Boasting the greenest thumb in all of dragdom, Cuban-Nevadan stylist and horticulturist Missleidy is currently teaching Plant Parents around the world how to make their children grow right, while coming up roses on stages all across NYC. [Cover photo: Leeor Wild c/o PAPER Magazine]
Thotyssey: Hello Missleidy, thanks for chatting today! How was your Memorial Day Weekend?
Missleidy the Plant Lady: My weekend has been good! Busy–a lot of drag–but good! I just finished rearranging a lot of the plants as well. It feels good to have all the plants outside again!
Who’s your favorite plant right now? Don’t worry, they’re not listening… or are they?
That last one would make a great drag name!
Before we delve deeper into that soil, we better visit the origin story first! Where are you from originally, and were you always as interested in performing and fabulosity while growing up?
I grew up in Las Vegas NV, in a huge Cuban family! I was always surrounded by Cuban music, dancing and get-togethers, and to be honest I think that prepared me for performing as a queen. Every party, we would always dance–everyone would make a circle, and we danced the entire night. Literally everyone in my family knew how to dance.
And Quinceañeras… BITCH! That was showtime! I was always the chambelan–one, because I was gay AF, and was the best dancer out of all of my cousins, lol! But two, because I knew how to perform and turn it on when it was time. I always wanted a Quinceañera of my own, and to be honest I feel like I get that in drag every time I perform. Yo soy la Quinceañera!
Was your interest in plantlife always there as well?
My love for nature and plants started at the same time my grandfather raised exotic birds. Our backyard was a zoo, lol: parrots, chickens, peacocks, pigeons, ducks, goats, pigs, and even eight emus at one point! It was everything. And I was always fascinated with rainforests. So every time my grandfather would go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, I would ask him if I could buy a tree for the backyard… and I planted up the entire backyard. It became a little oasis in the middle of the Vegas desert.
What brought you to New York?
I moved from Vegas to LA when I was 21, and after living there for three years I moved to NY and fell in love! I did a short time in London, but I needed to come back to NY. This is my home! I came there six years ago.
You’re also a fashion stylist and creative director here.
Get into my work; it’s sickening! I create concepts and stories, and build looks with pieces from different designers. And on occasion, I construct some stuff myself for editorials and film. I do design, but only for Missleidy.
What’s the origin of that drag name, by the way?
“Misleidy” is actually a real name; I know of a lot of Cuban aunties with this name! And that’s what Missleidy is: a conglomerate of powerful Cuban woman who live life unapologetically, who love to have fun and dance, and who do the damn thing without asking for permission to be who they are! My big inspiration is al the woman in my life: great grandmothers, mom, aunts, cousins… all of them! The extra “s” came to be when I was getting into drag; I thought the Americans will think my name is “Miss Lady” but my Cubans / Latinos will know what’s up, lol… and Missleidy was born!
And what’s a Missleidy performance like today, for the uninitiated?
I’m gonna bring the Sazon! I love performing salsa numbers, and bringing the audience into a similar space that was my grandparents living room growing up. I always bring high energy, and the audience is gonna be dancing with me! Every show is a good time, and you’re gonna leave pumped up with a couple of new salsa songs you Shazamed while I was doing my thing!
Do you incorporate plants into your stage shows at all?
When it comes to performing Missleidy leaves the greenhouse and enters the stage! I can’t always bring the plants, but sometime I bring a tray of plants and sell them at the show. It’s a one stop [situation]–you get the show of your life, and you get to take home a couple plant babies!
You also have a plant-centric YouTube channel, where you put the Whore in horticulture!
Bahahahaha, yes! I give the girls the tips, tricks and tea on all the plants they need! I give tutorials and home tours. It’s a ki, get into it!
I’m guessing many people became more attentive Plant Parents this past year.
They did. I think people noticed they needed some life in their living spaces, and started bringing in plants to bring that life into their space!
Jax and Essence put on such an incredible show! They are fucking performers, and the energy they bring to the party is something truly special. I’m so excited to be working with them and Nicky! You are gonna want to be there; did you book your ticket yet!?
What else should the children know?
I’m selling plants! You can check what I have in stock in my highlights “Plant Shop,” and I also have reviews on there as well. So if you’re looking to green up your space, please come check out the shop and get some green babies from me!
Wonderful! Okay, here’s a cliche final question, but you actually have good authority to answer it: if you could be any tree (or plant), what would you be?
I would actually be a tradescantia pallida. These plants can be broken, stepped on and forgotten about… and they continue to grow regardless of the circumstances! I want to be a plant that is resilient and resourceful. I think that’s a running theme in my life, and I think the tradescantia pallida personifies me!
Thank you, Missleidy!