Words: Alastair James; pictures: BBC
We have a winner! As we're sure most people are aware of by now, Kita Mean has snatched the crown of RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under. And despite the hard slog of the competition, the star says she's raring to do it "a million times over again!"
The New Zealand queen beat fellow finalists Art Simone, Karen from Finance, and Scarlet Adams to the crown after collaborating on RuPaul's song 'I'm a Winner, Baby'. There was none of the usual reunion shenanigans with eliminated queens or crowning of a Miss Congeniality... Even though queens unofficially voted Anita Wigl'it - Kita's co-judge on the Aussie show drag show, House of Drag - as Miss Congeniality.
Speaking to Attitude following her win, Kita talks about the finale, that amazing costume as well as dishing some advice for future Drag Race contestants.
Condragulations first of all! How are things?
I'm doing really well, thank you. I had a really intense day yesterday and today (Tuesday 22 June) has really been the first day I've been able to stop and have a couple of hours to myself and really understand the gravity of what's happened. It feels really amazing! I'm so happy and grateful I'm living this experience right now.
What was the first thing you did after finding out you won?
I cried. Poured more wine. I set off some fireworks and then I called my Mum.
How did she take it?
She took it really well. I actually told her I didn’t win, and she was about to throw a tantrum and then I told her I won. She cried and she was so proud of me, so that was special.
How did it feel being the last New Zealander there and then to win?
There are two vibes there. Being the last Kiwi was like all of a sudden, a lot of pressure. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win. I didn’t want to let New Zealand down. To have won it is the total flip to that. I feel so proud, and I feel like I’ve had every single person in this country message me to say how proud they are of me and that they’re sharing the win with me. I feel like this little town hero. It’s crazy!
How does it feel to be the first person to represent drag down under on a global stage?
I don’t think I’ve given it enough thought yet. It’s super exciting. I love doing drag so much, so all that really means is that I get to go, hopefully, on stages all around the world and meet people all around the world and represent down under. I would hate to be representing Australia and for Australians to be like: ‘what the f*** is that Kiwi doing?!’
What did the other queens say when you won?
Elektra [Shock] was there with me on the night, which was really cool. Anita [Wigl’it] was hosting a viewing party and she messaged me to say congratulations and then we met up later that night. She messaged me the next day to say: ‘You are one fabulously drunk slut of a winner!’ I was like: "Yep! That’s an accurate depiction of what I was last night!"
What was that last stage of the competition like for you?
It was so much fun. As I said on the show, I love singing, so it was so cool I got to do that. Because we had already done a singing challenge, I thought maybe we wouldn’t get to do it again. But I was stoked we got to do it again. When we got to perform, even though it was a lip-sync for your life, we weren’t doing it with anybody else. So, it felt like I was performing.
The whole episode I loved. I loved the look that I had. It was really cool for me because the part of the competition where you’d think there was the most at stake, I didn’t feel like that all. It was my favourite episode. I’m singing, doing a drag show wearing this fierce costume with wings! It was just a lot of fun for me, that episode.
Speaking of the costume – which was stunning – how did that come together?
The hair is from a designer in Australia. The base of the gown and bustle is made by a team in Thailand. And the wings are made in New Zealand, down in the South Island by a guy called the Techtonic Workshop. He’s made wings for me before. He’d made these golden metallic wings that I do a drag show too and it’s always been a showstopper, every time I perform.
When you have to do ‘best drag’ I thought what the highlights of my career are where I felt like I’ve absolutely served it. Those wings were the first thing I thought of. And I wanted to do white, for it to be fresh, clean, and new - like my rebirth into the world after Drag Race and taking off into the next stage of my life.
Was that the top four you’d imagined?
Yeah, it actually was. As soon as I walked in, I saw Art [Simone] and Karen [from Finance] there and thought they’d make it to the end. And when I started getting to know Scarlet, I thought she’d make it to the end. I could just see it a mile away.
I feel bad saying it - I didn’t think Elektra would make it as far as she did. I’m so proud that she did because she deserves it. I just thought that the structure of the show and the way it works, she would get knocked out for having dodgy wings and that sort of thing. I shouldn’t have underestimated the fact that her talent supersedes that.
How was the chat with RuPaul and Michelle?
It’s crazy how they have the ability to really penetrate your soul and understand you in a way that I’ve never really felt anyone do before. That was something I could never have pre-empted, that I would have that experience to be enlightened like that from someone who’s only met me recently. I felt like from that physical moment I did start to understand something about myself. It tweaked the way I think and the way I process thoughts when they come in and it’s totally changed the game for me.
And what advice would you have for future contestants?
I would say understand that everyone expresses things differently, but everyone is feeling the pressure. Try to be understanding if someone’s feeling sad, confident, or sassy. We’re all probably deep down feeling the same thing which is super nervous. And have fun! It’s going to be over in the blink of an eye and to this day I wish that I was still doing it. It was so intense, but I just want to do it a million times over again! I wish I could be in that werkroom doing challenges for RuPaul every day of my life!
RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
The Attitude Summer issue is out now.