This Native American Drag Queen Lost 500 Pounds and Became a Billboard-Charting Artist
It’s not every day you see headlines made by drag queens who haven’t appeared on a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but Los Angeles-based, Native American drag queen VIZIN has done just that. Not only has VIZIN (pronounced “vision”) not appeared on the immensely popular reality series, but she’s become a Top 40 Billboard-charting artist. Oh, and did we mention she lost 500 pounds?
Yep. Meet VIZIN.
Her dance-pop single — a cover of Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” — debuted over Taylor Swift on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, and it currently sits at number 26. And it’s only moving up the charts!
The song was produced by Chris Rosa, who has worked with RuPaul, and has been remixed by international DJ superstar Hector Fonseca.
The video for “You Make Me Feel” features cameos from Drag Race alumnae Manila Luzon and Mariah Balenciaga, plus another reality star — Eric Leonardos of Logo’s Finding Prince Charming. It was directed by JoseOmar and Leo Madrid and was short at Bar 10 in West Hollywood.
Watch VIZIN in the video for “You Make Me Feel” here:
We recently sat down with VIZIN to discuss her newfound success as a Billboard-charting artist, her role as a Native American individual on the drag and music scenes and whether we’ll ever find VIZIN on an upcoming episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
HORNET: I listened to your covers of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “I Was Born This Way” and would love for you to speak about your connection to older gay anthems.
VIZIN: I’ve always been a big fan of disco, and it only seemed right to cover these gay anthems, if not for the love of them but to honor our past generations that paved the way for queens like me to be able to parade around onstage in sequin gowns and huge hair.
These particular songs speak to me on a level of revelation and acknowledgement of who I am — I’m gay, and I’m a drag queen! There’s nothing more real than that.
It’s great to see a Native American artist represented. Can you tell me a bit about your heritage, and do you find people are largely naïve about the concept of “two-spirit”?
I moved here from North Dakota, where I lived on the Fort Berthold Reservation, a part of the Three Affiliated Tribes, and I’m of the Arikara tribe.
In the past, my culture viewed gay people as “Two-Spirit” and regarded us as holy. Being Two-Spirit is a state of being in which the individual feels both male and female and is seen as being enlightened.
Sadly, the assimilation of Christian values eliminated that belief and demonized Two-Spirit people.
How has your life changed the most — as an artist or otherwise — since your drastic weight loss?
My aesthetic as a drag queen definitely changed. I went from wearing huge muumuus to custom designer stage pieces and being even more glamorous than I could imagine.
Performing has definitely changed as well, and being able to move around onstage with sexy dancers has become a new experience for me. I’m excited to see where my career and journey take the vision. (See what I did there?)
I’d love to hear why you’ve decided not to audition for Drag Race. Is that a decision that could change in the future?
Although RuPaul’s Drag Race is an amazing platform for mainstream drag and has boosted the career of many queens, I wanted to pursue music in a genre that is just blossoming.
I’m an artist first, and I definitely want to connect with people through my music. Being blessed to debut on Billboard and climb to #24 over Taylor Swift on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart has changed the game for me.
All photos courtesy of VIZIN