‘Drag Race Down Under’: Kita Mean on what her crown means to her
She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’s Miss New Zealand’s Next Drag Superstar! After a very intense penultimate episode, we met our Drag Race Down Under top four, and let’s be real, even the other queens were saying it was Kita’s crown to lose. After a smash of a solo performance, and a killer final look, it’s no surprise we got a Kiwi winner.
Love or hate this first season of Drag Race Down Under, it definitely kept viewers on their toes until the very end. Just like her predecessors, Kita had no clue the crown was hers until Ru said her name on live TV, and her absolutely pure reaction has made everyone sob uncontrollably online.
We got the chance to talk with Drag Race Down Under’s first winner about her time on the show, and the obstacles she overcame to make that crown hers. You can read our full interview with Kita Mean below.
What got you into drag in the first place?
I was always really theatrical and I always sort of had this desire in me to kind of express myself in one way shape or form as a kid, before I understood that I was gay or anything like that. I just loved putting on performances for my family, and I did drama class and anything where I could kind of act things out or just perform.
You know, be a show pony and make people laugh and make people smile, that was what totally made me feel special. So I was always that child. And then, when I kind of came out of the closet, I discovered drag. It was like a lightbulb moment where it felt like everything about me suited this thing that I just discovered.
I kind of went through life thinking everything about me was weird, and was sort of like, made wrong, you know like I looked at everyone around me and I’m just like, the total weirdo. And then, discovering drag, it just felt like it fit me so perfectly. I’ve just always absolutely loved it. So many reasons why I’m drawn to it, I couldn’t just sort of boil it down to one specific thing.
It’s just, it’s just what drag is at its core, absolutely just fit me like a glove.
Why did you audition for Drag Race Down Under, and what was your reaction after being cast?
I’ve loved RuPaul’s Drag Race from the moment I discovered it. So in New Zealand, everything’s always quite delayed, when getting all this kind of content. But I remember there was this, like a small channel on like Pay Per View, New Zealand TV where I like, I guess what you guys would have called cable back in the day maybe?
But basically like, it was the TV channel that you could like pay for. And there was this really small channel on there, and they had season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race on it, and it was on the weirdest time of day. We’re talking like 11 years ago, before you could kind of record stuff on the TV. This is when you had to watch it live, and I was absolutely obsessed with it like beyond. And like I told everyone about and I tried to get people into it but, like, at that time, like everyone was like “Oh yeah, whatever.” But like, it’s something I always dreamed of, like, “Oh my gosh, imagine if I could do that one day?”
“Imagine if I could, you know, parade around in front of RuPaul, it just looks like the most fun thing.” But it started like a pipe dream. It always felt like something that was like, never actually even remotely, a possibility. Something that I would fantasize about but like it was sort of just like a flippin fantasy because I didn’t think it would ever be a reality.
So, the feeling when I was cast on this show is just, it’s like constantly slapping you in the face like you hear, like, oh they’re considering bringing the show to our shores, but I’m sure that it’s like, whoa. I’m like, giddy with excitement like jumping up and down just at the idea like “Oh my gosh.”
And then it’s like, “Oh my gosh, like they considering putting me on the show,” and then you get a call like, “Hey, so you’ve made the show.” It’s nonstop, just like roller coaster of highs, you know? I think that’s the hardest thing was it’s so hard for me to compute, because it’s like this roller coaster of highs that is like heaven. :ike it just feels like I’m just on this fabulous ride and I’m just like, soaring through the sky. So, yeah, it’s crazy.
How does competing in Drag Race compare to hosting House of Drag?
Oh my gosh, it’s like completely different comparisons. Just like this, there is zero akinness to the experiences, there are absolutely zero. What it did do was give me an appreciation for how drag stars would have felt while they were filming House of Drag.
Because I was a little bit oblivious I think and I feel a bit guilty now in hindsight about their process. I knew a lot about performance on a friend level. And I kind of took it for granted. I just didn’t really take into account, count how they would have been feeling I guess during that process.
I was just like having the time of my life like showing up to set and I’d have a few drinks and I’d have a few laughs, and I would just, you know a gay old time, not really realizing what it means for them. So now that I’ve gone through the pressures of being on the other side, I have a full new appreciation.
So yeah, I feel a little bit guilty that I potentially wasn’t switched on to that at the time of filming House of Drag. I’ve reached out to a lot of them to say, “Hey, congratulations on what you did because it’s not an easy gig.” It is a fun gig to do as well.
To take this crown, you took down not only your fellow queens, but two close colleagues of yours. How does it feel knowing you were able to beat Anita [Wigl’it] and Electra [Shock]?
It’s really funny because to this day, I don’t see it from that perspective. So it’s hard for me to answer that question because I haven’t really thought about it like that. Not just in regards to Electra or Anita, but really, anyone that was cast on the show with me. I don’t look at it as I beat them.
