RuPaul's Drag Race star Katya Zamolodchikova is the self-proclaimed "sweatiest woman in show business." So, given Miami's recent record-high temperatures, New Times asked the drag performer if she's prepared to sweat like she's never sweated before when she visits the Magic City for her August 3 performance at the Olympia Theater.
"I'm wondering if Miami is prepared for me to sweat," she jokes. "I'm a little worried about the heat and the sweating because I might die." New Times warned her to pack accordingly.
The hyper-perspiratory reality star rose to international fame as a contestant on Season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, followed by Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars. From her hysterical personas and characters to her YouTube show UNHhhh with Trixie Mattel and appearances in productions such as Hurricane Bianca, the effervescent queen is one of the wittiest contestants in Drag Race "herstory." Now she's clacking her heels across stages around the world in her first theatrical solo production, Help Me I'm Dying.
"The transition from sweaty, drunk nightclubs at 4 a.m. to these magical, historic, landmark theatrical venues is so incredible," she says. "What an upgrade."
She kicked off the theater tour in March with sold-out shows across the globe. "It's so surreal...," she gushes, "kind of like a dream come true every day." The performance, described as "a multi-media, multi-character, multi-faceted live stage show," offers a combination of standup, storytelling, video, and "dancerly-ish action."
Zamolodchikova says she's wanted to produce a stage show of this style for years. "I wanted to kind of give a little backstory, like origin-story kind of treatment for some of the characters that I do," she says. "Plus, I love movie parodies and stuff like that, so there are video elements that are parodies of my favorite TV shows and movies." She credits Maria Bamford, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Amy Sedaris as comedic inspirations.
Before competing on Drag Race, Zamolodchikova studied video and performance art at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. At the time, she didn't know she was preparing herself for her future one-woman show.
"It's funny," she laughs. "When I graduated from art school, like many people, I was kind of like, 'OK, that was fun, totally useless, a waste of time. Was it a waste of money?' Especially because I hadn't studied graphic design or some of the more practical, lucrative disciplines in the art fields. But I realized when I was doing the show, This is exactly what I went to school for."
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Zamolodchikova conceptualized, produced, and acted in all of the videos that are used in the show. "It's really funny and really satisfying to be able to say, 'Oh, yeah, I did use my degree, and I'm successful at it.'"
She's known for her quick wit, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that her performance integrates a fair amount of improv. "I like to do little snippets here and there at other shows and see what works." The key, she says, is "keeping this show a bit flexible enough to do some improv in it so that there's not a rigid structure that I have to adhere to, because I don't really like rigid structure."
Asked what she hopes fans take away from the variety show, she jokes, "The reaction that I like the most is a mixture of What the hell just happened? and Oh, that was really cool!"
Help Me I'm Dying. With Katya Zamolodchikova. 8 p.m. Saturday, August 3, at Olympia Theater, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami; olympiatheater.org. Tickets cost $25 to $150 plus fees via tickets.olympiatheater.org.