By Christopher Rudolph
In case you didn’t know, Brita Filter is from New York. In fact, she’s not just from New York, she is New York when it comes to gay nightlife. Brita, as she was mononymously known on RuPaul’s Drag Race, has been a staple in the city’s drag scene for years, having appeared on Fusion’s 2017 series Shade: Queens of NYC and even performed alongside Katy Perry on the hallowed Saturday Night Live stage. So when she finally sashayed into the Werkroom, there was a lot of pressure on the Polynesian queen.
Despite serving memorable looks (lest we forget the handmade pineapple tea dress) and riotous performances, like her turn as Dr. Sandra Okurrr on “Gay’s Anatomy” or her over-the-top take on dream girl Jennifer Holiday in Snatch Game, the competition was tough. Seasoned queen Brita consistently butted heads with Aiden Zhane, even sending the small-town newcomer home, but after her third time lip-syncing for her life, Brita was sent packin’ back to the Big Apple.
Did being one of New York’s most popular queens add pressure to Brita’s performance? Have she and Aiden made amends? And exactly how did she bring pyrotechnics to the Drag Race main stage? Find out in her interview with MTV News below.
MTV News: Anyone who goes to drag shows in New York knows who Brita Filter is. Do you think that pressure impacted your performance in the competition?
Brita: Oh, absolutely. I just really wanted to make New York City proud. Because Drag Race is like football. In football, people are so proud of their state and their team, and I was on team New York. There are so many icons that come from New York City who are on Drag Race. Bob did good, Bianca did good, you’ve got Peppermint. All these girls, they pulled through for us and I felt like I just needed to suit up and pull through for my city. The reason I do drag is my city. I do it to help people escape from all the bullshit that they're experiencing in their life. I felt like I owed this to them.
MTV News: Was it helpful or stressful to have your New York sisters there with you?
Brita: It was so helpful. It was like having a piece of home. Because we're under these circumstances, which are definitely not normal, and it's a race. So, to look over to the girls that come from New York and be, "Okay, it's just a friendly face from home" and sisters, where we had each other — honestly, if they weren't there, I would probably have gone home first.
MTV News: And so you're always too-booked-to-be-bothered in New York. Were you able to take a break after your time on Drag Race?
Brita: Yeah, when I got eliminated I had to be very quiet. I definitely took some time off and came to my parents' house in Maine, and then took another week after we were let go initially, out to the wild. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and it definitely takes a toll on you. I came from doing 42 days of straight World Pride gigs into preparing for Drag Race and then just doing Drag Race.
MTV News: That's crazy.
Brita: I was so tired by the end of it that I literally slept for two weeks.
MTV News: Have you been learning things about yourself while watching Season 12?
Brita: Oh my God, you have no idea. I didn't like the person that I saw sometimes. When I was there, I was so driven and it was something that I wanted so bad that, at times, I lost sight of myself. I definitely let my sadness and insecurities get the best of me instead of embracing my faults, especially with Aiden. I got overconfident and aggressive, and I'm not necessarily proud of that. And I should never bring someone down because I'm feeling a certain way.
All of us girls are so close and such great sisters, and sometimes, like real sisters, the claws can come out. But at the end of the day, we all love each other and we are all friends. I'm friends with Aiden and we made up shortly after that. But the fandom gets wild, especially when they're living through it not knowing what has happened off cameras. I hope that these people can really see the light and the love and the Brita that people in New York know, as opposed to this big brown bully that people associate me with on the show.
MTV News: I asked Aiden and she said that you two were totally good.
Brita: Yeah, yeah. No, we're good. I talked to her the other day, we’re good sisters. I think I need to go live on Instagram to tell the people, "We're fine, sis. We good." Sometimes sisters fight. It's okay. And you learn from your mistake. I definitely learned a lot and I've grown from it, but it's definitely a pressure cooker while you're there.
MTV News: So, how did you pull off that “Let It Go” magic trick?
Brita: It's this little finger trick thing that I got at [New York magic store] Abracadabra. I hid it in my titty and then when I walked back on the runway you can see me trying to fish it out of my tit, and I just popped it right back. Sometimes it doesn't go off when you flick it. Thank God it did at the perfect moment. When you're in the bottom, you have to do whatever it takes to stay, but bitch I'm not doing splits in a gown. I can't even do splits, so fire it is.
MTV News: You got cone-bra Madonna in the Madonna Rusical, but what's your actual favorite Madonna era?
Brita: I found out about Madonna through Evita as a child. I was a little musical theater kid. Truthfully, I kind of wanted to be the Evita one because it was less dancing and I knew I would fuck it up, but that didn't happen.
MTV News: But you decided on the cone-bra one?
Brita: The way I decided is because of the vocal register, how the song was written. In the cone-bra Madonna [script] there are those really low notes, like, "God bless the gays," and I'm a bass-baritone. I was like, "Oh, let me impress them with these low notes. It'll be really funny." I thought, with the way that it was written, it would be hilarious. I don't necessarily think I'm the spitting image of a cone-bra Madonna, but I thought that the vocal track itself would be pretty funny.
MTV News: If you could have picked the Madonna song for the lip sync, which Madonna song would you have picked?
Brita: “Vogue.” It’s so iconic and I just love it so much.
MTV News: How are you feeling about the coronavirus pandemic in New York right now?
Brita: Right now, our city is going through one of the worst things ever, and I think it's really important for everyone to stay inside. I'm just so thankful for all the health care workers and grocery store employees that are helping us get through this. They're on the front lines of all of this. I say I'm from New York on the show so much, but I am so fucking proud of our city because we can get through anything. We're resilient. So, if people want to come for me, they can come from me. But goddammit, you don't fuck with a New Yorker. We've gotten through so many other things and we can get through this.
MTV News: What advice do you have for any of your New York sisters who want to try out for Drag Race?
Brita: You just have to be yourself. I think there are a lot of times that drag queens tend to rely on the characters we portray. What Drag Race wants to see is, I think, a human story, you as a human being, the person that makes your drag character tick. I think that's what's most interesting. You see all these stories and these stories that come to the forefront of these incredible humans that are behind their persona, and that have influenced their drag persona. So, just be yourself and show who you are.