Brian developed an interest in cross-dressing when he was in college. He hosted a drag show where he played a Russian lady. His performance was highly praised. That was how Brian sketched the drag queen character ‘Katya,’ which has now become Brian’s alter-ego.
Katya, the drag character, is portrayed as a high-class Russian prostitute with an absurd and dark sense of humor. Created in 2006, the character’s name is a combination of several Russian names and includes the name of one of Brian’s favorite Russian gymnasts, Elena Zamolodchikova. The inspiration behind developing a Russian character was one of Brian’s professors. While in college, Brian was highly inspired by a professor who excelled in drag makeup and would wear drag costumes effortlessly. In addition, the character was also inspired by some of Brian’s favorite female comedians, such as Tracy Ullman, Maria Bamford, and Amy Sedaris. Brian also joined Russian language classes and worked hard on learning the correct Russian accent in order to enrich the character with a flawless Russian touch.
After his first drag performance, which was in a sewer in Worcester, Brian was determined to become a drag queen. Katya made her debut in a monthly drag show, ‘Perestroika,’ hosted at the 'Jacques Cabaret.' Soon, Katya began earning accolades in Boston’s local drag arena. Most of Katya’s performances were on tracks by popular Russian artists, such as Alla Pugacheva, t.A.T.u., and Glukoza. Interestingly, Katya’s performances made these songs doubly popular worldwide, especially in gay clubs.
Katya received global recognition after she participated in the seventh season of ‘Logo TV’s LGBT reality series 'RuPaul's Drag Race.' She had auditioned for the show four times earlier. During her stint on the show, Katya won millions of hearts. She was among the most popular contestants on the show. After winning two challenges on the show, she was finally eliminated in the eleventh episode. She was in the fifth place when she was eliminated. However, her elimination was controversial, as she was the viewers’ favorite contestant. Despite not winning the competition, Katya’s charm and spectacular performances won her the title of 'Miss Congeniality.' On May 16, 2016, in the season finale of the eight season of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' Katya passed on the title to Cynthia Lee Fontaine.
In 2016, Katya participated in the second season of 'All Stars,' a spin-off of 'RuPaul's Drag Race.' She ended her journey on the show as the runner-up.
Katya then moved on to start her own ventures. In March 2016, she started a web series, 'UNHhhh,' on the 'YouTube' channel 'World of Wonder.' She hosted the series with Trixie Mattel, a fellow drag queen. Prior to that, Katya had performed on the album 'Christmas Queens,' which featured her singing the modified version of the track '12 Days of Christmas.’
In August 2017, Katya and Trixie announced their own show on the channel 'Viceland.' Titled 'The Trixie & Katya Show,' the show was a continuation of 'UNHhhh' and premiered on November 15, 2017. With this, Katya became active on social media. She uploaded several web series on her 'YouTube' channel, 'welovekatya,’ which has now garnered over 168 thousand subscribers. Some of the popular web series are 'RuGRETs,' 'RuFLECTIONS,' 'Drag 101,' 'Total RuCall,' and 'Irregardlessly Trish.' In 2018, Katya appeared in a brief role in the film 'Hurricane Bianca 2: From Russia with Hate.' She hosts the podcast 'Whimsically Volatile,’ along with American film director Craig MacNeil. Katya also owns a website where she blogs, updates her fans about her shows, and trades her signature merchandize.
On 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' Katya had admitted to being addicted to drugs in the past. Due to her addiction, she was sent for rehabilitation at the 'Serenity Care Center' in Surprise, Arizona. She once stole 20 thousand dollars to pay for drugs. Katya had once admitted to have offered sex in exchange for money. However, she is now completely free of any kind of addiction.
Family & Personal Life
Katya was born Brian Joseph McCook, on May 1, 1982, in Boston, Massachusetts, US. He grew up with his older brother and younger sister, in Marlborough, Massachusetts. He is of Irish descent and was raised according to Catholic faith.
Brian attended 'Marlborough High School' and graduated in 2001. He then attended 'Massachusetts College of Art and Design,' where he studied video and performance art in the 'Studio for Interrelated Media' (SIM) program. During this time, he developed an interest in drag.
Katya has always been open about her relationships and sexual orientation. While her drag persona is portrayed as bisexual, her male identity, Brian, is gay. Katya has hyperhidrosis, which makes her sweat a lot. Thus, she is regarded as “the sweatiest woman” in the entertainment industry. Female comedians such as Tracey Ullman, Maria Bamford, and Amy Sedaris have always inspired her. Katya hates ‘Disney’ movies.