VIZIN – interview and video premier
A Native American, VIZIN is a unique and inspirational drag entertainer and singer who is about to release a very hot, sexy, and sensationally fun new video I Was Born This Way.
VIZIN is a very humble and appreciative queen. She spoke to me from her heart, with a touch of innocence, still untainted by disappointments that often accompany the profession. One could feel the excitement in her persona, and the joy she has being creative and just doing drag.
You can see VIZIN on the I Was Born This Way tour at San Francisco Pride (June 23 and 24) and Drag Con Weekend in New York City in the fall.
Louder Than War: Tell me about your very first official drag experience?
It was actually in 2007, and my first time getting a gig in drag. I was going to perform at the Pride Fest, but I actually had no boobs yet, until the day before. I found this place in a Walmart. It was a crane machine and in it, it had those latex balls. They had all these little fingers all over them, they were textured and crazy. I managed to go through $10 to find two balls that were both the same. They were squishy and they were everything I needed. Only one of the balls had a light in the middle, and every time you shook it, it would light up. I didn’t think anyone would be able to see it, but the dress that I wore didn’t have a lining so you could see right through it. So every time I moved the left one lit up.
You know what if they both lit up people would have thought you did it on purpose.
Those were the days of crafty queens.
You are a Native American Indian, correct?
Oh yes, I grew up in North Dakota, on the Fort Berthol reservation.
What type of Indian is that?
The reservation was actually known as the three affiliated tribes, which is three bands of Native American Indian. I am mainly a Arikara.
Do you use any of that Heritage in any part of your drag?
I do try to incorporate it somehow. I use a lot of turquoise jewelry, anything that’s kind of native American visually. As far as I could do and not be disrespectful, because I respect the culture as much as I can.
What does your culture think about drag?
Back in the day anyone that was gay or trans sexual or transgendered were considered by a broad term called, ‘Two Spirits’. I don’t know too much about it because it’s not really talked about much anymore. It’s more of a male and a female spirit inhabit our bodies. We basically experience life as both. We get the best of both worlds. Back in the day we were more regarded than frowned upon now.
So it was like a cool thing?
Yeah, it was. As far as I know we took care of the elderly. Anytime we were in their presence, we were given gifts and stuff. It’s a fun thing to share.
So you are about to release your brand new video? Did you have fun doing it?
Yes. It was my Barbie fantasy. It was shot in Vegas at the Barbie suite at the Palms. It was so amazing. We left the room covered in feathers though.
So I guess you’re a big fan of the Barbie Doll?
Oh I love Barbie. I grew up with her. She was my sister. I escaped into her Barbie world.
That’s so funny! I have two friends who collect them.
Oh really, I have to see that. I wanna start my own collection, but it’s hard though because I wanna play with them, and I can’t.
Do you do drag for a living?
Yeah. Drag is basically my life now. I’m in my drag room and getting my look together for tonight. We are going to the viewing of RuPaul’s drag race. Tonight I’ll be sitting next to Sasha Velour.
Say hello for me please. Do you intend to try out for Drag Race?
You know I thought about it. I never have before because I never thought I was ready. When I came up here all these other opportunities started happening. I think I should focus on this music thing. This music thing is really taking off for me. I’m just very excited about it.
When you were growing up besides Barbie, who inspired you?
Well of course Mariah Carey. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have the same five octave range. Well I actually lost a lot of it in puberty. But I did grow up singing with her as far as I could. & Mariah does inspire a lot of my look. To this very day she has been one of my idols, as well as Marilyn Monroe. I’m really attracted to her spirit. Marilyn is more of that tortured soul kind of thing. She really wanted to be beautiful and I can relate to that.
You are a brand new crayon in a crayon box, what color are you?
Candy yum yum.
You said you’ve been doing drag since 2007?
Yes, but I’ve been really been doing it all my whole life. I was a little boy putting my shirts around my waste as skirts. I grew up wearing jellies. Everybody in my family knew I was gay before I did. It was not a big shock when I finally came out.
What do like best about doing drag?
I think it’s the transformation. When I am VIZIN I am a completely different person. Right now I’m in my room with VIZIN, i’m not in a drag but I feel like VIZIN right now. It’s a complete take over. VIZIN completely takes over once I become her. I just love that feeling of being a different person for a few hours, and feeling beautiful. It’s totally unexplainable.
Do you perform anywhere regularly?
I’ve done some shows here but I don’t do anything regularly. I started doing production work. Being behind the scene. My manager Leo Madrid is also a promoter, and a creative director here in West Hollywood. Now we are focused on VIZIN, and we will be going out on tour, starting with Long Beach Pride. We are hoping to get to New York. We are talking about the Drag-Con that’s coming to New York.
I just love the name VIZIN, and the way you spell it. It’s very creative.
VIZIN came from…well originally my name was Billy Simone. That came from me being a singer and I loved Nina Simone and Billy Holiday. They were my favorite jazz singers, but when I lost my weight I wanted to reinvent my drag persona. I was doing a lot of thinking and I wanted to connect it with my Native American heritage. I wanted to be a one-man name because back in the day when I was starting the best piece of advice that I ever got, was when you’re getting your name, make sure it stands out in the marquee. A one name wonder like RuPaul or Cher, really stands out. When I came up with VIZIN, it was like being on a vision quest which it’s kind of like my Native American heritage. That’s where it came from and I decided why not spell it VIZIN, and capitalize on it, it’s so graphic. It’s just fun. I actually love being called VIZIN . People come up to me and asked me how I pronounce my name and they’ll ask if it’s VIZIN. I just laugh at them.
Is there anything else that you would like to promote that we haven’t covered?
I don’t know if you’ve heard the remix on the song, “I Was Born This Way”, but we’re working with Hector Fonseca. The person that produced this song, his name is Chris Rocha and he has actually worked with RuPaul. He also worked with Jamie Foxx on “Blame it on the Alcohol”. He’s helping to produce my first EP, and he’s all the way in the project. I’m grateful for everyone thats surrounding me. I’m also performing at Long Beach Pride on the 20th, and I’m very excited about that.
Where will people be able to find you?
I’m performing on the 20th and the 21st. I’ll be performing on the main stage on the 20th with Shaka Kahn. One of the dancers I’m working with is Michael Silas who was on So You Think You Can Dance and now he’s been dancing with Gaga and he’s actually danced with Mariah Carey as well. The other party is called Overboard and that’s on the Queen Mary. It’s going to be a busy weekend for me.
Listen to VIZIN’s “I Was Born This Way” here.
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.