A living cartoon: Erika Klash

Dragula has gained a considerate amount of attention as of late, newcomers to the show were amazed at how far season two went. As new fans to the show, we certainly weren’t expecting to see drag queens munch on pigs brains! Yet the premise of the show was to be different and fight for the next drag supermonster, we caught up with fan favorite the anime fantasy Erika Klash!

Dradadventures: Who inspired you to get into drag and create Erika Klash?

Erika Klash: I’d been a RuPaul’s Drag Race fan since Season 1 and I fell in love with drag as a teen. As a feminine male queer person and as a playwriting student at NYU, I saw the opportunity to reclaim my femininity, and to be something of a one-person theater company. I got to see some Drag Race queens live when I was 20. Alaska and Mimi Imfurst blew me away. So once I turned 21, I starting going out in drag and doing amateur competitions. I knew from that point it would be a major part of my life for years to come. Now Erika is 4 years old and my career has made so much progress. The idea of Erika Klash being a living video game character/cartoon was there from the start but it has evolved a lot over these 4 years. Dragula has been a major part of my evolution over this past year!

DA: What was the scariest elimination challenge for you?

EK: Scariest was definitely the piercing because it was real body modification and it was my first extermination challenge. The hardest was actually the paintball, because it had to do with skill, not grit. My feeling on extermination challenges, though, is that a Drag Supermonster should be able to do any of them without fear (perhaps even eventually do them live for a crowd), so that’s the attitude I went into them with and that’s what I practice. And the thing about extermination challenges is, they will always make you stronger if you embrace them.


DA: Was the competition tougher than what you thought it would be?

EK: Absolutely. You can try to prepare for something like this, but it’s really just a head start on what looks/persona you will present. There is no truly preparing for this kind of show. You never know what they are going to throw at you, The days on set are grueling. You’re putting your entire life on hold for 9 weeks. You’re broke (Season 3 queens should definitely try to have savings).

You’re trying to make it as far as possible because it means more time for the world to get to know you. Every week there is a sense of impending doom and you’re trying to suss out who’s next to go. Add all that to the fact that I was in many ways a fish out of water on the show, and it’s tough. I didn’t plan on being up for extermination as much as I was, so I did think I’d have an easier time than I ended up having.

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DA: What was your favorite runway challenge?

EK: Probably the Rock+Roll floor show! I felt the most confident on that particular episode, because Filth is my favorite tenet of Dragula, and it was about performance, not fancy prosthetics (never really my interest).

I really busted my tail putting that look together, it felt like a great melding of my aesthetic to the challenge, and I made really strong performance choices during that floor show.


DA: What made you want to apply for such an extreme show such as Dragula?

EK: As much as I respect and admire what RuPaul’s Drag Race has done for the drag world, I had always felt like one of those artists that were left behind because of the show’s interest in the more glamorous, family-friendly side of drag. Not everyone wants to be the next RuPaul, and my aesthetic is as alternative as they come. The casting choices on Drag Race have become increasingly safe over time, but until Dragula, it was the only way for queens to get on TV.

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So I think everyone that’s been on Dragula knows this feeling of being left behind in some way or another, and that is why I tried to remind people that we all deserved to be there in episode 1. I like drag that is highly transformative, queer, confrontational, wacky, crazy, offensive, underground, weird, campy, etc. and Dragula’s emphasis on these qualities is what drew me to the show.

I wanted to be a part of that movement, learn from the Boulet Brothers, become a more realized drag monster, and put my own unique stamp on the world of Dragula/the world of alternative drag. In that way, my run on the show was more than successful, and I am so proud that what I’ve done on the show/with my career has inspired others.

DA: How would you describe your drag aesthetic?

EK: Erika Klash is a living cartoon. She’s inspired by all kinds of Japanese art styles (including video games, anime and Harajuku street fashion styles), with some punk and horror in there for good measure! I’ve always been a major fan of Italian horror cinema (the stylish, colorful, over the top films of Dario Argento are major influences). I love the countercultural intent behind many different Harajuku/J-fashion styles, and I try to meld that with the fundamental countercultural spirit of drag.

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DA: You have the kindest and sweetest personality on the show, do you feel the other competitors perhaps underestimated how far you’d go?

EK: I’m sure they did, and I am not particularly bothered by that, because I can understand why they’d think that. I was confident that I could take it pretty far because I was unique, I had drive and personality, and I had the potential to grow into a more realized drag monster, but I felt from Day 1 that the Boulets were ultimately going to be interested in queens that fit their mold a little better. I knew it would be an uphill battle for me aesthetically, and I think everyone else knew that as much as I knew that.


DA: Will the UK finally get the Dragula tour featuring season two queens anytime soon… (we’re seriously dying for this!)

EK: You will have to ask the Boulet Brothers about that! I don’t know anything about UK tour dates except that the Boulets have confirmed it is happening. If I did know anything about the UK tour I’d probably have to keep mum anyway! But I do have to say, both the Boulets and myself noticed how much support and love I have gotten from fans in the UK. They were touring the UK right after I got eliminated and they saw firsthand how sad people were. So I am hoping I get to tour there soon and work with Drag World UK at some point. The UK LOVES Dragula in general and we are really happy about that.


DA: Speaking of the UK, do you know much about the UK, are you a frequent visitor?

EK: I absolutely LOVE the UK and everything about it. I am a huge fan! I spent a semester abroad in London and did a fair bit of traveling around England. I also got to visit again in 2016 and did a show with the fabulous Meth and her whole Haus. My partner and I almost moved to London last year, actually (he had a job offer there). I’d really love to get a chance to meet more of my fans in the UK, and visit parts of the UK I haven’t seen yet (Scotland!) I’ve had people from all over say that they want me to come to their city!

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DA: If you had your time again, would you do anything different? How has your drag evolved from that series?


EK: Hindsight is of course 20/20, so there are always specific things about each challenge that I think about that could have better executed. The Cenobite look I did definitely needs a redux. However, I think the real problem I ran into was that for me, drag is not worth doing unless it’s MY drag. I didn’t want to be THEIR alternative, I wanted to be MY alternative. I like to think that as a result of this attitude, I helped broaden the idea of what a drag monster is beyond just the literal interpretation.

That came at a price in terms of the actual competition, however. So no, I didn’t want to be a “blonde” bimbo or channel American rockstars when everyone else was already doing that. That was the fundamental disconnect I was running into with the Boulets week after week. It’s their show, their criteria, but I wanted to do what I wanted to do. So I was disappointed when I got eliminated even though I understood why it happened. But that doesn’t mean I regret any of my choices.

The most important thing to me is my journey on the show. My journey is like none other because the monster was always there inside of me: the Boulets knew it and I knew it. That’s why they cast me. Unlike the other girls, though, I just needed to have it pulled out of me, and that’s definitely what happened. There is a whole new vision for what Erika Klash is now, and I’ve just been pushing myself to build new skills, experimenting, and living Drag, Filth, Horror, Glamour as a regular creative practice. My newer looks and performances definitely reflect this evolution!

For those who haven’t watched Dragula get your butt to Youtube where both seasons are sitting pretty to watch! Don’t forget to follow Erika on the following Social media to keep up to date on her dates and news!
Twitter:@ErikaKlash

Instagram: Erika Klash

 

 

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