And I think the reason for that is like, I think the whole time I was really focused on myself and not really even in a positive way, I was being really quite hard on myself the entire time that we were filming that show. And I think for that reason, I really was proud of my achievements and being able to get over whatever was happening in my head.
So I really, I didn’t see it as like “Oh I have to beat this person, I have to beat this person.” I mean like fundamentally it’s kind of like, yeah, “Shame, shame bitches I kicked your butt!” But it wasn’t that in the moment. Yeah, I really had zero focus on like I had to do better than that person. It was always like, “I have to pick up my game because I’m not, I’m not doing justice to what I know I can do.”
In the end, the Kiwis took home the crown over the Aussies. How does it feel knowing you took down the “locals”?
That feels the most amazing thing. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of, and I’m so proud to be a New Zealander. I feel like I’m so proud of this country, like I feel emotional just thinking about it. We’re like a couple of tiny little islands, like at the bottom of the world, so I really feel like we’ve got a really unique perspective here.
I’m really proud of the fact that New Zealand’s like, even though it was like colonized, and there is like controversial history there, and potentially it could be considered problematic for me to have this point of view because, like what my ancestry is, but I’m proud of the fact that New Zealand does value its multi-culture, and multi-culture is so hugely about being connected to the land.
Ijust feel so special in this country and that you feel that when people even just come here to visit, they feel it. That there is something special about physical land and being here and then that I feel like that also resonates in our culture and our vibe as New Zealanders.
I mean I think they get spread into the world as well. So, I know that sounds really kind of like, “Oh whoop-de-doo, Kita is going about how fabulous her country is,” but I am so patriotic and I’m just really, really, really proud that I could bring the crown home, to New Zealand, for sure. Like, that’s the most special thing for me.
Obviously you found out with the rest of us when you won Drag Race Down Under, as each queen films an ending where they won. What was your reaction knowing your ending was chosen?
Yeah, it’s kind of funny that you phrase it like that because that’s exactly what went through my head. It was like, “Oh, oh they used, wait that’s my one! Oh my god Ru said my name! What?” That’s the first thought before it hits you like, “Well that means I’m the winner.” It was the craziest thing.
It was interesting because I was supposed to go to Sydney to watch it with the other girls so I was supposed to fly to Australia. But there was a COVID flare up, which meant that it wasn’t safe for me to travel.
So I ended up just having to last minute organize something at home, and I invited a whole lot of friends and family around to watch it, and then I had a few glasses of wine, which probably heightened emotions or potentially numbed at the same time.
Yeah, and watching it, it was amazing just having everyone sitting around. I invited quite a few people and it kind of was a snowball where everyone was like, “Oh could I invite a specific guy, and this person?”
But then I was like, “You know like the more the merrier. If we squeeze you into the house, then come.” And consequently there are so many people just sitting in silence, and that moment was crazy and I kind of blocked everyone out at that point. Then when RuPaul said my name, it’s all just totally surreal. I can’t believe it.
And I genuinely, in the build up to it, didn’t think it was gonna be me at all. And then, the overwhelming support like building up to it the week of, I couldn’t get over it. It was so overwhelming how much love that everyone’s throwing at me. And then I was starting to think like, “Maybe I have a chance of winning this.”
What do you hope your legacy on this first season is?
I was so hard on myself the whole time, because I felt like I wasn’t giving it what I know I can. I didn’t feel like I was doing the best job all the time. But in hindsight, I hope people can maybe look at it and realize that maybe like, it’s not always about just always being the best.
Maybe it’s just really about just being authentic and being able to find a way to be in tune with yourself and those around us. Yeah I guess that would be the legacy that I would want to leave, is that we can maybe take a bit of like a, like a wholesome life lesson format, maybe.
Even I was like, thinking it wouldn’t. Even I was like, “Oh, you know, I haven’t done a good job.” But then, you know, the proof is in the outcome. There must have been something that had value, and in turn was successful. So, yeah, just don’t be too hard on yourself I guess then. Just navigate with authenticity and just. Yeah. Do what you want, even if it’s not perfect. By not being perfect, it’s being honest and that will, you know, it’ll work. It’ll all work out one way, one way or another.
What’s next for our newly minted winner?
Well, very excitingly I just released a music video and a song which I’m very proud of. So that’s just been uploaded to YouTube. And it’s just self titled, it’s called “Kita Mean”, and then in brackets, Official Music Video, but I’m really, really proud of it, and I can’t wait for the world to see it and let me know what they think.
All episodes of Drag Race Down Under are available for streaming on Stan in Australia, TVNZ On Demand in New Zealand, BBC Three in the UK, and WOWPresents Plus in the U.S. and other select territories.