Rochester’s Edward Popil left his 9 to 5 day job at a call center to be a full time queen alongside legendary sisters like Pandora Boxx and Darienne Lake… and soon joined the ranks of Legends herself! “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 7 star Mrs. Kasha Davis spills tea with Thotyssey about her time on the show, her thoughts on RuGirls past and present, her great success as a stage show queen, her triumph over alcoholism, pandemic living, and her upcoming return to the virtual stage.
Thotyssey: Hello Mrs. Davis, thanks so much for talking to us today! So, how is your Crazy Quarantine treating you?
Mrs. Kasha Davis: Hello, Darlings! I’m here in Rochester, NY with my husband Mr. Davis and our trusty dog MAX! This isn’t a popular answer, but honestly we are enjoying our time together and we are fortunate to have work! It’s from home and it’s not at all the same amount for me, but we are together and healthy… so what more can we ask for? We have been together for 17 years, and we have been given a very unique opportunity to spend 24 hours a day together for months! It’s not been perfect, but we are making the most of it.
And how is Rochester handling the quarantine and the mask situation? We’re doing pretty well here in NYC, but some of Our People on Fire Island aren’t respecting social distancing all that much.
Things are being socially distant and compliant in Rochester, for the most part. It’s the same situations where people get too excited to be together, and it makes the news.
You are one of the few famous, busy drag queens out there with a husband and kids. Do you think quarantine might be easier or harder for a family, as opposed to a single person?
I think it depends on the situation, to be honest. I’ve heard the good and the bad. My sister and her wife are loving the time as well, but they also both work from home… so to conduct a conference call with their kiddos running about is complicated, to say the least. I’ve also felt brokenhearted for people who are alone, lonely or suffering from isolation.
I think that’s one of the main reasons why I jumped right online, doing what I can with entertainment via social media: Story Time, digital drag, postings, interviews, cameos and lives. I felt it was my “duty” as an entertainer to help people feel connected, and give them a break from the stress.
I’m not sure how old your kids are, but what do you think about Trump wanting to send all the kids and teachers in the country back to the classrooms in September?
Our kids are now 26 and 28, and our youngest is getting married this year! Wooo hoooo! Melissa works in a children’s library and Jessica is a school counselor. So not only do I hear their concerns, but I too hear from our family members with kiddos. It’s a complicated time, and although we must plan it seems Miss Corona will dictate what happens when the school bell rings. Unfortunately we can’t plan like usual, so regardless of what that idiot says, we will see if anyone goes back when the time comes!
On to happier subjects: as of this writing you just finished a virtual appearance as Sophia in The Golden Gays NYC’s most recent virtual show, and you’ve done several other digital shows as well. How do you like digital drag?
I love any opportunity to entertain, and I try to say YES to as much as possible. Some things pay, some don’t, and some don’t reach a very large audience. But I feel that you absolutely never know who’s watching, and if I can share some love, laughs and positivity, I am going to do it!
Is it similar at all to your time on Drag Race, playing to an invisible at-home audience?
Digital drag performances are very much like filming videos or TV, and you have to imagine the reactions in your own mind. That’s not for everybody, but it’s fine by me!
Rochester drag has produced a number of Drag Race stars like yourself and your longtime sisters Pandora Boxx and Darienne Lake. Do you think there’s something specific about the drag scene of that city that’s made it so great and unique?
We are a team. Regardless of how often we see one another or throw shade, we are sisters and we will support each other in the end. Rochester has a long line of pageantry, with Miss Rochester being one of the oldest in the country. We have legendary queens like Aggy Dune and Keke Valasqeuz-Lord, and new exciting artists like Wednesday Westwood. I personally think there are two bars that challenged everyone to compete and step up: Marcellas and Muthers. Even if you were not on cast, you were welcomed to work your way up like family.
Your origin story has you born in Scranton, PA, studying to be a dancer, temporarily marrying a woman in your early 20s, working full time for many years in a call center and later discovering drag in Rochester (through the local scene and renown campy queens coming through, like Miss Richfield 1981) while marrying your current Mr. Davis! Do you think you needed to experience all that in the order to be what you are today?
