We had to check in with this Kuwait sensation to see what drag is like in her home country, her plans for the future, and what we can expect from her amazing animation series:
Drag Official: Alright, let's start off with a little background. Tell us about your home country and how drag is perceived there.
Arabia Felix: I'm from Kuwait, which is in the Middle East (between Iraq, Syria, and Dubai). There are pretty much no gay rights. They don't believe in something that is called "gay". It's like some kind of disease and it's simply a sin that you would commit. The idea of drag is even crazier to them.
D.O.: How long have you been doing drag?
Arabia: I've been doing drag since I was a little kid. I didn't know it was drag, 13 or 14 years old, wearing wigs- it was just a natural thing. And I was interested really in makeup- I've always been artistic since a young age. I would draw, paint, and sculpt; all things that I'm good at before I started doing makeup on myself.
Then RuPaul's Drag Race came and it's completely changed my whole view towards drag. It made me see drag as something that I can potentially be professional at and actually pursue as a profession or a hobby. Me being here in the Middle East, there is no venue for drag. They don't understand what drag is. They would assume that I want to become a woman, for example. If they ever saw me wearing makeup or clothes or any of it, they would throw me in jail. It happens all the time. It's not like they're doing drag and they got caught. They're either cross dressers or basically guys who are, for example, going through a transition, or want to basically live as women. All of which are outlawed.
It's really unfortunate, to be honest. I know that I have the talent. I know that I have so many things to show, but I only have my online venue, which I'm satisfied with. I'm not saying that I want more, or anything like that- I'm happy with what I have. But I'm trying to get to a better place at the same time.
D.O.: If you were cast on RuPaul's Drag Race, do you think your parents would ever come around to the idea of you doing drag?
Arabia: No, even though my mother is understanding, she would care a lot about what people would say. I don't think they would even if I won the show (which is gonna happen, if I got on it! If I'm going to go through all of this, I'm going to win!)
Arabia: I do have a good amount of online followers. When I started doing the collaboration channel I was in last year, most of my followers noticed me. The collaboration, Perfect Androgony, was originally created by a really famous makeup artist on YouTube- his name is Joseph Harwood. He was the makeup artist for the brand new Detox Icunt photos for Rentz. I've been following him for the past few years. I love his work, and to me he's like an idol when it comes to makeup, so I got to know him online, and we became good friends. He contacted me, and he thought I'd be an interesting cast member, since I'm Arabian, and we don't have someone to represent us. We don't have Arabian drag queens, or someone you'd look up to or reach out to. It's quite scary, and kind of nice at the same time, because you know you're the only one, but at the same time, you're the ONLY one, you know what I mean?
D.O.: Where do you get all your inspiration from then?
Arabia: When it comes to my looks, Arabia is not human. She's kind of like a mix between a genie and an alien mermaid. She's very dark, but also at the same time there's this huge character that comes out of nowhere. What distinguishes me from other drag queens is that I'm very artistic, even in my looks, and in what I create. I'm very versatile- I not only do drag; I do a lot of things other than drag.
D.O.: How were you initially exposed to RuPaul's Drag Race?
Arabia: After I graduated high school, my parents kind of forced me to study engineering. From the beginning, I always wanted to study something that's related to art and media, somehow- like mass communications or anything similar- but I was only 17 years old when I graduated high school. From parents and family pressure, I agreed [to study engineering]. I had a really high GPA in high school, so I actually got a scholarship to the U.S., and I came to Illinois, in a city called Carbondale.
I studied at SIU. I lived there for about three years, and I was not the same person that I am now. I didn't practice any art forms, and I didn't even do drag back then. It was a very dark few years in my life, because you feel like you're lost, somehow, even though you are in the U.S., but at the same time, if you're not doing what you want, it's completely different. When I was in the U.S., I simply saw RuPaul's Drag Race on Netflix. After seeing 1 episode, it all made sense in my head- what I did before and what I wanted to do. I always felt like it was such a sin, or the wrong thing to do, but RuPaul's Drag Race validated to me that drag is an art form. It is what it is, and people have to deal with it.
Arabia: When I was 13, I started playing with Photoshop (I am 22 now), and I bought one of those tablets and started drawing on Photoshop. It completely changed my view towards drawing, in general. Also, I'm obsessed with South Park. I had an idea when I was about 16 years old about a TV show that I wanted to pitch, but it wasn't taken seriously, because I was only 16 at the time. I would create the whole character, draw them, photo scan them to my laptop, and then animate the whole thing, and layer all the colors, just to make them look more three dimensional. When I animated my first scene, I showed it to my friends, and they were like, "Girl! You know how to animate! What the hell?!" I was like, "I don't know, I just tried it!"
After the trailer for Season 6 was released, I was like, why don't I just create a spin-off of the show? I always wanted to do that. I wanted to do something completely different and new, and something no one else would be doing. I've gotten a huge, amazing response, especially from the queens. They loved it! They all followed me on Instagram, and they all contacted me. The first person to contact me was actually Bianca Del Rio. It was within the first 15 minutes of uploading that video. She messaged me, and was like, "Girl, I LOVE that video! Give me your YouTube link- I owe it to you to share!" It's been an amazing help when it comes to the animation- especially Bianca, Laganja, Darienne, and Adore. They're all friends with me on Facebook, before the show, even.
Imagine what it's like for me- I'm an Arabian artist, living like half the way across the world! I've also connected with Mathu Anderson. He reached out to Perfect Androgyny- he was very interested in the channel, and we dedicated one of the weeks to a topic he chose. He's an amazing inspiration. One of the main reasons I made him a prominent character in my show is because a lot of the work on RuPaul's Drag Race is being supervised or executively produced by him, but he doesn't get the credit he deserves! Michelle Visage also followed me on Facebook! I posted a picture of Michelle holding Santino's head, and she LOVED it. She used it as her Twitter and Facebook photos- it was really awesome.
Arabia: Yes, that's my goal. My goal is to finish my undergrad, get a high GPU, and a scholarship. That will be my ticket to come back again, and to just stay there as long as I can. I changed my major from engineering, and I withdrew my scholarship and came back to Kuwait, because I didn't want to stay for the wrong reasons. I want to be there for the right reasons, and doing what I want.
D.O.: What can fans expect to see from you in the coming weeks?
Arabia: I'm pretty sure I'm going to animate every past season before Season 6. I'm still learning, and experimenting with animation. RuView is still going to continue. I'm not sure if I'm going to do a whole twenty minute video for Season 6- now that the season ended, I don't want to people to be bored. I think I'll take requests for favorite feature moments from this season, and previous seasons. I think I'll choose some funny moments from previous seasons, because I kind of feel guilty that past queens didn't get the animation. It's not fair! People want to see a scene if it's funny- not just an imitation or a copy of a scene.
I think I'm going to create a video of the most heated "blow up" moments from each season. For example, Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O'Hara, or Morgan McMichaels and Mystique, or Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese. With the animation, fans would flip out! They haven't seen those queens in an animated form.
We are so excited to see what Arabia has in store for us next! Make sure to follow Arabia and the animated Ruview series on Facebook!