Fun and freaky Brooklyn drag collective the Haus of Aja broke through 2016 in a major way, and 2017 looks to be even bigger and better. With their namesake mamma heading to Season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and a growing list of gigs all over town, the Haus’ foundation is set. This fierce founding member has been there with Aja since the very beginning, making her own rep as a ferocious showstopper… Miss MoMo Shade!
Thotyssey: Hi MoMo, I understand it’s almost time to wish you a happy birthday! Are you a pro-birthday or Anti-birthday queen?
Momo Shade: I’m pro-birthday!!!!!
Yay! Glad to hear it. And your drag family the Haus of Aja has been slaying gigs left and right this past year, so no doubt you will be celebrating all over the city this week. Do you have a birthday wish?
My only birthday wish is to be around the people I love, and success for me and the Haus of Aja! Yeah, it’s be such a blessing. All the support and love!
You deserve it! I’ve known you and Aja since you were fetuses, and I’ve rarely known queens who have worked and turnt harder. Was there ever a time along the road when either of you were like, “Maybe we should just give up?”
Yeah. I remember a time like that. It was about two years ago. I was going through a really tough patch in my life. Tons of anxiety–insecurity–and I thought to myself, is this really worth it? But I didn’t give up, and I’m glad I used drag as a therapy to help relieve those things I was feeling. It made me stronger, and the beautiful person I am today.
Yasss gurl preach! Okay, so let’s get to your origin story. Brooklyn is your hometown?
Yeah born and raised! Williamsburg, before all the vegan restaurants [laughs].
I was gonna say, it was probably a very different Brooklyn. Do you have any trouble getting by there in those years?
Well, growing up in Williamsburg back in the day was a little rough, especially being openly gay. I remember getting jumped in school for being gay by this Dominican gang!
Where are those douchebags now?
[Laughs] probably still freaking trolls!
And you and Aja were close back in high school, right?
Yeah, me and Aja go wayyy back!
Which of you started drag first?
Actually, it was Aja. I saw her do it first, and I was so curious. I told her I wanted to do it too! This was the first time [laughs]:
Looking pretty fly! Where were you going out in drag those days?
Do you remember what number you did?
J-Lo’s “Papi” [laughs]!
Perfect! So, how did you two get better, with both your looks and your performing?
Trial and error, honestly.
You two were gigging all over the city, doing guest spots wherever they would have you. Was it a struggle to both stand out and get respect from audiences and other performers in those early days?
Yes. Sometimes it was because some people would think I was in Aja’s shadow.
You two were always a team, though! She did her thing and you did your thing, but you worked well together.
I remember a weekly show you two had at the Pride Lounge in Forest Hills. That place was a carry, but I saw you and Aja really blossom as strong performers there. Do you think that was the case?
Yeah, it really taught us about how to carry a show and keep people enticed.
You had a bunch of tough gigs–one where a guy actually came back to your dressing room and robbed you two at gunpoint! How long did it take you to recover from that?
It was crazy! I literally didn’t work there ever again. And they didn’t really care. We recovered fast!
You really became established in the Brooklyn scene, with lots of gigs in TnT and Metropolitan. And you had your own show at One Last Shag. Do you remember how you two started getting so much work, and respect, in Bushwick?
Well honestly, just being ourselves and showing people what we can offer. And that we are honest and lovable people. It took a lot of work!
You and Aja used to be an item. When that ran its course you remained close friends and kept working together. Lots of people can’t do that, especially in showbiz. What’s the secret?
Honestly, me and Aja were best friends before anything. And I love her, so why not? It was something in the past. So I move on from it, and keep it strictly business.
Honestly, it started out as a joke, and then it became a thing. And we are so happy about all the love and support!
Y’all slay. And now, this is a really exciting time because Aja will be on Season 9 of Drag Race! I know that she was determined to get on the show for years, and now that it’s happened it’s just so wonderful. What was the moment like when she revealed that she got on?
I cried, because I knew she worked so hard to get to that point! And I was just so happy and proud.
And you were a big part of that, and very supportive. How weird is it gonna be to see her on the show, watching her interact with RuPaul and Lady Gaga and such?
I think it’s going to be interesting. I want to see how people are going to react to her!
Yassss! So by the way, what’s your favorite number to perform these days? You’ve always been a high energy dancing queen, but you can also bring the drama.
I love me some CupcakKe! This new rapper; I had a pleasure to work with her,
and she is amazing.
I bet you werk that!
Yes, I love me some hairy daddies!
It’s a new cute space in Ridgewood, Queens, and the owner is amazing.
A night full of shows and fun! And also you can order food while watching the show!
What else is coming up?
Stay tuned, a lot of great things coming for the HAUS!
We’re right there with ya! Okay, in closing: what’s one thing the world may not know about MoMo Shade, but should?
MoMo Shade is a drag queen that will change your world.
Yaaaaazzzz thank you girl! I’m so happy for you and Aja and the Haus, you deserve your success!
Thank you, babe!
MoMo Shade and the Haus of Aja host Furry Fridays weekly at Hardware (6pm) and Fantasy on the second Thursday of each month at the Deep End (10pm). Click here for a full list of her upcoming gigs. MoMo can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.