PHEW! I’d add in being a stepdad and a recovering alcoholic, and then I’d answer yes… it’s all prepared me to be the LADY I am today. Life is a series of experiences that range between success and failure, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t believe in regret, and I’m so very grateful for my experiences because they help shape not only Mrs. Kasha Davis, but Ed, too! Who by the way, are the same person… and it’s become increasingly obvious to me as of the last several months that I am more comfortable allowing Ed to shine through while I’m in drag as MKD. That makes me really happy, because it means I;m feeling genuine and honest.
MKD, of course, was on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7. That received almost a bad rap in the beginning, but the cast has since come to be regarded as one of the more celebrated in the show’s history, I’d say. So many different types of success stories, from winner Violet’s high fashion burlesque, to Miss Fame’s makeup prowess, to Kennedy’s dance diva status, to Trixie’s music, to your own hilarious stage shows–
You forgot Katya! Talk about honest!
Oh, yes! Were you aware of all the talent in the room while you were there?
No… we thought Trixie was lousy, and look at her superstar and talent shine now! Let me share this story. One time, a promoter told me how they were such a fan and kept flattering me, etc. etc. And we got to the show, and they announced me as “Miss Katya David!” LOLOLOLOL! I think there is something special about everyone on this earth, and as for our season we had to come after the incredible Season 6. So frankly I think after it aired most of us worked our butts off to prove we had a place at the table.
I know the filming probably went by so fast and now seems so long ago, but do you have a favorite memory or moment from your time on the show?
There are so many. The one that comes to mind first is when I was told the studio was the same where the original I Love Lucy episodes were filmed. I believe in spirits, and when we filmed our promo shots in that room I truly felt Lucy’s energy–and it was a dream come true. Then we went to our dressing room and looked up at the Hollywood sign, and I felt like I was dreaming!
The final lip sync battle that ultimately sent you home against Kandy Ho on the fifth episode is still one of the show’s greats, I think! But why the hell wouldn’t Kandy just hug you back at the end of that?
She was a BITCH! No… honestly she was nervous too, I’m sure. I try not to look back, but when I do I think it’s fair to say it was a tough call. We both entertained.
You and so many of the RuGirls had all those great performing experiences starting with the grand finale of your season, then of course the years of touring afterwards. How much does it suck for the Season 12 girls that they’re still stuck at home, reading all these nasty / crazy fan messages, when this should be their time to really shine and deliver?
It’s going to be tough for them to build a momentum, but we are where we are as a world. Let’s be hopeful that people will be very excited to get out to shows… but until then, I’d say content content content! Post and entertain with what you have in your control.
[Drag Race] doesn’t guarantee “celebrity” and all that we think comes with it. This gig is a hell of a lot of work and commitment, which I’d say is why they call it the entertainment business. We must treat it like our own business. I am inspired by queens like Trixie, who seems to always have something new to promote. And look at Trinity, giving us incredible looks on Instagram. Anything is possible, and we all must focus on what we can control versus what isn’t happening. Trust me, after Season 7 I was falling into the shadows and I thought, “screw that! I left a lucrative career to do this, and I’m going to make people remember me one post, tweet and performance at a time!”
The fandom seems to get a bit more… intense… every year.
I’m so saddened by the fandom. I hope it’s just a weak attempt at shade, because it’s so hurtful… most especially to our queens of color. Death threats? Really? Over a drag competition!?
Have you experienced that toxic negativity from fans?
I was never in a position where I made enough waves, or had an overwhelming popularity where people were anything but nice to me. There’s the occasional Old or Basic comments… and in most cases I can agree, LOL! You know, my mother taught me to compliment people who bully you by recognizing something you like about them… for instance, their blouse or hair. Hey there I like your blouse! Shuts the fucker up immediately!
You were writing and creating films (Kasha Davis: The Life of an International Housewife Celebrity) and stage shows starring yourself and your drag sisters before Drag Race, and have produced many successful onstage productions since (Bosom Buddies, Big Wigs, There’s Always Time for a Cocktail, etc.) What’s a major thing that you’ve learned about your own writing process, and performing your own words, over the years?
