This Costa Rican-born classic ballroom dancer grew up to be a classy beauty of New York and New Jersey nightlife. Now after years in the biz, she is finally about to bring her fierce looks and moves to her very first weekly show. Viva Adriana Le Glam!
Thotyssey: Adriana, hello! It’s another hot-ass day, how are you holding up?
Adriana Le Glam: I’m doing great right now! I just left my daytime job–what really pays the bills, lol–and now I’m doing some sunbathing at the Hoboken Pier!
Sounds heavenly! Are you a Hoboken native?
No, I’m actually originally from Costa Rica. My parents brought me here very young, but I now live in what people are calling WEHO, aka West Hoboken.
Have you always been a performer of some kind, even before drag?
Yes, I was a professional balllroom dancer. My parents were national champions, so they literally put me to WERK the moment I started walking!
That’s so posh! Did you do major competitions?
I did in Costa Rica. But once I moved here, because of the language barrier back then, I sorta stopped dancing. I did become a cheerleader in high school, and continued dancing on the side for fun.
When did you start drag?
I discovered drag thanks to the transgender community, who paved the way for us. As a little 14 year-old, I would go into the AOL chatrooms and read about this magical place called the Village. So I saved up the money my parents would give me for lunch, and one day took the train to Christopher Street all the way from NJ, almost two hours away.
There I found my tribe my people: trans drag queens, and in general the ballroom scene. I first started walking balls, and slowly got into discovering performance drag. Then finally at 18 I debuted at the famous Escuelita, and it was a dream come true because many divas like Carmen Carrera and Jiggly Caliente started there. Carmen was a huge influence on my life in drag. I would attend pageants with her, and she showed me another side to drag: how feminine it could be, and how much hard work it takes.
If you don’t mind me asking, how do you gender identify?
I am not trans, but I do advocate for my trans brothers and sisters. I went through a time in my life where I didn’t identify as either boy or girl. I was okay with wearing both male and female clothing. I am just a human who doesn’t care to identify as either, and I’m happily married to my husband for a year now.
Labels never worked for me simply because they put you in a box, and that’s something I’ve been fighting against in the drag community for a long time. I’ve been boxed in as a look queen or dance queen… but when some people see my other acts, things change.
How would you then describe your performing style on stage, when you have time to show a variety of things?
This one is tricky. I describe myself as high energy, committed, witty, and completely unexpected.
Escualita’s closing was such a huge loss for nightlife culture and history, especially for young queer kids of color. Do you think it’s time to recreate an environment like that for today’s scene?
I think our young queer kids are very lucky to have shows like Pose and social media, because they can identify with some of the things they see. I definitely do think the Pier is still a home for a lot of young homeless youth, and that’s where I wanna come in and volunteer to help some of these kids.
I also think that with the exposure of the ballroom scene, some of these legends and people who are successful should hold open functions–free open functions–for people of all ages to attend. This way, we can bring them in and let them have fun, but also take it as an opportunity to teach them about PrEP / HIV and STDs.
We as a community have a lot responsibility, but no one’s willing to do the work; or very few feel bother to help those in need. I’ve partnered up with Viva Glam before, and I’ve raised money for HIV and AIDS. I’ve given my own tips to help out. I’m currently working on a small project with Hudson Pride, and it will be held at The Royal.
How did you develop such an amazing sense of style, both makeup and wardrobe? Like you said, you’re also thought of as a look queen by many!
I honestly have been in the fashion industry for a long time, doing hair and makeup! I mean, I’m no Aquaria, but you definitely pick up a few pointers here and there.
I also think style is a reflection of how you feel inside. Sometimes I feel glamorous, and sometimes I feel edgy. I like to consider my style unpredictable. And something I say at the end of my shows is: you’ll never see me in the same look twice! Unless I’m in a different city, lol!
Fair! So, Jersey drag can be challenging due to limited venues spread across the state. It must be nice to have the Royal, a small but strong new edition to the Jersey City scene. You hosted a monstrous six consecutive months of RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties there… how did that go?
Honestly, it was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. Not only do you have to push your character to different levels, you also need to learn how to keep a crowd–and through 6 consecutive months, The Royal was packed wall-to-wall every Thursday!
Sure some can say people just came for the show, but some others came for me. I had a group of people leave back to Brazil that left me the most heartwarming letter I’ve ever received, thanking me for being me and making it so much more entertaining.
People also knew that they would never get the same show every week, at least not from me. I always had a new trick up my sleeve, or a guest, or a new setup for the night. Trust me, keeping it interesting is hard. But I’m thankful for the staff at The Royal who work hand-in-hand with me. Without them, I wouldn’t have been successful! Thankful for Paul the owner, Maria, Dave and David the bartenders, and the servers who always were on point with food and drinks. I’m the show, but there’s a million pieces to it that keeps it together.
The hardest part was coming up with looks week to week, and with my work schedule it’s hard to make or create wigs… so time management was a huge thing.
Drag Race may be over, but you’re staying on with The Royal! “Thirsty Thursdays,” your new ongoing show there, replaces that Drag Race weekly time slot. What can we expect from the new show?
The new show will vary week to week. We’re playing with the idea of cabaret / impersonations / contests. We’re also involving the community, like Hudson Pride, to do something in August. It’s definitely something new for me–to have an hour to fill for a show–but I usually do trivia and do about three different performances.
We’re moving it a little later [10pm]; since there’s no Drag Race, people like to come a little later. Also, whoever wins the Tuesday drag competition by Harmonica gets to share the stage with me on Thursday as well.
Oh, that’s fun!
I’ve never done a show on a boat, so I’m not sure what to expect. But I have a little story planned for it. I like for my performances to have a beginning, middle, and end. So here’s a hint … she used to a mermaid, till she found Prince Charming!
Have fun with these amazing gigs! Okay, last question: what is your best piece advice for a brand new queen on the scene who wants to make it big?
I think, be consistent and never give up . CREATE YOUR OWN BOX! Drag isn’t just what you see on Drag Race, or what other queens tell you it should be.
Support local queens so you get booked as well. LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE by creating unforgettable moments with people… but keep it professional!