Drag Race’s Pangina Heals ‘had full-on panic attack’ after shock elimination: ‘I was heartbroken’
This week saw one of the most shocking eliminations in the history of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
On Drag Race UK vs The World, it feels like the eliminations are getting more divisive every week, with the All Stars format giving the winning queen the power to send one of their peers home. It’s messy, very messy.
This week, Snatch Game took over the competition, with a guest appearance from Katie Price, plus guest judges Clara Amfo and Michelle Keegan. As ever, Snatch Game provided some hilarious moments, but also some toe-curling duds too. After a spellbinding runway, it was a battle of the Brits, with Baga Chipz and Blu Hydrangea lip-syncing for glory to Alexandra Burke. (It’s almost enough to make you feel patriotic).
So who went home? In a jaw-dropping twist, challenge winner Blu Hydrangea sent Pangina Heals – the judge of Drag Race Thailand, two-time challenge winner and fan favourite – packing. There were tears and open mouths all round.
After an elimination that saw her exit the runway in floods of tears, we caught up with Pangina to ask her what everyone is dying to know…
PinkNews: Hi Pangina! What was it like watching your dramatic exit back? Why was it so emotional for you?
Pangina Heals: Well, we’ve never had a representative from Thailand before, so I felt that I was carrying the weight of all that pressure on my shoulders. I just wanted to do really well because I’m so proud to be Thai, and for me to not go to the end it felt like I was bringing shame to my country and to myself. So in that moment, I just felt completely heartbroken and had a full-on panic attack, mental breakdown. It took me a couple of days to realise that if I could have done anything differently, and I had regrets, then I should be ashamed, or I should have felt bad. But I don’t because I did my best that I could have done. I won two challenges, got two badges and every single thing that I’ve done, I felt like I did the best at that moment. So I was really proud of myself, but it took a while for me to get there.
Do you regret sending Jimbo home in the previous week? They were such a strong performer and it sort of opened the door to queens sending home the biggest competition…
No. I don’t regret it, because it’s a competition. We all signed up for it. So the fact that I was eliminated… rightly so. That’s fair. Because we weren’t looking at track records, at least when I was thinking about people going home, I was purely based on watching the performance and what the judges say. Sometimes the bottom two are not what I would have picked for the bottom two. If I was to choose someone to go home, then I have to do it based on how they did in the challenge at-hand. And that’s why I chose Jujubee because she excelled at doing the Liza Minnelli role completely, so I don’t regret sending Jimbo home. If people have a problem with that they can suck it!
So there’s no hard feelings with Blu Hydrangea then?
No! On the show, I’m the closest to Blu and I’ve been in so many competitions where I wasn’t placed first, but I’ve learned something from it and this experience is too great for me to be mad at Blu for a competition we all signed up for. Why should they be mad at her? Like, it doesn’t make sense to me.
Do you think Baga Chipz would have sent you home?
Yeah, for sure. Baga would have sent me home. Why not? And I’m not mad about it. I think that Baga is a lovely person and just if she sent me home that wouldn’t make her hate me. I won two badges and I’ve sent her best friend home, I would have sent me home too.
That’s very mature of you…
For some people who haven’t been a drag queen for 11 years, maybe they just take it too personally, because I’m not mad at the fact that anyone wants to send me home. I love my home! I have a nice house – I mean, it’s a condominium – but still, it’s fine. And I love being in Thailand. So I love when people are like “go home!” I’m like, “Yes, I can have my curry!” I’m not mad about it.
I feel like if you’re going to be in this industry, you’ve got to take everything with a grain of salt, because it’s just drag. It’s just entertainment and if you’re so upset about certain things to take the fun away from the show. This is a show that I’ve been such a fan of for so long. And for me to be upset about things like that, it’s just complete bullshit and I just won’t have it.
The rules were changed this week so there was no bottom two. Do you think you would have been in the bottom if the rules hadn’t changed?
I don’t know. But all I know is that, if I was in the bottom, Janey [Jacké] was probably there with me. Because that’s what I love about Janey, she admitted to me: “Girl, I did bad.” It’s just so real. But would I have been in the bottom two? Possibly. I still can’t watch Snatch Game so I don’t know how I did. Maybe I did really bad, but I’m just too triggered to watch it at this point!
How did it feel to be competing this time, not hosting?
If I had an ego it might be different, but I signed up for this with the hope that it would be a great learning experience for me. I always strive to be a better drag queen and I was relishing the chance to improve my game with the critiques of the judges that I’ve looked up to forever, like Michelle, Graham and especially RuPaul. I feel that by joining the competition, I became a better drag queen on a global platform, so I am grateful.
Did being the only host on the show – and the only queen who had never competed on Drag Race before – make you feel any extra pressure?
There’s a certain level that I have to prove myself, because literally no one knew who I was. And for me to come on to the show, I was the dark horse of the competition. So there is that added pressure. And on top of that, the fact that I was the only Thai representative, the first Thai representative! And then on top of that, the only representative from Southeast Asia, I thought: “Wow!” But I think winning two badges in three weeks and then going home is kind of punk rock.
What was it like to bring Thai drag to such a global platform on the BBC?
It’s so important to me that people get to see a different side of Thai drag: my language and the designers that I work with, so that people see how amazing they are! But also I’m so proud to be showcasing who I am, because I am a child of different cultures. I’m half Taiwanese, half Thai, studied in the United States and went to school in the UK. It just felt like so validating that I am enough that I can be appreciated for who I am, because I felt that I was too Asian when I went to the West, and then I felt like I was too Western for the East. And so to go on to this show, it feels like the biggest validation in my life.
Some of the fans have complained that it seems like there is a bit of favouritism going on, especially from Ru towards Baga. What’s your take on that?
We can’t be good at every single thing. Like Baga is amazing at what she does. I can’t do what she does and she can’t do what I do. So, when it comes to the runway portion, do I think she was trying her hardest? I do think so. And do I think that she was elevating her drag compared to her season? I do think so. But compared to the high level of drag that is on stage, maybe people think that it’s not up there with other people. But I didn’t think about all of that when we’re in the competition when it comes to favouritism, because I knew that she had tricks up her sleeve that she was going to kill it. Look at Snatch Game, she killed it.
Were there any upcoming challenges you were really looking forward to?
I know that when it comes to like filming music videos and stuff I would have killed it. I know that I could really excel, but now I’m not able to, so I guess I’ll just have to excel at something else!
Do you hope you’re brought Drag Race Thailand to a much bigger audience?
After the show aired, I feel like a lot of people are asking how to watch Drag Race Thailand. I’ve seen it all over. And so it is bringing a spotlight back to Drag Race Thailand and that is so important to me, because people get to see how amazing they are and to see our culture!
Do you have any plans to come to the UK/Europe so people can see you live?
I have two UK tours coming up and I’ll announce it soon!
Looking back, do you have any regrets about the whole experience?
I think they portrayed me as who I am. I wasn’t contrived. I wasn’t playing the game. And if people think that I am, at least I know I wasn’t. Everything and all my reactions are real. The fact that I wanted to help girls when they’re in need, or they helped me, those interactions were real. My friendships with the girls are real. So no, I’m very happy with how it came out!
Did you have a funny line you would have said on the runway when you left, but were too emotional to say? Can you tell us what it was?
No! Because I did not want to leave!!
What’s next for Pangina?
Well since I’m now banned in Canada… Joking! I am going to America for two tours. I’ll be in the UK soon as well. I’m also going to re-open my House of Heals Club in Bangkok. And then, I’m going to take over the world!
Drag Race UK vs The World continues – sans Pangina Heals – with the semi-final on Tuesday (March 1) on BBC Three and iPlayer.