A version of this article appeared on The Huffington Post
“I believe I represent the past, the present and the future of drag,” Violet Chachki said when asked why she deserved to be in the top three of Rupaul’s Drag Race season 7. It’s a bold statement, especially coming from a soon-to-be 23-year-old who started doing drag only three years ago. But there’s truth to it, at least enough to get Violet Chachki to this season’s Drag Race finale, airing Monday night on Logo.
“It’s crazy to think that I’m the Divine for a little gay boy out there,” Violet Chachki told us over the phone, referring to Drag Race‘s popularity, relevance and impact on the LGBT community and future generations. “The show not only is educating young people about queer history but it’s also creating a piece of that history.”
From the very first episode, Violet Chachki was a head-turner, coming down the runway in a reversible tartan jumpsuit that had the judges literally almost falling off their seats. Her fashion game only got fiercer as the season went on, with drag looks inspired by Thierry Mugler and Alexander McQueen. From latex dominatrix to bearded muse, Violet quickly garnered the respect of fellow drag style mavens, Raja and Raven, who most often than not declared Violet the top look of the week on their web series, Fashion Photo RuView.
But it’s not just that Violet Chachki is fashion-forward. There have been plenty of drag queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race with a killer sense of style. Violet’s runway looks were captivating because they were almost always inspired by the past. She may not be old enough to remember what old Hollywood glamour was like, but she sure can search for it online. RuPaul, herself, called Violet a child of the Internet.
“In this day and age there is really no excuse not to be polished,” Violet said. “Tumblr and Pinterest suck you in to a wormhole of visual inspiration. Whatever you’re looking for, you can type it in and find images and videos. And one photo leads to another link and then another. It’s what’s driving baby drag queens to get creative.”
Violet Chachki’s obsession with vintage glamour is shared by current artists such as Dita Von Teese and Lana Del Rey. Other season 7 contestants — Pearl, Max and Miss Fame — also aspired to this vintage aesthetic, but none of them did it more convincingly or with as much precision as Violet. And it’s made her a favorite among the excitable girls who tune in to Drag Race each week. Violet Chachki dresses how young women aspire to look like today: chic and sophisticated, as supposed to the traditional drag playbook involving the tacky and the camp.
“It’s not just about wanting to ‘look’ glamorous but about wanting to feel glamorous,” Violet said. “Sometimes it’s hard to exude confidence, so when women see that a man can do it, it rejuvenates them into thinking that it’s possible for them.”
Violet’s confident stance may have come off as shady, rude and bitchy to her fellow contestants on Drag Race. But it’s her self-assertive attitude that’s made her a memorable and fierce competitor.
“My character is very polarizing,” she said. “People either really love me or really hate me, two very extreme sides of the spectrum. And I like it that way.”
Violet doesn’t believe this disconnect is necessarily generational.
“Older people appreciate my references, and younger people are inspired by my confidence,” she added. That’s the thing about Violet Chachki. She brings something fresh to the drag ball with a wink to the past.
Violet’s appearance on Drag Race is not the first time that the unapologetic gender-bender has courted controversy and mixed views, however. She is rumored to have stolen former Drag Race winner Sharon Needles’ crown. A gallery in Violet’s hometown of Atlanta once censored provocative images by photographer Blake England depicting Violet’s untucked penis, as well as a photo by Jon Dean of her cum-spewing lips. Violet also once performed — out of drag — in a solo porn video.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything I’m ashamed of. I believe in being body positive and sex positive,” said Violet in a statement later provided by Logo PR.
One aspect of Violet Chachki that Drag Race viewers didn’t get a chance to see on TV was her aerial silks choreography, the rigorous performance art that takes drag into Cirque du Soleil territory.
“The [Drag Race] producers talked to me about bringing my silks, but they couldn’t guarantee that I would get to use them,” Violet said. Since contestants are only allowed to bring five suitcases to the competition, Violet felt she would be at a disadvantage if she brought an entire suitcase full of stuff she would never get to use. However, New York fans will get to see Violet on her aerial silks on Monday night at Stage 48 when she performs at the Drag Race finale viewing and coronation party.
So what’s the future got in store for Violet? The Drag Race alum will be releasing an EP this summer titled Gagged (she’s a fetish queen at heart). The music video for her first single, “Bettie” is expected on Tuesday, June 2.
“I’m not really a singer but I do have very distinct taste when it comes to music,” Violet said. “It’s more sexy talking and raspy vocals, dark and fetishy.”
The reason Violet wanted to record music was because she wanted to perform to her own songs. (Not that Lana Del Rey’s moody, cinematic music doesn’t do her live show justice — just watch below.) Maybe that’s where drag is headed next: queen as auteur with complete creative control. So when you go see Violet Chachki perform you know that everything from the staging to the styling to the music playing in the background stemmed from a vision of her own.
Images: Drag Official News