From Puerto Rican fashionista to New York leatherman Johnny Quesada and drag star on the rise Chara Confusion, this performer is getting ready to co-produce a major benefit event this weekend. [Edited for clarity.]
Thotyssey: Hello Chara, thanks for talking to us today! How are you?
Chara Confusion: Hello Jim, thanks for you interest in interviewing me. I am honored!
The honor is all mine! I’ve seen you perform at “Polish the Queen” at Playhouse a few times. How do you like doing the competition shows here in New York?
Well, I enjoy a lot to do the competitions; it’s the place to meet all these new friends I now call my drag sisters, and I like interacting with the people. Additionally, every night is something different… you never know what the night will bring you.
Where are you from originally, and were you always into things like performing, music, fashion, etc. when growing up?
I am from San Juan, Puerto Rico–born and raised. Many people don’t know much about me. When I was in Puerto Rico in my teen times, I was in boy bands like Menudo, and I always liked to be involved on the creative side like painting or music. But the time brought me to the fashion industry, and now this my stable business where at the moment I pay my bills.
I think I always admired the art of drag, but in a million years I never expected that to happen [for me. But I did it once for] Halloween, and then three years later came the pandemic. I started getting more influence from TV, and one day decided do this special event for the leather community. I liked it, and decided if I’m going to do it I needed to do it in the best way… and now the rest is history!
There are a number of Puerto Rican queens here in NYC like Victoria Holiday, Vena Cava and Warhola Pop! Did you know any of them when you were back in Puerto Rico?
I had one opportunity to chat with Warhola, but we never meet in person. Vena Cava, yes–she invited me to one charity event. Very nice person! I didn’t meet them in Puerto Rico because I never did drag there before; I only was involved in the fashion industry. I met others–Nina Flowers, for sample.
Where did the name “Chara Confusion” come from?
Well, when I finally decided to do it I had a few ideas. As a Latin person, I was thinking I needed to feel comfortable and at the same time have something catchy. One day I starting to think of people who influenced me, like Iris Chacón… but I didn’t wanna call myself Iris. And then I was remembering other artists: comedians and singers and not the best dancers, like Charytin Goyco… and then I said, “Chary.” No–my voice said “Chara!” I was feeling like that was the name, instantaneous. And “Confusion” came to me because [my boy self] is confused all time, in a good way. If you know my life, I have a lot of funny, confusing stories when I have the opportunity to chat with the people.
How do you like being a New York queen, and what made you want to come here?
Well I come here between 2000 to 2005 to [break into] fashion business, on my last try I met my actual husband. And now I do drag! I enjoy it… I never do something only for money. Money is good, for sure. I’m a very passionate personal and perfectionist. Everything I do, I put my heart in it. It’s important to me not to feel square in life. I make my own interpretation. That’s why when you see Chara perform, you’ll always be confused because she doesn’t follow any rules about how to do this. She’s an instinctive person. I always said that the day I do not enjoy this, I won’t do it no more. But at this moment I enjoy and embrace it, and learn every day.
On a serious note: this a weird time to be queer in the US. There’s a movement of hate and violence growing against us, and you see that in tragedies like the shooting in Colorado’s Club Q. Does all that make you scared to be out performing in bars and clubs in drag?
Well, one of the things I like about life here is, you dress like you want and no one says nothing, etc. Remember, I started in New York as a fetish male, and I think I wear fetish [in my] heart. Drag is to me like baby Pampers. But now, we are in difficult moments. To be honest with you, for my safety I prefer to spend more money [for car service rather than the subway] to be safe in my home. In the bars, I try to not be in the middle of the crazy people around when I see something wild, and move to a safer space. I pray to all the people, “you really need help.” Education is the key. We need more information so we can help these people.
You are working with “Polish” producer Phil Chanel and queen Diamante Habibi to present a benefit for Club Q: “No Space for Hate,” at Stonewall, 6pm Friday! There is a huge roster of performers and speakers who will be there, and Aaliyah Martinez and Islaya are hosting. What can you tell us about this event?
Phil, Habibi and I are very exited to put this event together. This is a difficult moment, and we need to act now. When I see this roster of amazing performers and amazing human beings offering to be part of this, my heart can’t be more happy to be part this historical moment in our gay culture. We pray this will not happen again, and maybe soon we’ll celebrate. But our guard needs to be up, and we must fight for each other. We are the voice of them, we are here for them!
I will definitely be there! Anything else coming up for you?
I do my shows when some invites me! You know, I grow every day… one day at the time.
Last question: what do you want for Christmas?
I want World Peace! And I seriously want to continue to grow as a person and professional. And remember, the [greatest] gift is that we’re still alive, and what’s more precious than to be alive?
Thank you, Chara!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Chara Confusion’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.