A popular drag queen in Johnson City, O’Hara was a prospective contestant for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a reality competition TV series in which drag queens from across the nation compete for the right to declare themselves the top queen.
“I woke up and thought I had dreamed it, so I called them back and they were like, ‘Oh well, we’ll call you back in a few minutes,’ ” O’Hara said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I think I really did dream it.’ ”
O’Hara received a call back a few moments later, and the person on the other end had good news: She would be on the show.
“I freaked out and dropped my phone right in the toilet,” she said.
Appearing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” represents one of the best opportunities for drag queens to make a name for themselves, offering them both a platform to show off their talents and a spring board into the national spotlight.
“At this point with the art form, it is definitely the best-paying gig you can have, the best exposure you can have,” O’Hara said. “It’s an amazing opportunity, I guess is the best way to say it.”
Allan Trivette, whose family owns New Beginnings, a gay nightclub in Johnson City, knows of four local drag queens that have gone on to receive national titles for their craft, which he believes is an astounding number considering the size of Johnson City and its location.
“That’s something that would be rare for a Atlanta, for a city that size,” Trivette said. “For a community this small to have produced so many top-level entertainers who have won the big titles is like, how, when, where, what is going on?”
At this time, O’Hara is the only drag queen from Johnson City to have competed on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
In celebration of O’Hara’s appearance on the show, New Beginnings is holding a watch party at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 24, for the premiere episode. O’Hara will host the event.
“We have an amazing drag culture that people don’t really know a lot about in Johnson City,” O’Hara said. “We have a dedicated community and dedicated entertainers and it’s very competitive. That’s what pushed me to always be as big and as better as I can be. ... We’re a lot of hard workers around here.”
Although she was nervous the first time she performed on stage, O’Hara has since broken out of her shell. Her act includes standup comedy, dancing and big, extravagant clothes and hairstyles. She describes herself as a big ball of positivity.
“Eureka is just a big, very loud, celebrating-life-type character, and I think that’s what people like a lot about that character,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara, who has adopted the moniker “The Elephant Queen,” is also an advocate for the plus-sized community and people who are self-conscious about their body types.
“My platform really focuses on body positivity and I want it to be more than just plus-sized individuals but just people loving and accepting their bodies for whatever shape they are — whether they think they’re too small, too big, awkwardly shaped,” O’Hara said. “If you carry yourself a certain way, people will see you that way.”
O’Hara said there was a competitive atmosphere among her fellow contestants on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” but while tensions could run high, they also developed a strong bond.
“In this industry, all of us entertainers understand the struggle and the fight we go through to make it, so there was also a very big connection and it created somewhat of a sisterhood amongst us all,” O’Hara said. “Now, even, we all still communicate together. We all watch out for each other.”
O’Hara said she wants to stress how excited she is to represent East Tennessee, where she was born and raised.
“I always had doubts that I might not make it because of where I was from or my roots, and not only did it prove to myself, but hopefully also to other people, that all it takes is a lot of hard work and dedication and you can make it.”