Bella Noche

Bella Noche is known as New York City’s premiere drag queen mermaid, combining a love for Disney with a Latinx flair. In addition to this, Bella performs several different types of drag and multiple times a week all over NYC.

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Audio of full interview

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7JV1TVhnHV/

Interview with Bella Noche

To cite this particular interview, please use the following:
Baxter, Destiny. 2020. Interview with Bella Noche. Department of Sociology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville,February 12. Available URL (http://www.ezratemko.com/drag/bella-noche/).

Interviewer: Did you get a chance to look at that consent form I sent you?

Bella Noche: I did, I did skim through it and everything sounded fine with me

Interviewer: Okay, no questions or anything?

Bella Noche: No, just pretty standard

Interviewer: Okay, let me get started then, my first question is when did you first hear about drag?

Bella Noche: Um, that’s an interesting question. I think I had been exposed to different types of drag before I understood what drag was. I guess my first exposure to drag in its most basic form would be seeing like old Looney Tune cartoons, like Bugs Bunny was my favorite cartoon character growing up and he would dress up as a woman all the time, for like, to do various cartoons. So, I guess that would be the first time I ever really saw drag, but I didn’t even know what drag was back then.

Interviewer: When you would you say was the first time you experienced drag where you understood?

Bella Noche: Okay, I would probably say my senior year in high school. I grew up like very conservative, my family is very religious, and so high school was the first time I actually went to a public school and it took me a couple years but I finally came out to my friends and started meeting other queer people and in sophomore no – I think it was junior year actually, it was in junior year that we had like a little queer party and one of the guys came dressed up as a girl, in drag. And I was just like “Oh, okay!” And yeah, I think that was the first time I understood what drag was.

Interviewer: What would you saw was your initial reaction to that?

Bella Noche: I mean, I wouldn’t say that it was like you know super embracing, but at the same time, they were like my friends so I knew this person, you know? it wasn’t like a stranger just showing up randomly in you know another gender’s clothes, so there was already like a kinship there and I think that also kind of colored it a certain way. So I mean, it didn’t come off as like you know, it definitely was out of the ordinary but wasn’t anything that was like “Ooh what the hell are you doing” you know?

Interviewer: Yeah, when did you start performing as a drag artist?

Bella Noche: I started performing in 2016, I had been working in night life for almost a year and I had made a lot of drag queen friends and one in particular used to do a show twice a year called “the first timer show” where guys would get into drag for the first time and like do a performance and you know, that would be the show. It was coming up, and she said “You know, I think you should do it” and I was just like “Yeah,” and a couple of my friends at the time were like “Yeah! You should do it, you should do it!” And I only planned to do it once and at that point I had seen good New York City drag, so, I wanted if I was going to do it once, I was gonna do it right and so I had someone help me with my hair and my make-up and I ordered my heels way in advanced, and I planned like a reveal and choreography, so I was like “If I’m gonna do it once I’m gonna do it right.” So, I did it and that first night I preformed I got booked as a guest at another bar the next week and it kind of just snowballed from there.

Interviewer: That’s awesome, how was that first experience, do you remember that?

 Bella Noche: Oh my gosh yes, I absolutely remember that! So many people that I loved and cared about were there, it was you know, not to be to be too vein cause I was with four other performers that night and it was clear that I was like the favorite of the night, and it was just unlike any experience, it was just ultimate and total freedom cause, you know, cause you’re not yourself, you’re just free to be this other character and person and you now I had so much fun that night it was so memorable and I look back and I still like kind of cringe, I’m like “ooh!” compared to what I am now but yeah, it was absolutely amazing and I mean if I didn’t have a good time I wouldn’t have continued doing it.

Interviewer: That’s awesome, so you said your family is conservative, how did they receive you becoming a drag artist?

Bella Noche: They don’t know I do drag currently

Interviewer: Okay, what about your friends, were they supportive of you in this?

Bella Noche: My friends were very, very supportive, a couple of – one of my best friends, she was just like “Yep! I’ve seen this coming for a while” so they were – yeah, I had immense support outside of that.

Interviewer: That’s awesome, would you like to speak any more about your family situation or anything like that?

Bella Noche: Sure, yeah, I’m open about that

Interviewer: So anything you like to share in terms of that lack of support or anything, I don’t have any specific questions on that?

Bella Noche: Yeah. So, I grew up in a Pentecostal family here in New York City of all places, and very conservative, very like right is right, wrong is wrong, and one of the things that was wrong is wrong was about homosexuality and anything that had to deal with it. At 19 I came out and was kicked out of the house and it’s been a long journey to get my family back into my life, and now I’m 30 and it took 10 years for me to like reestablish and repair the relationship with my family, my mother more specifically. But I made so much progress with them and it’s taken so long and I don’t feel like telling them I do drag right now would be most you know, opportune, you know, especially that like I’m not like on an international stage yet or anything like that where, you know, if you google me my face will pop up. I mean it is eventually something that, a conversation we’ll have to have, I think the main reservation I have is when I was coming out about being gay, my parents thought that meant that I wanted to be a girl and I was very in fact, no I don’t want to be a girl, that is a completely different thing. And now I feel like you know, now that they have – they haven’t really accepted the gay thing but it’s like something that is like no longer a big problem. I think that adding drag, they would be like “Wait, I thought you didn’t want to be a girl” and it would just kind of add another level that we’re gonna sit down and talk about this and have questions, so I’m kind of just enjoying the having an uncomplicated relationship with my parents again and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s completely understandable. Would you say that your religious upbringing has impacted your drag experience in any way?

Bella Noche: Oh my gosh, immensely. There are a lot of, I would say, I guess influences, you know! I grew up very, very, indoctrinated in the church, I still know all 66 books of the bible from front to back, it just doesn’t go away. And I definitely think that there, whenever, – cause my drag style, I do all kind of drag, I can do like PG drag for three-year-olds and I do like X-rated drag for like porn stars, so you know, it’s a very large range and a lot of times I will find myself, like if I’m doing like, extra-raunchy, or something sacrilegious, I always think of like my mom or like you know, “Oh my God if my mom saw this she would absolutely kill me.” So yeah – a little.

Interviewer: So you kind of spoke just now a little about it, there’s so many different types of drag, glamour queens, male-impersonators, comedy queens, – so many, what kind of drag would you say that you do, what’s your style of drag?

Bella Noche: Its interesting because I really haven’t been able to pigeon-hole myself into anything, I kind of just do me. So I am known as The Mermaid of New York, I’m New York’s premier mermaid drag queen, that’s just a character I built and the image that I built, and I do a lot of lip syncing, I do comedy, a comedy lip sync, I do stand-up comedy, I’ve been known to live sing a couple things, I also do burlesque, and I also do things like drag queen story hour where I’m going to libraries and museums and reading to 3- year-olds. I’ve gone and I’ve hosted the Queens College Pridefest, this year coming up will be my third year doing it and that’s, you know, for college kids, so my drag is very, very, like I know my audience for whatever the show is and I try to design a show that would be, not only appropriate for the audience, but the audience would actually engage and react to. I’m a writer by trade, so I’m very well versed in like analyzing what an audience is and like figuring out what exactly it is they want and then capitalizing on my strengths to deliver a really good show.

