With only six months of drag under her belt, this baby queen is already making a strong impression on drag fans and career nightlifers alike thanks to her narrative, dramatic and sexy performances. She’s about to become part of one of the city’s biggest weekly shows, and is partaking in not one but two popular long-form pageants. World, prepare to be bound to Diego, aka La Zavaleta!
Thotyssey: Zavaleta, hello! Thanks for talking with us, how are you today?
Zavaleta: Hello Thotyssey! I’m pretty good thanks. How are you?
I’m great! Thotyssey won best blogger at the GLAMs last night!
That’s amazing, congratulations!
Thanks! Understandable that you couldn’t make it… you are certainly busy with these two pageants, plus living life.
OMG don’t tell me, the pressure is high!
You’ve already started to make your mark, though! How long have you been performing as Zavaleta?
I’ve been performing for six months now.
Yeah, I’m a baby baby.
Where’s your hometown, and how did you eventually get on board the Drag Wagon?
I was born in NYC. My parents got divorced when I was 3 and I was raised in Mexico City for 12 years, so pretty much my hometown is Mexico City.
During my time in Mexico I grew up with a lot of artists, always creating and using my imagination. And without even me knowing, I started creating Zavaleta. When I went to college for dance, that’s where I started to play with gender in my performances, and that’s where I discovered that I could grow up to be a drag queen. I was always into sewing with my mom, painting with my stepsister, building with my other stepsister who is an architect, performing with my cousins… and when I put everything together I got Zavaleta. But it took a lot from me, I was in a really dark place last year, and she saved me.
Drag has a way of doing that, it seems. “Zavaleta” means Boy Prostitute… it’s a funny name for a drag queen!
Yeah I learned that after I picked “Zavaleta” because it’s a Mexican last name, but also I don’t mind the meaning.
The first time I saw you perform was for the one-off Win In competition at Icon which I co-judged. It was a pretty dramatic and intricate performance, with ropes and fake blood. Fascinating, and certainly original! How would you describe what your performances are like to those who’ve never seen them?
Coming into the scene, I asked myself what I could bring into the table for New York City drag. I did my homework by going to different bars on different nights and see my sisters perform, and what I decided to do with my drag was to bring the emotions to the stage. As an artist, we take inspiration from everywhere. I decided to take inspiration from my pain and emotions.
So for those who don’t know me, my performances are raw, dramatic and shocking. Also I can do the “norm” — a 5-6-7-8. I can dance the house down.
What and where was your first performance was in NYC?
At Icon, August 1st. I had two numbers: “Luna” by Ana Grabriel (the drama), and “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls.
Who do you consider to be sisters in the drag community, and do you have a preference between the Manhattan, Brooklyn or Astoria scenes?
I consider every single performer my sister or brother, but there’s two girls specifically — we like to call ourselves The Coven. The reason why they are my sisters is because we are so different, but yet we always land in the same passion and we help each other with ideas: Virginia Thicc and Megami.
And talking about the different scenes, I would like to see myself like water: wherever you put me, I will accommodate to the situation. I love Brooklyn because it’s a different world with no rules and you can be yourself, but at the same time I love Manhattan because there’s a structure in different places… and TALENT. And Astoria because it is Astoria — we have a different type of drag.
I saw you more recently do some numbers for Trinity Beat’s Stonewall Invasion, along with Virginia and Megami. Fun night!
Yeah! Trinity and I, we are in the same house. So we are sisters. It was fun, I love to perform.
The current season of The West End’s Ultimate Drag Pageant premiered last week, which you are competing in for the next seven weeks or so. What made you want to enter?
[Host] Marti Gould Cummings contacted me and she asked me to do it; she liked my art. I said yes, because I saw girls like Lemon doing it and their career took off, but also I wanted to challenge myself.
How did the first night go?
It went pretty well; as I told you before I love to perform. I think I did amazing and they liked me, but I feel like my art is not for the West End. That audience is pretty unique. But I’m competitive, and I’m a good player.
You’re taking part in a huge drag benefit for Gays Against Guns, “Enough is Enough 2,” at Rockbar on Tuesday, January 22nd (7pm).
What are your thoughts on America’s current relationship with firearms?
Listen, I’m Mexican so I’m pretty much involved in all of the drama with government. But we need LAWS. How come I can be 18 and go to Walmart and buy a gun? That is ridiculous. I’m so against that.
Here’s an exciting announcement: Later that night (the 22nd), you’ll be debuting your first weekly show as part of the cast of TURNt — at its new home, Brooklyn’s 3 Dollar Bill! TURNt was a very popular party and late night show at The Ritz started by Maddelynn Hatter, and she’ll be part of the reboot along with Nasty Queen, West Dakota, DJ P_A_T and yourself! Were you a fan of that original run?
Yeah, I saw TURNt before I was doing drag. I got the chance to be part of the cast on Halloween, and I loved it.
And now in February, you’ll be taking part in yet another long-form pageant: Iconic at your drag birthplace, Icon! This competition was very crowd-pleasing in it’s debut season last year, but it seems super challenging to me.
I was an audience member last season, and that’s when I challenged myself to be in the next season… and now I’m on it! It is pretty challenging — [host] Heidi [and producers] Michael and Lindsay are not playing games; they want production, and I am ready to bring it.
Your datebook is nearly filled for the next few months. Is there anything else, though?
She is about to become a national girl! She got booked in California. It’s in the works for March. I will be competing, and letting people get to know my art and my soul.
You go! Finally: what is one thing the world really needs to know about Zavaleta?
Zavaleta is the reason why Diego is living. And if she can do that for Diego, she can help somebody else. Zavaleta is an experience; I might look like a bitch, but that’s how I paint. I am full of love and bright energy!
Thank you, gurl!
Zavaleta performs with the cast of TURNt at 3 Dollar Bill on Tuesday nights (10pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for all upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram.