Have you watched Eureka‘s new music video, The Big Girl? Do you keep BeBe Zahara Benet‘s Jungle Kitty video on a loop? Do you love Monet X Change‘s Soak It Up video? Have you ever wondered who is mastermind behind the music videos? Well meet Assaad Yacoub, the director behind some of your favorite drag queen music videos.
I got the chat with Assaad and learn more about how he got his start and more about his work with the drag queens. Get an inside look with our exclusive interview with him.
Javay Frye: How did you end up in LA?
Assaad Yacoub: I came to LA for film school. I moved here from New York to complete my bachelor’s as part of my [bachelor’s] program and then I stuck around to do my masters and after that I was here to stay.
JF: Was your masters in Music or Film?
JF: What made you get into doing music videos with drag queens?
AY: That was Bob the Drag Queen. All his plan. So after Cherry Pop, because he was in my movie, he was like, “Hey do you do music videos?” and I was like “Sure.” I didn’t really do music videos but I took a leap of faith and did hers. And I kept going from there.
JF: You had no background in music before that?
AY: No, music background other than dance, I used to be a dancer, but I never played an instrument.
JF: Since music videos have become what you’re known for, how do you see your career progressing?
AY: I am thinking bigger budgets, more elaborate videos. I think it’s been happening. The videos have been getting bigger budgets so hopefully the videos will continue to get bigger and better.
JF: Is there any queen you want to work with but haven’t yet?
AY: Sharon Needles, because I love her concepts and Alaska. I worked with her [Alaska] with Bob for a video but I would love to do a solo video with her.
JF: What made you want to get into film?
AY: I just wanted to get out of the Middle East. My parents didn’t want me to come to America so I randomly googled film schools in NY and went with it. I didn’t know if i was going to be any good at it or if i was even going to like it. I had never been to America and I had just up and moved.
JF: How did you survive, just up and moving to NY?
AY: I was just like fuck it. I went and was going to do something I liked.
JF: What would you say is your favorite genre of music?
AY: Aja’s style. More of the rap videos. I don’t normally listen to that style of music, but in the drag world it’s my favorite style. I actually enjoy Aja’s music aside from doing the music videos. Her “Brujería” video was the hardest to shoot. At one point I was huddling behind a generator to stay warm. We shot it in Runyon Canyon at the original bat cave.
JF: What is the process like for you, working with queens to shoot the videos?
AY: Mainly they call me a week before and they’re like, “Hi, I want a music video.” A lot of times girls will come with a loose concept and then I will flesh it out and then sometimes queens, like Bob, will come with a fully realized idea that I have to make more realistic. She’ll be like, “I want people flying here” and then I’ll be like, “okay here is what we’re doing.” Other queens come with the song and then I come up with the entire idea. It depends on how the queen is. Some like to get fully involved and others like to let me handle it.
JF: Do you have any upcoming projects?
AY: Aja’s next video is coming soon. It’s gonna be the most elaborate shoot I’ve ever done, so I’m nervous and excited!
Check out some of Assaad’s work with some of your queens below and be sure to look out for his new video with Aja soon!