Suspension of Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘drag queen

The young believer

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Outrage Magazine | 29 June 2018

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“As long as there are LGBT advocates who will fight tirelessly for the advancement of our advocacy, things will get better.”

So said 19-year-old Ian Jaurigue, a self-identified “gender advocate”.

And Ian believes that “(the older generation) did a good job when it comes to working for the advocacy, and we need to learn from their experiences and be grateful for it. If they did not start it, the advocacy would not have had moved forward.”

According to Ian, the young advocates today still have a lot to do; and for Ian, this is “not just talk and rant about (the issues).”

But while recognizing the efforts of those who helped start the movement, Ian also recognizes that there are gaps. And these gaps are not helped by the “disconnect” between his generation and the one before it.

“The struggles may have evolved and revolutionized, but we, the younger generation, still need to reflect and learn from what they have accomplished,” he said. Only “by doing this (will we be helped to) have a stronger grasp of our advocacy.”

Also, even if the LGBTQI movement has reached new heights, according to Ian, the young advocates today still have a lot to do; and for Ian, this is “not just talk and rant about (the issues).”

“It is nice to know that there are already a lot of people who support us. But it does not mean that we should settle for these little triumphs. As long as there is still inequality on the basis of one’s SOGIE, our call and our fight should be stronger,” Ian said.

Incidentally, Ian is also a freelance makeup artist, theater and indie actor, dancer, a student at U.P. Diliman, and… a drag artist. He is known in the drag community as – plainly – Mrs Tan.

“My style is a mixture of dance, comedy, and theater,” Ian said.

Though he is still new in the world of drag, Ian believes that the way he carries himself and how he performs onstage prove that “age is nothing but a number”.

Ian merges his advocacy with his performances, making sure that “every performance brings a certain message and not just a spectacle. I like the feeling when I’m able to give a deeper message to the audience while I’m performing,” he said.

His first foray into the world of drag was when he joined U.P. Samaskom’s Live AIDS. Ian took on the role of a drag queen. But he felt, during that time, that “drag should be more than what I did in Live AIDS; there should be meaning to it.”

Whenever he performs, “I feel a sense of fulfillment and liberation. I’m not just entertaining people, I’m also giving them something to think about. There is pride to it.”

For someone as young as Ian, “Pride is both a celebration and a revolution.”

On the one hand, it is a celebration of the LGBT community’s diversity, accomplishments, and ongoing contributions. But on the other hand, “Pride is also a protest for the members who are not able to take advantage and enjoy their basic human rights, and for those who have died because they are members of the LGBTQI community,” Ian ended.

“It is nice to know that there are already a lot of people who support us. But it does not mean that we should settle for these little triumphs. As long as there is still inequality on the basis of one’s SOGIE, our call and our fight should be stronger,” Ian said.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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Fulfilling a lifelong dream to be in the spotlight

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Outrage Magazine | 8 June 2017

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This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBT people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”

“Two hundred binayad sa akin noong una akong mag-perform, pero masaya na ako. Okay lang kasi matagal ko na itong pinangarap (I was paid P200 the first time I performed, but I was already happy. It’s okay because this has been my dream for so long).”

That was how Richard Fabella, better known by her stage name as Princess Jolens, broke into the drag scene, perhaps highlighting how her journey into the spotlight was not an easy one. But more than the failed attempts, it was perseverance that “paved the way for the fulfillment of my dreams,” she said.

Princess Jolen’s exposure to the drag scene was somewhat atypical.

“One time, nagkaayaan kaming mag-barkada, mga workmates ko, na pumunta sa isang hosto bar. Habang aliw na aliw sila sa mga macho dancer, ako naman manghang-mangha sa gay impersonator. Sobrang na-impress ako sa host (One time, me and friends went to a male go-go bar. While there, they were so fascinated with the macho dancers; but me, I was fascinated with the gay impersonator. I was so impressed with that host),” Princess Jolens said.

That first exposure to the world of drag left an indelible mark on her.

Habang pinapanood ko ung impersonator, maraming sumagi sa imagination ko – kung ako ung nasastage, sisiguraduhin ko na magandang-maganda ung suot kong gown (While watching the impersonator, a lot of things entered my mind. I was thinking that if I’m the one onstage, I’d make sure I’d be wearing a really fabulous gown),” she laughed.

When the night ended, as they headed out of the bar, Princess Jolens saw the impersonators eating outside. She didn’t let the opportunity pass. She walked over to them and introduced herself.

“Mama, magkano per night niyo dito sa bar (Girls, how much do you earn every night here in the bar)? Princess Jolens asked. “P150 a night lang; tapos kung walang tao, P100 lang (They earn P150 per night; and if there aren’t any people, just P100 per night). Oh my God!

She was shocked after hearing how much the performers were earning, “but they seemed happy with what they were doing, and that’s the most important thing.”

That encounter encouraged her to pursue her desire to perform.

During one of her night-outs, she stumbled upon an opportunity to make her dreams a reality.

