FOF #937 – A Taste of Ongina

Feb 24, 2009 · 1985 views

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In the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the reality TV show created to produce the next drag superstar, one of the contestants, Ongina, tearfully revealed she was HIV positive. Today we’re talking to Ongina, […]


  1. Snizzy Manderberg says:

    So cool you are getting all the girls on the show–I love RuPaul’s drag race! Fausto did you try out?!

  2. DC_GAY_MAN says:

    Ongina –

    Watched the show twice last night and I am totally engaged in your story as an Asian artist who celebrates life. You can’t get much better television that this.


  3. Jeannette says:

    Loved the podcast! Again, great job! You guys have GOT to get Nina on the show!!!!

    As for the woman who makes clothes out of her hair (gross), back in the day (Victorian times, I believe) women used to make jewelry out of their hair. They even had special containers that they would use to hold all the strands of hair collected from their hairbrushes. Our art museum had a really interesting exhibit on it a couple years ago. But the clothes thing is really creepy.

  4. Cliff Dix says:

    I love my Ongina. I love her look and attitude. That combination alone should make her the winner. It was obviously a brave thing for Ongina to disclose her HIV status in front of the whole world. It was a sincere and touching moment that shook up the show. (As opposed to Jade’s reaction.) I think Ongina is an inspiration to not only HIV positive people but everyone. I also like that she says dirty things off the cuff. Thank you for having her on the show. Another great interview from FOF. You guys rock.

  5. Alfonzo says:

    Yeah! I love Ongina. She is so different and I love any drag queen who sees drag as more of an art form than trying to look like a woman. It’s more like a character. This show was so much fun. I hope I can catch one of ongina’s shows in the future.

    On a side note, the bash Rebecca Bandwagon must have rolled into town. Now, she is by far not my favorite, but you have to take into consideration the judges comments. I think her saving grace had less to do with the crying (I really thought she was going to be eliminated for not being able to put it together) and more to do with the fact that she followed their advice from the previous elimination. They told her she needed to work on her bottom half when she walked the runway and they even mentioned she made that change this week. If you noticed they’ve also made the same kind of commentes to Shannel, you can tell it’s an important part of their decision. RuPaul told Jade that she thinks she’s gone as far as she can on the show, which is still pretty damn fierce, but that had nothing to do with Rebecca.
    Last, I just wonder why in the world Jade put herself in a position where Rebecca could push her down to the floor (in the lipsynch for your life section)? I’m guessing she decided to go all out to impress the judges with her dance moves (which were VERY impressive, especially those splits), but Miss Jade, you know better than to put a competitor where they make you look beneath them (literally).

  6. Rhea says:

    Unfortunately RuPaul’s Drag Race hasn’t been shown up here in Canada, but I am rooting for my Filipino brother (sista?) all the way.

    On dog-eating: when my mother was a young child growing up in Manila, she found it hard to keep dogs as pets because the neighbours kept stealing them for food. What bitches!

  7. Alfonzo says:

    Oh, I forgot, I have a Filipino friend who told me about when she was a kid, her dad bought a plate of some kind of meat and he gave her a taste of it. She said it was the best meat she had ever tasted, but then her dad told her it was dog and she started crying. This all took place in Manila.

  8. To be honest, I didn’t try out because I thought the whole thing was rigged! My bad. I SO want to be involved in this show on any capacity, on or off the camera.

    RuPaul is back and badder than ever.

    I think right now it’s my favorite show on TV/Internet. It’s a shame it’s not being made available globally, since a LOT of people in Europe and elsewhere are probably finding illegal ways of obtaining the program and inevitably watering down the international distribution of the show.

    I hope that the success of Drag Race will inspire more from RuPaul and hopefully bring forth other copycat shows. Wouldn’t it be fun to see shows with all the other Wigstock drag queens or the West Coast gals from Girls will Be Girls?

    On another note, it’s funny how people on other blogs are praising Ongina for coming forward with her HIV status and at the same time chastising her for contracting the disease in the first place. Do these people go to dialysis clinics and yell at the people there for drinking too much or eating too much, etc? Do they go to emergency rooms and laugh at people who were in car accidents and didn’t wear a seatbelt?

    Where’s the compassion people? Nobody deserves any disease. You have the god given right to be a slut, but you better be good at it!