 Interviewer: Yeah, that’s awesome where does your drag name come from?

 Bella Noche: So funny enough, I’m really bad with names and titles, and I was racking my name for a drag name before that show I told you about – the first timers show, and I was just like “I don’t know what to do” and I’m a Disney lover, and I was watching Lady and the Tramp and you know that scene with the spaghetti and meat ball? and the guy is singing “Bella Notte” and I was like “Ooh that’s pretty, but I’m Puerto Rican” so I changed “Notte” to “Noche” and that’s where I got it.

 Interviewer: I love that, who or what has influenced your drag?

 Bella Noche: Well I was first and foremost like I – Disney is like a huge thing, Disney has kept me like young-spirited and imaginative, The Little Mermaid especially is, like my favorite, and has helped me, you know, be more creative and was, you know, the reason why I have like the mermaid character in itself, from a young age I really liked mermaids because of Ariel. But then outside of that – I really like, one of my comedic inspirations, especially when I’m like talking into a microphone, is Joan Rivers. I really, really, enjoy like her delivery, the way she does, and she’ll like – her, the way she delivers a joke, I just think its hysterical so a lot of times when I’m writing jokes, I deliver them kind of the way she would, so she’s definitely influenced my drag. And I would say one of the biggest influences, cause my drag is most of the not very feminine, and very Latina and my aunt Arlene she’s been like my favorite family member ever since I was a baby, we just had like a special bond, she’s the one who introduced me to The Little Mermaid, I actually called her my little mermaid. So designing my character, she’s very like, very much like a Latina club girl, red lips, hoop earrings, curly hair, always has perfume, always in heels, so my idea from a young age of like, you know, heightened femininity was her, so she’s absolutely probably, as far as a physical representation or manifestation, in real life, she’s probably my biggest inspiration.

 Interviewer: That’s awesome!

 Bella Noche: It’s funny you say that – today is her birthday!

Interviewer: Happy birthday!

Bella Noche: Yeah! I’ll tell her, I called her this morning.

Interviewer: So, kind of tell me in general, about what your life is like as a drag artist.

Bella Noche: Busy! So it’s interesting, life as a drag artist, it’s very, I would say, unpredictable, and not necessarily in a bad way- I’m never bored, I’m never bored, you know, whether it’s like going to a gig, you never know how a show is going to go, who’s gonna show up, how good its gonna go, how much money you are gonna make, if there’s gonna be technical difficulty, you know, it’s always a little adventure. And as far as schedule, like schedule is all over the place, you just kind of say yes to everything if you’re not already doing something, like today I, out of nowhere, I got an email like ‘hey we have this urgent gig for Friday out in the Hamptons , can you do it?’ and I was just like “Ope! Guess I’m not off on Friday.” So, it’s, it’s unpredictable, but in the best way – I hate being bored.

Interviewer: Yeah, how often do you perform drag?

Bella Noche: Anywhere between 3 and 6 times a week

Interviewer: And where do you preform, I know you’ve mentioned – it seems like just kind of everywhere, do you have a place –

Bella Noche: It is kind of everywhere, so for the first three years I was exclusively in New York City, that’s where I got my start, I grew up in the New York City scene and became established and developed my character and started, you know, establishing who Bella was, and then after that, you know, I started networking more and you know, going out of the Manhattan circle, and people were like really accepting of my drag, and now here in Long Island, I am the most booked drag queen out in Long Island, like statistically, you know I’m  not even bragging about that but I’ve preformed a lot of places, I do shows regularly up in Connecticut, New Hampshire. I’ve performed in Canada, next week I’m actually leaving for Florida for two weeks to go do a two-week tour down there, so yeah I’m performing a lot of different places.

Interviewer: That’s awesome

Bella Noche: Yeah, thanks! I’m really excited about that, it’s the first time I’m actually going for like a long period of time to do different cities and different venues for like a set amount of time, I’m nervous but I’m excited about it

Interviewer: You’ll do amazing, that’s awesome.

Bella Noche: Aw thank you.

Interviewer: Do you think that there’s anything unique about the New York City drag scene compared to other places in the country or the world?

Bella Noche: Absolutely, I would say that New York City is, I mean I’m biased when I say that so anyone could argue, I say that New York City has the best drag in the world, and if not the best drag in the world, like top three, like if you rate cities all over the world and you know that there’s drag there, New York City is absolutely top three. And it’s, I’m very, very, grateful for growing up in the New York City scene, because if you’re not good, they won’t book you, and you have to like learn very quickly and evolve and always making new numbers so that your audience comes back and doesn’t see the same thing over and over, and you know, you have legendary queens who perform in New York City who have been doing drag for 8-10 years, and then here you come you’ve been doing drag for 6 months and you have to prove to them why they should book you again, so it’s very competitive but if you’re good at it, and if you have the passion to like learn and grow, and also have the work ethic to make a career out of it, it’s the best place to come up in drag, cause anywhere else you go, you will blow everyone else out of the water.

Interviewer: Are you part of a drag family or a drag house or collective?

Bella Noche: I am not, I do however have a very close-knit group of drag sisters that we are constantly in each other’s lives and helping each other, doing shows together, but it’s not like a house officially.

Interviewer: Do you think that – is there a specific reason why you don’t do that?

Bella Noche: Well it’s interesting, I was a drag orphan for a while, for the first couple years, I like learned myself and I had what I would call drag aunts or big sisters, that like you know would occasionally help me with something, but I tend to be a little too independent sometimes, you know being out on my own as young as I was, and like putting myself through college and learning how to pay bills I learned how to be very, very, independent and self-sufficient and my drag was no different. I would do my own research, I would watch, I would try and learn, and there were some people who helped me but I really didn’t, I guess I feel like I didn’t need a family to be successful since I didn’t have like the real-life family, so it was never something I was like “Ooh I want to be in a house, ooh I want to have a drag family or a drag mother,” it was never something I actively sought after. But I do have a drag mother now and she adopted me two years ago and but at that time, Bella was already a thing so it was more like we were friends and she was older than me and she really liked my drag style, and you know, how I was doing – she said I reminded her of her when she was younger so it was more like a love thing rather than her like teaching me stuff, you know?

Interviewer: What are the biggest challenges for you personally to doing drag and being a drag artist?

