Despite years performing across the country and being a part of Santa Fe's infamous Jewel Box Cabaret drag show, celebrated local drag queen Guava Chiffon has never been named Pride Queen before this year. Pity, that, but it's never too late to make things right.
How long have you been performing at this point?
Wow. 33 years. I kind of started when I was 18, but I didn't actually go through the whole circuit of bars and everything. I helped a friend move to Las Vegas and they got a job doing celebrity impersonations, I got a job backstage. I'd been a performer, I'd done theater and different types of performance stuff since I was a kid. My grandmother was really instrumental in supporting my dressing up. She had a bunch of wigs and my sister and I would put on her high heels and wigs and have Miss America pageants. But I can't recall having an urge to be a drag performer. I know the first time someone put makeup on me, I had a very positive response.
Now that the Jewel Box Cabaret is closed, what's next for drag in Santa Fe?
I've been approached several different times since the Jewel Box wrapped to do another show and to get something else going. I've always kind of thought there'd be some fresh blood; I know there are queens who live in this town who've had performance careers but have retired. There isn't a big pool to draw from as far as female impersonators or gender illusionists. What's going to happen, probably, is that there's a bunch of youth. A talented young woman named Hester [Sunshine] approached me about doing a drag workshop series, like drag 101, at Meow Wolf, and I guess they're really looking to try to embrace and have more of a rapport with the gay community, which they really haven't that I've been aware of. There's a 21-year-old kid who's going to be in the Closet Ball this year, there's a whole new generation getting inspired by RuPaul and cosplay, and I think they're set to pop onto the scene.
Any advice to anyone out there who may be struggling with their identity?
It's not lost on me how profound somebody's first Pride experience can be. I remember my first one, and I never take it for granted. I still know when I go to Pride that you'll see kids who've never been to a gay affair, and even though LGBTQ rights has made some headway, there's still homophobia out there. People struggle with their identities late into their lives, but going to a Pride celebration is like discovering your tribe and almost like being given permission to be your truth, and it's in these little increments that you're given validation as gay youth or trans youth.