Desmond Napoles (Age: 10)
New York, N.Y.
Inspired by ballroom legends, club kids, and Marsha P. Johnson, this precocious performer is voguing straight past the haters.
I first started doing drag when I was 2 years old. I took my mom’s towel and made a headdress out of it. Then I wrapped bubble wrap around me and put on high heels and stomped around the house in them. My mom saw me and didn’t mind. When I was 5, I knew I was gay. I started getting crushes on boys, and then when I was 9, I came out to my mom, and she accepted it. Both of my parents were very supportive. I still don’t really tell everyone at school about it — I’d just rather not. If someone stares at me, I just roll my eyes at them, which means they should mind their own beeswax. What if I stared at them? They wouldn’t like that.
The makeup started when I was 7. I like drawing puzzle pieces and shapes on my face. Crazy makeup. Outlandish looks. I like to be different than really well-known types of drag, like pageant drag. Some of the Drag Race queens who inspire me are Milk, Jinkx Monsoon, Ongina, and Acid Betty. I like looking like a club kid — I’m more inspired by them. My outfits are usually related to that, like the pink look I wore to New York Drag Con last year.
I love voguing. I watched the documentary Paris Is Burning when I was 8, and when I saw these people doing these amazing dance moves, I really wanted to learn how. So I taught myself. Eventually I took lessons with Leiomy Maldonado, a legend in the ballroom scene from the House of Mizrahi. During the 2015 Pride Parade, my mom petered out after 10 blocks, but I vogued the whole way. I was wearing a rainbow tutu and a gold beret. In 2016, I rode on the Stonewall float, and at PrideFest that same year, I met Bianca Del Rio, who invited me to go up on stage and do seven death drops. And vogue.
I had a big moment last June, when I vogued at the NYC Legacy Ball, and the House of UltraOmni asked me to be in their house. My voguing father is now Sydney UltraOmni. I didn’t win a trophy, but I got plucked. The only other people I know of who’ve gotten plucked are Venus Xtravaganza and Michelle Visage (but I don’t know what house Michelle Visage got into).
At this year’s New York Pride, I received the Marsha P. Johnson “Don’t be Outraged, Be Outrageous” Award from Heritage of Pride, and I wore a flower headdress inspired by Marsha. I learned so much about her, and I kept wearing headdresses after that. I prefer them — they’re much more comfortable than wigs!
I really don’t consider myself a drag queen, though. I consider myself a drag kid. I feel like the term “drag queen” is mostly used for adults. I’ve started a drag house called Haus of Amazing, and it’s for drag kids who are 20 and under. We’re going to have trading cards, videos, chat sessions, etc. I believe right now I have 37 members. It’s getting there.