Bella Noche: I get tired, and before drag, I had you know, a 9-5 job, I had a like solid schedule, now you know, I could be performing you know all hours of the night on random days, and I wake up and I don’t even know what day it is sometimes, it all just kind of blends together. But on top of that, I think personally my biggest challenge as a boy, as we all do, we have a lot of insecurities and self-doubt and the things that help me start addressing those things in my adult life and trying to fix them and you know, for me I think the biggest challenge is making sure that I’m doing the drag that I want to do, you know, with the now that drag has become a bit more mainstream and is available for you know, most, not just the queer community but for a lot of the straight community as well. You know with the rise of Drag Race, and all of these things, it’s you know, making sure that I am doing my drag and I’m not doing a certain type of drag because it’s on TV, or because you know, – like the biggest thing for me is just like everyone loves drag queens that do death drops and stuff like that, I do not do death drops, and there was a point in my time where I tried and I wanted to and like I was leaving gigs with bruises and shit like- there was one time I did a show and like I actually cut my knee through my tights cause I landed on the floor and it had like a little corner on it, and so I was just like – and it wasn’t me, like I don’t need to do a drop death to be entertaining so part of the lesson is just remaining true to yourself and not allowing your peers or what mainstream drag on tv saying is good drag to take away what you know that’s yours.

 Interviewer: Would you say that drag has impacted your confidence as a person when you are outside of drag?

 Bella Noche: I think so, yes it has, it’s very easy to forget that sometimes, it’s easy to- wouldn’t say forget, but sometimes I’ll be out as a boy and you know, I’m Isaiah as a boy is a very different characteristically than Bella, and there a lot of times where I’ll be out at a bar and something will happen and I’ll say, Bella will respond and not Isaiah, you know, and it’s not the typical way that Isaiah would normally, so there’s been a lot of confidence growth and things that I’ve now will vocalize and will be confident as a boy that I probably wasn’t before I did drag. 

 Interviewer: So then what pronouns do you use in and out of drag?

Bella Noche: In drag, it’s she/her, out of drag it’s he/him, but I mean I kind of, as such as a boy, I kind of respond with – all my friends call each other girl anyways, so like, but yeah definitely in drag she/her, and as a boy, if someone asks me I would say he/him

Interviewer: So, has drag influenced how you think about gender?

Bella Noche: Oh 100% yes, especially not even just my own stuff, just the people that I’ve met through drag, and all the different types of genders and non-genders, and sexuality that are out there and that you know, you being a drag queen, people want to talk to you, people want to share with you, you’re more approachable, people, you know, they identify with some of the things you do. So, I’ve met some amazingly unique people through my drag and in turn, me being a gender illusionist, especially one that a lot of times people who wouldn’t know that I’m a drag queen have to double-take before they realize I am one. It’s very interesting, I’ve also learned a lot about being like a woman socially. Growing up, the majority of my friends were girls. I love women, I love girls, out here in Long Island I would say my audience and fans are about like 85% female. It’s just been fascinating just, you know, walking down the street and – I remember the first time I like cat-called, like I didn’t even know what to do and I was just like my girlfriends tell me about this all the time and I’m stunned and I don’t know what to do, I just kept walking and didn’t say anything and I was just like – “Huh, so that’s how that feels,” you know? it’s definitely been a learning experience in so many ways.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s definitely really interesting, has drag influenced your own gender identity?

Bella Noche: I don’t think it’s influenced my own sex and gender other than showing to myself like I can have a very strong masculine side and a very strong feminine side and like, express them in very different ways. So, I guess maybe insofar, saying that it’s showed me that I have a larger gender range than I thought I did, I would say.

Interviewer: So I’m curious if and how your other social identities have impacted your experience of drag, so different things about you know, your race, your class, your age, do you have any examples of how drag has impacted your experience or vice versa how those experiences-?

Bella Noche: Yeah, I would say race most definitely. So I’m Puerto Rican, and but if you weren’t Puerto Rican, you probably wouldn’t know I’m Puerto Rican, I’m very white-passing if you didn’t know, you might think I was Italian or maybe Colombian as I have a bit of fair skin and in drag, I’m able to play up the you know, the Latin heritage even just my namesake, like as soon as you hear “Bella Noche” it’s like – oh, she’s Latina somehow. So, it’s definitely been nice you know, cause like I’m very proud of my heritage and I love being Puerto Rican and it’s nice to like wear that as a badge with my drag.

Interviewer: Yeah that’s awesome, would you consider your personal drag to be political?

Bella Noche: I think drag in itself is a political statement. If you can dress up and summon the confidence to go out in public as the gender that wasn’t assigned to you at birth, that in itself is a political statement. So, drag in itself at least should be a political statement. However, when it comes to actual politics, yeah, I have a few political numbers and things like that, I don’t do that very often. I think politics is very touchy and very personal, and me as a drag performer, I am there to make you forget about the crappy stuff that’s going around in the world, and a lot of that is due to politics. So, I do try to leave politics out of my shows as much as I can for that reason alone. I want you to come and like forget about all the stupid stuff in the world, I want you to come have a good time, and forget, you know, who’s president.

Interviewer: Definitely. How do you yourself define drag?

Bella Noche: I think drag is when you become a character that you did not wake up in the morning as. Drag is a total transformation, not just a visual one, but personality, creativity level, things you wouldn’t do or feel if you were your alter ego, that’s the whole point of an alter ego  – it’s supposed to be a flip side, a completely different thing, cause anyone can put on you know, any guy could put on a dress, make up and heels, but are you a character or are you just wearing a dress, you now?

Interviewer: What do you think is the purpose of drag?

Bella Noche: I think the purpose of drag is self-expression at its core. I’ve met so many insanely talented and creative people who have used drag to showcase their gift for the world. So, absolutely first and foremost it’s just personal self-expression.

Interviewer: Do you think that drag is sexual?

Bella Noche: I think it can be. I think there are a lot of queens who aren’t sexual with their drag, but then there are a lot of queens that are.

Interviewer: Would you like to maybe explain different ways in which it is and which it isn’t?

Bella Noche: Well so, you know, I’ll use myself for example. So, like, when I’m going to a library or a museum to do a drag queen story hour reading, like there’s not sexual component to that. It’s solely for education and entertainment, it’d be the same as someone dressing up as a Disney princess to come read a story to kids. But you know then on another night I’ll go do a burlesque show at a gay leather bar, and yes that’s definitely sexual. So, it really depends on the audience and message you’re trying to send.

Interviewer: Definitely. How do you feel about RuPaul’s Drag Race?

Bella Noche: Um, I actually love RuPaul’s Drag Race I’m not even gonna lie about that. I didn’t watch RuPaul’s Drag Race until season 6 actually because I was acquaintances with Bianca Del Rio, I did a story on her, my actual first ever two-spread page was on her before her season of Drag Race aired, cause I was acquaintances to her, and I pitched the story to her and she was working at a venue that the PR I was at was representing and I just got to sit and talk with her and she said she was going on Drag Race and because I like had this great rapport with her I ended up watching that season of Drag Race and was rooting for her the whole time and I don’t know if you’re familiar but she did win that season.

Interviewer: Oh, I’m actually watching season 6 right now.

Bella Noche: Oh, I’m sorry!

