Post Mortems

RuPaul's Drag Race: Soju Explains How She Set Herself Up for Failure

RuPaul's Drag Race Soju

At the risk of birthing yet another RuPaul’s Drag Race conspiracy theory, doesn’t it kind of feel like the odds were against Season 11 hopeful Soju from the start?

Think about it for a minute: Not only was she paired with Pork Chop — the franchise’s first-ever eliminated queen — in Thursday’s season premiere, but she also unknowingly picked the same workstation formerly occupied by Vanessa Vanjie Mateo last year. Even Soju acknowledges, “I was setting myself up for failure, girl.”

Below, the season’s first eliminated contestant discusses her short-lived experience in the Ru-niverse, including how she really feels about Silky Nutmeg Ganache’s Untucked criticisms.

TVLINE | I won’t offer my condolences on your elimination. Instead, congratulations on making it to the show.
Thank you so much. It doesn’t really feel like I went home first.

TVLINE | Let’s start with a medical update: How’s your tendinitis doing?
My tendinitis is just something I have to live with my whole life. Anyone who has chronic tendinitis knows it doesn’t go away, you just have to keep stretching and trying to prevent it by not stressing it out too much. It’s not flaring up right now, which is good. I get to wear heels when it doesn’t flare up, so I’m having a good time right now.

TVLINE | That’s good. What about your cyst — do you regret disclosing its location?
[Laughs] When that word came out of my mouth, in that moment, I was like, “What the f–k did I just say?” But I came backstage during Untucked and they give you those cute little cocktails. As soon as I saw that the girls were having fun and joking around about it, it put me in a good place. So I was like, “Whatever. I said what I said, and I’m just going to go with it.” Now I’m OK.

TVLINE | I’ve always wondered: How strong are those drinks?
Some drinks are stronger than others. But I’m not going to lie, I also drank some of other people’s drinks, too. [Laughs] I was really nervous!

TVLINE | Well, I feel like they jinxed you by pairing you with Porkchop.
OK? I didn’t see what the other girls did for the mini challenge, so I didn’t know there were other queens there. When I saw Porkchop come out, I thought, “Oh, maybe everyone’s doing it with Porkchop.” And then I watched the episode and was like, “Oh my God, I was the only one who worked with her!” They also didn’t tell me that the workspace I chose belonged to Vanjie last season — so I was just setting myself up for failure, girl.

TVLINE | Speaking of Vanjie, do you wish you’d taken her advice about the silhouette?
Yeah, for sure. I picked a silhouette I was familiar with. Before we started, I practiced sewing a mermaid gown with a stretch fabric. But when I got Kim Chi’s luggage, I was like, “OK, two Koreans. I need to give them volume.” In my head, that’s all I was thinking about. I wasn’t trying to listen to other people. When you start to question yourself, that’s when things can go wrong.

TVLINE | I don’t even think it’s fair to eliminate someone on the first episode. It’s a lot to get used to!
OK, well maybe you should talk to the producers!

TVLINE | Will you still review the rest of the episodes this season, or do you feel like you’re too close to the situation?
I’ll definitely continue. I have more insight now, and I’m more educated about how the show is. I was a little naive before. It was just a viewer’s opinion. I want to keep doing the reviews, but there will be a little twist now that I’ve seen how it works.

TVLINE | Well, I can’t say I ever expected to hear “The Best of Both Worlds” on this show.
Oh my gosh. Miley Cyrus has so many amazing songs. How did they even get permission from Disney to do that? As a drag queen, it’s not the kind of song I do, and it’s definitely not the kind of song Kahanna does. So it was a challenge, but we both had a strong lip sync that was very different from each other. We stayed true to our individual styles.

TVLINE | I thought I knew that song, but you two were pulling out lyrics I’d never heard before.
[Laughs] Honestly, me neither!

TVLINE | What did you think of Silky Nutmeg Ganache saying that “it shows” how long you’ve been doing drag.
I actually think she’s right. I really am a baby queen, and I think it showed. That’s one of the lessons I learned: As much as you view yourself as a drag queen, there’s so much to learn, and you can only learn from experience.

TVLINE | Lastly, I know you were worried that young gay Korean viewers might be discouraged by your early loss. What has the response been?
I’ve been getting a lot of messages, even from private accounts without faces. Some people made accounts just to message me, because they’re not out and they don’t want to be caught. I’m getting emotional just talking about it, but that was me. I was that kid in high school. I was the kid who saw Margaret Cho on TV and got inspired. No matter what happened on the show, I know that I’m making a difference just by being present on TV and being unapologetic about who I am. So I can’t be sad. I’m really happy.

Your thoughts on Soju’s elimination? The season’s new crop of queens? Whatever’s on your mind, drop it in a comment below.

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