NYC Drag Queen of the Week – Viva Vidalia
There is no shortage of drag queens in NYC. You can’t throw a rock without hitting some twink in a dress thinking he’s got what it takes to shantay down the runway just because he’s seen every season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race while practicing YouTube makeup tutorials. There’s a difference, though, between learning how to just paint your face and turning that face into a work of fucking art. This weekly series highlights the queens who stand out from the crowd and rock those heels til they bleed.
Meet Viva Vidalia.
How did you come up with your drag name?
I’m a Latina queen and ‘viva’ means ‘to live’ and that really spoke to me and I just really like Vidalia onions and it kind of went, so (laughs) ‘long live the onion’.
What was your best night in drag?
I think my best night in drag thus far has been when the other girl who I host the show with, Florence D’Lee, had to call out on our anniversary. We had booked three hours and I ended up having to do it all by myself. I was terrified of doing a three-hour show by myself but once the ball started rolling it just sort of went and after I just felt so proud. I didn’t even know I could do it and I did it and I did it well and I got to keep all the tips so that’s always nice (laughing).
What was your worst night in drag?
It was week 4 of the Ultimate Drag Pageant that is held at The West End. I was going to go from this gold sequin gown, rip it away to reveal a black leotard number all while singing. Long story short, by the end of that number, I had broken the mic stand, I broke a chair and I ripped the gold sequin and was standing on stage in only my undergarments. Absolutely horrible. Worst night in drag to date.
What’s the shadiest thing another queen has ever done to you?
Florence D’lee had to call out again because she was designing a dress for Sasha Velour, so I think that’s a pretty good excuse. I was looking for queens and I decided to give a queen I rarely work with a shot at hosting the show with me and I found out after we finished the show that during my number she tried to steal my gig by talking to the bar owner who was bartending at the time. That’s pretty shady, also you must not know about me if you think you’re going to come to my gig and steal it. No ma’am.
How expensive is it to do drag?
Very. I think now, especially with Drag Race being what it is, the standard that it’s kind of set – at least if you want to get on the show- it’s an investment. You can’t just do drag for funsies anymore. If you really really want to do it, you’re going to have to come out of pocket. On any given Friday night for my show I could probably be wearing $450 – $500 worth of outfit, hair and shoes.
Have you even been injured while performing?
Oh yeah. I fancy myself a dancing queen even though I’m 407 million pounds. I do move a lot and there was one night where I was going for a pirouette and one of the floor tiles at this bar was loose so when I spun on it it spun with me and I fell and twisted my ankle and it took me out of commission for two weeks.
Women are often judged based on their body type especially in the entertainment industry. As a bigger girl, do you experience any drawbacks being plus sized?
In New York City it’s not necessarily your size that matters, it’s how entertaining you can be. My size has never stopped me from dancing or doing a death drop or doing a split or doing all the Drag Queen 101 moves. Any queen at any size that does that will get a reaction. I actually didn’t realize what am impact my size made until I started travelling and doing drag because girls who aren’t from your city and who don’t know you, are vicious. I’ve only ever felt ashamed for being as big as I am in drag outside of my own city.
What makes New York City queens different than other queens?
New York City is the home of performance. Period. We have actors, we have dancers, we have singers, we have poets, we have designers, we have fashion, art, everything all in 157 blocks. Queens in New York City have to be everything. You get to a bar, you have a two-hour show, you get a mic and a tip bucket and that’s it. So, there’s you for two hours and you have to sell it. You have to be a comedian, you have to be a singer, you have to be a dancer, you have to be an actress, you have to be funny, you have to be serious and do it pretty in 5-inch stilettos. I guess that’s why we keep winning Drag Race because we’re just bred for it.
What does your family think of you doing drag?
It’s definitely caused some tension. My father likes to pretend that he doesn’t know but it’s really hard to hide. I go home and I’m completely bald and have no facial hair and my eyebrows are shaved off, it’s pretty obvious what I’m doing. My mom has just started to accept the fact that I do it but we’re still not really at a talking place. I have an older brother who’s pretty supportive and I also have a twin brother who happens to be gay as well and he comes to my shows sometimes. My biological family isn’t necessarily supportive but my chosen family here in New York City is incredibly supportive and that’s really all that I need.