Interviewer: No, no, no, you’re completely fine!

Bella Noche: I’m so sorry, I hate spoilers

interviewer: You are fine, it is so fine

Bella Noche: It’s still good, watch it! it’s very, very, good.

Interviewer: Yeah, I love it.

Bella Noche: So I watched season 6, and I was just like “This is season 6” so I went back and binge-watched everything and I like “Okay! When’s season 7″ and I just yeah, I watch it, my boyfriend I think he’s like done with how much I watch Drag Race, I just think not only is it an amazing platform that opens so many doors for not just for drag performers but the queer community in general, and it continues to just be good TV, it’s entertaining. Say what you want about Drag Race, it’s entertaining.

Interviewer: Very true. If you could change one thing about drag, the drag scene, drag community, what would it be?

Bella Noche: I wish that the performers who have very rigid of definitions of what good drag and what valid drag is didn’t have that. There are so many amazing unique and different types of drag, and I think there all valid if you’re doing it for the right reasons. But I do know, and know of many, many, drag artists who their definition of drag is very rigid and very defined and if you’re not doing that, you’re not doing “drag” and I wish that wasn’t the case.

Interviewer: So, what do you think are some misconceptions people have about drag?

Bella Noche: Well. I think first that the biggest misconception is that you have to be a man dressing up as a woman. That is one form of drag, but that’s not necessarily has to be the case in order to do drag. Right then and there, I think another big one of the misconceptions is that if you do drag, and if you’re dressing as a different gender, you want to be that other gender. That’s also not necessarily the case, even though, yes, there are a lot of transgender drag artists where that is true, but I think there’s, I think the majority of drag performers don’t want to be the other gender, they just enjoy pretending to be.

Interviewer: And then going back to the last question, I’m sorry, what do you think are maybe some negative consequences of those rigid definitions of drag –

Bella Noche: You know, we’re a community and we’re a community that needs to stand together especially in these times, and we should not be drawing lines in our own community especially drag artists of what drag is valid and one drag artist telling another “Your drag isn’t valid,” that’s so – not only is that demoralizing on a human to human level, that’s like destructive to like the strength of our own drag sisterhood, and even further back the queer community as a whole, you know. One of the biggest issues that the queer community has is within itself of standing together and realizing we’re all in the same thing together, like we’re all queer, we’re all nervous about various things happening in the country right now, and the last, the very last thing we should be doing right now is drawing lines that separate ourselves even further

Interviewer: Definitely. I love that. So, and then, as far as the next question, where do you think that those different misconceptions, as far as thinking it’s a man dressing only as a woman, where do you think those come from?

Bella Noche: Well, you know, the history of drag was much, much like the history – a lot of history was conservative, very conservative, compared to what the definition of what is drag today. Back in 60s and 70s, especially New York City, like drag was like you are a man that looks like a woman. If you didn’t look like a woman, you were not doing drag. Like the pageant scene was like it for drag. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that documentary “The Queen.” It’s on Netflix right now, I would highly encourage you to watch it especially for this project. It is about a I believe it’s late 60s, it’s a late 60s drag pageant and it shows like what it was to like, what drag was back in the late 60s and the whole pageant scene, it was just like nope – you had to look like a woman to be considered a good drag queen and that is definitely not the case today, so I think it has a lot to do with where drag came from. And then you know, everyone has their own opinions, everyone has their own likes, dislikes and the bigger platform you have, the more power your opinion has.

Interviewer: So, what do you think are some different ways that we could help change those different ideologies?

 Bella Noche: I mean the easiest one is just for all drag performers and artists to just be yourself, don’t try to go into a box, don’t try to put yourself into a hole that you feel like you should belong in, labels are like, so like, 90s, like, no one should have a label of what they are anymore, unless it’s like you know, a label suggesting what their pronouns are. It’s I just feel like if everyone just allowed themselves to be creative and unique, it – we wouldn’t have to discuss why we’re different, everyone just accepted that “Yeah we’re different, we should be different and that’s awesome.”

Interviewer: Yeah, and as far as people who have misconceptions about drag who are not drag artists, what do you think we can do to help change those misconceptions?

Bella Noche: Well, I have – it’s interesting, there are so many – I’ve talked to so many people who because they watched all the seasons of Drag Race, they think they’re experts in drag without ever having to do drag once themselves. So, I would encourage people like, first of all, if you haven’t tried drag ever – you should try it. I think everyone should try drag at least once in their lives, I’m not saying everyone should be a drag queen, I think that everyone should try drag. And I would encourage people who haven’t ever done drag to, you know, think about what you say before you say it. Is what you’re about to say or comment or write on Facebook meant to encourage someone, meant to make them stronger, meant to bring the community together? No? Then don’t say it.

Interviewer: Definitely. If you could choose one thing you want people to know about drag or learn about drag, what would that one thing be?

Bella Noche: Drag is for everyone.

Interviewer: And then did you have any other ways you wanted to share in how drag has impacted your life?

Bella Noche: I think we – I mean you know, other than being a more confident person, and I genuinely feel like an artist now, like I’m a full-time queen, a full-time performer. When I’m not at a gig, I’m prepping for the next one, doing hair, doing costumes, cleaning the undergarments, you know drag is my life now. But, just as a whole, drag has allowed me to pass into my sole potential, you know. I was always a creative kid and I was always good at these random little things, and every time I would try for something, I was never the best at just this one thing, but I was good at all these random little things that I thought I would never have the use for. When I discovered drag, I realized why I had all those little skills and talents and every single little thing that I was good at that I thought I would never use came together and is why I’m a full-time queen right now.

Interviewer: That’s amazing, and then did you have any other experiences, thoughts, anything else you’d like to share?

Bella Noche: I mean my drag journey in itself has been a wonderful, unpredictable roller coaster of a ride and I am not getting off any time soon, and I’m just, I’m – if you would’ve told me four years ago that I would be where I am now, I would’ve laughed in your face. it’s absolutely astounding the things that drag has allowed me to do, the people that drag has allowed me to meet, the platform that drag has allowed me to gain and I am just so excited for this upcoming year because I have no idea what’s going to happen.

Interviewer: If you could go back in time to your younger self, is there any advice you’d give yourself?

Bella Noche: I would yeah – I would tell my younger self it’s okay to like the things you like, I know that you feel like liking pretty things and Disney princesses and glitter, everyone tells you that it’s wrong and no one knows why you’re such a perfectionist, no one knows why you like talking to everybody, no one knows why you like lip-syncing in the mirror, and all those things that people are like “That’s weird, stop doing that” don’t stop doing that because, they’re gonna make you so happy in the long run.

Interviewer: Thank you so much, this has been awesome, if you don’t have anything else to add –

Bella Noche: This has been great, thank you so much!

Interviewer: No problem, thank you so much – you have a great night!

Bella Noche: you as well, I’d love to see stay in touch and I’d love to see the final product

Interviewer: Definitely, if you’d like to email me some of your favorite pictures and I can make sure that once that’s all uploaded, I can send you the site and everything.

Bella Noche: Fabulous, yes, I’ll shoot some pictures right now!

Interviewer: Thank you so much you have a great night! Bella Noche: You as well, bye-bye!

Interviewer: Did you get a chance to look at that consent form I sent you?

Bella Noche: I did, I did skim through it and everything sounded fine with me

Interviewer: Okay, no questions or anything?

Bella Noche: No, just pretty standard

Interviewer: Okay, let me get started then, my first question is when did you first hear about drag?

Bella Noche: Um, that’s an interesting question. I think I had been exposed to different types of drag before I understood what drag was. I guess my first exposure to drag in its most basic form would be seeing like old Looney Tune cartoons, like Bugs Bunny was my favorite cartoon character growing up and he would dress up as a woman all the time, for like, to do various cartoons. So, I guess that would be the first time I ever really saw drag, but I didn’t even know what drag was back then.

Interviewer: When you would you say was the first time you experienced drag where you understood?

Bella Noche: Okay, I would probably say my senior year in high school. I grew up like very conservative, my family is very religious, and so high school was the first time I actually went to a public school and it took me a couple years but I finally came out to my friends and started meeting other queer people and in sophomore no – I think it was junior year actually, it was in junior year that we had like a little queer party and one of the guys came dressed up as a girl, in drag. And I was just like “Oh, okay!” And yeah, I think that was the first time I understood what drag was.

Interviewer: What would you saw was your initial reaction to that?

Bella Noche: I mean, I wouldn’t say that it was like you know super embracing, but at the same time, they were like my friends so I knew this person, you know? it wasn’t like a stranger just showing up randomly in you know another gender’s clothes, so there was already like a kinship there and I think that also kind of colored it a certain way. So I mean, it didn’t come off as like you know, it definitely was out of the ordinary but wasn’t anything that was like “Ooh what the hell are you doing” you know?

Interviewer: Yeah, when did you start preforming as a drag artist?

Bella Noche: I started preforming in 2016, I had been working in night life for almost a year and I had made a lot of drag queen friends and one in particular used to do a show twice a year called “the first timer show” where guys would get into drag for the first time and like do a performance and you know, that would be the show. It was coming up, and she said “You know, I think you should do it” and I was just like “Yeah,” and a couple of my friends at the time were like “Yeah! You should do it, you should do it!” And I only planned to do it once and at that point I had seen good New York City drag, so, I wanted if I was going to do it once, I was gonna do it right and so I had someone help me with my hair and my make-up and I ordered my heels way in advanced, and I planned like a reveal and choreography, so I was like “If I’m gonna do it once I’m gonna do it right.” So, I did it and that first night I preformed I got booked as a guest at another bar the next week and it kind of just snowballed from there.

Interviewer: That’s awesome, how was that first experience, do you remember that?

 Bella Noche: Oh my gosh yes, I absolutely remember that! So many people that I loved and cared about were there, it was you know, not to be to be too vein cause I was with four other performers that night and it was clear that I was like the favorite of the night, and it was just unlike any experience, it was just ultimate and total freedom cause, you know, cause you’re not yourself, you’re just free to be this other character and person and you now I had so much fun that night it was so memorable and I look back and I still like kind of cringe, I’m like “ooh!” compared to what I am now but yeah, it was absolutely amazing and I mean if I didn’t have a good time I wouldn’t have continued doing it.

Interviewer: That’s awesome, so you said your family is conservative, how did they receive you becoming a drag artist?

Bella Noche: They don’t know I do drag currently

Interviewer: Okay, what about your friends, were they supportive of you in this?

Bella Noche: My friends were very, very supportive, a couple of – one of my best friends, she was just like “Yep! I’ve seen this coming for a while” so they were – yeah, I had immense support outside of that.

Interviewer: That’s awesome, would you like to speak any more about your family situation or anything like that?

Bella Noche: Sure, yeah, I’m open about that

Interviewer: So anything you like to share in terms of that lack of support or anything, I don’t have any specific questions on that?

Bella Noche: Yeah. So, I grew up in a Pentecostal family here in New York City of all places, and very conservative, very like right is right, wrong is wrong, and one of the things that was wrong is wrong was about homosexuality and anything that had to deal with it. At 19 I came out and was kicked out of the house and it’s been a long journey to get my family back into my life, and now I’m 30 and it took 10 years for me to like reestablish and repair the relationship with my family, my mother more specifically. But I made so much progress with them and it’s taken so long and I don’t feel like telling them I do drag right now would be most you know, opportune, you know, especially that like I’m not like on an international stage yet or anything like that where, you know, if you google me my face will pop up. I mean it is eventually something that, a conversation we’ll have to have, I think the main reservation I have is when I was coming out about being gay, my parents thought that meant that I wanted to be a girl and I was very in fact, no I don’t want to be a girl, that is a completely different thing. And now I feel like you know, now that they have – they haven’t really accepted the gay thing but it’s like something that is like no longer a big problem. I think that adding drag, they would be like “Wait, I thought you didn’t want to be a girl” and it would just kind of add another level that we’re gonna sit down and talk about this and have questions, so I’m kind of just enjoying the having an uncomplicated relationship with my parents again and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s completely understandable. Would you say that your religious upbringing has impacted your drag experience in any way?

Bella Noche: Oh my gosh, immensely. There are a lot of, I would say, I guess influences, you know! I grew up very, very, indoctrinated in the church, I still know all 66 books of the bible from front to back, it just doesn’t go away. And I definitely think that there, whenever, – cause my drag style, I do all kind of drag, I can do like PG drag for three-year-olds and I do like x-rated drag for like porn stars, so you know, it’s a very large range and a lot of times I will find myself, like if I’m doing like, extra-raunchy, or something sacrilegious, I always think of like my mom or like you know, “Oh my God if my mom saw this she would absolutely kill me.” So yeah – a little.

Interviewer: So you kind of spoke just now a little about it, there’s so many different types of drag, glamour queens, male-impersonators, comedy queens, – so many, what kind of drag would you say that you do, what’s your style of drag?

Bella Noche: Its interesting because I really haven’t been able to pigeon-hole myself into anything, I kind of just do me. So I am known as The Mermaid of New York, I’m New York’s premier mermaid drag queen, that’s just a character I built and the image that I built, and I do a lot of lip syncing, I do comedy, a comedy lip sync, I do stand-up comedy, I’ve been known to live sing a couple things, I also do burlesque, and I also do things like drag queen story hour where I’m going to libraries and museums and reading to 3- year-olds. I’ve gone and I’ve hosted the Queens College Pridefest, this year coming up will be my third year doing it and that’s, you know, for college kids, so my drag is very, very, like I know my audience for whatever the show is and I try to design a show that would be, not only appropriate for the audience, but the audience would actually engage and react to. I’m a writer by trade, so I’m very well versed in like analyzing what an audience is and like figuring out what exactly it is they want and then capitalizing on my strengths to deliver a really good show.

