We are proud to present to you our guest for today, Manila Luzon, who is beloved by many because of her unparalleled creativity, charisma, and talent. She is always on the list of favorite drag queens of all time online. PinkNews, for example, calls her brains and beauty and describes her creativity as “outrageous and never-ending.” Vulture, on the other hand, named her as one of the most powerful drag queens in America, describing her costumes as “always a million times campier.”
Manila Luzon is best known for competing at the popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3 and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Seasons 1 and 4, and this drag royalty is also a singer and an actor. Her debut album called Rules! was released earlier this year and Adam4Adam sponsored her music video for her song “Gay Man” which you can watch here. She also very recently appeared in the soap General Hospital and here is a fun fact about Manila: did you know that she has her own celebrity doll? Yes, she does!
Manila worked with us during Montréal Pride last month, if you missed the festivities altogether, you can always view photos/videos of Pride activities with her on Adam4Adam’s Instagram account, @adam4adamofficial. This content is in our Instagram Highlights under “Pride Mtl” and “Photoshoot.”
And now, here is our interview with Manila in which we discussed about her experience as a drag queen and dragphobia, and her advice to new drag queens among many other things.
A4A: For people living on another planet, who is Manila? What is your story?
Manila Luzon (ML): I am an artist who uses Drag to express myself! I combine visual art, performance and design into what I do with a black and blond wig! I am mostly known for competing on 3 separate seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
A4A: Were you surprised when Dave asked you to be part of the Adam4Adam photoshoot and Pride festivities in Montreal? Why?
ML: Not at all! I’ve learned how much A4A welcomes all types of people. A4A is one of the pioneers of bringing people together from our community. They understand the endless possibilities that creating a space for diversity can have! And inviting me, an over the top drag queen, shows everyone else how committed A4A is to inclusion.
A4A: What would you like to say to people who have misconceptions about drag queens, that they have an attitude or that they have no talent?
ML: These days with RuPaul’s Drag Race so popular, I think people are beginning to understand much more about drag queens. Before this television show, so many people only saw drag queens already in full drag on stage or at the clubs. Now people have taken a peak behind the scenes, and see us with no drag when all the wigs and glitter is off, they see us as people with individual stories to relate with. They can appreciate how much work goes into our craft and how talented we are as artists and performers.
A4A: When you were here in Montreal, we noticed that EVERYBODY was looking at you. Why do you think you attract so many people, whether they are gay or bisexual men, trans, and even straight men and women? What is this “new” fascination about drag queens that makes you guys cross into mainstream entertainment?
ML: Well, I am six feet tall without heels, so when I’m in heels I’m towering over everyone, they get a good view of the beautiful creature passing by. It must feel so odd to see, in context of the regular world, everyone is dressed “normal” and then an elaborately dressed cartoon character walks past them. I want people to look at me when I’m in drag, so I’m happy it’s working!
A4A: You seemed to have a huge respect for your fans, always smiling when someone approaches you or asks for a picture or an autograph. Do you sometimes get tired when people recognize you in the street or in clubs or other events and want to talk to you or take photos with you?
ML: I love my fans! Because I was on a reality show, just being myself, the audience has got to know me. I don’t play a character from a script, I am just being me. So the fans watching have had some time to get to know me, so they already feel like we’ve met. My fans are so great! They are respectful and intelligent, and themselves talented, so it’s always nice to make those real life connections with fans!
A4A: What are your goals for the next 5 years? Where do you see yourself? Anything you are working on right now that you’d like to disclose to your fans on Adam4Adam?
ML: Every time I get in drag I try to improve on the last time I got in drag. I use each time as a chance to learn and grow. So in 5 years I cannot imagine how much farther I’ll be! I’ve had a career in music, performed all around the world, I’ve done comedy, I’ve acted in television and I’ve been a spokesperson in several commercials, and I even launched a toy collection with The Manila Doll.
A4A: Have you ever experienced dragphobia coming from the LGBTQ+ community? Why do you think?
ML: Of course! Especially when it comes to dating. For a man who is attracted to other men, sometimes it’s difficult to see past the sickening woman that’s been created on the surface with makeup and glitter. But that’s been slowly changing because now they’ve seen me out of drag, and I think people can appreciate the work that goes into this art and see that we are all multi-facetted people, not just what we see on the surface.
A4A: What message would you like to say to other drag queens out there (including aspiring ones) that would love to be as successful as you and be a drag queen too?
ML: Let drag bring out the things you’ve always been afraid to let out! Let the confidence of your inner diva come through! Now remember the feeling, so you can apply that to your life even when you’re not in drag.
A4A: When I met you, you seemed very confident and strong but do you experience insecurities about who you are and your work? And what makes you go ahead and be strong and keep on going to reach your goals in life?
ML: Yeah, thanks for noticing. Of course the confident side of me shields the insecure side of me from the outside world, but it’s also allowed me feel ok to expose those insecurities when I need to. When I show both sides, I think people can relate to me even more. And I guess it puts people at ease to see someone who can embody both!