This might sound a bit silly, but I mean it so deeply: RuPaul has had a profound effect on my life. I’ve watched every episode of every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m obsessed. Last year, I even did a commentary podcast about the show with my friend [artist] ChiliPhilly called The New Rumantics.
Watching RuPaul has helped me find my drag, which as an artist is huge. This year, I taught myself how to animate and drew the lyrics video for my single “Dark Parts” by hand. The process felt very karmically correct for me because it’s a lot of suffering for very little joy. I really identify that process with drag because it takes such a long time, is so labour intensive and there are dozens of skills you have to master to be able to completely disappear into your character. That’s what artistry is: it’s how you choose to curate your avatar. Like Ru says, “We’re all born naked, the rest is drag.”
RuPaul has taught me to lean into the shit that I like. For me, helping to find my drag expression for my art was tremendously liberating. I feel like self-care, self-love, self-acceptance and leaning into your authenticity looks totally different for every individual on the planet; that’s why diversity is super important. As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
When I was a kid growing up in Papua New Guinea, all I watched on TV were MGM musicals. For the first 12 years of my life, I didn’t know what cities were really like, so I always imagined that when I went to visit my nana in Brisbane, I’d be walking down the street and someone would start to dance and everyone else would join in. I thought life was a musical, and I wanted to be Judy Garland. Eventually I worked out that Judy was acting, and that discovery inspired my love of performing.
As a kid, I built my whole solar system around Judy Garland. I’ve always loved the way she sang, the purity of her voice and the rawness of her pain. She is an artist in the truest sense. I adore her in Easter Parade and Meet Me in St. Louis, but my favourite performance of hers is her concert at [New York’s] Carnegie Hall. She’s a total weapon on that stage. Go watch it.
Megan Washington’s new album Batflowers is out now.
This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of marie claire.