 Interviewer: Yeah, that’s awesome where does your drag name come from?

 Bella Noche: So funny enough, I’m really bad with names and titles, and I was racking my name for a drag name before that show I told you about – the first timers show, and I was just like “I don’t know what to do” and I’m a Disney lover, and I was watching Lady and the Tramp and you know that scene with the spaghetti and meat ball? and the guy is singing “Bella Note” and I was like “Ooj that’s pretty, but I’m Puerto Rican” so I changed “Notte” to “Noche” and that’s where I got it.

 Interviewer: I love that, who or what has influenced your drag?

 Bella Noche: Well I was first and foremost like I – Disney is like a huge thing, Disney has kept me like young-spirited and imaginative, The Little Mermaid especially is, like my favorite, and has helped me, you know, be more creative and was, you know, the reason why I have like the mermaid character in itself, from a young age I really liked mermaids because of Ariel. But then outside of that – I really like, one of my comedic inspirations, especially when I’m like talking into a microphone, is Joan Rivers. I really, really, enjoy like her delivery, the way she does, and she’ll like – her, the way she delivers a joke, I just think its hysterical so a lot of times when I’m writing jokes, I deliver them kind of the way she would, so she’s definitely influenced my drag. And I would say one of the biggest influences, cause my drag is most of the not very feminine, and very Latina and my aunt Arlene she’s been like my favorite family member ever since I was a baby, we just had like a special bond, she’s the one who introduced me to The Little Mermaid, I actually called her my little mermaid. So designing my character, she’s very like, very much like a Latina club girl, red lips, hoop earrings, curly hair, always has perfume, always in heels, so my idea from a young age of like, you know, heightened femininity was her, so she’s absolutely probably, as far as a physical representation or manifestation, in real life, she’s probably my biggest inspiration.

 Interviewer: That’s awesome!

 Bella Noche: It’s funny you say that – today is her birthday!

Interviewer: Happy birthday!

Bella Noche: Yeah! I’ll tell her, I called her this morning.

Interviewer: So, kind of tell me in general, about what your life is like as a drag artist.

Bella Noche: Busy! So it’s interesting, life as a drag artist, it’s very, I would say, unpredictable, and not necessarily in a bad way- I’m never bored, I’m never bored, you know, whether it’s like going to a gig, you never know how a show is going to go, who’s gonna show up, how good its gonna go, how much money you are gonna make, if there’s gonna be technical difficulty, you know, it’s always a little adventure. And as far as schedule, like schedule is all over the place, you just kind of say yes to everything if you’re not already doing something, like today I, out of nowhere, I got an email like ‘hey we have this urgent gig for Friday out in the Hamptons , can you do it?’ and I was just like “Ope! guess I’m not off on Friday.” So, it’s, it’s unpredictable, but in the best way – I hate being bored.

Interviewer: Yeah, how often do you perform drag?

Bella Noche: Anywhere between 3 and 6 times a week

Interviewer: And where do you preform, I know you’ve mentioned – it seems like just kind of everywhere, do you have a place –

Bella Noche: It is kind of everywhere, so for the first three years I was exclusively in New York City, that’s where I got my start, I grew up in the New York City scene and became established and developed my character and started, you know, establishing who Bella was, and then after that, you know, I started networking more and you know, going out of the Manhattan circle, and people were like really accepting of my drag, and now here in Long Island, I am the most booked drag queen out in Long Island, like statistically, you know I’m  not even bragging about that but I’ve preformed a lot of places, I do shows regularly up in Connecticut, NH. I’ve preformed in Canada, next week I’m actually leaving for Florida for two weeks to go do a two-week tour down there, so yeah I’m preforming a lot of different places.

Interviewer: That’s awesome

Bella Noche: Yeah, thanks! I’m really excited about that, its the first time I’m actually going for like a long period of time to do different cities and different venues for like a set amount of time, I’m nervous but I’m excited about it

Interviewer: You’ll do amazing, that’s awesome.

Bella Noche: Aw thank you.

Interviewer: Do you think that there’s anything unique about the New York City drag scene compared to other places in the country or the world?

Bella Noche: Absolutely, I would say that New York City is, I mean I’m biased when I say that so anyone could argue, I say that New York City has the best drag in the world, and if not the best drag in the world, like top three, like if you rate cities all over the world and you know that there’s drag there, New York City is absolutely top three. And it’s, I’m very, very, grateful for growing up in the New York City scene, because if you’re not good, they won’t book you, and you have to like learn very quickly and evolve and always making new numbers so that your audience comes back and doesn’t see the same thing over and over, and you know, you have legendary queens who perform in New York City who have been doing drag for 8-10 years, and then here you come you’ve been doing drag for 6 months and you have to prove to them why they should book you again, so it’s very competitive but if you’re good at it, and if you have the passion to like learn and grow, and also have the work ethic to make a career out of it, it’s the best place to come up in drag, cause anywhere else you go, you will blow everyone else out of the water.

Interviewer: Are you part of a drag family or a drag house or collective?

Bella Noche: I am not, I do however have a very close-knit group of drag sisters that we are constantly in each others lives and helping each other, doing shows together, but it’s not like a house officially.

Interviewer: Do you think that – is there a specific reason why you don’t do that?

Bella Noche: Well it’s interesting, I was a drag orphan for a while, for the first couple years, I like learned myself and I had what I would call drag aunts or big sisters, that like you know would occasionally help me with something, but I tend to be a little too independent sometimes, you know being out on my own as young as I was, and like putting myself through college and learning how to pay bills I learned how to be very, very, independent and self-sufficient and my drag was no different. I would do my own research, I would watch, I would try and learn, and there were some people who helped me but I really didn’t, I guess I feel like I didn’t need a family to be successful since I didn’t have like the real-life family, so it was never something I was like “Ooh I want to be in a house, ooh I want to have a drag family or a drag mother,” it was never something I actively sought after. But I do have a drag mother now and she adopted me two years ago and but at that time, Bella was already a thing so it was more like we were friends and she was older than me and she really liked my drag style, and you know, how I was doing – she said I reminded her of her when she was younger so it was more like a love thing rather than her like teaching me stuff, you know?

Interviewer: What are the biggest challenges for you personally to doing drag and being a drag artist?

