This Pinoy-American makeup artist, photographer and drag queen is putting some of the most beautifully high-fashion images out into our city today–both digitally and in the flesh. And this weekend, Diva Soria presides over a local event that will be vital to the future of queer people of The Philippines.
Thotyssey: Hello Miss Diva, thanks so much for chatting with us today!
Diva Soria: Hello Thotyssey, I’m a huge fan of your site!
And we’re fans of the gorgeous looks and photos on your Instagram! You are well-known in this town as a drag queen, a makeup artist and a photographer. How do you balance all of those roles?
Honey, let me tell you… I’m struggling to balance everything. It’s difficult, but very rewarding to be a creative. I’m so touched that you like my work!
All of the hottest queens in New York and beyond come to you for very dynamic shots: Kahmora Hall, Nicky Doll, Digna, Janelle No. 5… were you already Diva Soria the drag makeup / photography virtuoso when you first knew all these girls, or did you evolve into that afterwards?
Lol, “virtuoso” is too much! I kinda knew them as Diva Soria already, and have interacted with them nicely before the shoots. I just moved to NY three years ago; I kinda introduced myself to them as another drag queen–which is funny, because I haven’t been doing a lot of drag anymore since Halloween 2021. Can you believe?
We’re looking forward to see your return to drag, but more on that in a bit!
Where have you lived in the world?
The Philippines from birth to 2011, then I moved to San Francisco, then moved to New York in 2019.
What was it like to grow up in the Philippines, and how did you begin as an artist there?
I’ve been doing drag and makeup here and there since I was 17. Also, I just realized that photography was my first actual interest, since I’ve been doing it as a 15 year old! I have always identified myself as an artist, even as a small kid. I’m left-handed, and people always told me that I’m predisposed to becoming an artist. So it’s either they conditioned me, or they were right all along, lol! I also got more into drag and makeup from joining pageants, which are huge in my country.
Growing up in the Philippines is both fun and challenging as a queer person. We’re very Catholic as a nation; homophobia was still huge there before I left… but I think it’s better now because of all the visibility. So yes, it really counts! And the LGBTQ advocates really helped pave that way.
Were you Diva Soria in San Francisco?
Not really; I did more makeup and less drag there. I’ve always had the name in my head. She was finalized in New York.
[Editor’s note: “Divasoria” is a major marketplace in the Philippines’ capital Manila, its name deriving from the Spanish word for “division.”]
Is drag basically something you do for fun at this point, while your focus is on makeup and photography?
It’s more for fun, and advertising… I wanna do more of it, but I’m aware that I can’t, lol!
As a makeup artist, is it ever hard to adjust between traditional, softer looks for your regular clients versus the more accentuated, layered looks for you and your drag sisters?
I think I always challenge myself to bring both aspects to clients, regardless of preference. For my clients who like more natural looks, I’ll do soft, flawless complexion… then maybe a graphic artistic wing. Then for my drag clients, I always want them to look more naturally beautiful, like a “fish” supermodel version of themselves. That’s how I keep it authentic to my vision–keeps it interesting, too.
And as far as photography goes, your pics are so stylish and recognizable. What do you think are are some traits that make your shots uniquely yours?
Honestly, it also goes back to the supermodel aesthetic: dewy skin, wet hair, natural complexion, streamlined fashion poses and makeup. I take so much inspiration from makeup print ads; there’s a flawlessness that I love. And I wanna see skin!
Tell us a bit about Leni Robredo, who is running for President of the Philippines. What’s she like as a candidate, and why should Filipino Americans, queer folks and everyone else be supporting her?
The Philippines is having an ongoing crucial election this May, and the only candidate that is in full support of the LGBTQ community is Leni Robredo. She has been vocal in her favor over having a legal union for same sex couples, and this might be our only chance as a community to move as a nation towards equal rights. Her contender is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who had an infamously corrupt, extravagant, and brutal ruling over the country. While Leni’s opponent Bongbong is seemingly doing well in the surveys, Leni is bound to win as she is backed up by most Filipinos including top universities, reliable news agencies, intellectuals, prominent figures, and generally good citizens.
She sounds like precisely what the country needs at this important turning point! So here in New York, Digna, Jiggly Caliente and yourself are going to be presenting a fundraiser for Robredo at HUSH. There’s gonna be a large cast of performers with you all… what more can you tell us about “LE*NY?”
We are excited to announce the fundraising drag show for Leni’s campaign is happening on Sunday, May 1st (7pm) by fierce Pinoy figures and friends as they share their talent, charisma, and beauty to support a cause that is close to their hearts: equal rights and love for the homeland Philippines. It’ll be fun–every performer will do a number inspired by their favorite celebrity: Lady Gaga, Ariana, Beyoncé, etc. Please come–it’ll be an amazing night! You’ll be supporting an amazing cause, and you’ll be mesmerized by fierce queens!
Is there anything else we should be on the lookout for from The Diva? For one thing, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more shots from you as some local gals must be getting their packages together for the next season of… That Show!
Let me get myself together first. But yes, there’s a new show in Brooklyn coming up that I’ll be a part of. And more shoots for queens–and hopefully myself–soon!
Speaking of That Show, who do you want to see win All Stars 7?
In closing, there was an announcement several months ago of a Drag Race: Philippines premiere season, which presumably has filmed by now. Might you return there to appear on a future season, if that opportunity presents itself?
Honestly, it’s a show for them and they deserve it more than anyone outside the country who doesn’t do full time drag in the Philippines. Although I would be honored to be part of that show! And [in general], I want to see more drag Filipino artists that do performances inspired by our Motherland.
Thanks, Diva Soria!