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Melissa Befierce on How the Mandatory Quarantine Affects Full Time Drag Performers

Updated: May 24, 2020

After appearing on the Boulet Brothers' Dragula, Melissa Befierce's drag career sky rocketed. Her style, derived from the sparkly attributes of her Mexican heritage, and her beauty is a stand out. Whilst traditionally fit for pageants, Melissa never strays from pure uniqueness within her drag wardrobe. This classical take on glamour is what many call the crème de la crème of drag. The pure juxtaposition of Melissa's style out of drag is one of the leading factors that sets her aside from others. With heavy tattoos and muscles, he's the exact opposite of what you would expect from Melissa's ultra-feminine fashion. We got the chance to speak with Melissa on her drag influences, her experience on TV, and how quarantine has affected her as a full time drag performer.

Where are you from initially?

I'm initially from Los Angeles, California. I live by downtown LA. I've been here all my life.

Were there any experiences in your childhood that directly impacted your career path?

Growing up, I was always in performing arts. I was a cheerleader, I was in art, I was in drama class in elementary school. I was on a dance team in junior high. And then when I went to high school I was on the cheerleading squad. So I've always been into the entertainment world. I think those school experiences boosted me up and gave me a push to keep performing.

And what was your coming out story like?

I came out when I was 18 to my mom. But I was out in high school and I can honestly say that I had a good high school experience. I was myself. I was on the cheer squad. I had girlfriends. It was fun! But coming out to my mom was really hard, especially being from a Latin background. I was the only gay person in the family and that was really hard because no one understood what I was going through.

So how do you incorporate your heritage and your upbringing into your drag?

I always try to incorporate my Mexican heritage into my performances and outfits. I think it's always good to teach others about my heritage because there's a lot to learn from Mexican culture. I get negative comments because of the person that we have in the White House, but that's something that I've kind of brushed off and I'm used to it. Because I love to showcase my Mexican side in drag. It's so important to represent who you are.

Who are your greatest inspirations aesthetic wise?

My drag inspiration has always been Raven. She was on Rupaul's Drag Race season 2, All Stars 1 and now she's Rupaul's makeup artist. The moment I saw her on stage I fell in love with her and I always wanted to be like her. I used to follow her around and go to her shows and I became a huge fan of her. Then we started working together at a club called 340 which was so surreal. Fashion wise, I'm mainly inspired by classic drag. Lots of glamour, gowns and jewels. I feel like that comes from my Mexican side and my herritage.

So you were on Season One of Dragula, what was the audition process like?

The audition was very easy at the time. It was going to be a small project and they reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. So I showed up to the place where they were having interviews, and they showed me a little teaser of what they had in mind. I kind of had doubts because of course, Dragula is very different than my drag. My drag is very clean and polished. Going into the competition was hard. I thought it was gonna be easy and I was like "oh I got this, I'm such a bad bitch, I'm gonna win," but it was really hard.

But you did so well! For someone who wasn't used to that environment, I felt like you excelled.

Thank you! It was really hard at first and I was disappointed with myself because I went in with such a confident mindset, and I thought I would be the best.

Well, even though you've been on TV, you haven't been on Drag Race. Do you sometimes feel that Drag Race or mainstream focused fans completely rule off the talents of those who haven't been on the show? How has this close mindedness affected you in your career as a drag artist?

I do believe that drag race has a big impact on us. We get compared to queens who've been on a show and they always find a way to bring us down. But I've kind of worked myself through that by evolving myself to do better and to be better.

In what ways has the mandatory quarantine effected you personally as a full time drag performer?

It has affected me terribly because I'm used to working four to five times a week to now, nothing. And that was my main support. That was what payed for my rent and my bills and for all of my drag. So it definitely took a big toll on me. Luckily I sew, so I've been able to make and sell costumes which has helped me to bring income in, but it has been tough. It's been very very tough.

How do you feel about the virtual drag shows? Do you like performing digitally?

I like them because I miss getting in drag and performing and being on stage. It helps me to stay in a positive mindset and it gets me in a better mood. I think that most of us want to do even more. We want to do more shows but we're so limited right now unless we're really really popular. For some of us it's fun to edit and experiment with visuals and make an amazing production but not everyone can even afford a computer right now. So it's been really helping on my end. We've been putting on a show every Sunday and it's been pretty fun to actually get on live and perform and take the audience's mind off of the craziness.

And how have you seen the quarantine affect your friends and the performers around you?

Luckily my close inner circle has been stable, but I've seen so many people on my social media that have really been struggling. They've really been hit hard.

Why do you think it's so crucial for us to support drag artists right now?

I don't do drag because of the money, I do it for my own well being and my own mental health because like I said earlier, it helps me to escape from the terrible things happening in the world. Whenever they tip us it's amazing. We feels so thankful that there's people behind the phone that watch us perform and entertain who want to support us. We really appreciate it. Like from the bottom of my heart.

Are you concerned about the future of drag shows and do you see them returning anytime soon?

I mean from the looks of it we're going to be locked in for quite some time and they say that they're not going to open clubs anytime soon. So at this point, I'm just going with the flow and seeing what happens next because who knows when we'll be able to work and what's going to happen next.

What's your greatest motivation during this time?

My friends and my family. I try to stay in touch with my sister as much as I can and my mom. I'm always chatting with my friends, and we have little FaceTimes here and there. I recently had a friend that just moved in with me, so we've been re arranging my apartment and staying busy. So that's taking my mind off everything as well.

I'm so glad you're in good spirits. What would you say to the queens who perform as their primary source of income, like you, now that they've lost work? How as a community can we come together?

Definitely keep yourselves busy with drag shows. Reach out to whoever is putting on shows and the more you book, the better it's going to help you stay focused and be beneficial for your own good. Just keep hustling and always stay positive. It's so important to stay positive.

It was obviously impossible for us to predict this would happen.

What have you been doing in your home to stay creative?

I've been making costumes and stoning. Whatever I can put my hands on that has to do with drag, I go ahead and put my hands on it and work on it. So by the time I have another show, and when I can finally work, I'll be all ready to go.

Do you have any projects you want to plug?

Check my Instagram - @melissa_befierce. I'm doing a lot of online shows. Right now I have my Befierce shows with my Befierce family. That's every Sunday at 4 or 5 and our second show is at 7. I get booked for other shows every so often as well!

Thank you so much for talking to us!

Thank you it was a pleasure!

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