Drag Race Thailand judge Pangina Heals is here to spice up your winter with a hot new series on WOW Presents Plus. Following her (too brief) run on Drag Race UK vs.The World, Pangina joins fellow queens like Jujubee, Cheryl Hole, Ongina, Honey Davenport and Jimbo for Tongue Thai’d with Pangina Heals.
On the show, the queens meet up at one of LA’s most authentic Thai restaurants, Hoy-Ka Hollywood, for an intimate conversation over an incredible spread of Thai cuisine. As the cuisine gets hotter, so does the tea they spill!
We had a chance to talk to Pangina Heals about her new series, delicious Thai food, her experience on Drag Race UK vs.The World and more in our exclusive interview.
Congratulations on Tongue Thai’d. I watched the first episode and it’s great.
Pangina Heals: Aw, thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed it.
The only thing is that I’m so used to Netflix where you can just binge every single episode. I wanted to watch more immediately and now I have to wait until next week.
Yes. We’ll have more for you. And it gets crazier. This was just the start!
So, how did the show come about?
Well, I’ve always been really passionate about food, but also about telling people about my culture. Among Thai people, there’s a saying, like whenever you’re saying hi to someone and you’re in the middle of a meal, you would say an expression that means “come and eat with us.” They might not even have enough food. But it’s a way of saying hi. And that reflects a lot on our culture as a whole in terms of how food is so ingrained within it. And different parts of Thailand have different foods, you know, and it’s a way of sharing. And we talk and we usually sit on the floor, what a lot of Thais do, and kind of just bond. I wanted to share this with the other entertainers that I know and I went to World of Wonder. And they loved the idea. So this is, you know, my new baby.
You should be a very proud parent because it’s a great show.
Aw, I’m so glad.
Your guests on this season include Jujubee and Jimbo. What was the wildest thing that happened on this first season?
I think we had a lot of antacids because Thai food is no joke. And every single time I try to make the guests that come…really, like their mouths should be burning. So the person who has to end up paying for all of that is me because we filmed many episodes in one day and every single day. So literally I was in so much pain by the end. I did not want to eat Thai food for a month.
it was so great having Jimbo on as well because, you know, according to the world we’re arch nemeses. So it was really great having her and, you know, Juju and Ongina because Ongina is literally one of my drag idols. So, for me to actually sit down and have food with her, it was just really special. And, you know, Juju is just insane. And we get to talk and converse in our native tongues, which was a special moment that a lot of Southeast Asian fans have been waiting for.
I got to meet Mark Kanemura who is one of my dance idols. I’ve been watching Lady Gaga’s music videos since I was little, so it was so nice for me to just hang out. And Honey Davenport is insane. The stories that she’ll be telling you. Like, oh my God, I hope it makes it on the air like the part when she was having sex while she was DJing…ooh…t was so good!
I love Thai food myself. What is your favorite Thai dish?
Okay. It’s got to be some of the curries…and we have like really good southern curry, that has vegetables in it – and it looks really scary to a lot of foreigners, but it just feeds the soul. What’s your favorite?
It’s so pedestrian, but I love Pad Thai, but I also love the Massaman Curry.
That’s a good choice.
I’m also a level 5 too. I get it as spicy as they will let me have it.
Oh, okay. So you are trained in the arts. That’s good to know. Actually. You know where Pad Thai comes from? So, pad means stir fry. Thai is obviously Thailand. So this one lady, one day, she had nothing else in her refrigerator to cook for her family. So she got the leftover noodles and some of the ingredients she had and stir-fried and there you go. Pad Thai.
Do you enjoy the spice or are you just eating spicy for the show?
Thai people…we need this feeling of itchy heads. Itchy heads means that when you are sweating from the top of your forehead and at the back of your cranium because of the spice, that’s when you feel alive and you feel like, yes, I am Thai now.
Is there going to be a season two in the works or are there plans for the next season?
Please write to WOW, because I would love to get my stomach irritated again. And it was so much fun doing it. So, I would love to. There are so many other Thai foods that I have not shared yet – and it gets weirder. We have frog dishes, we have even dishes that I wouldn’t eat, like ants and ant eggs. We have lots of crazy stuff.
So if you had a second season, who would you love to put in the hot seat?
I would love Morgan McMichael to come on the show because she doesn’t eat in drag.
I would love Raja to come because she wanted to come. Valentina would be really fun. Those are just the names off the top of my head, but oh, Blu. Blu would be fun. I want to torment her. I don’t think she can handle the spice, so it’ll be fun for me to watch.
I just watched Bring Back My Girls yesterday, the episode that you were on, and I wanted to ask you a little bit about Drag Race UK vs The World. What was it like going from being a judge to being judged on the show?
Well, obviously you saw. I was quite prepared for the challenges. You know, I took 11 types of classes. I don’t want to be that girl who’s like, how do you not know how to sew? So, I learned how to sew and I treated it as the biggest competition of my life, the biggest opportunity of my life and for many drag queens, it really is.
