Dragged out: a drag queen’s account
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 20:01
Donning a wig, a painted face and high heels takes a lot of courage, especially for males. Leaving an identity in order to impersonate the opposite sex: sheer bravery.
As LGBT culture becomes integrated into popular culture, reality shows like “Rupaul’s Drag Race,” where several drag queens compete for a crown, signify the rise of drag queens. Drag legend Rupaul even graced the pages of Entertainment Weekly, giving an insight of his day-to-day life as a drag superstar.
Drag queens are the pioneers of the LGBT kingdom, sitting upon thrones of campiness, comedy and beauty. For Andy Villa, otherwise known as Asphyxia LaTrash, being a drag queen is all about entertainment.
“I don’t think I represent a woman. Because, yeah, it’s a drag — I’m not trying to be a woman. I’m not trying to pass off as a woman. It’s like a uniform — it’s for money. It’s for tips,” he said.
Villa, who began painting his face at the young age of 13, currently resides in the heart and heat of Texas, where prejudices against the LGBT community run rampant. He said drag was an escape from the rough times he experienced in high school.
“See, I didn’t wake up one morning and want to put on fake boobs and make up. It’s a process,” he said. “It all started when I would watch movies like ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ and ‘Too Wong Foo.’ It’s weird how you can change your face with make up. I just got bored one day, and I just started painting my face. To me, it’s an art form. My body is a canvas.”
In his first experience in drag, Villa said he looked “busted,” which in the drag dictionary means “not put together well.”
“I went to a party, and I didn’t want to dress up in normal clothes. I just went with boobs stuffed with socks and Party City hair,” he said. “It was a big step for me. The feedback wasn’t that great, though.”
Drag culture, known for its ruthlessness that can often translate into hilarity, exists as its own separate culture, ranging from “fishy” girls, “trashy” girls to “pageant” girls.
As shown in the documentary about drag culture in New York during the early 1990s, “Paris in Burning,” drag queens pick at one another’s flaws in the form of what queens like to call “reading.”
Villa said most of the criticism he receives for being a drag queen comes from other queens.
“If someone is doing something right, they are going to pick at it — because they want you to feel lower than themselves,” he said. “If they see a shoe untied, they’ll point you out on it. If they see you painted your face too much, they’ll say it looks like you put your face in a cake.”
Eventually, with enough experience, Villa began performing at amateur nights because he said he still considers himself an amateur.
Lip-syncing to songs by Marina and the Diamonds and Lady Gaga, Villa said he likes to add his own twists to his performances.
Even though she has died, Selena remains one of Villa’s inspirations.
“She had a presence to her. She was very graceful. When I was just a little drag queen, I had videos of me singing her songs,” he said.
In a drag-filled day, Villa said transforming into a drag queen takes a little time to achieve a womanly persona.
“It takes longer than 30 minutes to look this cute. It takes me around an hour and a half to two hours for full face, hair, boobs and shoes. The works,” he said.
Not only does Villa alter himself physically, but he also said his personality happens to split when he takes on the name and identity of Asphyxia.
“I can do things as Asphyxia that I wouldn’t be able to do with Andy. To me, every drag queen has an item that changes them. Once my eyelashes are on, it’s a new world,” he said. “I have different opinions. It feels like a personality disorder. When I’m a boy, I feel boring. Asphyxia doesn’t care. If you look at me ugly, I’m going to look right back at you ugly. As Andy, I’m really shy.”
But Villa’s decision to portray a female persona did not find much support from his family.
As of now, he is no longer in contact with most of his family because of the lack of acceptance.
However, he said he keeps on doing what he loves with self-acceptance and the amount of positive feedback he receives.
“At the end of the day, I’m comfortable being me. I am me — I can’t change. If they can’t accept me for who I am, it’s their problem. At the end of the day, I am happy,” he said.
Villa, a fan of “Rupaul’s Drag Race,” said he believes the reality show is opening the eyes of close-minded Americans.
“If I could meet Rupaul, I would thank him. It’s really changing popular culture and the arts. Someone I never expected to watch the show mentioned it to me,” he said. “It really puts a spotlight on something that isn’t usually accepted.”
Villa said because of the reality show, drag queens are no longer considered freaks.
“We aren’t freaks. We are human beings that like to entertain,” he said. “I feel like Oprah right now saying all of this.”