INTERVIEW | Kasha Davis
It’s early evening when my call is connected with Mrs. Kasha Davis. She is in balmy Palm Springs, I am, in contrast, sat in my office on a grey Sunday evening – and it’s raining. For 40 minutes we talk – and just like that the storm clouds above London part and make way for the most perfect spring evening.
Meet Mrs. Kasha Davis, one of Ru’s gals. She was in series seven and is one of drag’s more, say I shall, old school drag ladies. She is Joan Collins head to toe, a natural singer and has a razor wit that could handle any heckler – it’s just how I take my drag. She’s currently touring the US, but she’s about to bring her show, There’s Always Time For A Cocktail to the UK.
We settle down to talk ex-wives, the power of RuPaul and being locked in a hotel room for two days.
Where is the craziest place you’ve been so far? Where have you been most well received?
Oh, my gosh, well, you know, I’ll never forget. Bianca Del Rio told a bunch of us, those of us that would listen, early on, during the crowning of Season 7, that you’re going to be surprised at how gracious everybody is and how kind and how they really want to make sure you have a good time, and that is absolutely been the truth. It’s been wonderful everywhere. One of the craziest and the most well received and a funny place was, honestly, back in my hometown in Scranton, Pennsylvania. For the first time, I felt like, ‘wow, I’ve made it’. I was on the front page, and people from my childhood and grade school all the way through college came out to see it. I was just like, ‘god, this is hysterical’. My mom’s friends were like, “Do you have real boobs?”
Are people coming out of the woodwork from your past? Are they kind of loving it because you’re famous right now?
Well, you’re very kind, saying that I’m famous. I’m one of these characters who comes on when the lead needs a break. It’s been fantastic, and you know, a lot of Facebook connections with your friends from high school that maybe you didn’t, you weren’t sure you wanted to be friends with again. It’s funny how some of the bullies who called me fairy or this that and the other, are like, “Oh, you’re doing a good job.”
Or my dad seeing me on the front page, I said, “Are you coming to the show?” He said, “No, Eddie, but you look good, you look good.”
Is that good enough for you?
That is praise enough, that is just fine.
Tell me, what’s the best thing about being Mrs. Kasha Davis?
Oh, well, so what I’m so fortunate to be able to do is to take my life story and bring it out to the cabarets. I get to sing and fancy myself this cabaret star, because I went to school for theatre, and I get to portray people who really made an influence on my life. There’s a bit of my mother, my grandmother, and some of my old Italian aunts’ humour, and I get to share that with the world. But most importantly, I get to give just a little bit of somebody who they can look to that is married, making a home and a life for themselves, has kids, and give another example of a life that you can lead in our gay world.
Do you have kids?
I do, well, I have two gorgeous stepdaughters. They’re now twenty-one and twenty-four, so I wouldn’t call them kids anymore.
When my husband and I got together, he didn’t tell me for a while when we were dating that he had children. For me, when I found out, I was jumping for joy, because my ex-wife and I didn’t have kids, and we got divorced simply because, I mean, let’s face it, she was a size 12, I was more a 16, it just wouldn’t work. At that point, it was a dream come true. Now I get to get this little hiatus from the kiddies and look forward to the future when they’re going to be little grandkids around. I mean, could you imagine? I get to be Mrs. Kasha Davis with grandchildren.
It’s going to be amazing, especially if you can incorporate them into your tour or something.
I know, I just think …
Their delicate little fingers can sew up all your things.
That’s right. There are so many sequins around the house, I’ll have a whole new gown. They’ll be picking them up, and we’ll make it a game. My mother used to put me out into the yard and say, “Okay, now Eddie, go around and pick up all the sticks.” I used to think, ‘oh, this is such a fun game’. Now I realise, she used her children as slavery. So I can’t wait with the grandkids.
So you had a wife and your now husband had a wife as well?
You were both in straight relationships, and then what happened? Did you kind of just burst out of the closet? It’s amazing that you’ve ended up together, isn’t it?
It really is, and you know, what’s so wonderful about the entire experience is that we both grew up around the same time frames in, you know, the seventies and eighties, where in the US, it was very much so, you lived a closeted life. There were no gay people, and if you were, you were just kind of like in the closet. It just wasn’t very accepted, especially in the small towns that we grew up in. Both of us really essentially married our high-school sweethearts, and then tortured, we were tortured. Ended up realising in time that this obviously wasn’t fair to ourselves, but certainly not to our wives.
So really we were both sitting and dreaming of this life that we wanted to have, like we had with our ex-wives, with a home and the kids, but with a man. It was time to be honest with ourselves. I prayed for this Prince Charming, and there he was silently praying for the same thing, and there we were. Now it’s ironic how many similar situations we’ve had growing up, but it’s nice to have some similarities there that we really were both dreaming of the same thing.
Was there quite an adjustment period from living with a woman to living with another man? Or did you take to it like duck to water?
Well, it’s funny you should say that, because watch what you put out there. I have been walking around as Mrs. Kasha Davis saying, “I’m a celebrity housewife,” and I am a housewife now. I’m very fortunate, you know, my husband has a fabulous job in technology and stuff that’s above my head, and I take care of the home and worry about what we’re getting the kids for their birthdays and stuff. I actually am very close with their mom, and we would shop for prom gowns together, or this that and the other, and I go and do a drag show on the weekends.
I’m so fortunate that I can kind of emulate the same lifestyle that I portray as Mrs. Kasha Davis, where I’m cleaning the house and working on that damn woodwork and cleaning up after the kids and the dog, and then on the weekends, I’m on stage, sharing my favourite divas with the world.
Am I getting this right, you auditioned a lot for RuPaul’s Drag Race, is that right? Every season, up until the seventh?
Every single season, correct. All seven. You know, I’m relentless, I don’t give up. You could put anything in my way, and I’m not going to give up. That’s just the way I was brought up. I knew, especially when I saw my sisters from home, Pandora Boxx and Darien Lake, getting cast on the show, I thought, ‘of course you’re going to have me at some point’.
At the first season, it wasn’t to audition as a solo, you were to be a duo. I was auditioning as Aggy’s (Dune) assistant. We sent in our tape, and we sent in the envelope with the information, like all the forms you had to fill out. We filled it full of feathers and sequins and glitter, because we wanted them to remember us.
Can I just say as someone who’s worked in an office who’s had those kind of things, it is possibly the most annoying thing ever.
Oh, it’s terrible.
It explodes in your face, and you’re like, what the fck am I doing now? My desk is ruined for the day.
Not only is the desk ruined, probably any chance of them watching our video is ruined, because they’re like, ‘fck them, they’re not going to get in the show, put it in the garbage’.
So, That was Season 1 out of the way. Season 2..
Of course, every time you do drag, hopefully you’re learning something new and you’re getting better and you’re working on your craft. It is an art. I was desperate for trying to give them what they wanted, you know, what I thought they wanted. It’s not as easy as you think to just be yourself.
And that’s ultimately what they want, isn’t it, just you to be you?
Yes, and then what they truly want to do is help you make that even better, whether it’s through some of their suggestions or just through the experience itself.
So was there that point where you ever thought, oh, sod this, screw these bitches, or could you see yourself on that show?
I definitely am one who, I like to think I’m intuitive, and in my mind I was like, you have to kind of envision your success. If there’s something that you want, you put your mind around it.
Here I was, forty-four years old at the time, faced with, “you’re going to lose your job, if you keep taking time off” – and I had a great career; or you can go live your dream. So I dove in the pool and did it.
Was it everything that you imagined it to be? In reality, how many days were you actually filming? Were you there for weeks, or days? I mean, how does it actually pan out?
I was there for a couple of weeks, and you film twelve to fifteen hour days. It’s gruelling. There really is so much that they need to get from you in order to make that episode. You can’t imagine, so as a kid, I had this dream of Hollywood and what I wanted to experience someday. I had planned, I was going to be on the “I Love Lucy” show. Lo and behold, during the audition process, I had mentioned to the producers, that was my dream. They said, “You know, Kasha, we’re not exactly sure, but ironically enough, I think that we’re filming on the set, on the studio where the original ‘I Love Lucy’ pilot was filmed.”
We get there, and not only is the Hollywood sign in plain view up in the mountains, but right there is this giant plaque that says, “This is where the original set of the episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’ were filmed.” As I was standing on the sound stage, doing some of the promo stuff, I was just this surreal moment of like, ‘oh, my god, I don’t even necessarily care what happens, this is such a dream come true’. I’m on the set with this giant light that’s the size of a vehicle that’s facing me, and I’m being directed by somebody in a chair that looks like the regular director’s chair. I’m like, oh, my gosh, this is really happening.
Is it true they lock you in your hotel rooms at night?