    What we aren’t talking about here is why people don’t have full access to health care. If you really want to fight HIV and other STD’s why not give people access to adequate medical care? It’s well documented that the ability to see a doctor regularly and access to HIV meds reduce transmission in society.

    Ongina, Jade, RuPaul and all the gals from the show rock.

  9. There is nothing I don’t love about Ongina! I’m very happy to see the asian flavor being represented and represented so well. Her energy is just unbounding and she’s hillarious and totally entertaining and I could listen or watch her for hours. I also love the relevance and the now that she brings to drag. It’s so cool that she’s in on the joke and willing to laugh at herself as well. Very very cool!

  10. Warning says:

    Asian gays tend to get HIV because they are treated like garbage by wider *read whiter* gay community. There was astudy indicating from a University in Canada

  11. Ali says:

    I saw Ongina in the promo pics before the show started (where she’s wearing an obi over the mechanics outfit, and a mini-hubcap as a hat), and then went through her myspace pics. I loved her look immediately. I don’t know another Drag Queen that can pull off no padding, no tuck and no hair!

    I’m outside the USA at the moment, so I have had to watch the show through…. other means, and Ongina was my instant favorite. He was fun, sassy, original and driven. When he revealed his HIV+ status it was a very real, emotional and beautiful moment on an otherwise fabulously fluffy show.

    No surprise that Ongina gives a great interview and would make a fantastic M.A.C. Viva Glam spokesperson.

    IN SHORT: I love Ongina! I hope she wins the “Race”!

  12. Warning says:

    Print ISSN: 0899-9546
    Volume: 16 | Issue: 1: Special issue HIV Prevention for Asian and Pacific Islander Men Who Have Sex With Men: Identifying Needs for the Asia Pacific Region
    Cover date: February 2004
    Page(s): 84-100

    Database PsycINFO
    Title A qualitative exploration of the relationship between racism and unsafe sex among Asian Pacific Islander gay men.
    Affiliation (1)Department of Sociology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, US
    Source Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 37(5), Oct 2008, pp. 827-837

    ISSN 0004-0002

    Electronic ISSN 1573-2800

    Perceived Group Devaluation, Depression, and HIV-Risk Behavior Among Asian Gay Men

    David H. Chae1, Hirokazu Yoshikawa2

    1Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington, School of Social Work
    2Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

    theres more…

  13. Jeannette says:

    Here’s the abstract to the article for those who can’t get into a college database:

    [Correction Notice: An erratum for this article was reported in Vol 27(3) of Health Psychology (see record 2008-08834-013). In the aforementioned article, the second sentence of the Results portion of the abstract should read: Among participants most attracted to Whites, group devaluation was associated with higher levels of nonprimary partner UAI; but was associated with lower levels of nonprimary partner UAI among those most attracted to non-Whites.] Objective: This study examined depressive mood and HIV-risk behavior in relation to perceived group devaluation and group identity. Design: Cross-sectional survey of 192 Asian gay men. Main Outcome Measures: Depressive mood assessed using the Centers for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and self-reported receptive or insertive unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) in the past 3 months. Results: Group devaluation was positively associated with depressive mood. Among participants most attracted to Whites, group devaluation was associated with higher levels of nonprimary partner UAI, among those most attracted to non-Whites. Among participants reporting higher levels of group devaluation, those with more positive personal evaluations of the Asian gay community had lower levels of total UAI compared to those with more negative personal evaluations of the Asian gay community. Conclusions: Results suggest that group devaluation is associated with higher levels of depressive mood among Asian gay men. Asian gay men most attracted to non-Whites or hold more positive evaluations of their group may be buffered from the influence of high perceived group devaluation on UAI. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)(from the journal abstract)

  14. Sid says:

    i think ongina is a trooper. she can definitely field anything an overzealous and insensitive interviewer might want to sling at her. this was the most impersonal, terse, abrasive, and impolite i’ve heard you guys be in awhile.

    so ready to jump down her throat at any chance you got. and if i have to hear you say one more time that “being true to yourself is a cliche and doesn’t mean anything” i’m going to die. what kind of answer did you expect?

    you were flippant and it seemed like you were more focused on formulating your next whitty quip than actually listening to what she was saying. you would do well to take the same advice ongina gave chanel on the last episode of rupaul’s drag race.