“I went to this bar in Pasay and I saw at the counter a poster announcing the bar’s annual beauty pageant. The floor manager approached me and asked if I was interested. I immediately said ‘no’. It never crossed my mind to join beauty pageants,” Princess Jolens said. “I told the manager that I prefer performing than be a ‘beauconera‘.”

The floor manager told Princess Jolens “that one of the prizes that I would get if I win the pageant would be a regular set at the bar,” she recalled. With some hesitations, Princess Jolens joined the contest.

She was able to reach the grand finals. But, unfortunately, she did not win

A few days later, she joined another pageant in Cubao. And this time, she won the title.

Princess Jolens went back to the bar in Pasay to let the performers – with whom she became friends with during the contest – know about her victory.

That night at the bar, she met the floor manager again.

“He introduced me to the owner. They asked me what my talents are. I told them that I can do anything – that I’m even willing to perform for free. I just want to perform,” Princess Jolens said.

And that was the turning point for her, as she “officially” entered the drag scene.

She earned P200 on her first night and she was happy with it.

It was a thankless beginning to a drag career.

Different bars noticed her, and eventually, she started getting bookings left and right.

“I started from P200 a night, but when I started performing in other bars, it became P3,000 per night,” she said.

She juggled her daytime job and the demands of being a performer.

“It’s all good. I love what I was doing. It did not matter if I was only able to sleep for a few hours because of rehearsals. There was also a time when I made costumes while at work. It was tiring, but it was really fun… because I love what I was doing,” Princess Jolens said.

But then, another chapter of her life started. Princess Jolens got an offer to work abroad with her ex.

She gave up everything for love. Princess Jolens and her partner at that time went to Jeddah.

Pero isang taon pa lang ang nakakalipas (But after only a year), I felt that my ex could not love me the way I was hoping he would. After I gave up everything, that was what happened,” she recalled.

When she finished her contract, she went back to the Philippines.

Princess Jolens got in touch with the bars that she was connected with before – and in no time, she started performing again.

“The art of drag is slowly dying,” she sadly said. Nowadays, “there is no production value, especially those who perform in small bars. That’s wrong. Regardless if it’s a small or a big venue, you should always be at your best. Your next performance will depend on your last performance. If you do well with your last performance, expect that you will have another set the following day. But if you did not do well, don’t expect another booking the following day.”

Although there is a growing number of drag performers in Manila, for Princess Jolens, “the quality of their performance is no longer that good.”

“It’s not always about how much you are earning. It’s not always about the money. It’s about entertaining the audience. It’s about being beautiful on stage and giving your best performance,” she said.

Princess Jolens also said that some drag performers now do not value the opportunity given to them. “You will see that they are not taking their job seriously, like as if they are just playing on stage. Some of them are prima donnas.”

For Princess Jolens, “whenever you perform on stage, put yourself in the position of the audience. Ask yourself what you would like to see and experience. That’s what you should give. The audience should be in awe when they watch you. And if you successfully achieve that, then that’s the only time you would leave a mark as a performer.”

And Princess Jolens ought to know, of course; considering what she had to go through to be where she is now.

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(Established in April 2007, Outrage Magazine remains the only publication exclusive for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and allied community in the Philippines.)

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Fighting for what we believe is beautiful – Adore Delano

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Outrage Magazine | 01 March 2015

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timthumb-1“It’s so cliché, but it’s always ‘be who you are’. Sometimes clichés are clichés because they’re right. It’s just as simple as that.  Don’t be afraid to just be who you are. Speak up, really.”

That is Adore Delano’s (real name:Danny Noriega) advice to young LGBTQ people.

“I always say that a lot of the drag queens get flak for what they do, but the first person in Stonewall who threw that stone in the glass was a drag queen. It’s like we fight for what we believe in and I think it’s a beautiful thing. If you have a voice, fucking speak up!”

Delano finished as one of the top three contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s sixth season, thereby making a name as an international drag queen. Even if she did not win the title as “America’s Next Drag Superstar”, she was one of the few queens who joined the reality show who ended up making a name somehow.

In an exclusive interview with Outrage Magazine, Delano recalled how the whole experience opened new doors for her life and career.

“My whole life changed. I can take care of my family now. I can confidently say that I don’t have to think about how much money I have in my bank account to buy this dress or anything.”

Delano could still recall how things were in the past, when she was just starting, “I was always that poor queen who would borrow $4 to buy a pack of cigarettes,” she said.  “But I don’t really have to do that anymore.”

Delano’s first album, “Till Death Do Us Party”, logged the biggest sales in a week from any of RuPaul’s Drag Race competitors, selling 5,000 copies during the week of its release.

The record also produced several singles that charted, like Party, which debuted at No. 3 on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart and at No. 59 on Billboard 200; and I Adore You, which debuted at No. 49 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart and at No. 34 on Dance/Electronic Digital Songs.

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Delano was in Manila recently, where casual and hardcore fans witnessed not only her singing prowess, but her wit.

“(My stay in Manila) has been fun. I think (the LGBT community here) is awesome. There are a lot of people who go to their favorite bars here, and they support the queens, and they appreciate all the work that these queens put on their shows. And they actually appreciate them,” Delano said.

