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Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Ivanna Cupcake shares her recipe for success.

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Ivanna Cupcake (photo by Alex Rosa for OutSmart magazine)

Sweet-treat lovers, gather round, y’all . . .what’s the best drag confection of them all? Chances are, if it’s a drag performer in H-town, the answer is Ivanna Cupcake. This delicious morsel has been entertaining crowds for years, and has found a niche in raising money for charities. Read on for the story of one of Houston’s few Asian American drag performers, who is busy not just representing but also giving back to the LGBTQ community. And it only gets tastier as each layer is unwrapped.

Pronouns?
As Ivanna, She/Her. As Ivan, He/Him.

Hometown?
Born and raised in Houston. Specifically, in Chinatown/Bellaire.

Inner avatar?
A polar bear—strong and hungry.

Drag birthday?
Christmas 2013 was when I put on my first pair of boobies—made from socks and underwear!

Describe your drag persona.
Ivanna is kind and caring. I would take the wig off my head to help my sisters. It’s just my nature. Ivanna is the extrovert to my inner introvert.

Talk about your philanthropic work.
I’m part of ERSICSS, and through drag I organize and develop shows with my peers in order to raise money for charity. Being a charity queen brings my two passions together: volunteering and performing.

Any pageant titles?
I am currently Imperial Princess Royale 36 for ERSICSS, and also Mr. Gay Pride Houston. Previously, I have held titles as Miss Tony’s Corner Pocket and Miss Gay Fort Worth America.

Future goals?
I would like to create a large annual charity show where we raise money to support homeless LGBTQ youth, along with organizations like Legacy and Kindred—those who help our community every day.

Talk about your outfit in this photo.
I am wearing a traditional Vietnamese dress called an áo dài by Thuy Anh in California. I am very proud to be one of very few Vietnamese female illusionists in Houston, and I wanted to represent not only for my culture, but also for the larger Asian community.

What is something interesting about you that people might not know?
My drag name is Ivanna Cupcake, and I am diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I just can’t help but laugh at the irony.

Thoughts about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month?
With the recent events going on, I think this month is going to mean something different than it did before. #StopAsianHate has shown that there is still racism toward Asians today, but it wasn’t until a horrific tragedy that we started to stand up and speak out.

Who are your drag idols?
There was a local queen named China Doll, who was one of the very first Asian queens I ever had the privilege to meet. She inspired me with her tenacity. She broke through many barriers to pave the way for my generation to be here today.

Where can people see you perform?
People can find me with ERSICSS doing local charity shows throughout Houston. Check out ersicss.org for more information and events.

Keep up with Ivanna Hyde Cupcake on Facebook at tinyurl.com/vn5n2srn.

This article appears in the May 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to Outsmart who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture. Speaking of Houston, he's never heard a Whitney Houston song he didn't like.
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