So I went in it with a very serious goal. I went in it with the background that my mother is an Asian dragon lady. She’s not like a tiger mom. She’s a dragon mom. So, I trained myself. I took classes from 9:00 AM to 1:00 AM every single day. And it was really crazy because I felt that I had to represent my country and then halfway through the competition, I thought just representing me was enough.
What was your favorite challenge on the show, and what was your least favorite challenge on the show? I think I know the answer to that one…
I mean, the least favorite was probably Snatch Game, as you saw. But I will stand behind my Mariah Carey. I didn’t think it was that bad. Yes, all the jokes did not land. But I still am not traumatized by doing Mariah Carey. I feel my love for Mariah Carey trumps the fact that I will not be scarred by playing her again. And, Christmas is around the corner, so I’ll definitely be pulling her out of the bag.
My favorite challenge, honestly was the sewing challenge and the Rusical challenge just because it was something that I did not know that I could do, and I excelled at it. I love challenges that bring out the best in you and you are pleasantly surprised by your capabilities.
Well, I just want to give a shout-out to that slot machine costume you wore. That was my favorite of the whole season.
Aww. It’s made even better when I cried in it. (Laughs)
Well, not the crying bit, but I just love that outfit. It was so inventive. So, how did you, how did you get your start in drag?
Literally, I was a dancer before. One day the drag queen didn’t show up. I knew how to dance. I was like, let’s just do this. And there was a makeup artist there, so they put me in drag and I just kind of got pushed onto the stage and I’ve never looked back because I felt it was powerful. I felt like I could connect with the audience and honestly, it’s been 11…actually 12 years now that I’ve been doing it, and I’m still learning new things and it’s constantly evolving and it’s not just art, but it’s literally a celebration of life itself and a celebration of self-love.
Now you’ve got your own nightclub in Thailand, the House of Heals. How is the drag scene different in Thailand than it is here in the States?
I think drag is heavily influenced by culture, music and fashion. We have a different look in terms of what kind of songs we do, we are highly rooted in the cabaret culture. So, a lot of us, we have that aspect of it being like a showgirl-esque vibe, but we also experiment because, you know, a lot of us are inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race as well, so, it’s constantly evolving, I would say. But me getting to travel the world, going to see different types of drag, something that I love bringing back is different perspectives on drag. Like before we didn’t use human hair. Now all the girls are using human hair –ethically sourced. And in terms of music, now we kind of diversify it and look into what’s hot right now versus what’s popular from people who taught us from before, you know?
Is there any word on season three of Drag Race Thailand?
I believe that good things will happen very soon…and I can’t say anything because, you know, I don’t want to get into trouble, but I think it’s about time.
You are a multi-talented performer. Is there something you haven’t done yet that you still want to tackle?
This year I actually fulfilled some of my dreams. I got to walk at New York Fashion Week. I got my own show with WOW and I got to be the face of this big brand in Thailand and so, I am just excited for my future because, you know, I’m a big believer in manifestation and I definitely would want to continue this journey, but I don’t want to reveal everything because it’s better when people are just suddenly like, “Oh my God, this bitch that did that”, you know?
Pangina Answers the Socialite Seven
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
The biggest influence on my career? I mean, is it cliche to say one of them is RuPaul? Because I’ve been watching this show before I did drag. Umm, my mother because she hated me doing drag and I love doing what my mother hates. (Laughs)
What is your dream lip sync song?
if I get to do a lip sync on the show and it was a lip sync for your life or a lip sync? I don’t even see the difference because every single time I lip sync for the legacy, it looks like I’m lip syncing for my life because I’ve been watching the show for so long, But, Donna Summer, “Last Dance”. I don’t care how good you are at lip syncing, I would go head-to-head with you.
What is the weirdest question you’ve been asked?
Can I give you a thousand dollars to have sex with you in drag?
I’ve heard that a lot. Who would you want to play you in your biopic?
Wait, wait, wait. Let’s go back to that. What do you mean? You’ve heard that a lot? Okay. I guess I have to amp up my weirdness. I was asked one time to take a photo of my feet and point at them and said that they are horrible because apparently, that makes them feel good sexually. I mean, I’m not judging their fantasy, but it was kind of like, what?
Who would you want to play you in the movie of your life?
What are three things that you can’t live without?
Sunblock, wine and good sex.
What superpower or talent would you love to have that you don’t already?
The power to be good at Snatch Game!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I think it’s something my father said. It’s if you love what you do, money is the bonus. Not the necessity. So, what he means by that is that happiness should be the biggest reward and not the money itself and he followed by saying that the money will come if you love what you do.
New episodes of Tongue Thai’d with Pangina Heals premiere on Tuesdays on WOW Presents Plus. Follow Pangina on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok and score sickening merch on her website.