Bella Noche: I get tired, and before drag, I had you know, a 9-5 job, I had a like solid schedule, now you know, I could be performing you know all hours of the night on random days, and I wake up and I don’t even know what day it is sometimes, it all just kind of blends together. But on top of that, I think personally my biggest challenge as a boy, as we all do, we have a lot of insecurities and self-doubt and the things that help me start addressing those things in my adult life and trying to fix them and you know, for me I think the biggest challenge is making sure that I’m doing the drag that I want to do, you know, with the now that drag has become a bit more mainstream and is available for you know, most, not just the queer community but for a lot of the straight community as well. You know with the rise of Drag Race, and all of these things, it’s you know, making sure that I am doing my drag and I’m not doing a certain type of drag because it’s on TV, or because you know, – like the biggest thing for me is just like everyone loves drag queens that do death drops and stuff like that, I do not do death drops, and there was a point in my time where I tried and I wanted to and like I was leaving gigs with bruises and shit like- there was one time I did a show and like I actually cut my knee through my tights cause I landed on the floor and it had like a little corner on it, and so I was just like – and it wasn’t me, like I don’t need to do a drop death to be entertaining so part of the lesson is just remaining true to yourself and not allowing your peers or what mainstream drag on tv saying is good drag to take away what you know that’s yours.

 Interviewer: Would you say that drag has impacted your confidence as a person when you are outside of drag?

 Bella Noche: I think so, yes it has, it’s very easy to forget that sometimes, it’s easy to- wouldn’t say forget, but sometimes I’ll be out as a boy and you know, I’m Isiah as a boy is a very different characteristically than Bella, and there a lot of times where I’ll be out at a bar and something will happen and I’ll say, Bella will respond and not Isiah, you know, and it’s not the typical way that Isiah would normally, so there’s been a lot of confidence growth and things that I’ve now will vocalize and will be confident as a boy that I probably wasn’t before I did drag. 

 Interviewer: So then what pronouns do you use in and out of drag?

Bella Noche: In drag, it’s she/her, out of drag it’s he/him, but I mean I kind of, as such as a boy, I kind of respond with – all my friends call each other girl anyways, so like, but yeah definitely in drag she/her, and as a boy, if someone asks me I would say he/him

Interviewer: So, has drag influenced how you think about gender?

Bella Noche: Oh 100% yes, especially not even just my own stuff, just the people that I’ve met through drag, and all the different types of genders and non-genders, and sexuality that are out there and that you know, you being a drag queen, people want to talk to you, people want to share with you, you’re more approachable, people, you know, they identify with some of the things you do. So, I’ve met some amazingly unique people through my drag and in turn, me being a gender illusionist, especially one that a lot of times people who wouldn’t know that I’m a drag queen have to double-take before they realize I am one. It’s very interesting, I’ve also learned a lot about being like a woman socially. Growing up, the majority of my friends were girls. I love women, I love girls, out here in Long Island I would say my audience and fans are about like 85% female. It’s just been fascinating just, you know, walking down the street and – I remember the first time I like cat-called, like I didn’t even know what to do and I was just like my girlfriends tell me about this all the time and I’m stunned and I don’t know what to do, I just kept walking and didn’t say anything and I was just like – “Huh, so that’s how that feels,” you know? it’s definitely been a learning experience in so many ways.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s definitely really interesting, has drag influenced your own gender identity?

Bella Noche: I don’t think it’s influenced my own sex and gender other than showing to myself like I can have a very strong masculine side and a very strong feminine side and like, express them in very different ways. So, I guess maybe insofar, saying that it’s showed me that I have a larger gender range than I thought I did, I would say.

Interviewer: So I’m curious if and how your other social identities have impacted your experience of drag, so different things about you know, your race, your class, your age, do you have any examples of how drag has impacted your experience or vice versa how those experiences-?

Bella Noche: Yeah, I would say race most definitely. So I’m Puerto Rician, and but if you weren’t Puerto Rician, you probably wouldn’t know I’m Puerto Rician, I’m very white-passing if you didn’t know, you might think I was Italian or maybe Colombian as I have a bit of fair skin and in drag, I’m able to play up the you know, the Latin heritage even just my namesake, like as soon as you hear “Bella Noche” it’s like – oh, she’s Latina somehow. So, it’s definitely been nice you know, cause like I’m very proud of my heritage and I love being Puerto Rician and it’s nice to like wear that as a badge with my drag.

Interviewer: Yeah that’s awesome, would you consider your personal drag to be political?

Bella Noche: I think drag in itself is a political statement. If you can dress up and summon the confidence to go out in public as the gender that wasn’t assigned to you at birth, that in itself is a political statement. So, drag in itself at least should be a political statement. However, when it comes to actual politics, yeah, I have a few political numbers and things like that, I don’t do that very often. I think politics is very touchy and very personal, and me as a drag performer, I am there to make you forget about the crappy stuff that’s going around in the world, and a lot of that is due to politics. So, I do try to leave politics out of my shows as much as I can for that reason alone. I want you to come and like forget about all the stupid stuff in the world, I want you to come have a good time, and forget, you know, who’s president.

Interviewer: Definitely. How do you yourself define drag?

Bella Noche: I think drag is when you become a character that you did not wake up in the morning as. Drag is a total transformation, not just a visual one, but personality, creativity level, things you wouldn’t do or feel if you were your alter ego, that’s the whole point of an alter ego  – it’s supposed to be a flip side, a completely different thing, cause anyone can put on you know, any guy could put on a dress, make up and heels, but are you a character or are you just wearing a dress, you now?

Interviewer: What do you think is the purpose of drag?

Bella Noche: I think the purpose of drag is self-expression at its core. I’ve met so many insanely talented and creative people who have used drag to showcase their gift for the world. So, absolutely first and foremost it’s just personal self-expression.

Interviewer: Do you think that drag is sexual?

Bella Noche: I think it can be. I think there are a lot of queens who aren’t sexual with their drag, but then there are a lot of queens that are.

Interviewer: Would you like to maybe explain different ways in which it is and which it isn’t?

Bella Noche: Well so, you know, I’ll use myself for example. So, like, when I’m going to a library or a museum to do a drag queen story hour reading, like there’s not sexual component to that. It’s solely for education and entertainment, it’d be the same as someone dressing up as a Disney princess to come read a story to kids. But you know then on another night I’ll go do a burlesque show at a gay leather bar, and yes that’s definitely sexual. So, it really depends on the audience and message you’re trying to send.

Interviewer: Definitely. How do you feel about RuPaul’s Drag Race?

Bella Noche: Um, I actually love RuPaul’s Drag Race I’m not even gonna lie about that. I didn’t watch RuPaul’s Drag Race until season 6 actually because I was acquaintances with Bianca Del Rio, I did a story on her, my actual first ever two-spread page was on her before her season of Drag Race aired, cause I was acquaintances to her, and I pitched the story to her and she was working at a venue that the PR I was at was representing and I just got to sit and talk with her and she said she was going on Drag Race and because I like had this great rapport with her I ended up watching that season of Drag Race and was rooting for her the whole time and I don’t know if you’re familiar but she did win that season.

Interviewer: Oh, I’m actually watching season 6 right now.

Bella Noche: Oh, I’m sorry!

Interviewer: No, no, no, you’re completely fine!

Bella Noche: I’m so sorry, I hate spoilers

interviewer: You are fine, it is so fine

Bella Noche: It’s still good, watch it! it’s very, very, good.

Interviewer: Yeah, I love it.

