From college poetry slams to the Ultimate Drag Pageant to a Broadway-in-Brooklyn revue, Arya Klos’ drag journey has been truly unique.
Thotyssey: Hello Arya, thanks for chatting with us today! So, how was your first month of 2022?
It’s been a fun start for sure… I entered the year with a new weekly show that I love, and a wonderful two year anniversary of our two week lockdown.
Right!? Can you believe that this is still a thing?
Oh, I remember entering January 2020 thinking, “this is the year I really kick off my drag and get Arya out there.” And right as we wrapped up the Ultimate Drag Pageant (RIP West End Lounge), at the end of February, I was ready to hit the ground running. So, my timing was great.
Ain’t that always the case!
Where are you from originally, and what were the things you were into growing up that may have led you down the drag path?
Ah yes, the flashback origin story! Picture it: Long Island in the 90s. You know, somewhere that’s green — like Levittown. I was always involved in something creative, bit of an overachiever, stubborn personality… obviously traits no queen has, haha! But it was actually after graduating college that gave way to Arya Klos.
She was born at a Slam Poetry competition at my university, when they pulled me back for an Alumni Slam (where the previous and my final grad year, I had ended my piece on slut culture by unraveling my infinity scarf — yes, it was that time — full of condoms into the audience), so I obviously had to do something “more” for the return. Arya Klos made her debut performing a slam poem titled “As a Drag Queen…” which tackled feminist issues from the perspective of a man dressed as a woman.
So your drag was political from the get-go.
Well, it did feature the verse, “where she was silenced for using the word ‘vagina’ in a discussion about a woman’s right to choose, it’s a lose lose / she couldn’t use the word c*nt because half of Congress might have thought their name was called.”
What are the circumstances that brought Arya to NYC, and eventually competing in UDP?
I kinda knew I would always end up living in the city; it’s one of the few places I can do my job of helping some of the biggest erections around. That is, I’ve worked as an architect since graduating, and the crazy hours of that landed me a few drag shows after work to relax… and I was in awe of the talent and power of the queens. So eventually I knew Arya had to come back out. Though as we said, my timing was shit. So right after UDP, Arya went back on the back burner for 2020, because I didn’t want to add to the clamor of all the other queens who depend on drag for their living while they fought for digital audiences.
You know, there’s apparently another drag architect: Vanity Ray!
Oh, I wonder how many erections she’s tackled.
That’s a drag competition I’d pay to see!
So how did you enjoy your Ultimate Drag Pageant experience, and who was in your group?
I had a blast challenging myself each week. I planned all the looks and the numbers and was sewing every week, most times right up until leaving my apartment, just trying to get the look finished. We had a great group: there was Jupiter Doll, Islaya, Acacia Forgot, Ruby Monroe, Janae SaisQuoi.
All amazing queens! Are there any other particular drag folks in NYC that inspired you?
She’s now a dear friend: Sutton Lee Seymour. It was her shows and talent that influenced me the most. Half the time, I’d think of a new mix and the bitch has already done it. She’s a comedic genius, amazing performer and wonderful person.
So now, how might you describe what a typical Arya performance is like today, for the uninitiated?
I always like to fuse a bit of comedy, pop and Broadway into most of my mixes. I wanna get you in, make you laugh, and send you home happier. Sometimes we’ll hide a little reveal or six… if I’ve sewn the outfit, haha! I’ve begun incorporating some live singing, especially on Sunday’s for the “Early to Mid-Late Matinee” show at the Rosemont. If you haven’t seen a show yet, I encourage you to get Kloser.
That’s right, an interesting thing happened with you, post-lockdown: you became a Brooklyn queen! How did that happen?
Well it all started with the Bushwig March back in June of 2020, during the height of BLM and queer rights protests / marches. I volunteered to hand out supplies and hold the industrial sized-hand sanitizers, and figured I might as well go as Arya (matching face mask to the outfit, naturally). Since I live in Brooklyn, I began meeting more and more people, and really developed my Brooklyn family all stemming from that day, in reality. From late nights at HappyFun Hideaway with DJ Ickarus, to eventually more late nights at The Rosemont.
Tell us about “Early to Mid-Late Matinee,” Sundays (8pm) at The Rosemont. This seems like a unique show for Brooklyn!
They thought I was crazy, and maybe I am — after all the times I’ve performed my poppers mix — for wanting to bring showtunes and live singing to the Rosemont. But after sneaking in some numbers while hosting Drag Race viewings, we built the audience. Najee, Rosemont bartender and now my drag daughter known as Baby Hairs, co-hosts with me each week with a new theme.
Oh, the House of X is sensually organic, beautifully decorated, and always a great night of dancing and shows. I am there Fridays as VIP hostess, serving looks and making sure you find a good place to sit… at a table, that is. We have rotating parties, so best to check the website for upcoming parties. Just last week, we had a visiting DJ group that does Burning Man.
By the way, speaking earlier of Drag Race… any Season 14 favorites to win?
It may be too early to tell still, but I’m keeping an eye on Kerri Colby with some of these looks.
Def! And lastly, a random pop culture moment: Adele wanting to postpone her Vegas residency allegedly because it isn’t up to her standards yet: ridiculous, or admirable?
I’d say admirable, because if she went through and didn’t like it, it would show. I’ve scrapped entire setlists moments before a show because I didn’t think it was right. You always want to put forth the things you are proud of. I mean, to parallel it to another performance current event: swings. I’ve gotta say, some of the best Broadway shows I’ve seen is when the swing or understudy gets to shine, because they’re going to give it 110%.
Long Live the Swings! Thanks, Arya!