During the writing process for Cocktail, a director challenged me time and time again by asking “who cares?” And boy, is that powerful. We all have so much in common in the world, and it becomes an important question because he wanted me to be sure it was helpful for the audience to hear: was it helping the story, and or can it help them? As I look back at the countless videos on YouTube or even our current Story Times that Mr. Davis and I do Live every Wednesday and Sunday, I ask myself, “Who cares? Is today’s book / message going to help someone feel empowered, seen, not alone… or will it touch on anger or fears about what we are going through with Covid and the social injustice surrounding BLM, and give the audience a moment of positivity? I hope so.”
Do you have a favorite funny memory of something going wrong during a live show?
One time during a Big Wigs show with Aggy Dune, I was backstage (behind a thin curtain) and she was lip syncing a ballad. I thought “Oh, I have time… let me Febreeze my costumes for the following night!” Well I can’t spell the sound, but imagine a Febreeze bottle squirting sound, stealing her scene!
As far as New York City goes, you’ve done several shows here at our own Laurie Beechman Theatre, among other places. Not to put you on the spot, but do you have any favorite New York queens, past or present?
So many have been on Drag Race, and we know them and love them. I love Sugga Pie Koko; she and I have stayed in touch on Facebook. And of course, Marti Gould Cummings! She’s working her butt off to save all NYC!
Pearl and Ru don’t get along. That was apparent during Season 7, and it continues. I thought the video was funny, given their obvious tension. She’s a talented and passionate person, and she knew it would get attention. Smart girl.
And, do you have any tea on the sudden social media disappearance of Ru?
I have no tea. Maybe she was taking makeup and sewing classes, LOL!
What was your experience like filming Hurricane Bianca 2?
Incredible. Bianca is the most gracious, successful queen to come off Rupaul’s Drag Race, and she is generous to me… not only with HB2, but also giving me the opportunity to open for a bunch of her last tour! No one better! Love her!
You’ve always been very honest and inspiring when discussing your journey as a recovering alcoholic. Does it remain a challenge for you stay sober in a biz that’s still built on selling drinks?
One day at a time! I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic, and on July 13th I had five years [sobriety]. I’m pretty certain I won’t drink tonight, and if I do what I’ve learned tomorrow I can probably say the same. If things get really intense, I leave the room. What other people drink is none of my business, and I know that as an entertainer I need to encourage people to spend money… and I’m fine with that. Everyone has their own journey.
Deven is beyond incredible in terms of talent, and she is close to angelic as a human. I love her. She loves animals more than I do, but in my sobriety I have learned to connect more with nature and other living things besides myself and my ego! I could do without the snake experience, but that’s from old fears. We had a great time filming Pets 4 Pets, and had great hopes for its success: but low and behold, it lasted one season. I look forward to being in the same room with Deven again; her energy is pure positivity.
Now on to coming attractions! You and sis Darienne Lake return to the digital stage on July 23rd (9pm EST) for Full… of Pride on the Digital Pridefest! You two always put on an incredible show… what’s in store this time?
Pride songs we both love, camp and shade! We will be in my basement for this show, and I think we might just have a surprise ending. Still in the works–you know drag, last minute! I love Darienne, and her lip sync is truly second to none. Why wasn’t she a lip sync assassin!?
What else is coming up for you?
I have absolutely nothing on my calendar except Story Time live with MKD on Wednesdays at 4 and Sundays at noon. I’m writing some more children’s music to be recorded when we can, and I’m going to be on socials as much as possible!
The age old question: when are we gonna see you on a Drag Race All-Stars season? They’ve already reused, like, five girls… we want our Kasha!
Me too! Let’s all write to World of Wonder and tell them to put me on soon!
And finally: what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when Miss Corona leaves the building?
Travel! Get to NYC and shop and see shows! I miss a museum and the beach! AHHHHH the beach! I also miss hugs. Big one for you! Much health and positivity!!
Thanks so much, Kasha!