Bella Noche: So I watched season 6, and I was just like “This is season 6” so I went back and binge-watched everything and I like “Okay! When’s season 7″ and I just yeah, I watch it, my boyfriend I think he’s like done with how much I watch Drag Race, I just think not only is it an amazing platform that opens so many doors for not just for drag performers but the queer community in general, and it continues to just be good TV, it’s entertaining. Say what you want about drag race, it’s entertaining.

Interviewer: Very true. If you could change one thing about drag, the drag scene, drag community, what would it be?

Bella Noche: I wish that the performers who have very rigid of definitions of what good drag and what valid drag is didn’t have that. There are so many amazing unique and different types of drag, and I think there all valid if you’re doing it for the right reasons. But I do know, and know of many, many, drag artists who their definition of drag is very rigid and very defined and if you’re not doing that, you’re not doing “drag” and I wish that wasn’t the case.

Interviewer: So, what do you think are some misconceptions people have about drag?

Bella Noche: Well. I think first that the biggest misconception is that you have to be a man dressing up as a woman. That is one form of drag, but that’s not necessarily has to be the case in order to do drag. Right then and there, I think another big one of the misconceptions is that if you do drag, and if you’re dressing as a different gender, you want to be that other gender. That’s also not necessarily the case, even though, yes, there are a lot of transgender drag artists where that is true, but I think there’s, I think the majority of drag performers don’t want to be the other gender, they just enjoy pretending to be.

Interviewer: And then going back to the last question, I’m sorry, what do you think are maybe some negative consequences of those rigid definitions of drag –

Bella Noche: You know, we’re a community and we’re a community that needs to stand together especially in these times, and we should not be drawing lines in our own community especially drag artists of what drag is valid and one drag artist telling another “Your drag isn’t valid,” that’s so – not only is that demoralizing on a human to human level, that’s like destructive to like the strength of our own drag sisterhood, and even further back the queer community as a whole, you know. One of the biggest issues that the queer community has is within itself of standing together and realizing we’re all in the same thing together, like we’re all queer, we’re all nervous about various things happening in the country right now, and the last, the very last thing we should be doing right now is drawing lines that separate ourselves even further

Interviewer: Definitely. I love that. So, and then, as far as the next question, where do you think that those different misconceptions, as far as thinking it’s a man dressing only as a woman, where do you think those come from?

Bella Noche: Well, you know, the history of drag was much, much like the history – a lot of history was conservative, very conservative, compared to what the definition of what is drag today. Back in 60s and 70s, especially New York City, like drag was like you are a man that looks like a woman. If you didn’t look like a woman, you were not doing drag. Like the pageant scene was like it for drag. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that documentary “The Queen” it’s on Netflix right now, I would highly encourage you to watch it especially for this project. It is about a I believe it’s late 60s, it’s a late 60s drag pageant and it shows like what it was to like, what drag was back in the late 60s and the whole pageant scene, it was just like nope – you had to look like a woman to be considered a good drag queen and that is definitely not the case today, so I think it has a lot to do with where drag came from. And then you know, everyone has their own opinions, everyone has their own likes, dislikes and the bigger platform you have, the more power your opinion has.

Interviewer: So, what do you think are some different ways that we could help change those different ideologies?

 Bella Noche: I mean the easiest one is just for all drag performers and artists to just be yourself, don’t try to go into a box, don’t try to put yourself into a hole that you feel like you should belong in, labels are like, so like, 90s, like, no one should have a label of what they are anymore, unless it’s like you know, a label suggesting what their pronouns are. It’s I just feel like if everyone just allowed themselves to be creative and unique, it – we wouldn’t have to discuss why we’re different, everyone just accepted that “Yeah we’re different, we should be different and that’s awesome.”

Interviewer: Yeah, and as far as people who have misconceptions about drag who are not drag artists, what do you think we can do to help change those misconceptions?

Bella Noche: Well, I have – it’s interesting, there are so many – I’ve talked to so many people who because they watched all the seasons of Drag Race, they think they’re experts in drag without ever having to do drag once themselves. So, I would encourage people like, first of all, if you haven’t tried drag ever – you should try it. I think everyone should try drag at least once in their lives, I’m not saying everyone should be a drag queen, I think that everyone should try drag. And I would encourage people who haven’t ever done drag to, you know, think about what you say before you say it. Is what you’re about to say or comment or write on Facebook meant to encourage someone, meant to make them stronger, meant to bring the community together? No? Then don’t say it.

Interviewer: Definitely. If you could choose one thing you want people to know about drag or learn about drag, what would that one thing be?

Bella Noche: Drag is for everyone.

Interviewer: And then did you have any other ways you wanted to share in how drag has impacted your life?

Bella Noche: I think we – I mean you know, other than being a more confident person, and I genuinely feel like an artist now, like I’m a full-time queen, a full-time performer. When I’m not at a gig, I’m prepping for the next one, doing hair, doing costumes, cleaning the undergarments, you know drag is my life now. But, just as a whole, drag has allowed me to pass into my sole potential, you know. I was always a creative kid and I was always good at these random little things, and every time I would try for something, I was never the best at just this one thing, but I was good at all these random little things that I thought I would never have the use for. When I discovered drag, I realized why I had all those little skills and talents and every single little thing that I was good at that I thought I would never use came together and is why I’m a full-time queen right now.

Interviewer: That’s amazing, and then did you have any other experiences, thoughts, anything else you’d like to share?

Bella Noche: I mean my drag journey in itself has been a wonderful, unpredictable roller coaster of a ride and I am not getting off any time soon, and I’m just, I’m – if you would’ve told me four years ago that I would be where I am now, I would’ve laughed in your face. it’s absolutely astounding the things that drag has allowed me to do, the people that drag has allowed me to meet, the platform that drag has allowed me to gain and I am just so excited for this upcoming year because I have no idea what’s going to happen.

Interviewer: If you could go back in time to your younger self, is there any advice you’d give yourself?

Bella Noche: I would yeah – I would tell my younger self it’s okay to like the things you like, I know that you feel like liking pretty things and Disney princesses and glitter, everyone tells you that it’s wrong and no one knows why you’re such a perfectionist, no one knows why you like talking to everybody, no one knows why you like lip-syncing in the mirror, and all those things that people are like “That’s weird, stop doing that” don’t stop doing that because, they’re gonna make you so happy in the long run.

Interviewer: Thank you so much, this has been awesome, if you don’t have anything else to add –

Bella Noche: This has been great, thank you so much!

Interviewer: No problem, thank you so much – you have a great night!

Bella Noche: you as well, I’d love to see stay in touch and I’d love to see the final product

Interviewer: Definitely, if you’d like to email me some of your favorite pictures and I can make sure that once that’s all uploaded, I can send you the site and everything.

Bella Noche: Fabulous, yes, I’ll shoot some pictures right now!

Interviewer: Thank you so much you have a great night!

Bella Noche: You as well, bye-bye!

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