A bona fide Broadway and touring musical theater star, John Michael Dias has dabbled as a drag queen here and there… but it’s really just been the past few years where this diva has become a true live singing star of the nightlife stage. She’s certainly been serving us fierce weekly digital drag since the lockdown began. And even as we navigate the uncertainty of nightlife and Broadway’s future, there’s no doubt that Miss Evita Loca’s starlight will soon shine brighter than ever before.
Thotyssey: Hello Miss Loca, thanks for chatting with us today! So, this cursed summer is now behind us… how did it treat you?
Evita Loca: Well… I think I’m like everyone else. Trying to do everything I can to keep sane and keep things moving forward. Doing online shows has helped me focus on creativity. That, and activism have been a big part of my summer. Reaching out, having difficult conversations on BLM issues with loved ones, etc. So much has happened this past seven months, and somehow it feels like nothing has happened!
That’s a perfect way to describe the season: everything but nothing! And of course, all the news keeps getting worse and worse with the virus, the grand jury ruling in Kentucky, the Handmaid’s Tale Supreme Court judicial nominee, and now the inevitability that Trump will try to cheat the election. But um, at least the Gaga “911” video was cute?
Ha! Yes! I’ll take what I can get in the category of positive things!
You’ve been very consistent with your weekly digital show, which we’ll talk more about in a bit. Have you learned new stuff about yourself and your drag while doing it week to week?
So much! Honestly. I’m a performer who loves an audience response. So for me, it’s an exercise in trusting myself and knowing what I bring forward and put on camera / stage is worthy of being seen. Self-doubt is an ugly monster.
Indeed she is! Your Instagram game, however, is gorg! It’s masterfully curated like a real fashion photo look book, and you’ve got that whole “rows of one look / one theme” thing down!
Thank You for caring, lol! I love playing with my Instagram layout. Small joys. I do a lot of my own photos. My boyfriend Steven Goldsmith helps on occasion. I also collaborated last year with the OBC Hamilton cast member, the wickedly talented Betsy Struxness on a 12 look photoshoot last summer that I’m still releasing slowly. She is a dear friend and ally, and such a delight to work with creatively. I’m so lucky to have her in my life.
Where are you from originally, and what were your traits and interests growing up?
I grew up in Tiverton, RI with conservative, Catholic, working class parents… very practical. They’ve always been very supportive and accepting of me, and always celebrated who I am and my interests. Of course at first, my love of musical theater and singing was met with a raised eyebrow or four. But when they saw that I was actually good at it, they were way more supportive and celebratory when I agreed to go to college for it! But yeah… I was outgoing as a kid, and was always “on stage.” Being an only child only encouraged that.
That amazing voice has brought you so much success onstage!
Thank you! My voice got higher during college when I learned how to use it properly, which led to playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys in most of the US companies including Vegas and Broadway. And most recently I closed Beautiful (the Carole King musical) on Broadway, where I played Neil Sedaka and a few other parts. Both of those productions have kept me employed on and off since 2007! I was very fortunate to be a part of those incredible productions.
Who would’ve thought that two Frankie Vallis would now successful NYC queens!? Did you know the other one, Cacophony Daniels, before drag?
Yes! Cacophony and I both were auditioning for Jersey Boys in the early 2000’s, and we ended up on tour together where I was the two-show Frankie and Courter was Joe Pesci (who also covers Frankie). We had a huge drag party in Minneapolis at the Gay 90’s bar, and it was required that you wear drag regardless of who you are–and if you came without drag on, we had you covered with our drag bag which contained drag paraphernalia for you! That was ten years ago, OMG! Cacophony has always been so supportive onstage and off. I’ve guested in on a few of her shows, virtual and live. I’m so grateful for her support in the NYC drag scene.
What’s something about the life of a musical theater star you’ve experienced that might surprise us?
Eight shows a week is hard, lol! It really is. But I would say people might not realize how differently the same show can be received based on the audience response. It’s fascinating.
And have you been able to interact with any of the Legends?
I’ve hung out with Lorna Luft after Beautiful in LA. She was incredibly sweet and warm. Being obsessed with Judy Garland, I’ve also met Liza Minnelli! It was her birthday, and she was at Birdland at the same time I was; I grabbed her arm and wished her a happy birthday. The world stopped, and she grabbed me back and looked me dead in the eyes and said “thank you, Sweeeetheart!” as she scurried to the stage to sing for us.
Also! When I left Jersey Boys, my friends got Patti Lupone to record and sing a “Happy Trails” video for me! It was epic.
Sorry, I’m now deceased… but I will do my best to continue!
Was it that Minneapolis party ten years ago where Evita was officially born, or did she come later?
I’ve always loved to dress up! Evita has had a few incarnations. In 2002, when I worked at Tokyo Disney, we had a drag pageant–I won. My name then was Skanky Deska, which is… a play on a Japanese saying (it was for a specific audience, lol)! Then when I worked at Barrage in the early 2000’s, there were pearls hanging like curtains all over the walls, and I would occasionally wait tables as “Pearl Necklace” there after Jersey Boys. And for a while was Anita Beltone, then Hedda Wardrobe.
Those proved to be too audience specific as well, so none of them ever felt right. “Evita Loca” popped into my head, and I have never turned back. A little Patti, a little Ricky Martin… what’s not to like!?
A perfect union! I think a lot of musical theater performers are drawn to drag because the female roles and songs are generally the best. Is that the case, and does Evita gives you a chance to live that?
For sure! Where else will I be able to live my Mama Rose, Meadowlark, and Jane Seymour from SIX fantasies!?
Evita was performing all over town these past few years, perhaps most notably hosting the DIVA live singing drag show at Stonewall a number of times.
I loved performing at Stonewall. The audiences were so receptive and wonderful. I love getting to interact with a crowd.
And now everything is closed(-ish), of course. But you’ve been making the best of it with “Hump Day,” your popular weekly Wednesday (8pm EST) live singing Facebook show! Tell us a bit about it… and what are the joys and sorrows of digital drag?
It’s been wonderfully rewarding. I love pushing myself to learn new songs. Some joys: connecting with new fans has been awesome. Finding new favorite songs has also been fun. I’m trying to cultivate my favorites, so when it’s time to do live shows again I can be ready to go!
Some sorrows: Djing for oneself is not fun! It has given me a new appreciation for that profession and skill set. Also, not being able to have a live audience just sucks all around. But I’m so grateful for the exposure and reach Facebook live provides!
Yes, the children are watching all over the globe!
Is there anything else coming up for you?
I’m all over the place, like most people… many irons are in the fire. Mainly, I’m pouring my energy into more drag! Getting more bookings and performances. I also just opened my online merch store, which has so many fun things I created. Exciting times!
We will keep an eye on your socials to see what’s up! So in closing: when Broadway finally (hopefully) returns next year, there’s no doubt it’s gonna be different in ways we can’t possibly understand now. Is that terrifying for you, or thrilling, or both?
I think it’s terrifying as well as exciting. We are being forced into thinking differently, which is uncomfortable. But it can also can be rewarding, if we use this as an opportunity to find the positive and grow. Growing pains are to be expected. Change is hard. To quote Little Red: “I’m excited and scared.”
Exciting and scary times indeed! Thanks, Evita!