The Queens were in town Saturday, August 27th as JC Events invited Mariah Balenciaga and Alexis Mateo to The Café as the next artists featured in the JC Events live performance series.
The ballroom scene is one that Mariah Balenciaga knows a lot about as a frequent face in the scene back home in Atlanta, Georgia. After two performances, Balenciaga sat down with me to talk about the ballroom scene and what her appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race has done for her drag presence.
Examiner: How are you feeling right now?
Mariah Balenciaga: Baby, they say one thing. If you have a passion for something, it doesn’t feel like work. The crowd was amazing. I definitely got a workout. This is my first time in San Francisco and I didn’t want to disappoint. I hope everybody really enjoyed themselves as much as I enjoyed the crowd.
E: First time in San Francisco. How has it been just being in this city?
MB: Perfect drag weather. Baby, I love when the little banks of fog come in because it makes me feel so much cooler being a woman.
E: Back home in Atlanta, you are big in the ballroom scene; that is what you do and you are also a drag queen. How do the two go together?
MB: Doing balls, you have to follow instructions. Every ball is held by somebody different. You prep yourself to deal with all different kinds of people; from kind-hearted people to shady characters. You never know where you will be getting ready; it could be a nasty bathroom stall or a grand hotel. You just have to be ready for anything. Know that you have to be larger than life and live-up to expectations because the bar is always set higher especially if your name succeeds you. I want my talent and what I do to speak for itself.
E: How do you apply what you do in the ballroom scene to what you do in the drag scene?
MB: Discipline, listen to instruction, read, be ready for whatever comes your way and know that anything and everything is possible.
E: I was just speaking with BeBe Zahara Benet and she said “Drag race is a platform for drag queens.” Click here to read joltleft.com’s interview with BeBe Zahara Benet. The show does not start a career but helps with giving you a wider audience. How has drag race helped your career?
MB: My drag career has always been recreational so it has been a lovely supplement to my income. To me, it’s a platform to reach people. It’s amazing that there are families out there that I am reaching. Drag has become an ultimate metaphor for turning something like hardcore issues or life’s challenges into something beautiful and using it to empower yourself. I love the fact that I am seeing more families at the festival and Pride events that I have been booked to attend. This is more of a socializing platform for me for improvement instead of a career.
E: Why do you think the ballroom scene is much bigger on the East Coast than it is on the West Coast?
MB: To begin with, Harlem is it’s home. It’s always going to be grounded towards its center and where it was founded. America is a vast place. This scene had to get across Middle America to travel to the West coast. That is a vast stretch for a sub-culture to travel that far without the power of Internet. Now, it is become mainstream thanks to the Internet but we national without Internet and other types of promotion. A lot of people have used us or our saying from our culture such as “vogue.” We have been the home for such a cultural phenomenon; it’s amazing that we don’t get credit for it. Now, I’m glad that I could be the vehicle and the vessel for us to finally receive our shine.
E: What does Mariah have going on this Fall?
MG: Yara Sofia, Alexis Mateo and I are doing a Christmas tour. Starting in November and going strong into New Years. We will be at a city near you. Check out alexismateo.com, mariahbalenciaga.com/ and yarasofia.com for more information.