and really famous performers from all over the country. I see other New York queens like Maddelynn Hatter and Delighted Tobehere are scheduled to perform also.
I LOVE that drag legends who exist outside of Drag Race are a part of this. You get a sense that every corner of the drag world is represented. New and old, famous and not famous, all kinds of drag, drag kings, lady queens, etc.
I was surprised to see that so many venues in the city participate. Does drag just sort of take over the whole city that week? It must be amazing.
The festival kicks off Thursday and goes through Saturday, so it’s like a weekend takeover.
It’s funny (speaking of Drag Race one last time), Logo just ran a cute interview segment with Bob and Thorgy where Bob talked about how much he loved Austin, how gay positive it was, etc.
I keep hearing that Austin is a liberal oasis within Texas, and its great to see Austin taking its place as a gay-friendly city. Cynthia Lee Fontaine, who I really enjoy, is also an Austin resident.
She’s great! By the way, can you talk a little about the show your doing at Eastern Bloc?
Yeah! Vinsantos is a fierce New Orleans queen who I had met in Austin and once or twice while doing shows in Brooklyn. She just asked me to do this show and I’m really excited to work with her. I’ve never actually performed at Eastern Bloc before, so I’m really excited. Also, the theme of the night is dark and witchy, so I’m excited to do something that is a bit edgier.
I have to say I’ve been looking for a drag show that has that darker, gothier aesthetic. I’ll check it out. One last thing… You filled in for Logan at Stonewall recently, and I know you’ve done shows there before. Do you have a strong connection to that venue?
I suppose so! I’ve hosted there the most I think. Two Stonewall Invasions, Logan’s show, and I also hosted the first AIDF Fundraiser with Crimson Kitty. What I do love about Stonewall is how different the crowd is every time you’re there. It’s great to see a fun variety of people enjoying drag, and it causes you to keep on your toes. Also, the bar staff are some of the sweetest in NYC.
Totally agree. Ok well, that’s it for me, anything else coming up you wanna mention?
See Also: Erika Klash (11.2.2017)
Erika Klash and the other NY Austin International Drag Ambassadors are also escheduled to appear in Brooklyn tonight, for Horrorchata’s Be Cute party at Littlefield.