The second season of Drag Race Down Under featured with big personalities, comedy queens and lip-sync assassins but one quieter queen really stood out from the crowd. Australian drag legend Art Simone labelled Yuri Guaii the future of drag, and we agree. Oliver Hall talks to Yuri about mastering makeup, sewing up a storm and preferring Michelle Visage to RuPaul!

“I was super excited and happy, but so nervous,” says Yuri Guaii describing the moment he found out he had been cast of Drag Race.

Upon receiving the new Yuri did what any sensible queen would and went out to dinner with Season One alumni and Canada Vs The World star, Anita Wigl’it.


“I was like, ‘Oh My God, help me. I don’t know what I’m doing!” Mimics Yuri.

Anita’s top tips were simple: just have fun, be yourself and don’t overthink anything. 

“You know, me, I did not take any of that on board!” Laughs Yuri who struggled with anxiety and self-doubt throughout filming. “People are like, ‘Oh, just be natural, but how am I supposed to be natural when there’s a camera in my face!”

Yuri Guaii

Born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Yuri was a the only Auckland-based queen to be cast on Season Two and had doing drag since 2014.

At age 17, I met my first drag queen DeeDee Vine outside Family Bar. I was so intrigued by her beauty and confidence to express herself the way she was… I had this big fascination with drag, just seeing people confidently expressing themselves through the art form, being able to create this character or be one’s true self, just being able to have an outlet to express your creativity in all facets – it had me hooked!” 

Studying Fashion and Technology at university, Yuri learnt to sew, a skill, “I love doing just as much as drag,” he tells us.

“I only spent like $5,000 on pretty much everything I wore on Drag Race because I sewed everything I wore… it’s a handy skill to have!”

Combined with her creative fashion, Yuri’s looks are completed with his worldclass make up skills.

“I’m self-taught!” He exclaims, addinging, “I’ve always played around with makeup up, whether it was doing makeup on my younger sister or myself growing up. I spent six months being a bedroom queen, just practicing drag makeup because I wanted to look the very best before I even started going out.”

Yuri Guaii

He names Trixie Mattel and Raven as his makeup influences, telling us he met Raven backstage when filming Drag Race but was too in awe to have a conversation.

Perhaps it didn’t help that when Yuri did open his mouth he wasn’t sure he had said the right thing. When meeting Michelle Visage, he tells us, “I said to her, ‘I’m more excited to meet you than RuPaul.’”

To which Michele replied: ‘you should never say those words again, but thank you!’

RuPaul’s advice for Yuri, mirrored the words of wisdom Yuri has been hearing for most of his life: ‘don’t care what other people think, be yourself and have more confidence in you!’ 

“I’m trying,” Yuri confesses, “but it’s hard to do it over overnight.”

All in all the Drag Race experience has helped Yuri’s confidence to grow. 

“Watching it back I was like okay, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” he says, adding his favourite moment was succeeding the drag brunch challenge where he was partnered with (eventual season winner) Spankie Jackzon, and has very much enjoyed audiences reaction to the show.

“They messages saying ‘you’ve done New Zealand proud!’ It’s honestly so heartwarming, people being like it’s great seeing another anxious, awkward, shy person on TV – they feel seen.”

Having completed the Drag Race Down Under Tour across Australia and New Zealand last month, Yuri is focused in his future. “I’m thinking of moving to Australia at the beginning of next year, because there’s more opportunities for me over there,” he tells us before summing up his life plans with his iconic Drag Race catchphrase: “I’m just gonna live fast, have fun and spread cum across the world!”

Follow @yuriguaii on Instagram.