This fierce Brooklyn performer played a major role in the famous Mx. Nobody drag pageants in recent years. And this weekend, Cecilia Sin and many other denizens of the Nobodyverse return for one special night!
Thotyssey: Hello Cecilia! Thanks for chatting with us today! OMG, September is nearly done… how did the month treat you?
Cecilia Sin: Honestly, it’s been super hectic and I don’t remember a majority of it! Time is moving too quickly.
Isn’t it, though!? Or maybe it’s just quick moving in comparison to the very slow 2020. How did you get through that miserable year?
I’m definitely not 100% sure I did. I was living upstate at the time; I spent a lot of it out in the woods, and a lot of it locked in my room. I did a few things digitally… more than half of which I’ve never posted.
Was digital performing just the worst?
Honestly, I loved a lot of it! I really love the ability to bring a new perspective that isn’t possible in person, through the use of cinematography and editing. But not many people took advantage of that, and I was just not motivated to create more often without the social aspects of a show, and the actual crowd. It definitely loses a lot of its impact.
So where are you from originally, and what were your beginnings as an artist?
I grew up in the Queens and Long Island area. I started doing musical theatre when I was pretty young, and I’ve always been interested in all aspects of the theatre behind the scenes: the sets, the costumes, the props, the music, the lights. I’ve always been eclectically passionate, and I used to dream about an art form that merged all other art forms into one—the worlds of music, fine art, dance, and performance, all colliding.
I ended up going to college up in New Paltz, concentrating in drawing and painting. I have like 97% of a degree, but don’t tell my mom! Up in New Paltz, I led the campus burlesque troupe for a couple years. I lived in a DIY punk house where we produced shows endlessly, and I naturally transitioned into drag when I graduated. I just moved back down here in April of this year.
Oh I was also briefly a tattoo apprentice? My brain blocks that one out, lol… my boss was racist and homophobic, and it was a Bad Time.™
You identify as “Ethnically Ambiguous” on your IG!
So, that one has a bit of backstory. I’m a stripper, and everybody always asks where I’m from or “what am I?” I like to make everyone guess, cuz very few people get it right… and I wanna know how people perceive me. Somebody told me I’m just so “ambiguous” and “exotic,” and I thought it was funny. People most commonly think that I’m Latinx.
My mom is Filipina and a little Chinese. My father is some sort of white, I think Italian and German and maybe Irish? I say maybe because when my parents first met, my father spoke to my mom in an Irish accent for six full months, and claimed to be an immigrant from Ireland. She still married him after that!
I was raised by my mom’s side, and had a lot of trouble with cultural identity growing up. I was everything and nothing all at once. My mom moved here when she was 6, and grew up in Queens. She kind of just acclimated. She didn’t teach me the language, and I didn’t really seek out any connection to my culture until fairly recently.
It’s a complex thing, being mixed. I don’t quite know where I fit in, and I don’t know if I want to fit in anywhere. I feel like I exist in a transient space between worlds–I’m not white enough to be white, and don’t feel Asian enough to be Asian. I have privilege in a lot of ways, and I don’t in others. Because I’m so ambiguous, I’ve also experienced odd racism and I’ve been called slurs that aren’t even used against people from my culture, which is extra weird.
Tell us a bit about your “brand” of performance, and the kind of things you try to convey as Cecilia.
Cecilia is a blank state. They’re the embodiment of everything I want to be, the embodiment of choice. One day Cecilia might be masc, the next they are femme, and the next they’re just a clown. They’re a fluid vessel that I can use to tell a story, to live a fantasy, and to just exist without anybody placing preconceived ideas of what I’m “supposed to be” onto them. I don’t really have a “brand” of performance. Sometimes I’m heavily narrative and emotional, sometimes I’m pure camp. I like to explore the extremes of everything that makes the human experience unique, and my only goal is to make people feel something. Cecilia is an empty canvas just waiting to be filled.
What about those “crying” strands that you often attach under your eyes? Is that, like, your signature look with some sort of meaning?
Haha! Whenever I go into any store, I manage to find another random object I wanna stick on my head or stick on my face. Those are feathers from a feather set at Michaels! No real symbolism, I just enjoy them, haha! I just have a thing for putting things where they don’t belong. I make jewelry out of fake fruit and found objects, and I wore a lampshade on my head to Bushwig. It brings me joy!
Love that! You have strong ties to the Mx Nobody pageant created by The Nobodies, a nightlife trio known for performing on the fringe of things. In fact, you won Mx Congeniality with them back in 2019! Tell us a bit more about your experience with The Nobodies and the pageant over the years.
The Mx Nobody competition really drew me in because it was created for the people who do things normally considered “weird” and different, even within the drag scene. It’s such a free stage, where any performer of any background can come and show the full range of what they have to offer. As somebody who doesn’t fit into the confines of most boxes, they were some of the first people to really see me for exactly what I am. I have the utmost love and respect for The Nobodies and the work that they do, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with them. It’s like a fringe community within a fringe community, and it brings me so much joy to be a part of it.
NYC’s soul remaining and active Nobody, DJ Accident Report, and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab are bringing back the spirit of the pageant this Saturday to Brooklyn’s Dromedary Bar with “Mx Somebody,” a showcase featuring stars from previous installments of Mx Nobody! Crimson Kitty and Emi Grate will host. What else can you tell us about the show?
All the past winners of the Mx. Nobody pageant and the winners of the Mx Congeniality award are being showcased together in one big show. I believe we have the space from 8pm to 2am! I have no idea what to expect, because the performers are each so unique and special… but I know it’s going to be incredible. These are people that I know are really going to bring their best, and I’m really excited about it. It’s my first time really performing live since full lockdown, and I’m glad that it’s with them. I know that [another Nobody] Lady Bearica is in town, and is doing a special performance for the occasion.
Sounds like a can’t-miss situation! Oh, and I know that your Twitter feed is also appointment-scrolling, right?
it’s literally just me live-tweeting the weird shit straight men say and do in a stripclub, plus a hot take or two. I think I’m funny!
Yaz! What else is coming up for you?
I wish I had more to plug but honestly, please somebody book me! I miss performing so much.
Lately I’ve been working on getting my house together. I live in an apartment with two other drag performers, Vague Static and Mauve. We’ve been working together to build a community workshop and drag closet in our apartment, and it’s taken up a lot of our time. We’re hoping to get it to a point where anybody can come in and use our materials. We have fabrics, sewing machines, paint, woodshop supplies, jewelry making supplies, and lots of other odds and ends. We want people to be able to come in and sign out any of our clothing and costumes to borrow.
We also wanna hold little community skill share workshops, so people can come teach each other skills like sewing, or movement. We have dance mirrors, and literally everything in the living room is on wheels so the space can be easily converted to suit our needs—including an intimate venue where we could host small shows and events.
We’re calling it The LiteHaus, and ultimately trying to build a small community of trans and nonbinary weirdos who don’t have a place anywhere else. It’s mostly donation-based—take what you need, leave what you can. We’re going to have a fundraiser show soon, to raise funds to be able to finish it! There’s no date yet for that, but keep an eye out!
That sounds like a fascinating and unique enterprise, good luck! And lastly, ’tis the season to ask: who is your favorite horror movie monster / killer?
[Ghostface from] Scream, but specifically from the Scary Movie series. Pure camp!