With a self-deprecating sense of humor and the fashion sense of a supermodel, Viva Vidalia brings a quirky yet relatable persona to her shows. The maven grew up near the Big Apple, and now she’s conquering the Lone Star State with her unique brand of fun and flair. But don’t be fooled—she can deliver a ballad live that will create a flood of emotions. Read on for more about this dazzling diva.
She/Her while in drag, They/Them when out of drag
Hempstead, New York
What got you interested in drag?
I was 18 and went by myself to a Gay Night at a bar in my hometown. There was a drag show, and as soon as the first performer finished I was completely hooked. After the show, I saw the drag queens getting free alcohol at the bar and decided this was something I needed to do. I put on Payless wedges and one of my mom’s dresses and went in drag the next week. Someone bought me a drink, and the rest is history.
Describe your performing persona.
Versatile. If you need a dancing girl, I’ll buck the house down. If you need a glamour girl, I’ll throw on a gown. My drag persona is everything and anything my audience needs it to be.
How did you pick your name?
Viva is the Spanish word for “to live,” so I like that my name is a verb. Vidalia is a sweet onion, and I really like onions.
What got you into fashion design, and what keeps you going?
I started making my own costumes out of necessity. I used to be about 150 pounds heavier than I am now, and finding designers who would make me costumes for reasonable prices was very difficult. So I learned how to make my own stuff.
Where might we have seen your fashions?
I have had things I’ve made on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Dragula, and Camp Wannakiki. I’ve even had some pieces I’ve worked on walk down the Met Gala red carpet. As braggadocious as it sounds, I’ve been doing this so long that I’ve kind of lost track of who’s wearing what, and where my things go. I think out of all the places my designs have ended up, I still love seeing local performers wearing my stuff around town.
What is your secret talent?
I don’t know if I have a talent that I haven’t already exploited for cash, but I think most people don’t know that I started my music career as an instrumentalist. I originally went to college as a violin major before transitioning into a vocal major.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love a naughty romance novel. I have a very large Audible library of queer romance novels. There isn’t a lot of romance in my life right now, so I get my lovey-dovey fix from novels.
#TeamWhitney or #TeamMariah?
First of all, how dare you! Growing up, I was definitely more #TeamMariah, but I think I’m leaning more #TeamWhitney these days.
Drag performers are under attack in many states right now. What are your thoughts?
It’s definitely hard being a performer in a state that is actively trying to criminalize you for it. I think that the GOP needed a boogeyman, and drag was an easy target for them. All we can do is to continue what most of us have been doing since coming out: fight. Go to the rallies, get your friends and families to vote out the conservative zealots, keep educating, keep being visible. It’s more important than ever to be as queer as you possibly can.
Marry, Shag, Kill: Ryan Seacrest, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds?
I think I’d marry, shag, and kill all three, amass the fortune as their widow (after solidifying my name on their wills, of course) and then live out my life as an eccentric billionaire who throws days-long orgies at a private estate somewhere just outside of New York City.
What have you learned from drag that you use in your everyday life?
Find the humor in everything. No matter what’s going on in your life, if you can find the comedy in it, then it makes it easier to feel like everything will be OK.