The Offline Interview
First of all, thank you so much for letting bluebay700:Uhmazing have this interview with you. It’s been a long time coming.
Uhmazing: What’s your out-of-drag name?
Atasha Manila: Name is Louie. Louie Alfajora is my full name. Family nickname is Mok-Mok.
Uhmazing: How did you come up with your drag name?
Atasha Manila: I really thought Atasha is a beautiful name. It sounds sexy, exotic, and easy to the ears. And it’s easy to say. Though sometimes people be calling me “Natasha”! And I tell them “it’s Atasha!”
Uhmazing: How would you describe your drag?
Atasha Manila: My drag is very edgy. High-drama meets a crazy prostitute on the mall parking lot. It’s about loving everything and anything bright and fun that are on sale!!! “Low budget bitch realness who knows how to make it work and look good while at it!“
Uhmazing: Describe Atasha Manila in one word …
Atasha Manila: Atasha in one word?! You’ve lost your mind!!! Atasha is dramatically over-the-top.
Uhmazing: How did you start doing drag?
Atasha Manila: I started doing drag because I saw Sutan Amrull (a.k.a. Raja) on The Tyra Banks Show and on America’s Next Top Model, in drag. That was before RuPaul’s Drag Race even happened. I was just so amused about how beautiful and how brave Raja was to come out on TV, boy dressed as a girl. I told myself that I was going to be like her in the future! I was eighteen years old then who doesn’t know a lick about anything drag, well except makeup. I’ve always been so fascinated about how makeup can make you look so glamorous and how it changes your personality and mood because of what you look like. I started practicing makeup on this six year old little girl who lives across where I used to live. We would hide in her house and would give her crazy makeover and she would do what I asked her to do most of the times! If she doesn’t agree I would give her Barbies makeovers, which I got in trouble for. I got one of her very expensive Barbie that she got on her fourth birthday and I teased the shit out of its hair and added more makeup using markers. And I used markers to add highlight on the ratted blonde hair. I thought she needed more sass. She told on my ass and I got in trouble for it!
After doing makeup for women for some time I came to a thought that if I could transform all these girls why not try it myself?! So at the age of twenty one I started painting myself. I work at this restaurant called Inay’s Pacific Cuisine, which is owned by Uncle Ernie, and I asked him if I could work with my makeup on. He said “Why not?” A few months passed by and I found myself in full dress, makeup and hair! He was very supportive. He keeps pushing me to keep on doing drag! He even bought some of my first drag outfits. I also asked him if I could perform as well, and he said “Do it! That’s how my show at Inay’s came to be! After a few months of performing and waiting tables, a local and beloved newspapers paper named “The Stranger” wrote a whole page article dedicated to me. That’s when everything finally took off.
Uhmazing: Do you have a drag mother?
Atasha Manila: Yes, her name is Aleksa Manila.
Uhmazing: Tell me something about Aleksa Manila, like how did you meet her?
Atasha Manila: When I was eighteen years old I was looking for friends on MySpace and I found a photo of this beautiful Asian queen named Aleksa Manila. I didn’t know who she was but her photos were so glamorous! I just kept staring at her photos. I was so mesmerized! So I added her as a friend on MySpace. I was cyber stalking her for four years!
I didn’t meet Aleksa Manila until I was twenty two at Julia’s Block party during Pride. I met her as a boy and I was star stuck. I was already doing drag then. But she didn’t know who I was until that The Stranger article came out a few months after our first meeting. I’ve been performing at Inay’s as Atasha until the fall of 2011 when she came to the restaurant with Arnaldo, the drag Chanteuse, to watch me! That was when she asked me if I would like to be a Manila!!! And it brought me to my knees and told her it would be a great honor! And she told me to stand up and said “Don’t bow to me!” That moment Atasha Manila was born. Finally after all these years Aleksa became my drag mother! And Arnaldo is my god-grandmother! Not many people can say that! That very next night thanks to a great costumer who knows Lady Chablis asked her if I could perform. I did my debut performance on the R PLACE stage that Saturday night!
Uhmazing: Do you have a drag daughter?
Atasha Manila: I don’t have a drag daughter! I can hardly keep up with myself. I cannot afford to have one! lol
Uhmazing: Do you design and make your own outfits, and where do you get your inspiration from?
Atasha Manila: I put my outfits together. I have a few pieces that a good friend of mine makes for me, but most of it I make. I normally would just buy garments in different stores wherever I can find anything! When I see something and I like it, then I would buy it! But it’s how I piece the whole look together. Putting department store garments, with my own handcrafted accessories, and hair that I styled myself isn’t really bad for a simple show and or a going out look. There are pieces that I have in my closet/storage that I made on my own. They are my own idea and my own execution. I find inspiration out of nothing! Shit just popped out of my head when I’m walking or watching a show. They just come up. I get inspired by looking at simple materials like a nice plain dress with a sexy silhouette. I always ask myself “How would I wear this and what would make it scream ‘Shitted on them queen!’” One of my biggest accomplishments that I did, when it comes to making an over the top outfit, was my Forrest goddess loom! I am proud to say that I made my head to toe look with my own bare hands!
I create my outfits with the help of glue gun and glue stick and my vision! I did not win the Island Couture the pageant but I sure did took home the grand prize of RPLACE Halloween costume contest and Neighbours costume contest. My whole look cost me less than $250.00. And all my hard work earned me $1,700.00 in cash prize in a costume contest!
