TV

Why Kahmora Hall Wishes She Took Jaida Essence Hall’s Advice “More Seriously”

Always listen to the winner of "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 12!

Major spoilers ahead for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13.

Kahmora Hall has joined the other iconic queens on the wall of the Pork Chop loading dock.

The Chicago queen might be the first out on Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but she got far more screentime than most queens first out since there wasn’t an elimination until the fourth episode. During her time in the competition, Kahmora tried to keep up with some tough Rusical choreography, almost missed a challenge due to her long makeup process, and wowed the judges with her impeccable runway looks — including an original Bob Mackie.

Kahmora spoke with NewNowNext about her journey on Drag Race, the time she met Mackie, and what fellow Chicago queen she would love to see stomp into the workroom.
 

So, you’ve joined other iconic ladies of the first eliminated. How’s that feel?

You know, it’s weird because even though, yes, I am first eliminated, it doesn’t feel like that because I’ve been on multiple episodes. It wasn’t just 40 minutes and then I’m gone. I am just grateful to have had the opportunity to show more than one look, to have the air time, to be on multiple episodes, and I’m the longest-running first out. So I will always hold that crown.

That’s a good point. You were on for so much longer than these other first-out queens. Did that make it harder when you had to say goodbye?

It did because I felt like I was really building a bond with everybody on the cast, even the PA’s on set. We really did feel like a family, because we all quarantined together, bubbled together. So it was really hard to say goodbye. I bonded a lot with my Pork Chop girls, especially with Tamisha and Utica, and so it was sad to know that I wasn’t going to see them or work with them again, but we’re still very close to this day.

Can you take me back to what was it like when you got the call that you were going to be on Drag Race?

Oh my God. I just took an edible. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that, but I remember that day I took an edible, and as soon as I got the call, that’s when the edible hit. And so I was… I know. I was just freaking out, because I really just wanted to be like, “Can you call me back tomorrow? In the afternoon? I just can’t handle this right now,” but I just remember being so excited, shocked, surprised. I never thought something like this would ever happen to me.

And we have to talk about Bob Mackie.

Of course. I love any opportunity to talk about Bob Mackie.

So, have you ever met him?

Yes, I actually have. So I’ve been posting a lot of my vintage Mackie looks on Instagram. And then two years ago, in the summer of 2018, his PR agent actually reached out to me because they were having the Broadway premiere of The Cher Show, the musical about her life, in Chicago. She asked me if I wanted to be a special guest there, where I could meet Bob Mackie as well. That moment, that was the highlight of my career at that time. Getting to meet my idol, this icon, this legend. And of course, I could meet him wearing one of his vintage Mackie dresses, which he immediately recognized.

He clocked it?

Yes, he did! He gave me some backstory. He was like, “I originally made this dress in white for a friend’s wife. She would wear this at every party.” So just having some backstory about the dress really made me cherish it even more. Bob Mackie, he’s such a sweet man, and the portrayal of his character in the Broadway musical was way different than how he is in real life. He’s this very sweet, humble, quiet guy, but he shows a lot of his personality through his work. Just like me.

Do you have an all-time favorite Bob Mackie look?

Oh my God. Don’t do this to me. It’s so hard. But honestly, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Casino with Sharon Stone…

Oh, did he do that?

Yes. He designed a lot of her gowns in that movie, and there’s this one where she’s wearing this gold, beaded vinyl peep gown that was all sheer and illusion. It was just stunning when she stepped out of the car. And that’s probably one of my favorite Mackie looks. She literally looked like a million bucks.

I also want to talk about your makeup process on set. Were you stressed about that, going into the show being like, “I don’t know how I’m going to get this done?” And were you worried that they would actually start the challenges without you because you took so long?

Yes! Okay, let me say this. My sister Jaida [Essence Hall], even she told me, “You need to get your ass ready in like an hour and a half — like, everything.” And so I wish I took their advice more seriously. I remember practicing at home before leaving for Drag Race, my makeup. And I was able to get it down to an hour and a half, two hours, but when you’re on the set, it’s just so much different, because you have all this pressure, all these other stress factors affecting that process. I really tried my best to do my makeup in an hour, and I really did believe they were going to start without me. I wasn’t happy with my makeup for the day runway, but like Michelle Visage told me, “The show must go on,” and I do not want to make RuPaul wait anymore, so I just had to go out on that runway and pretend like I was giving a five-hour beat.

You looked fabulous, but I was stressed watching. I was like, “Oh my God, she’s not going to make it.”

It was good TV, huh? It was good TV.

It was. So, your lip-sync… I loved your Mother of Dragons look, but that must’ve constricted you. Did you ever think about ripping off that train or something?

Oh, hell no! If you knew how much I paid for that dragon gown, no. You would not rip it either. I definitely did feel constricted because I was corseted. There’s a built-in corset in that dress, and I was really hoping that because the look is so good and beautiful, it would save me from the bottom, but it didn’t. And I knew that Denali is such a fierce performer, and she’s going to give it her all. And I know she would expect the same from me, and even though I didn’t win, I still felt like I held my own, and I did the best that I could. And I’m proud of it.

When I’ve asked other queens about when they’re lip-syncing for their lives, they say the other girl kind of just disappears, and they’re just focused on the judges and their performance. Was that the same for you, or could you not help but notice Denali’s moves that she was busting out?

No, definitely. I was just focused on doing the best that I can. One thing that I noticed was that I was just so nervous and then not really making a connection to the judges whenever I walked down the runway. And so I wanted to make it clear that, “Hey, I’m lip-syncing. I’m lip-syncing to you, the judges, the panel, to the face that I’m serving.” Honestly, I didn’t even notice Denali doing her tricks or whatnot, and I was just doing the best that I could and that’s all I can really say. I just wanted to prove the judges that I am confident, I do have a personality, and I’m just doing the best that I can in this moment.
 

I mean, you’re asked to do so many things on Drag Race, and when you’re doing those Rusicals, I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, you have to learn choreography and the lines…that just must be so stressful.”

Yes, again, especially with the choreography. Like I said, I’m truly not a dancer, but I’m a quick learner. And so I may not be the strongest dancer in that group, but I was able to keep up with all the other bitches. And each one of them can say as well, I have learned this stuff, and I belong on that stage with each and every one of them.

How did Drag Race change you as a person, and how did it change your drag?

You know, it’s funny because coming into Drag Race, I felt like I was at my prime. I felt like I already knew who I was as a drag artist, as a person, but I learned so much about myself through those episodes. And one thing I’ve learned is I really need to believe in myself a lot more. I really need to build up that self-confidence. And the fact that RuPaul chose me to be part of this cast — that says something. So I’m trying to remind myself that I am a star. There’s was a reason why I was brought on the show, and I just need to believe in myself a lot more.

That’s great. You’re one of 13 girls picked. That’s amazing. And who else from the Chicago drag scene would you like to see on Drag Race?

I would love to see my drag sister, Eva Young. She has actually been doing drag and a lot longer than me, and she’s younger than me! So I’m very surprised that she hasn’t been cast yet. She is such a strong fashion and look queen. Her makeup skills are impeccable, and she’s also a front-line worker, and I feel like she deserves an opportunity. I hope that she auditions for the future seasons, and I would love to see her on my TV.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 airs Fridays at 8/7c on VH1.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."
@chrisreindeer