When most people get ready for work, they dress to fit in. Whether it’s a uniform or the standard business casual, whatever they wear is meant to make them blend in with everyone else. When local drag artist La Zavaleta gets ready for work, she dresses to stand out.
“You have to be unique,” she said about being successful in the art form. And that’s exactly what La Zavaleta brings to her drag: uniqueness, attention to detail and one hell of a show.
La Zavaleta, 24, has been doing drag professionally since August 1, 2018, but now she is soaring to new heights. She was recently crowned queen of the 10th annual Bushwig drag festival, and is a member of the season four cast of “Dragula,” which just premiered October 19th on Shudder, with a new episode coming out every Tuesday.
Originally from Mexico City, La Zavaleta started doing drag in Queens, then later Manhattan. But it wasn’t until she came to the Brooklyn scene that she truly felt like she was home.
“When I saw Brooklyn drag, it was like seeing art on stage,” she said. La Zavaleta describes her drag as “a sexy demon who doesn’t follow the rules.” Her fashion is all about the details, and her performances are always energetic and raw but polished.
The Brooklyn community has not only been a major source of inspiration for La Zavaleta but also a community of “ride-or-die” people who have supported her and so many other drag artists.
“In Brooklyn, it doesn’t matter if you’ve only done drag for two months. You can book a show. Even if we don’t like what you do, we accept you,” she said.
Horrorchata, Brooklyn drag artist and Bushwig co-founder, is La Zavaleta’s drag mother, so Bushwig has been a very important event for her (and so many others in the drag community). She remembers seeing past queens being crowned and thinking to herself, “I can do that.” But when La Zavaleta won the crown as Queen of Bushwig this year, she said it was totally unexpected.
“I had ‘Dragula,’ and I just thought it wasn’t going to happen.” She said the win was an affirmation of sorts. “It meant that I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
Having performed in the community for three years, “Dragula” was that next step for La Zavaleta. She said, “I’m constantly pushing myself to go to the next level, and ‘Dragula’ was that next level for me.”
Though La Zavaleta didn’t start doing drag with the end goal of getting on a drag competition show, like “Dragula” or “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she said that the opportunity presented itself and she thought, “I have nothing to lose” and sent in her audition.
Now that she has completed taping for the show, she has been traveling around the country with the rest of the cast. “I don’t believe the sky is the limit,” she said, “because beyond the sky is the universe. And that’s so much bigger than we could ever imagine.”
As for what we can expect from this season of “Dragula,” like any competition show, there will be drama. As La Zavaleta put it, “Families fight, but we find a way to make it work.”
The Boulet Brothers, the creators of “Dragula,” have said that season four is the best one yet, and La Zavaleta agrees with them. She said that each artist brings that same uniqueness in their drag that is so important for the art form.
Being on a competition show like “Dragula” is a bootcamp of sorts. Each competitor has to show their best work each and every challenge in order to keep competing. But La Zavaleta rose to that challenge and said “I’m a better artist” from it.
So what’s next? “I don’t like to plan out my life,” she said. But, you can expect her to use her new platform to spread that same accepting and welcoming attitude that was shown to her by the Brooklyn community to others. “I want to bring Brooklyn to the world,” she said.
You can watch “Dragula” every Tuesday on the Shudder app. To learn more about La Zavaleta and hear about upcoming gigs, follow her on Instagram @la.zavaleta. For exclusive merch, go to her website lazavaleta.com, where you will find shirts designed by local Bushwick artist Isaac Ingle (@isaac_bear on Instagram)
Images: La Zavaleta’s Instagram
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