The Thrilla From Manila, Miss Manila Luzon!
Despite her Filipino heritage, Minnesota-born Manila isn’t actually from the Phillipines. So, while the headline is a tiny bit misleading, we were inspired by a one-liner from the incomparable RuPaul. Who else?! Ok, so we at Fop are huge fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race (LOGO TV) and we were wondering what is going on these days with one of our favorite’s, Manila Luzon, the safe proclaimed Asian Glamasaurus and season 3 runner up! We talked with her about her first kiss (with a girl!), make-up tricks and growing up in Minnesota.
Fop: First, a little kiss and tell . . . do you remember your earliest heart-stopping smooch?
ML: The first time was with my high school girlfriend. (Yes, I had a girlfriend and she was very pretty.) She was a year older than I was. I like my women older! She dropped me off at my house after a date. Maybe I was dating her because she had a car. And before I got out we leaned in for a kiss! OMG! It was thrilling, but I'll never kiss a girl again!
Fop: Where is the most remarkable place you've ever been?
ML: I can't even say anymore! Everywhere I go these days. Europe, Australia, Asia, or South America — they are all so amazing I can't pick just one! Everywhere I travel I meet amazing fans of RuPaul's Drag Race and their energy is the most remarkable thing to me!
Fop: As a master of the form, can you tell us what it is that's so entrancing about great lip-sync performance? Why does it thrill us?
ML: A good lip sync, I think, is all part of the illusion. It is how we witness the sounds of the fantasy a drag queen is telling through her costumes, her make up and hair. It's a drag queen's voice, and sometimes that voice sounds like Donna Summer's!
Fop: Is it bad form to ask a Filipino about Imelda Marcos? You've performed a fab camp version of Ms. Marcos in the past. Are you interested in drawn to her story? Shoes or otherwise?
ML: I don't know. Regardless of the stance any Filipino has on her, Imelda was iconic and she was able to catch the world's eye! Love her or hate her, she's kind of like Kim Kardashian — she's doing JUST FINE whatever you say about her!
Fop: You've been referred to as the "Queen of Glamp". (Glamp being a combination of "glamour" and "camp".) Do you identify with that word? What does it mean to you?
ML: Sure I'll call myself Glamp! I have always been attracted to beautiful and funny actresses like Lucille Ball, Goldie Hawn or Sofia Vergara! Sure I can put on all the make-up and hair and look pretty, but there will always be someone more beautiful than me. But are they funny, too?
Fop: Any make-up tips for us amateurs?
ML: Don't ask me about make-up. I'm still learning every day! By the time I perfect my make-up skills, my face will be sagging on the floor!
Fop: If you're longing for adventure, what's on the agenda?
ML: I want a camera to document it for me. Because an adventure with me usually ends with too many drinks and me kinda forgetting in the morning!
Fop: You grew up in Minnesota. What's puberty like in the Midwest?
ML: It was awful. Pimples. Growth spurts. Realizing I was a big ol' homo. But, I suppose it would have been just as awful in Florida or Kentucky.
Fop: What's hot and fresh on Miss Manila's mp3 playlist?
ML: My playlist has been overtaken by songs I'm trying to learn the lyrics to for my next lip sync performance! But there's always Kylie, Madonna, Gaga and BARBRA!!!!!
Fop: Your wigs always beguile me. And, in particular, your fondness for black wigs with a streak of blonde or vice versa. Has that always been a signature style of Manila Luzon?
ML: My black and blond streak hair was not always my look, but I used to switch between black wigs and blond wigs. Before I auditioned for RuPaul's Drag Race, I bleached a blond streak into my hair. So, when I was officially cast on season 3, I had a wig made to match my hair as a boy. It became a signature look, so I've kept it ever since!
Fop: You have such an incredible visual eye and spent time working as a graphic designer. Has that work influenced your drag?
ML: Of course, I am very particular in how I visually balance my looks from the top of my wig to the bottom of my stilettos. It is helped out by my former career in graphic design, but I've always been guided by my visual aesthetic. As a child, I always wanted to be an artist . . . I just never knew my medium would be drag.
Fop: What's NEW/NOW/NEXT in the glamorous life of Miss Luzon?
ML: I've been working on some new music. I have four or five singles to date, but this time I've taken a different approach to my music. I'm experimenting with new ideas and sounds, and all of it’s drawn from my own experiences and tells more of my story since the show.
Fop: Lastly, I'll ask the question all the readers of Fop Magazine want to know . . . Would you ever date a fop?
ML: Duh! Of course!