HONOLULU (KHON2) — Unquestionably the highest profile drag competition on the planet, RuPaul’s Drag Race wrapped on its 15th United States season on Friday, April 14. This season was very special for those of us who are from or live in Hawai’i.
Sasha Colby, a local drag performer hailing from Waimānalo, was the first Native Hawaiian māhū to ever compete in the competition.
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Not only did Colby compete in this prestigious event, but she also won the entire competition becoming America’s next drag superstar.
She used her platform to educate her castmates and the world on what it means to be Hawaiian and what it means to be māhū both past and present. Her fierceness was felt throughout the competition, leaving no room for question on whether she deserved this win.
Obviously, locals were ecstatic about Colby’s historic victory. One can imagine the pride felt by Colby’s local ‘ohana and hānai.
One of the most iconic māhū in Hawai’i and the U.S. West Coast is Cocoa Chandelier. She works tirelessly to elevate the stature of māhū throughout the Pacific region. She currently is a board member for the Hawai’i LGBT Legacy Foundation where she helps create the Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival that is held each year in October.
Ms. Chandelier was able to give us a glimpse into Colby’s professional work and her journey as a performer.
“Aloha my name is Cocoa Chandelier; and on behalf of the māhū community here in the Kingdom of Hawai’i and all around the world, we would love to say GATCHU Maaaary and Hoʻomaikai!” said Chandelier. “We applaud Sasha Colby for sharing with the world a small point of the kānaka maoli worldview, The Glades, I’m A Boy button and helping to elevate the understanding of and word māhū.”
Ms. Chandelier spends her time educating students at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa on the culture and traditions of Hawaiian art, music and dance. She spent much time with Colby as she developed her own style of performance.
“I remember when Sasha used to perform with 24/7 Dance Company and then came to dance with us on the cast of A Taste of Honey, a drag review that had shows every first, third and fifth Saturdays at the original Venus Nightclub and then Bar7,” reminisced Chandelier.
Ms. Chandelier remembers the hard work and destiny that Colby carried with her even at a young age.
“But, she was destined for much bigger things and quickly left us to start her transition. From there she became Miss Continental Hawai’i and a few years later become thee Miss Continental, hiki no!” explained Chandelier.
She went on to send a message to Colby.
“We will always support you, and we are all very proud of you Sasha. Always with Aloha, from Hawai’i to Sasha Colby, honihoni [kisses], Cocoa Chandelier,” exclaimed Chandelier.
local māhū Kalista Fox is a local drag performer and emcee who is also an award-winning Show Queen.
“As a Native Hawaiian, it was amazing to finally see representation on drag race,” said Fox. “The show has been around since 2009 and to have someone who is regarded so highly as a top performer who could also bring and share our culture was truly amazing to watch.”
Fox is a fixture in the local artist community and regularly performs for entertainment and fundraisers. She provides a great deal of leadership amongst her peers.
“[Sasha] did a phenomenal job and represented pageantry, drag, the transgender community and Hawai’i very well,” added Fox.
“Sasha Colby was the perfect māhū for the job🙌🏽. What a fabulous representation of our community. I as well as I’m sure the rest of Hawaiʻi is so beyond proud of Sasha on her win,” explained Victorino.
He went on further to declare his love for her talent and leadership.
“I absolutely love watching Sasha perform; and now, the world will get to experience her. I’ve always been such a huge fan of hers. Sasha Colby commands attention every single time she hits that stage,” exclaimed Victorino.
For many local drag performers, Colby’s win is an inspiration from an already adored role model in the community.
“I feel so blessed to have been able to watch her grow into this amazing icon. She truly is your drag queen’s favorite drag queen,” added Victorino.
Another drag performer who is a regular entertainer at Scarlet and a crowned Show Queen known as Anna Mei weighed in on the impact of Colby’s win.
“Being able to see Hawaiʻi drag being represented on national TV is incredible, and Sasha Colby was the perfect person to do it,” said Mei.
Anna Mei went on.
“She is drag excellence! She was able to showcase not just her talent but her kindness as well. She helped educate the world about Hawaiʻi LGBTQ+ history and is such a role model,” explained Mei. “I truly cannot wait to see what she does with her platform.”
“I was thrilled when Sasha Colby won! Being a part of a Hawaiian drag family, I have heard this name for years but never got to experience her in person,” exclaimed Tora. “Seeing her on the show more than lived up to the name she has already built over her career as a drag artist!”
For Hana Ho, she believes most local drag performers knew Colby was going to win as soon as it was announced that she had been selected to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“I think most of Hawaiʻi called it when Sasha Colby was announced for RuPaul’s Drag Race. We knew the firecracker she is. Every episode she was on that runway, I was reminded of some of my favorite performances of hers,” said Ho. “She deserved this crown, and I appreciated her representation of transgender rights and Hawaiian roots,”
The beauty that Colby has both inside and outside is a major inspiration for many local drag performers.
“The way Sasha can come out in a bikini and captivate a room to only watch her is something that will always be amazing. Sasha is an amazing performer, and she earned every win she had this season,” said Ho.
She went on to explain further.
“She represented in all areas of this competition. I honestly have a bunch of her performances saved to my laptop, and this was way before me doing drag,” exclaimed Ho. “She is gonna be one of my favorites for life 🤙🏽💖.”
Marina Del Rey is a local drag performer, emcee and Show Queen. She is the mother of Haus Del Rey. Marina has known Colby for a while and has performed with her on many occasions.
“Sasha not only represented Hawaiʻi gloriously, but she opened global understandings of Polynesian culture. Her roots and her heart were all shared, and she’s inspired multi generations of LGBTQ+ and humans in general,” said Del Rey.
Del Rey has enjoyed being able to see a local girl achieve great heights.
“[Sasha’s] platform is huge; her audience is the world. To see her rise has been such a beautiful journey to witness!” added Del Rey.
Local business owner Robbie Baldwin owns Scarlet Honolulu. It is a mainstay for drag performers and those who want to experience, support and participate in the art and culture of Hawaiʻi māhū.
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“We are thrilled that Sasha Colby has won RuPaul’s Drag Race. Sasha is a former cast member of Scarlet from our early years and helped guide us to become the success we are today,” said Baldwin. “We look forward to her representation and using her platform to educate the world on māhū culture and the aloha spirit.”