Tiktok's Fave RuGirl Plastique Tiara on Vietnamese Representation: "It Validates Everything That You Are" (EXCLUSIVE)

"It completely changed my life. I became, I guess, the RuGirl with the [largest] social media following," Plastique said of her TikTok fame.

Bianca Piazza - Author

May 13 2024, Published 8:52 a.m. ET

Headshot of drag performer and TikTok star Plastique Tiara
Source: JONCE

Back in 2019, a 21-year-old Plastique Tiara entered the RuPaul's Drag Race Werk Room serving us "the three P's: Polished, persistent, and p-ssy." Fellow Season 11 contestant Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (aka Miss Vanjie) said it herself, it's no Instagram filter, she really is stunning. But the drag queen — whose legal name is Duc Tran Nguyen — isn't just a pretty face, she's a fierce competitor with an eye for design, a mind for marketing, and a lovable personality.

Though Plastique placed eighth on Season 11, she left a lasting impression, bringing elements of her Vietnamese heritage to our living rooms.

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"It wasn't until after season 11 — or at the finale of Season 11 — that I realized that how much my history and my heritage means to me," Plastique — who was born in Vietnam — exclusively told Distractify over Zoom. "Afterwards, I wanted to incorporate as much of my culture into my drag as much as possible."

Plastique uses TikTok to showcase her vibrant Vietnamese heritage and Asian pop culture (including anime); an authenticity that has helped her amass over 11.6 million followers.

Promotional photo of 'RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars' Season 9 contestant Plastique Tiara
Source: rupaulsdragrace/Instagram
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It was her 2020 "Wipe It Down" challenge video that initially had social media talking. As of this writing, the gag-worthy transformation TikTok has been viewed over 90 million times.

"When my video went viral, I really just went balls to the wall," she told us. "It completely changed my life. I became, I guess, the RuGirl with the [largest] social media following, I did deals that I thought I could never do, and then I traveled the world," Plastique continued, trying to stay modest.

Starting on May 17, 2024, Plastique Tiara will compete for the crown once again — this time for a good cause — as a contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 9. If she earns a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame this time around, $200,000 will go to the charity of her choice: The Asian American Foundation.

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Ahead of the season premiere — airing during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — we exclusively spoke to Plastique about how Vietnamese culture, art, and artists have influenced her drag persona, and the importance of representation in media.

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Plastique Tiara on honoring her Vietnamese heritage: "I got so much love from people in Vietnam."

Plastique, a first-generation American immigrant, relocated to Dallas, Texas, as a teen, having spent most of her childhood in Vietnam. She knew little of the magic of the queer community before arriving at the Southern metropolis. She caught the drag bug when she won a talent contest at a Dallas gay bar, as per Glossy.

"At Station 4 in Dallas!" she clarified to us.

But Plastique's love of performance stems from her Vietnamese roots.

"I've always listened to Vietnamese music growing up, and seeing all the theatrical Vietnamese plays, that was my first gateway into performance," she explained. "I performed the songs that I loved in Vietnamese and then slowly but surely, I discovered there are so many talented designers in Vietnam that I wanted to work with."

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Additionally, she shared that connecting with Vietnamese LGBTQ+ photographers and creative directors became easy after appearing on Season 11. "From there it just blossomed."

When we asked if there was any one person who roused the birth of the Plastique Tiara persona, she instantly lit up, naming Vietnamese singer Minh Tuyết.

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"Oh my god, I talk about her so much. She's gonna file a restraining order against me," Plastique joked. "I love her to pieces, I grew up watching her. ... She's like the Mariah Carey of Vietnam."

We prompted Plastique to touch on what the response has been like since bringing Vietnamese culture and fashion to TikTok, the Drag Race stage, and the People's Choice Awards.

"After Drag Race [Season 11], for a little bit, during COVID and everything, I kind of lost a sense of purpose," she relayed. "It wasn't until I traveled to Vietnam and I got to experience firsthand the impact of representation on TV. Because once you see someone of your color and they feel the way you feel, and that hasn't been expressed on TV yet, and that person is doing it in real time, it gives you — it validates everything that you are as a human. ... I see that there is progress and what I'm doing is good."

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The intention, artistry, and dedication to representing and honoring her background has even earned the respect of her parents ... finally.

"Drag has changed my life. So now my parents are coming around to it as well. They're like, 'Oh, we're so proud of you.'"

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Plastique Tiara on seeing AAPI RuGirls Sasha Colby and Nymphia Wind win back to back: "I'm so proud of both of them."

The RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15 and Season 16 winners, Sasha Colby and Nymphia Wind, respectively, both proudly entwine their AAPI backgrounds into their drag. While Sasha Colby, born in Hawaii, is the first native Hawaiian queen to win American Drag Race, Nymphia Wind, born in Taiwan, is the first East Asian queen to win American Drag Race.

"About time!" Plastique said of her Drag Race sisters.

"To see them getting the love they deserve and them representing us so fiercely, I feel nothing more than pride," she gushed. "I hope to continue that legacy."

As for Plastique's closing notes regarding AAPI Heritage Month, she encouraged everyone to "go out there and give an Asian person $5 or something."

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 9 premieres on Friday, May 17, 2024, on Paramount Plus.

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