Born in Johnson City, Tennessee, David Huggard transformed into drag personality Eureka O'Hara and began performing in the local gay club called New Beginnings. Competing in the pageant system around town prepared them for a future in performance art that has taken them around the world.
O'Hara served fish on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race and was immediately a frontrunner in the game. After a torn ligament forced them out of the competition, an open invitation from RuPaul brought them right back the following season. After eventually landing in the top three, their career took off afterwards with music video appearances and RuPaul's Drag Race Holi-slay Spectacular.
O'Hara's latest trip takes them on the road for HBO's new project We're Here. Fellow Drag Race contestants have teamed up with O'Hara, Bob the Drag Queen and Shangela Laquifa Wadley, to change people's lives and shake some conservative beliefs along the way in a six-part unscripted series.
Eureka O'Hara: [Chants] Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
Windy City Times:[Laughs] I grew up in Tennessee, just like you!
EOH: Come on, Tennesseans in the house…
WCT: Do you still go by the last name O'Hara?
EOH: Everyone calls me Eureka in real life, but in the pageant system, I actually have several drag names. My full drag name is Eureka Belle O'Hara St. James.
RuPaul just always called me Eureka on TV. It was just easier for me to promote that versus Eureka O'Hara.
I am a junior so I am named David after my dad. I wanted my drag name to be after my mom, which is Ulrike.
WCT: What pronouns do you go by?
EOH: They/them. I'm gender-neutral, queer, fish and a human-hybrid queen all in one!
WCT: There is a lot of talk about drag mothers on the HBO show. Who was yours?
EOH: Jacqueline St. James, the winner of Miss Gay USofA at Large. She was our matriarch pageant queen where I grew up. She was the queen bee and the headliner. She's a trans, beautiful woman.
WCT: What are your thoughts on the current season of RuPaul's Drag Race?
EOH: I think it's great. I am such a huge fan and even more of one after being on the show. It's a lot of Drag Race on Friday nights now. I heard they set records and the fans stuck with it by watching all three and a half hours.
This Drag Race season is really good. Jackie Cox had me crying on a recent episode. I was upset when Widow Von'Du went home. I was on her team from the first episode when she did that backbend. There has been a lot of controversy this season though. At this point, you are either loved or hated by the fans. There's no in-between.
WCT: Who do you keep in contact with from your season?
EOH: Kameron Michaels and Farrah Moan from between both seasons I was on.
WCT: How were you cast in We're Here?
EOH: Executive producers Stephen Warren and Johnnie Ingram are very resourceful people. Stephen invited me to lunch and pitched me the idea. He said he wanted to take it to HBO. I didn't take it seriously at first. A lot of people come to drag queens and want to start projects, but it costs so much to do drag. They came through!
WCT: Why are you three the perfect picks for this show?
EOH: I think because me, Bob and Shangela are all from small towns. We moved into the big city life with Bob in New York and Shangela and I in LA. We had success on RuPaul's Drag Race. We are good at communicating with people and are empathetic. I feel it works really well.
WCT: I talked to my friend from Tennessee who was the director of photography on the show. When are they taking the show to Tennessee?
EOH: I hope we go to Tennessee. We all want to go to our hometowns for the second season. Shangela is from Paris, Texas and Bob is from Columbus, Georgia.
WCT: How did you pack for this trip?
EOH: Luckily, I have a great assistant and we packed like I do for anything else. It's just like Drag Race with all the suitcases.
We did have a team that came with us and made some costumes onsite in these towns. Everything happens while we are there. The creative process is done with our drag daughters at the moment. We don't go in completely ready at all.
That's where the authenticity of the show is. The TV is just part of the process. There is some creating and working on the important story to tell, but a lot of it happens on the spot. Our drag daughters have a lot of say-so over the performance and help us design it. Their show quality is good for people that have never performed before.
WCT: Clifton on the second episode does really well transforming into drag and is cute.
EOH: People are going to be in love with him. He's coming to my Instagram Live after the show! He is as sweet as he comes across on TV.
WCT: Why did this straight man want to try drag?
EOH: What we discovered was Clifton was regretful about the way he acted when he was younger. It was his way to forgive himself. His girlfriend wanted him to do it, so he had approval as a straight man. What straight man doesn't want to be silly and have fun?
WCT: Going into a barn with that redneck crowd on the second episode didn't scare you?
EOH: Of course it did. I get nervous before almost anything. I am such a timid person secretly.
I use the gentle giant tool. My grandmother told me early in life, "You can't do anything about how big you are, but you can use it to your advantage!" She was talking about my personality and the way I hold myself.
We fear straight people, as gay men. We are taught to fear them. Most of the time, there is awkwardness because they can sense that fear. It's uncomfortable and there's tension there. If you come in as an unafraid gay, then straight men love you. They feel like they don't have to be "on." I just talk to them like I am one of them. I do have a weiner, so we can compare if they really want to!
WCT: I did see that tucking episode…
EOH: The meaty tuck, momma! I'm glad that made the cut.
WCT: I was crying on the second episode with the grandfather supporting his grandson.
EOH: Larry was a gem. It was so sweet to see that relationship with the queer community. Relationships like that are out there. It can show people how to help their nephew or grandchild. Just treat them like all the other children!
WCT: I was surprised on the third episode that Branson, Missouri, was not more open-minded.
EOH: In the social world, we have progressed to a point where people don't care what you are and that is your business. They won't talk about things claiming that they are "family friendly." That phrase gets used a lot.
We don't need to talk about sex in front of people, but the discussion for equal opportunities for homosexual people should be allowed everywhere. That is a weird line where they try to use kids against us. Gurl, bye!
WCT: Kids love drag queens. It's like a princess dressing up to them.
EOH: Yes, they are big and colorful. They are like cartoon characters. Most of our fanbase are younger kids. My niece is a freshman in high school and all of her friends want signed promo items.
WCT: I heard the premiere party for We're Here was a Zoom call. How was it?
EOH: It was amazing. Everyone was dancing on my video screen. It was intimate and maybe what we needed at the time.
We are trying to figure out how to navigate through this time. We are still working and pushing out more content.
WCT: My friend said there were wrap parties when each episode finished as well.
EOH: Yes, and the crew became our immediate families. I think it's the message and the vibe of the show. The people that work on it get to see what we are doing. It creates a camaraderie with everyone that works on it, from the marketing to heteronormative cameramen. They have become family members of mine that I love.
WCT: What do you want audiences to take away from We're Here?
EOH: For me, I hope I get an Emmy and a second season, but I want people to get a sense of belonging out of the show. There are a lot of stories that people don't talk about very often that are shown throughout the series. I hope it starts a conversation.
The biggest message is that we all have a place. If you are gay, straight or anywhere in between, it's about loving and respecting yourself. Bob says it a lot on the show, "We are your doctor or cousin or neighbor down the street. We are all here!"
Follow the adventures of three drag queens making small-town life fierce on HBO Thursdays at 8 p.m. CT, now through June 4.