Entertainment

There Are Just So Many Reasons Why We Adore Valentina From ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Valentina popped into our world on season nine of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and we were instantly captivated by her eyes. Or we should say, her makeup, round her eyes, or her face, no it was her hair. Let’s just say we love everything about Valentina, and a big reason for that is because she brings so much of her Latinidad to the show.

The 27-year-old LA native, whose real name is James Andrew Leyva, is a star and there should be no question about that. If you need some kind of proof, take this: he only became a professional drag queen roughly ten months before filming “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” How can one transform from hot guy to hot drag queen? Well, Valentina is Latina, and you know Latinas can do anything.

Just because Valentina didn’t win her season, doesn’t mean we’ll never see her again. In fact, she is far from leaving our radar.

We’ll soon see Valentina as Angel Dumott Schunard in the Broadway show Rent in Fox’s live version of the musical that will air on Jan. 27.

Here are just a few reasons why we love Valentina.

A star is born: the creation of Valentina’s name.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

Valentina said she got her name from various Latin cultural references including a character out of a Pedro Almodovar. She also said the name is like the protagonist from a novela. Valentina also said she loves the hot sauce (named Valentina), and Valentino the designer.

How James transforms into Valentina.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

Valentina said on season nine that he loves getting into drag. The whole process becomes like a ritual, he puts on the right kind of music, has some wine, lights a candle, and clearly whatever he has to do to become the goddess that he is more power to him.

Valentina always brings the comedy.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

Valentina basically represents all our moods, but she’s just a lot prettier when showing them.

Valentina burst onto the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stage as a hot mariachi diva.

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“I’m from East L.A. representing Mariachi Plaza.” Yasssss queen!

We don’t know who we love more, James or Valentina. Good thing we don’t have to choose.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

He is so cute without the makeup, but when he becomes Valentina, well, we are blown away.

Valentina’s confidence is sky high.

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On episode two, Valentina came face-to-face with Lady Gaga herself and was not intimidated one bit. Valentina thanked Lady Gaga for her support of the gay community and for being a bad ass drag queen herself. In fact, Lady Gaga loved Valentina as her best Lady Gaga in blue hair. She said she wanted to cry when she was on the runway, which is why Valentina won this competition as Lady Gaga.

She’s an ice princess with a heart.

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From the very first episode of season nine, Valentina was a threat and everyone knew it. Then she started winning competitions, so, of course, people are gonna hate the winners. Despite some seeing her as a threat (or a villain), Valentina’s heart always came through on the show. We especially liked her as Princess Vira, which some judges compared to the legend supermodel Linda Evangelista.

Just because she’s a baby queen, doesn’t mean she can’t rule…in fact, she does!

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

Valentina gets a lot of crap for being so young and so successful as a drag queen even though she’s only been in the industry for a couple of years now, while other queens have been strutting down the runway for years. Do not come for the queen just because of her age, when you got it, you know it.

She’s a triple threat.

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Did you watch Valentina as Kendall Jenner? The Kardashians (or Jenners) have nothing on this queen, and it makes perfect senes why Valentina would be cast in the new “Rent” musical. She’s such a performer!

Bold and beautiful

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Valentina as Madonna was probably one of the best moments on RuPaul’s Drag Race, everrrrrr! Why, you ask? When the queens are told to come out as their best Madonna, everyone did a basic look, but it was Valentina who came out as Madonna’s boldest look: NUDE! She rocked that runway with two black strips and a cigarette, looking as fierce and beautiful as ever.

Valentina, the drag queen equivalent to Selena Quintanilla.

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Valentina was confronted about her hateful fans that flat out threatened other queens on the show. Valentina, in a very graceful manner, informed RuPaul that the Latino culture is very protective of people they love. She went further and said her fan base (Latinos) is basically the type of adoration that Selena had in the ’90s. Speak your truth, girl!

Valentina is all about love never hate.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

During season nine, Valentina’s fans — while amazing — talked too much sh*t about the other constants on the show. They went so far as to send death threats to Valentina’s competitors, which is insane. James had to go on his social media to tell his fans to stop it. He said he didn’t want people to think the Latino culture was all about hate, homophobia or transphobia. The poor thing was in tears. But he was such a good example and did the right thing by telling them to stop. The fans, however, haven’t. Though Valentina continues to check them whenever they get out of hand, as they have recently.

Valentina lives for the drama.

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There’s a reason why Latinos get so emotional, we cry about anything! We’re so dramatic even over the slightest things…okay, enough with the generalizations, but Valentina brought that emotion when she played Miss Universe, we mean Miss Colombia. She was epic with those tears!

We were all rooting for you.

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When Valentina was eliminated on episode nine, we finally saw her in her most vulnerable. We have all been there: frozen when the boss tells us what to do. For whatever reason, sometimes, as bold as we might be, we cannot move, and that was Valentina in her final runway. James said himself that he isn’t sure why he didn’t remove his mask before he began to lip sync and try to stay in the competition, he just froze.

She’s an all-star.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

As an “All Stars 4” contestant, we’re loving that Valentina is back and bringing her Latin vibe to the show. We missed her! Will she win the crown this time around? We will just have to wait and see.