Delano is now busy writing songs for her new album.

“I went through a lot of stuff last year and I get to put a lot of that into my music and just express myself,” she said.

And with her new album, she hopes to reach an even wider audience and inspire people through her songs.

“Hopefully people will gravitate towards the songs and can relate to them. I want to break new boundaries with my new album. And I’m really hoping that I hit the kids in the heart with my songs,” she said.

Delano recounted what it was like when she was growing up and how the things that happened to her
became life lessons.timthumb-2

“I was always unapologetic with the way that I was when I was growing up,” she said. “But it was hard. I got bullied a lot.”

Delano added: “You learn from that and you gain strength. It’s whether you fall from it or you learn from it and you build walls up. I felt like wearing makeup was like my superhero mask. And I was like, ‘no one’s going to fuck with me’.”

Delano has long moved from bitterness.  Asked what she can say to those who make the lives of LGBTQ people harder, she said: “They are wonderful. A friend of mine told me that when someone has anything to criticize against you, just look at them and say: ‘You are wonderful’. It’s good to just gravitate against all the negativity and just fuck them.”

For more information on Adore Delano, visit http://www.adoredelano.com, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

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(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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Manila Luzon, the Asian Glamasaurus

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Outrage Magazine | 8 November 2012

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Born Karl Westerberg in Minnesota, United States to an American father and a Filipino mother, this Filipino drag performer may be said to have triumphed in the world of performing on and off stage, and on and off camera. This is actually not that surprising, since – while she was growing up – it was always her dream to become an artist, to find a career where she can use her creativity; leading her to first become a graphic designer for a design firm in New York.

But while “being a graphic designer seemed like a fun job and I enjoyed doing it… it’s an office-based job, and you have clients who will approve your artistry; it’s not your own creative artistry all the time,” she said.

When she found her drag persona, it paved (and still does) the way for her to express her creativity and her passion for artistry in a different form. And then she made a name when she placed second in the third season of American reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Meet Manila Luzon.

CELEBRATING FILIPINO

In an exclusive interview by Outrage Magazine, Manila said she wanted to celebrate her Filipino heritage, to bring her Asian-ness to her drag persona, thus her name “Manila Luzon”, which pays homage to where her mother was born (Manila), and Luzon the island where the city of Manila is on in the Philippines.

“Some critics say that my name is ridiculous, but others like it. I love my name, and I think it suits me very well,” Manila stressed.

Dubbed as the Asian Glamasaurus in the world of drag in New York, she is a self-confessed party girl, using different influences from the ‘80s, ‘90s and the naughties (2000s) – though she’d like to think she takes it to another level, the Manila Luzon way.

The “Manila Luzon way” means recreation – e.g. she once performed wearing one of her creations, a kimono made of Ramen noodle wrappers.

And what makes Manila Luzon different from other drag queens? “I am just me all the time… not many other people can honestly say that. Other queens just ain’t me!”

Manila was chosen to join the All Stars season of RuPaul’s Drag Race for a second time. She partnered with Latrice Royale during the competition, but they were eliminated after three episodes.

FINDING A VOICE

And how did Manila’s career start?

“I’ve always looked for excuses to get dressed up in costumes. Then one day I discovered that my sister’s clothes looked pretty cute on me. When I finally came out of the closet, I decided I was going to go ALL OUT and be the gayest I can be. That’s when Manila was finally born.”

Manila’s inspirations include: Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Barbra Streisand.

“I’m known for my outrageous lip sync to Donna Summer’s ‘MacArthur’s Park’ from Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But I really love performing my original songs, ‘Hot Couture’ and ‘Best XXXcessory’ because I created them myself from scratch. It’s nice to create something and then show it to people.”

The two are Manila’s already released singles: “Best XXXcessory” (2012) and “Hot Couture” (2011).

Manila credits RuPaul for shared life lessons – “I love how Ru says that whatever other people think of me, is none of my business. As a drag queen, I love the spotlight, but being out there you can attract a lot of negative feedback from complete strangers. It can really get to you. But I’ve learned that if I am to be the best Manila I can be, I don’t have to listen to all the bad stuff,” she said.

Asked how her life changed after joining RuPaul’s Drag Race, Manila said: “I’ve been given a social responsibility now since I’ve been on TV. I try to live my life in my truest form, and I have the audience to set an example in our community.”

CHANGE WILL HAPPEN

Asked what she’d do if she was President of the Philippines, Manila – true to form – said: “First thing I would change is the preservation of Imelda’s shoe collection. Then I would start my own!”

Then, turning serious when asked for her stand on the fight for equal rights of the LGBT community, she said: “Oddly, I know deep down that right will conquer. It may not be now, but it will happen; and I am excited to witness it take place in history.”

Manila is eyeing visiting the Philippines “hopefully soon”. For now, though, she has “lots of fun projects on the way, you’ll have to wait and see.”

And for the Filipino LGBT community, she said: “Keep fighting. Love will always win over hate.”

Like Manila Luzon in Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/manilaluzonfanpage, or follow her on Twitter via http://twitter.com/manilaluzon.

 

 

(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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