Somewhat new to the scene, Shia Ho is already gobsmacking us with sharp, colorful looks and performances… and she’s about to start hosting a very important new weekly show in Manhattan!
Thotyssey: Hello Shia, thanks for chatting today! How is September treating you so far?
Shia Ho: Honestly, a lot better than August. I really hate humidity and heat (especially in drag), so I’m glad that Mother Nature finally decided to stop being homophobic.
Lol, agreed! So you have some stunning looks on Instagram… were you a makeup artist before you were a queen?
Nope, I’m self-taught. But I’ve practiced almost every day until I was confident enough to go out in drag. I still, to this day, paint a full face to try out new techniques and play around with different shapes / sizes, but not show anyone. I believe makeup should be ever-changing, so it’s important to change up your paint every so often. Recently, I painted a full face to put on my “Close Friends” story to get feedback from other queens and makeup artists.
It’s no wonder you’re craft is so polished when you’re such a young queen!
So where are you from originally, and were you always into fashion, performing, etc.?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but moved to NYC eight years ago. I’ve always enjoyed performing and doing theater growing up, but kind of lost that urge until I started doing drag in 2018.
Regarding fashion, I thought I wanted to get into the fashion industry when I first moved out here – working and interning for a few designers, here and there – but soon realized how underpaid and toxic the whole industry was / is. So I left, and pursued my career in tech.
In combination with working in fashion, and learning how to sew at nine years old (Thanks, mom!), I make most of my costumes for myself and other queens throughout NYC.
How did Shia debut as a queen in NYC?
I started off at “Drag Wars” hosted by Shequida. After my second performance ever, she asked me to be in “All Stars 3.” Let me tell you… many of the queens there hated me after that, since a lot of them have been performing for over a year without being asked to be on “All Stars.” But I think Shequida saw something in me. I’m honestly very grateful for her to give me that opportunity.
Shequida can definitely spot a star quicker than most! So how might you describe the “type” of drag you like to serve today?
I would describe my drag as “glamp” (“glamour” plus “camp”). I like to incorporate beauty and grace while keeping it satirical and light, because at the end of the day I’m just a cross dresser, lol! Since I’m very political, I like to incorporate some kind of political message in all my numbers and mixes while keeping it upbeat. But sometimes if a song is a bop, I just like to throw it down on stage and have fun. I also like to see who I’m sharing the stage with, and see what needs to be filled in terms of style of performance (the audience can only sit through so many ballads before they get bored). At the end of the day, I’m an entertainer. If you’re having fun, I’m also having fun… and that’s what I’m there to do.
About a decade ago, New York had a huge squad of popular Asian queens… but many have since moved, retired or elevated to Drag Race fame. I think we’re seeing a new close-knit wave of Asian-American drag in NYC forming right now, though! But would you also say that you’ve felt or heard about discrimination against Asian drag here?
Most definitely. Back in the day, Lucky Cheng’s mainly showcased queer Asian artists… but sadly, things have shifted and that is no longer the case. Since then, we haven’t had a drag show that was purposely built to showcase Asian talent.
In the last few years, we’ve noticed that many of the Asian artists were booked to fulfill a “diversity quota” – being told to perform “very Asian numbers” (e.g. numbers with stereotypical Asian accents, wear traditional Asian garments, etc.). We, especially Asian-Americans, are more than that. We weren’t all raised in a multilingual household, we don’t all wear kimonos, we don’t all watch anime, nor play video games.
This is why I started “SaSHEmi,” an all-Asian drag show that is purposely-built to showcase the diversity within the Asian community (including Pacific Islanders). I’ve always wanted to build a platform where all Asian performers can feature their art however they want, without any stereotypical boundaries. For this reason, I’m excited to have my sisters from the House of Gorge (Digna’s drag house) as my permanent cast members, and have special Asian guests to join us from time to time.
Those Gorge girls joining you on stage are Angel Au and DJ BaeJing! “SaSHEmi” premieres this Saturday at The Q. As far as I can remember, this will be New York’s first weekly all-Asian cast bar drag show. Tell us more!
For the opening night you’ll catch the three permanent cast members perform shenanigans on stage, but moving forward you can catch us plus a special guest, depending on the week. We already have an exciting lineup of special guests, and they will be announced very soon!
Sounds like a Can’t Miss! So lastly: what’s your favorite number to do right now?
I love anything Dua Lipa, but I have a big dance mix that I enjoy performing to get the crowd going. As of recent, I created a new Kill Bill (O-ren Ishii) mix that I will debut at “SaSHEmi”… which might be my new favorite mix!
Yazzz! Thanks, Shia!