  15. I don’t know what you are smoking Sid but I really liked Ongina and loved talking to her. She is so full of rainbows, lollipops, unicorns and daisies that I think anyone next her her is going to come off as a hard ass bitch.

    I did press her hard though when I asked whether Rebbecca Glasscock was trying to manipulate the outcome of the challenge in her favor by having an emotional breakdown which forced the judges to keep her on the show. I wanted hear an answer and I bet Ongina knows something but may not be able to reveal it because the show is still on.

    If you let people bandy about cliches like “being true to yourself” or “keeping it real” then you don’t get them to think and reveal their true selves. Cliches are lazy.

  16. Warning says:

    I’m sure you don’t need studies to show demonstrate devaluation of asians. The way you reffer to Asian ppl and the little pranks (holding a knife to children, marc?) on your show is proof enough.

  17. Holding a knife to children? WTF? The pranks are fun and meant to celebrate.

  18. I think you’re being very unfair to us Sid. We work extremely hard to learn as much as we can about the guest. In the hour we tape the show we have certain questions we need to come across. So far we’re the only media that has done an extensive, hour long interview with Ongina. Where’s the love?

    After 900 or so shows you know that we try to be as helpful and constructive with guests who may not always be ready to examine their lives and themselves.

    “Be true to yourself” is an overused phrase that loses it’s meaning the more people use it. When I followed up with her on that moment, it was to get to to think what she was trying to say by that statement. I was trying to get her to think about her life. When I said that her statement doesn’t mean anything, it didn’t mean that her feelings are irrelevant. From her response, I think she understood what I was asking of her.

    I too am a big fan of Ongina and the TV show and loved having her on. Ongina was a great guest because she was able to think, laugh and exmaine her unique life and the phenomena of being on the TV show.

    This is primarily a comedy show, and not all jokes are funny. Sometimes we may offend people when trying to be funny. Bear with us. Breathe.

  19. BrettC says:

    I loved the interview, and love Ongina too. I thought you guys got her to reveal a lot, and it was a fun listen that had me smiling all the way through. He rocks the house! I am surprised that the two queens I want to win the race were not my faves at the start, but now I would love to see either Ongina or BeBe take the whole thing.

  20. Sid says:

    well yes i guess it did offend me,,, but sheesh i need to chillax fo sho! you are a comedy show and a damn good one at that. normally i enjoy your interviews and i have come to think of you and mark as seasoned questioners. you really are excellent at your craft. i still hung on every word of this show b/c ongina is so awesome.

    to me you came off as insensitive. i understand it def isn’t necessary to handle guests with kid gloves (especially drag queens), but i remember at one point she was semi-jokingly going to hang up on you.

    you just seemed to jump to the next question to quickly without really processing her responses. and i felt your your tone and the way you steered the interview was combative. maybe it was me being overly sensitive and unfair.

    i of course still listen to the podcasts and i don’t plan on stopping any time soon. i value the news and entertainment you bring above almost any other news source.

    i’m still a little miffed why this interview struck such a sour note with me. maybe there was a little crack in my coffee. my comment was overly scathing and i apologize for laying it on so thick. do you forgive me? 😉

    you guys keep “being true to yourselves” hehe,,, oh and hey i still eagerly await my “canary coal mine” shirt. if my order got lost i will absolutely put in another one as recompense for my actions 😉

  21. I really enjoyed this show. Ongina is an original! I congratulate you for your successes and for coming out on national TV as HIV+. That was very brave! Thanks Fausto and Marc for bringing me up to speed with current drag TV! I hope Ongina can be an inspirational figure much like Pedro Zamora was in the 1990s when he was a cast member of The Real World San Francisco. His public disclosure of his HIV status (and the fact that he was so nice and handsome) won over many people’s hearts and helped them to change the way they think about HIV and AIDS. All the best to all of you! Love love love xoxoxo Larry

  22. Ali says:

    Ongina delivered a $25,000 cheque from MAC to the Harvey Milk school:

    and a video interview with styleitonline in the NYC Mac Store:

  23. DC_GAY_MAN says:

    Dial- O for Oh Noes! Based on that last episode, I highly recommend an Ongina re-wind!

    Based on eliminations, I am feeling a pattern, here. Bring him back!

  24. nariya says:

    What a superfantastic girl. All the best to Ongina, she is inspiring in her energy and joie de vivre.

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