On Point With: Zarria

She may be the best interpreter of Jennifer Hudson out there, but Zarria is wholly an original. Balancing her life as a trans woman with her art as a drag queen, she’s a fierce and fun entertainer who brings the house down on the regular. Here’s a queen who takes her craft seriously, even while she’s making you laugh your ass off. Get to know her now, before she grabs all the gigs!

Thotyssey: Zarria, hello! Thanks for talking! So, how was your Pride?

Zarria: My Pride was great. I did a brunch in Soho and then went home to my husband. We watched the parade on television.

I watched it on TV too! I have to confess it was pretty boring… I guess there was only so much they could show on TV!

I thought so, too. All the action isn’t seen unless you’re there. I guess we lucked out. But hey, there’s always next year!

Did you catch Leann Rimes performing on the Pridefest stage? That was pretty awful.

I didn’t see that. I barely got to see much of anything. In the week before Pride I did a few shows in New York, and then I went up to Hobart (Delaware county) and did a show up there. I originally went to just hang out with my drag sister, but it turned into something else! When I came back on Saturday I went straight to The Monster and started getting ready for the show I had.

Manster! How did that go?

It was beautiful ! The day before Pride is always lovely.

Let’s find out a little more about you: where’s your hometown, and how long have you been interested in performing arts and entertaining?

Well, I was born in Panama, and came to the states when I was 7. I didn’t have the best childhood, but I made the best of it!

I never knew what drag was as a child, but I knew I was different. In the middle of the night, I would wrap a scarf around my head and sing to Whitney Houston. As i got older I came across a drag queen and I said to myself, I can be her! As time went on, I practiced my makeup (still can use work), and years later I’m one of New York’s nightlife performers.

One great thing about Peppermint on RuPaul’s Drag Race this season is how honestly she brought to light the conflict about living as a trans woman while working as a drag queen. Is that a hurdle that you’ve had to cross, or has doing drag while living your truth as trans come naturally to you?

You know, people who know me now know that I’m trans. People in the gay community know I’m trans, but also perform. My family gets it, thank God!

I do feel for Peppermint, but for me, I never had that issue. When I’m Zarria Aurora Powell, I’m the drag performer that will serve you life and tell you how it is. When I’m Zarria Montez, I’m the girl that works, goes to school and takes her life as a trans woman one day at a time.

“Powell.”  Any relation to pageant queen Zola Powell?

Zola is my drag mother. Jasmin Van Wales is also my mother.

Oh wow, two very different queens! How did that happen?

Well, Jasmin I met about three years ago. I did a show at Stonewall and I did “As Long as I Got King Jesus,” and she lived for it. Once she and I saw each other again, she helped me grow as a performer and as a person. We had our ups and downs, but we’re right back on track.

As for Zola, I met her a year ago and we kicked if off right away. We hung out every other week; she was there for me when I couldn’t deal with a lot. She was/is my rock.

Tell me about your drag: what do you really want to be known as: a comedy queen, a dancing queen, a drama queen, etc?

I want to be known as a heavy hitter. I wouldn’t say I’m funny, but on the mic  jokes just fly. I do dance, but I can also rip the stage apart doing a ballad. And,  as much as I don’t do it…I do sing. I want to be known as the queen that not only is fun to be around, but is also a very fierce performer no matter what she does.

You were doing Danny Logan’s Distorted Divas at the Broadway Comedy Club for a bit, which is a very choreographed revue sending up popular divas. How did you like that experience?

I loved it. My friends and family that came really saw the comedic side of me, which was a shocker to some people. I loved doing that show.

I hope it comes back in some fashion!

You’ve been doing the weekly drag competition circuit for awhile now: Star Search, Drag Wars, etc. Are these fun for you to do, or are they like a necessary evil sometimes?

Well the thing is, I believe it’s a necessary thing. Even though I’ve been in this industry for quite a while, nobody is handing out hosting positions–but, there are guest spots. Doing these competitions make people not only remember your name, but remember your talent.

I’ve had the privilege of watching you perform several times during the Miss Lady Liberty prelims and semifinals at the Ace Hotel this season! You took a number that so many queen do, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” and made it your own and slayed.

Actually, that song is a very go-to song for me. That song really speaks to me, because I’ve been through that. Any ballad I choose, I have to know the feeling. Most people think I only chose that song because I look like Jennifer Hudson–no. Not only is it a crowd-pleaser, but I know the soul message of that song, and I can portray it to my audience.

You’ll be competing in the Miss Lady Liberty finale this week, where a winner will be crowned at the end of the night. How have you been enjoying the experience so far?

You know, I love it right up until the end. I feel that the judges don’t quite see me. I love the audience, I love performing, but I’ve been in Top Two three times. I feel I don’t give it my all. Well, I give my all, I just feel it’s not coming across that way.

I imagine that must be a common way to feel when you’re on your end of the stage, but judges and audiences are just being wowed by all the talent they see from everyone! And you’ve certainly established a following there. I’m looking forward to seeing you perform in the finale! Can you drop any hints on what you have planned?

I actually don’t know, sadly. Once I complete my costumes, I’ll know what I’m doing. We all just have to wait and see!

Is there anything else coming up?

Well, July 1st, I’ll be in Albany performing at Rocks. Sunday, I’m at The Monster working the door at Look Queen. August 6th is the Miss Cherry’s pageant on Fire Island, which I’ll be competing… and I’m competing in Miss Look Queen August 27th.

A busy summer for you, congrats! Okay, last question: What is your least favorite thing about drag, and what is your most favorite?

My least favorite thing is knowing that I’ve gained weight, and it kinda shows. My most favorite thing is knowing mostly everywhere I go, my eyebrows are snatched.

WERK! See you Friday, Zarria!

Check here for a listing of Zarria’s upcoming gigs and appearances. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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