Meet VIZIN, the gender-fluid drag queen who lost 200 pounds, moved to Hollywood from a North Dakota reservation and beat Taylor Swift on the dance charts. With a three-octave voice, VIZIN, who was also trained in opera, has built a reputation as the “Mariah Carey of drag.”
The larger-than-life performer will be opening for Bebe Rexha at Phoenix Pride on April 7 — an opportunity VIZIN is “gagged” about.
Phx: You’ve played pride shows across the country. What are they like for you?
Well for me, usually, they’re work. If I’m not doing a show, it’s fun and you just go and have a good time and you can be yourself. When I’m working, it’s definitely, “What time am I going to get to the stage?” and like “Where’s my wig?” “Let’s make sure that I’ve got this, I have that, do I have a nail?” Pretty crazy, but otherwise they’re fun.
Phx: Where did you get your stage name from?
I was trying to connect myself to my culture as a Native American and “vision quest” was one of the top things that I wanted to reach for. I also started thinking about, when I was first starting drag, people were telling me that your name should be easy-to-read and quick… And also, I like that it looks like Visine so I can get the conversation started without being in the conversation (laughs).
Phx: You’re very open about your gender fluidity and one of your songs, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” has this great chorus. What does that mean to you when you sing it?
When I’m in drag, it’s about totally embodying that moment of not just looking like a woman, but feeling like this is who I am… So I feel like a woman, you see a woman and it’s a “I’m looking like a woman, feeling like a woman,” kind of thing. And so “mighty real,” it’s like who you are at the moment, who you’re feeling and what you are, even if you are always that person.
Phx: With shows like RuPaul and social media, drag has gotten so big in pop culture. How do you feel about that?
RuPaul’s Drag Race has really raised the platform for drag and… it’s a great platform for new drag queens, but having all these opportunities opening up for me as I’m going along, it’s like, well I don’t really need the race. I’m going a different avenue. The risk with being in reality TV is that you run that risk of having the “bitch edit,” an edit that’s not favorable to your actual character, so that’s something that I’ve always thought about, too.
Phx: Do you have any favorite moments from a past performance?
Last year during Long Beach Pride, we were having a moment with my wig. The breeze was blowing from behind stage and it kept blowing my wig into my face. I had this huge pink afro wig on and you probably couldn’t see my face the entire show that I was up there. By the end of the set, there’s this line (I sing that goes) like “I was born this way, who,” and I just ripped my wig off.
Phoenix Pride, Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, phoenixpride.org, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 7, and Sunday, April 8, $15.