Exclusive interview with Grag Queen • Instinct Magazine
If you were smitten by Grag Queen’s stunning performances in Andra Day’s “Rise Up” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” imagine what else she has in store. The fierce Brazilian entertainer, who was catapulted to superstardom last year after winning the first season of Paramount+ queen of the universeputs its platform to good use and embarks on new adventures.
Signed to SB Music in Brazil, Grag – born Gregory Mohd – recently released all five of her songs Desperta EP and is currently working on an English album, “You Betta” being the first sample. As well as releasing new music, Grag appeared at RuPaul’s Drag Con earlier this month, is preparing to kick off her UK and US tour and will be featured in the upcoming Love, Victor soundtrack.
Additionally, Grag is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community in Brazil and is very aware of how many young people are afraid to go out and be themselves. She hopes to use her new platform to fight raging queerphobia in the country and be a beacon to many.
Instinct caught up with the newly crowned queen to learn more about the competition and victory queen of the universehis new music and projects, LGBTQ Pride, and more.
I would like to start by talking more about the competition on queen of the universe. How amazing was this experience for you and what did you get out of it?
It was so unreal, and I’m still processing it in my head. I went straight from the quarantine routine of being locked in my bedroom to being on the world stage with 13 other fierce queens from around the world. I learned new ways of dragging, new perspectives, and got the chance to show my talents to the world. It’s amazing. Trying to be part of this platform is very, very difficult. Then, of course, I took off my crown, my money, and I’m extremely happy to have this sisterhood with these girls. As well as everything that comes with winning.
What went through your mind when they announced you had won?
I was like, okay, you asked. Now you will have it. Let the games begin (laughs).
What is the first thing you bought with the prize money?
A very expensive caramel wig that touches my ass. Very luxurious, reality crossdresser. This girl had just won the award, so I think the first gift should have been something for her.
What made you initially audition for the contest of queen of the universe?
The format of the show. You have to sing, you have to be pretty, you have to speak English – I said, girl, that’s for me!
Of all the judges, who were you hoping to impress the most?
Of course, Michelle Face. It can be harsh, but not in a bad way. You have to show her the love you have for the gig, and that’s something I have. I really wanted to show him how much I could evolve thanks to the love I have for this art. Drag queen meets singing.
Have you always had a passion for singing and performing?
Yes. I don’t know where it comes from, but I love it. I feel free. I’m constantly building strategies to be somewhere playing and singing for people. It is all I have.
When and how did drag come into play in your art?
She just came alone. With performance, you perform so many things together. Singing, dancing, sticking eyelashes, doing makeup, giving interviews, and it’s like, honey, how many things can you add? It’s kind of a sideshow, and I think that’s kind of what drag is. It’s the collection of everything I love. It can also be political, and I think that is extremely important. I fell in love with drag for the art of transformation, and it helped me love myself and feel more confident.
At the end of 2021, you released a five-track EP titled Desperta. How was it received?
Here in Brazil, it has been extremely well received. It’s something I dropped before my new singles “Party Everyday” and “Fim de Tarde”, but released it competing on queen of the universe, and these are messages full of despair. The pandemic and quarantine have been very harsh and disturbing, so I wanted to use my art to talk to people and tell them there is still time. We’re here for a reason.
So wake up, desperta, and come alive! The time will come, so wait for it. I like to give hope to my people because we miss it terribly. We are taught to be losers and not to succeed, so I want to show them that it is still worth dreaming.
What can you tell us about the English-speaking album that you are currently preparing? Can you say more about the concept and the inspiration?
My inspiration is always myself because I really like to sing what I believe. The melodies come from me. I write and produce with amazing people, like Leland, and I’m thrilled to work with them. They can see the good things in me, which makes me more confident. To talk about it and explore new sounds, types and ways of making music, and add English, the bubble is giant. It’s drag, pop, Brazilian and Latin American. We try to make the best of everything.
You also have a new song coming out for the Love, Victor soundtrack. How did it happen?
It happened because Leland, he’s also a producer on RuPaul’s Drag Race and queen of the universehe is the musical director of Love, Victor. I think he just showed me to Disney, and they loved it. We wrote a song, and it’s on fire!
You are also about to embark on a UK and US tour. What can one always expect from a Grag Queen performance?
Charisma, good outfits, nice hair and makeup, and some skin. Don’t expect padding. I’m from Brazil and it’s really hot, so you know I show my real ass (laughs). When it all comes together, I give you the Brazilian queen of the universe!
Some of these performances are for Pride events. What does Pride mean to you personally?
I will be celebrating a lot of Prides being an openly proud gay, an openly proud drag queen, and an openly proud Brazilian artist. Celebrating this and being able to share the same stage with other amazing stars like Christina Aguilera, makes me want to celebrate even more and show how proud I am for who I am.
What is the importance and responsibility of being a drag performer?
I think these days, even though we are moving forward somewhere with our art, I think we still have to talk about everything. Just because we’re drag artists doesn’t mean we’re going to deliver simple things. I want to show my voice and do everything with excellence, as well as show children and teenagers that they can be whatever they want to be. I always try to point that out.
You used your new platform to raise awareness about anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence in Brazil. How bad is it there?
It’s still very bad. We’re still the country that kills the most LGBTQ people, and it’s crazy because it’s extremely big and people just don’t want to talk about it. We are under a very homophobic, transphobic and racist government. People like that are empowered by this government, and it’s very bad to live here.
Of course, we still have the queen of the universe. We have people like Pabllo Vittar, who is one of the greatest drag queens in the world. At the same time, this reality is happening, and I want to use my platform to talk about it. People get killed just because of their beliefs and who they love. It’s crazy, but it happens.
What future goals would you like to achieve with your career?
I just want to keep making music and I would love to collaborate with people like RuPaul, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Anitta, Lizzo, Camila Cabello and even Trixie Mattel and Michelle Visage one day. I think we can do amazing things.
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