On Point With: Haireola Grande

This fabulous Fur Queen broke through as a contestant in the Ultimate Drag Pageant, and returns to her roots this week as an All-Star! Plus she’s got some other exciting gigs on the horizon. Thotyssey gets the T from this Dangerously Hairy Woman, Haireola Grande!

Thotyssey: Hello, Haireola! Thanks for talking with us!

Haireola Grande: Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure to be talking to you! I’ve made it a drag goal of mine to have that underline on your posts. So this is super exciting! Thank you!

The pleasure is all mine! How was your weekend?

It’s been a great one–a bit more low key than in recent ones, but I guess I needed it.

A battery recharge is required from time to time. Were you able to see the Drag Race Season 10 premiere?

Absolutely! I think we’re in for a really explosive season! For the most part, they all seem well put together with a lot of personality! Lots of talent this season, and it seems they all really know what they’re doing. Of course, I’m rooting for our NYC girls!

You know what really bothered me, though… when Michelle “called out“  Dusty’s signature makeup so early. That was a bullshit moment.

Couldn’t agree more! If we were five episodes in and it was all Dusty did, then sure it’s warranted, but doing something different than most, showing other types of makeup–and it being her signature–it just was almost down right rude.

RuPaul has gotten criticism recently for talking about who she wouldn’t allow to compete in the show. Much has been made about her comments in that respect regarding trans women – she prefers a situation where visibly cis men present a “traditional” female illusion each week–but by extension she would then also exclude bearded queens from that formula. Would you sacrifice your aesthetic (i.e. shave) for a shot on the show, or would you rather wait for Ru to open her mind?

Oh, so we’re getting right to it! I’d rather wait for Ru to open her mind a bit than sacrifice my own aesthetic. I understand that at a certain point perhaps, a performer’s career can get stagnant and Ru opens doors. But I like being bearded, and showcasing my chest hair. I have wanted to maybe shave and see what I’d look like, but that’s for me.

As far as Ru, she should not have said what she said–especially because of where she came from! I understand and appreciate it’s her show and she can have her rules and requirements, but I guess I thought she knew better.

We all did, but hopefully she’s learned a bit from this fallout.

Now, on to you! Where’s your hometown, and what were you into growing up?

I’m from Long Island originally, so I’ve been popping into the city since my teenage years! My interests have kind of remained the same. I’ve always loved entertainment and the arts. I’ve always loved singing and listening to music. It’s hands down my favorite thing, just ask anyone I work with. I think it evokes so much emotion and memory. I still really enjoy going to concerts, seeing movies or binging television series–I’ve always loved being able to be transported into stories. I’m also a huge fan of Harry Potter and Disney, as well as other fantasy / magic related narratives.

Fantastic! And how was Haireola born?

Season 8 of Drag Race–that was the first season I watched live, out and about on the town/ After witnessing Bob’s story and her ultimate win I decided, “Well fuck! I want to have that type of fun, too!”

I was dating someone who had experience doing makeup and performing; so naturally I got into drag a couple of times serving looks, and then started performing a little over a year ago. Though we’re no longer together, he is my Drag Momma. We still hang out and bounce ideas off each other.

It’s a bit silly to say out loud, but I think in some way I feel like my path was always leading me to become a drag artist. What I love about life are the things I’m doing now, which is kinda kismet.

You’re a hairy bearded queen, but from what I’ve seen you’re not doing, like, hot messy drag. You’re a classy showgirl! Is that accurate?

I’d say so! Thank you! She definitely can be messy, it depends on how much she has drank! I think where I am now in my drag career, I’m performing things that resonate with me. That tends to be more comedy, Broadway, and empowering ballads. Things that make me happy! I didn’t go to school for music or performance, so a lot of what you see is me and my gut. I of course did musicals and was In choirs, but we’re talking high school. I try to go out as much as I can indragnito to learn all I can from my sisters.

What’s your favorite number to do these days?

A bit cliche if I do say so myself, but “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman has been so incredible and empowering to perform. As a bearded queen, I identify with it and I have so much fun with it!

How did you wind competing in a cycle of the West End’s Ultimate Drag Pageant?

I wanted to challenge myself and get some exposure, as well as have a sisterhood. People don’t realize that’s what it’s all about–not the hokey pokey! I was an alternate for Cycle 4, and then apparently someone dropped out. I had a moment’s notice to get all my weeks ready, but I did it and am so thankful and proud of myself! I’ve met a lot of incredible friends and family from that pageant.

You’ll be returning to the West End for the All-Stars season starting this Thursday! 

I’m ecstatic to be asked back! It’s another experience for me to be creative, push myself, learn and turn it out week to week. The lineup is quite stacked, and we all do different types of drag, so it’s going to be a really intense season!

Good luck! 

Also, this coming Saturday (March 31st), you’ll be hosting the one-year anniversary of the “Bear Milk” party at the Deep End in Ridgewood! You have a history with that party, right?

Yes! I’m actually Bear Milk’s resident queen! I personally love the Deep End. It is such an amazing, inclusive space, and the owners Jorge and Jon could not be nicer. They’re beautiful humans!

What do you think bear milk actually tastes like?

You should come to the event and find out for yourself. It’s quite tasty!

And then on Tuesday, April 3rd, you’ll be hosting your first solo show: “Nipple Play” at Rockbar

That’s right!! I’m so thankful for the opportunity! I’m finalizing the set list now, and it’s turning into a real cute evening of some of my favorite mixes, games, alcohol and of course Nipple Play!

Anything else on the horizon to report as far as gigs, projects, Tupperware parties, etc?

No Tupperware Parties on the horizon. But other than All-Stars, I’ll be a guest host with  Diana Carfire at Albatross for Post Brunch Bingo on April 22nd. And I will be hosting Escandalo at Trophy Bar on April 28th!

Excellent and amazing! Okay, last question: what is the most amazing Haireola trivia fact ever?

She can lick her elbows!

And that’s why you’re so popular! Thanks, Haireola!

Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Haireola Grande’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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