Kita Mean defends RuPaul's shock decision bring Art Simone back
23 June 2021, 14:40 | Updated: 28 June 2021, 12:52
"It was a mistake to send her home"
The Kiwi queen became a fan favourite thanks to her fun, campy drag style but the inaugural Drag Race spin-off season, filmed in her native New Zealand, received sharp criticism from fans due to several controversies, most notably the decision to allow Scarlet Adams to continue to participate in the competition despite having previously performed in blackface.
Following her win on Saturday night, we caught up with Kita to find out a little more about how she prepared for the competition, what she really thought about Art Simone being brought back after being eliminated, plus Kita reveals the hilarious moment that she realised that she would be competition against her business partner Anita Wigl'it on the show.
POPBUZZ: Condragulations on your win! They film multiple endings, so you didn't know yourself until Saturday night. So tell me where were you when you found out?
KITA MEAN: I was at home. I was supposed to fly to Australia to watch it with all the other girls. And with the whole COVID thing going on at the moment, Sydney had a bit of an outbreak and I was advised that I shouldn't fly. I was in a serious funk. I was so depressed. At the last minute I was like, you know what, this is potentially going to be like the coolest night of my life, I'm not just going to let it slide by. So I invited anyone I could think that I would want over to my house to watch it, bought some pizza, bought some champagne, and then hired a party bus to bring everyone to the city to party afterwards. So I threw together a full event in less than 24 hours. It was the best night for so many reasons. I mean, for obvious reasons too, but it was the best night of my life, in so many ways. Well, for the parts that I remember.
PopBuzz: Amazing. Well, you're the first ever winner of Drag Race Down Under, which is such a historic moment...
Kita: It's nuts to think about.
PopBuzz: It really is! What's the reaction been like in New Zealand?
Kita: The reaction has been outrageous. People that I never would have thought would watch RuPaul's Drag Race are messaging me like, 'Hey, so proud of you, slay mama!' They're picking up all the fucking queer lingo! It's just the campest shit. I love it so much. It's been really cool to see that many people getting behind something like this. It's so cool to see people embracing drag on reality TV and being proud that a New Zealander is taking this title. It's relatively flippant and frivolous but people are so proud of it. They should be. Like, I get how monumental it is but [you'd think] for your every day Kiwis or everyday punters, they would just be 'huh, okay'. But no, they're really behind it.
PopBuzz: This season was full of plot twists and high drama, like Art coming back, Ru confronting Scarlet, and that mysterious letter! Did you have any sense of how wild this season was during filming?
Kita: I don't think so because I had nothing to compare it to! It felt wild but I was like, well, this is what Drag Race is like! But in hindsight, it's so funny watching everyone's critiques of it. They're like, what is this bloody show?
PopBuzz: The backlash to Art Simone coming back was a little ridiculous in my opinion. It was a mistake to send her home so early and I think Ru realised that.
Kita: That's what I think. That's the conclusion I've come to, that it made such sense without saying anything? It almost didn't need an explanation. She's got so much to show, that she should be there and that it was a mistake to send her home.
PopBuzz: The finale episode was great but the bit that got me was the interviews with Ru and Michelle. Or should I call them therapy sessions? They went deep with all the girls. What was that like? And did they send you a bill for their professional counselling services afterwards?
Kita: Seriously, they should have. They should offer professional counselling. I mean, no one would be able to afford it, but they should seriously offer it as a service. When you watch it from a distance, you think, 'Oh, they must have information and they've spoken to a psychiatrist in there and it's all produced'. But they touched on things that Ru literally just picked up about me. It's uncanny that she could penetrate and understand me in that way when, really, it has felt like no one has been able to do that in my life before. It's just uncanny that she can do that. It's gotta to be voodoo.
PopBuzz: My theory is that Ru has done a psychiatry or counselling course on the sly. Like you say, that level of knowledge and insight is spooky otherwise.
Kita: Yeah, actually, it's witchcraft. In fact, I saw something under her dress. I'm pretty sure it was a broomstick...
PopBuzz: Oh my!
Kita: And it had bristles!
PopBuzz: I'm interested in how you prepared for the competition, especially during the pandemic. How long did you have to prepare? I know the queens usually get a very short notice period.
Kita: Yeah, it was so quick. Again, I have nothing to compare it to so I don't know if we got less time than people would usually get. I hope we got less time because if that's the standard that they give people, I don't know how anyone comes up with anything. As soon as it was even on the cards that I might be going on to Drag Race - not even confirmed - I started sourcing trims and contacting designers and getting shit organised. If I hadn't have done that, I wouldn't have been ready in time. Especially in the world of COVID. New Zealand doesn't have a bevvy of drag goods, you know? We don't have all the platform boots, the ostrich feathers and glass rhinestones just sitting in the country. We have to get that shit in.
PopBuzz: The filming location changed at the last minute too. I read that you were supposed to film in Australia? Did that throw a spanner in the works at all?
Kita: Well, from our perspective, it was never that. We got told we're doing a show and it's in Auckland. I live in Auckland, so it's very lucky. But I had to pack it all down as if I was going to catch a flight and that was basically the instruction. That was basically out of fairness to make sure we all had the same physical space, weight and space constraints.
PopBuzz: Another rule about the competition is that you're not allowed to let people know you're going on the show. But surely as business partners, you and Anita Wigl'it must have had to tell each other. So, when did you have that conversation? Did you have to use coded language?
Kita: So it was definitely that. At that point in time, I did all of the admin for the company so I couldn't be off the grid. The business would just shut down. So I had to say, 'Hey, I have something that I need to do. It's personal, but I need to basically step back from everything. Do you think I could train you up to do everything while I'm away?' And Anita goes, 'Oh, girl, that's super awkward, because I'm not going to be available for those days.' I'm like, why wouldn't you be there? She goes, 'I'm not allowed to talk about it.' I'm like...have you had a really interesting email recently? She's like, 'Have you?' I'm like, you bitch! It clicked pretty quickly.
PopBuzz And then what? Were you just like, well, see you there?
Kita: Yeah, pretty much. Well, we're not supposed to talk about it but we had little bits of like, hey, I'll show you one of my little dresses if you show me one of yours. And funny thing is - and this proves that I'm a good friend - she shows me her sheep outfit but she's got the fucking horns backwards! I'm like, girl, your horns are pointing the wrong way, sis!
PopBuzz: Wow. You are a good friend.
Kita: I was also a wicked friend because, in hindsight, I regret telling her because I would have loved seeing them on backwards. I am a good friend, but I'm also wicked as hell.
PopBuzz: They've just started teasing season three in the UK, do you have any advice for the queens that are about to embark on their Drag Race journey?
Kita: Don't wear neon green. Michelle literally hates it. And just have fun. Enjoy the time. Be conscious of the fact that everyone finds it really heavy while you're doing the show, even if like some of the girls are better at hiding it, so just be kind. Although production will probably be like, shut up Kita, don't tell them to be kind!
This interview has been condensed for brevity and clarity.