Oh, absolutely. You just are not allowed to interact until you are on set altogether. They keep you separate, so for two days, I was in a hotel room, duct-taped in and unable to come and go. I couldn’t go on the balcony.
You can’t go on the balcony?
No, so when I did one time, because they said to me, oh, TMZ is going to be out in the bushes or across the street, and they’re going to want to see so they can spill. I’m like, ‘nobody knows who I am. I said, screw this, I’m going on the balcony’. I got yelled at. Somebody from somewhere was like, “Kasha Davis, get back in your room.”
There were spies!
They were spying on us. I thought, okay, well, fine, you know, we signed all this stuff saying they can film at any time, but I thought, I’m going to search this room. There’s got to be a camera in here somewhere. Because the night before, I thought, I’m a fancy lady, I better shave my legs and ass because you never know, what if they do a naked thing. I’m standing in the mirror, like bent over, naked, in the hotel room, thinking, nobody can see me. Of course, I don’t think anybody did, but I went home, and it was like, what if somebody saw that?
That is definitely for untucked… That’s kind of like a RuPaulXXX.com thing!
Right. Nobody wants to see that, Kasha shaving her hairy ass.
You’re famous, for your catchphrase, “there’s always time for a cock—tail.” But you are sober, right?
I am. Some people are like, well, now what? It really became too much, so it was time for that to really make some changes in my life, and really, I’m so glad that I did make the change.
How long have you been sober for?
We’re coming up on just ten months, so still under a year.
Were you sober on the show?
No, no. Oh, no. I did not deny myself a good time, and I certainly encourage it. I mean, a big part of my job is to come to a nightclub and make sure people are enjoying themselves. I just made sure that I didn’t just enjoy myself at the club. I did so every chance I got. It got in the way. Let’s just say that.
Often times addicts jump from one thing to another, so I go right to caffeine and shopping.
I got a lot of new things
Okay, so let’s talk about the look. I’ve got to say, it’s very Dame Joan Collins. Is there an eighties diva in you?
Well, I mean, listen, my mother was obsessed with Joan Collins. That’s like the biggest compliment that you can give me. My mother had the Dynasty suits with the big shoulder pads and the beading on it. I thought that was so glamorous. We would sit and watch Dynasty together as a child, and I remember watching Joan Collins, my mother was like, “That’s a lady.”
It’s definitely that eighties kind of thing. I still follow Joan now, to this day, just to see what type of things she’s doing and she’s pushing with regard to her beauty products and staying young and fit, and I love her little work-out videos that she does, where she’s glamorously made up, but she’s out on the lawn, and she’s stretching, and she’s of course got some husky fellows around her, which is fantastic.
Were you a fan of RuPaul before RuPaul’s Drag Race? Were you aware of RuPaul like in the eighties and the nineties?
So my first experience with Ru Paul was, and this is an absolute true story, I’m in my kitchen, and my uncle is extremely, straight- off-the-boat Italian. He is, he’s my great-uncle. He’s an older gentleman, and he’s teaching my mother how to make chicken wings in the oven. “It’s just the greatest thing.” He’s making these chicken wings. Secretly, I have this CD of Supermodel, and I secretly listen to it, No one else knows that I have this CD.
My uncle takes this tray of chicken wings out of the oven, and he’s like, “You just shake them up, Ellen. Shante, shante, shante.” Just doing that over and over. My sister looked at me, and she winks her eye, like, they know. I had no idea, how did they know? I’m like, “What are you singing, what are you singing?” He’s like, “It’s that RuPaul guy, he’s kind of, he looks pretty good!”
Also, RuPaul has had quite a number of looks over the years, and the RuPaul from the nineties to the RuPaul now. What do you reckon to the change of the look?
Well, it’s just that it’s truly like she is this Barbie doll that can be dressed and changed. One of my favourite things to share about RuPaul is not only (is he) very gracious and supportive, but beautiful, as a man or a woman. He’s just this being, this tall, beautiful person, as a man and as a woman. You’re like, ‘whoa!’ You’re sort of in awe when you’re in his presence, because you just don’t know, it’s such a strong energy as he’s standing there.
Just one more question, which is, I mean, how do you keep your dresses so crease-free when you’re on tour?
You are spying on me, I just finished ironing my dress for tonight. How ironic. I have to iron this gown, because I’m doing this Carol Channing number tonight. We’re going to be in Palm Springs, and I do a version of “Hello, Dolly,” and it’s got layers of costuming, and the satin of the dress was all wrinkled, and I was like, I have to iron this. So, good old ironing boards.
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