Despite being a very young queen, the fierce Lori Lu came out swinging when she challenged her beloved home country’s rigid stance on queer identity and drag. But nowadays, you can find her tearing up NYC with fantastic looks and performances.
Thotyssey: Hello Lori! The Spooky Season is upon us… do you have monstrous looks to unleash?
Lori Lu: Hell yeah… especially for the Day of the Dead.
That’s no doubt going to be amazing! Where do you usually get your inspiration for your drag looks?
I always try to make it unusual. Most of my inspiration is from my culture and country, Mexico. Sometimes the kids I babysit give me amazing ideas for both outfits and shows.
From the mouths of babes!
Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be a drag performer?
I started my drag journey in Mexico; I was truly a baby queen. Drag wasn’t as mainstream; Mexico just recently started with the tipping culture, and the only way to get yourself known was through drag competitions. So I did start doing a lot of competitions in Monterrey, Mexico. Then after a while, I wanted to show that drag is for everyone and anywhere, like any art form. In Mexico I was always questioned just because of what was between my legs. So I started the first drag story hour in Mexico and Latin America.
My drag name… well, I wish it was more camp and funny. It’s just my long childhood nickname that everyone calls me, since I don’t really like the ring of my actual government name.
Did you come to know many more non-cis-male queens in Mexico?
Yes, I have amazing gender non-conforming drag friends. When I started drag, I only knew of two other drag artists: Anaxagora and Alexis 3XL. After the controversy I faced from Drag Story Hour and Alexis winning La Más Draga 2, I’m happy to see and meet more “none traditional” drag performers. Actually that’s the reason we changed the name of “Drag Queen Story Hour” to “Drag Story Hour”; it’s more inclusive, and encircles more diverse drag artists.
What sort of controversies did you face starting up Drag Story Hour in Mexico? Was it a conservative backlash, similar to what has been happening recently in the US?
Yes. The intimidating stuff, though, is that an actual politician and political group started to threaten me and other friends who were helping me with the project. It was a bit scary. The silver lining is that we were all over the news… and thanks to that, we started the project all over Mexico. My LGBTQ community stepped up and got legal aid and won the lawsuit, and we got more support and funding.
That’s incredible, congratulations!
So what ultimately brought you to New York?
I love Mexico and my culture… but being a vagina owner there–female identifying–it’s not very easy or fun. I actually picked NYC because it was the closest lifestyle and vibe to Berlin, which was the city I was living at before. Also, I heard the best drag is in NYC. If you make it here, you make it anywhere, lol!
True that! I’ve seen you compete the Vaccine-O-Licious pageant and in a particularly fierce Squidworth-inspired performance for Lady Liberty! And I know you’ve been a regular at Polish the Queen and Drag Wars. When it comes to the competition scene, are you in it to win it or is it just about the whole experience?
A bit of both. I’m very competitive, and of course I want to win; I give my 100%. However, what I’ve learned from every competition I’ve been in is that you compete with yourself, and you gotta better yourself. For all the loses and wins I’ve had–and more loses than wins–the best thing I’ve gotten out of any competition is very good and amazing friends. Also, I’ve seen winners and losers use their platform in different ways; I’ve seen runner ups more popular than the winner, and so on. Sometimes it’s not just about winning, but the persistence and commitment to this.
You’ll certainly be part of the winner’s circle on the Triad Theatre stage on Friday, October 21 as a performer in Lala Wiggy’s “Killer Queen” Halloween drag revue! What’s in store for us with this show?
For this show, I will sing and bring some spooky looks. The cast is beyond fierce, and I can assure you that it will be a party!
Anything else to add?
Just support local queens, and be on the lookout for more shows. Especially the one I’m introducing with my gal Lanyé Armön: “Queenaverse,” an immersive drag experience. We aim to combine videography / technology and drag like any other art form; it’s been showcasing at pop-ups, festivals and events.
Exciting! Okay lastly, the reason for the season: have you ever had a ghostly or supernatural encounter?
Yes! In my family, we are brujas. I used to see things, but honestly I get scared… so I stopped seeing things. The scariest things I see nowadays are the shenanigans of the subway.
Heard! Thanks, Lori!
Ckeck Thotyssey’s calendar for Lori Lu’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram.