When Phi Phi O’Hara first shocked and galvanized audiences during Season 4 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the world knew she was bound for big things. What we couldn’t have guessed was that years later, Phi Phi’s creator Jaremi Carey would be able to jumpstart a relief effort for Puerto Rico with a single tweet.
Of course, that’s just what happened when Carey got involved with Somos Una Vos, a charity formed by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony to provide funds for Puerto Rican families struck by this year’s devastation.
On Nov. 6 in Minneapolis, Carey, along with a host of other world-class drag performers, lip-synced for their lives in an effort to raise funds for the charity. We caught a minute to chat with Carey beforehand to talk about drag, sisterhood, and the importance of giving back.
How did you first get involved with Somos Una Vos?
I really wanted to make sure that money raised from the event would be put directly into Puerto Rican hands. My biggest fear is that these charities and organizations collect money and refuse to actually help anyone. I wanted to really help, so I reached out to my PR team to reach out to their connections. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s agent replied within minutes to fill us in on the amazing things and on-site help their relief fund is doing. It was a perfect match for what we wanted.
You’ve really gone out of your way to make a difference with this campaign. What about this fundraiser feels personal to you?
My husband is Puerto Rican and, being a part of his family, I’m inspired by the love Puerto Ricans have for their island, each other and people in general. At the time of the hurricane we had family members stuck on the island with no way of contacting them. Then, seeing my very own “RuPaul’s Drag Race” sisters stuck on the island struggling made me feel helpless. I wanted to create something – even if I didn’t raise a lot – create something so that I could help, even if only a little bit.
How did the planning for the show come together?
Through the power of social media. I literally tweeted, putting all the girls on the spot, asking for someone to help put this show together and for the girls to donate their time and use their power and their platform to give back! They responded!
What is the greatest part of being a powerful Queen?
A powerful Queen: That is a strong statement (LOL!) I think we are all powerful. That said, I do feel the strongest when I am doing good. I have been blessed to have this very amazing life where I am surrounded by people with strong platforms and the ability to do good in this world, so why not. The fact that I can use my name to create a positive experience that will hopefully enhance others’ lives make me feel powerful!
What do you think is the most important way people can help with relief (next to donating money?) ]
That is tough. Money is the best option, unfortunately there aren’t a lot of outlets to donate goods and clothes. Plus, many of those items are not able to be transported to the island. As a result, we have to rely a lot upon people and companies currently on the island, making sure that money is getting to them so they can buy what they need as far as water, batteries, and food.
What are some ways in which the queer community can come together to fight this administration?
I think we all know from history that the LGBTQIA community has a lot of power, especially in numbers. We get stuff done. Being quiet about the corruption, the hate, the constant stream of lies, the dangers to our lives – all of that is NOT okay. Also, not saying anything and or not caring adds to the problem. If “they” see that they can pull one over on just one person they will continue to do it. For as long as they can. Speak up, stay informed.
What’s next for Phi Phi O’Hara?
Sleep! (LOL, just kidding.) I am going on tour for the holidays for almost 30 dates. I’m off to rehearsal to prepare for the Christmas Queens tour presented by PEG. So, get your tickets come see me….and give me a hug!