Uhmazing: How long have you been doing drag? Tell us about your early drag days?
Atasha Manila: I’ve been doing drag for about four years. My early drag years, before I became a “Manila”, were blah. But in my head then I thought I was serving it! I was fishy. I looked like a girl that you see in the mall but with better makeup! Remember I practiced doing mug on people prior to me becoming a drag queen. My drag style/fashion has evolved immensely but yet my persona has remained the same. I’ve always loved crazy looks and with what I see with myself now I’m getting into that level. I am happy with what I have to offer Seattle now! My first public appearance as a drag queen and as an entertainer all happened at Inay’s and I could say I’ve come a long way! I’m working all these different bars and events but it’s different when I’m working the dining area at Inay’s! I’m free and I could do whatever I want! And that’s always so great not to limit yourself!
Uhmazing: Do you have any drag queens idols?
Atasha Manila: My drag idols are my very own drag mother and icon – Aleksa Manila, a dear and talented friend – Ursula Major, Raja, and of course the queen of all queens – RuPaul!
Uhmazing: What do you consider to be your greatest drag accomplishment?
Atasha Manila: My greatest drag accomplishment was being accepted and love by my own biological family through the art of drag! Though it took them a while to fully realize and embrace me, they finally realize that my craft is great. But they all bitch and complain on how expensive it is! Because it is! I told them that it will pay on its own, which I am praying and hoping for! Having my family watch me in drag and them telling me how proud of they are of me is the cherry on top of the cake! I am very fortunate to have such loving and supportive family and I could not ask for anything better! There’s definitely lots of valley on my journey of being a drag artists but to have such a wonderful relationship with my family is best peak I’ve accomplished!
Uhmazing: Congratulations again on winning Miss U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle 2013/2014! What does winning the pageant mean to you?
Atasha Manila: Winning Miss U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle symbolizes love, hope, and acceptance. This was the night where my own family came out to watch me in drag for the first time and hugged me, and cheered for me! (I’m crying while answering these questions … jeez). I was very proud of myself. I was the pageant’s very first cross-dresser/transvestite to be crowned. All the title holders of this pageant are transgender. It was the biggest crowd that I performed to and I was given standing ovation by the audience on my talent presentation. And that’s a big deal in drag because drag is about how you present yourself and how you entertain a crowd, and I’m truly proud that I did that.
Uhmazing: If you were to pick a charitable cause, what would it be?
Atasha Manila: If I could choose a charitable organization it would be UTOPIA Seattle because it is the organization close and dear to my heart. (Please visit U.T.O.P.I.A Seattle‘s Facebook page to read the mission). UTOPIA is my family and my sisters and I stand what they believe and work for. Also the Official Pride Asia founded by Aleksa Manila (visit officialprideasia on Facebook or website). I strongly believe in these two organizations because they mainly focused in the LGBTQ API (Asian Pacific Islander) community, and we hardly have this kind of organizations that worked specifically for minorities who are LGBTQ.
Uhmazing: Let’s plug your gigs so people can get a chance to experience your top-notch drag entertainment. You have a regular show at Inay’s Pacific Cuisine in Seattle every Friday night. It was such a blast to watch you perform and at the same time take dinner orders and serve food in between wardrobe changes! I’ve never seen anything like it! I look forward to dine there again. What other gigs are you currently doing?
Atasha Manila: Aside from my Friday night performances at Inay’s. You can watch me perform at least once a month at R PLACE and CanCan Cabaret on 1st and Pike, and I am also the hostess of a monthly show at the Fall City Bistro called “Sunday Funday”.
Uhmazing: What keeps you going, as a drag entertainer?
Atasha Manila: What keeps me going as an entertainer are the people who supported and believed in my talent. Plus drag keeps me busy and I am able to express the creative side of me. I want to keep inspiring the young immigrants to this country who have been bullied and tormented for being different. Coming from a different country English is my third language, I didn’t have the best clothes, and to top it all off, I was an easy target to bullies for simply being gay! My first three years living in the States has been very hard, and I often cry myself to sleep at night (I haven’t told my family about this). I want to let people know that they themselves can find happiness and success if they remain true to themselves, and be proud of who they are. I found my happiness in drag, and being able to share to my world is one of the best feelings. I want to keep on going even though it’s tiring sometimes and it breaks my pocket and my bank account, because I simply believe that drag keeps people smiling and thinking. And drag keeps me happy!
Uhmazing: What’s next for Atasha Manila?
Atasha Manila: I’m hoping to make it to RuPaul’s Drag Race so I can showcase what I’ve got in the creative aspect of drag, but most of all I want to inspire people! And change their lives one roll of duct tape at a time!
Uhmazing: Any advice for would-be drag queens out there?
Atasha Manila: My advice to the would-be drag out there is to be who they are and to follow their heart and mind! Let your creative spirit soar! Be what you want to be and don’t let people tell you who you should be! Do what makes you happy and everything will be fabulous!!! Stand up and give it your all! No matter what it is that you’re wearing and what you look like CONFIDENCE is the best accessory that you can carry! Have them try to clock and read you but always remember you know yourself more than they do!
Thank you so much Atasha Manila for the hospitality, interview, and the amazing photo shoot! Hope to see you on RuPaul’s Drag Race in the future! Best of luck and more success!
Check out Atasha Manila on Facebook and her shows as mentioned. For now, check out our hard werk!