RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Asia O’Hara has apologized after a planned reveal featuring live butterflies didn’t go to plan during the show’s finale.
During her first lip-sync for the crown, O’Hara — a frontrunner to win the competition — started removing pieces of her dress, revealing butterflies enclosed within.
While the plan was for the butterflies to fly away in a sickening reveal, the insects failed to take flight, with many instead falling to the ground, meeting their fate on the stage.
The stunt not only cost Asia her chance at the crown — she was eliminated in favor of her opponent Kameron Michaels — but brought intense heat on social media, as users criticized O’Hara for using live animals in her reveal.
“Despite months of research and rehearsing with a professional company, what I hoped would be an amazing and safe display of optimism, and a surprise for everyone including production and the network, it did not go as planned,” O’Hara said in a statement posted to social media. “I would like to publicly offer the entire world my deepest apology. It’s important that everyone knows I would never purposely hurt any living being and have the utmost respect for all animals.”
— Asia O’Hara (@AsiaOharaLand) June 29, 2018
O’Hara told Entertainment Weekly that she practiced the stunt successfully several times, but the butterflies did not have enough heat on stage to wake from hibernation.
“They need to warm up to a certain temperature in order to fly away,” she explained. “I, of course, rehearsed it at home several times and it worked, but [the finale was] a different place and a different environment, and I don’t think the contraptions were warm enough to wake the butterflies up. But, as they warmed up in the stage lights during the break, they started to fly away!”
The drag queen said she took every precaution to perform the stunt humanely, and said she would never hurt animals intentionally.
“The only thing I think people may not understand is that a lot of research and time and energy went into it, and I really did do my best to present it in the most professional way possible,” she said. “I traveled to a different state several times. It wasn’t just that I went outside and found a bunch of butterflies and stuck them inside my costume. I was very careful and took a lot of time to research it… it wasn’t a careless act.”
O’Hara also added that she and several of her friends are planning on donating “over 100 volunteer hours” to the ASPCA, which promotes the care and treatment of animals.
While the butterflies were an absolute blunder, it became one of the most talked about moments in the finale with many creating memes of Asia’s attempted stunt.
— Michelle Diaz Wolf (@MichelleWolf423) June 29, 2018
That lipsync for the crown needs to go into the vault not to be seen again oh man #DragRace
— Adam Moussa (@adamjmoussa) June 29, 2018
— Spencer Barrett (@spencerbarrett) June 29, 2018
Read our full recap of the RuPaul’s Drag Race finale here.