Valentina keeps it real during Drag Queen Carpool.

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If you ever find yourself in a car with icon RuPaul be sure to bring your best game face. Valentina worked hard that entire ride. Whether she was speaking about herself and her Latino culture, or working it right along RuPaul, she never stopped. She has tenacity and spirit that is undeniable.

She’s multifaceted.

allaboutvalentina / Instagram

As more and more people discover the talent that Valentina bestows, it’s extraordinary to witness her star grow. Later this month, we will see James as a completely different character in the new live version of the musical “Rent” on Fox.

Dreams do come true.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

James has said, since day one, that Valentina’s creation is something out of a movie or telenovela. Next month that creation is coming to life on a theater stage!

A cultural icon.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

Becoming a reality star is never an indication that you will be remembered forever. In fact, they’re usually forgotten. There are some that go on to have burgeoning careers and lives in Hollywood. Valentina is one of those people that is going to be part of cultural radar for a long time to come.

Valentina is our Latina goddess.

Instagram/@allaboutvalentina

Whether she’s acting out her best Snookie or old-school 90210 character, Valentina is all her own. We have seen her shine, learn, and grow into the Valentina we know and love today. We can’t wait to see what else she brings to the game.


READ: The 24 Slayingest Latina Queens From ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

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Meet Diego Garijo: MMA Fighter By Day, Fierce Drag Queen By Night

Culture

Meet Diego Garijo: MMA Fighter By Day, Fierce Drag Queen By Night

It may seem like the world of MMA fighting and the world of drag are in two completely different solar systems. One is all about how strong you are, your ability to literally take gut punches and withstand physical attacks. The other is about cultivating your art and allowing your inner self to shine through. But dig a little deeper and you see that both are all about being the fiercest version of yourself.

One man seems to have figured that out long before all of us, as he’s been straddling both worlds for years as renowned MMA fighter Diego Garijo in the ring and as fierce drag queen Lola by night.

Diego Garijo is the straight, drag ally we need right now.

Diego Garijo is an imposing figure in the ring. He’s 41-years-old and covered in tattoos with a recorded seven victories in the ring before suffering a detached retina and having to put the sport on hold. But he’s since come back with a vengeance and got into bare-knuckle boxing.

For Garijo, fighting is an art form through which he entertains. Becoming ‘Lola Pistola’ allows another part of himself to shine and fulfill his need for artistic expression.

Garijo says that drag and MMA have more in common than we might think.

While being a drag queen may seem a world away from being an MMA fighter, Garijo has expressed his belief that the two pastimes actually work well together.

In an interview with VICE, 41-year-old Garijo said that he gets ‘a lot of love from people in the drag scene, as well as the trans and gay communities.’ He stressed that his support doesn’t stop there, as Lola is also loved by ‘big tough fighters’.

Garijo commented: ‘Maybe they are also hiding an element of themselves that they would like to bring out more.’

His story as an immigrant has also played a major part in his creativity and art forms.

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Garijo was smuggled into the US as a child. And as a youth, spent many of his years serving time in prison, which is where he got into fighting.

As for getting into drag; Garijo says that really began when he was a child, with a photo of him as a six-year-old wearing his mother’s underwear. He was brought up without a father and says he had a couple of gay cousins, so he ‘wasn’t exposed to many traditional masculine stereotypes.’

He continued: ‘Maybe that’s why I can be very feminine. I think people wonder if I’m gay, but they don’t understand that femininity and sexual preference are two completely different things.’

After being bullied as a child he has found that ‘art and fighting’ offer an outlet to the trauma he carries with him, and both through fighting and creating ‘a personality that has no shame’, he feels is able to ‘take a step forward in combat when others would take a step back.’

Currently, Diego is filming a new documentary about his life journey. His dear friend John Padilla serves as writer, director and producer of the project that they hope will find a home at Netflix.

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The Black and Afro-Latina Queens of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Discuss #BlackLivesMatter

Entertainment

The Black and Afro-Latina Queens of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Discuss #BlackLivesMatter

The drag queens on the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race discussed the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the previous episode and it was real. They talked about the ways they were active during the protests last summer and what it means to be a queer person of color in the U.S. today.

Kandy Muse gave the conversation an Afro-Latina perspective.

While the queens were putting on their makeup in the workroom, LaLa Ri from Atlanta, brought up the topic of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. New York’s “Dominican Doll” Kandy Muse was the first to speak on her involvement in the protests.

“Being an Afro-Latino from the south Bronx, when I see Black people being murdered by police, it just puts so many things into perspective,” Muse said. “Fighting for Black lives and all those things are very, very important to me.”

Symone reminded the other queens of George Floyd’s murder by the police.  

Symone, who hails from LA, reminded her season 13 sisters that the murder of George Floyd last May by the police is what sparked the protests throughout the country.

“It’s sad that he to- that that had to happen, but I’m happy that people are waking the f*ck up because it’s always been there,” Symone said.

As a Black queen, Symone spoke to the trauma that Black people were facing with video of George Floyd’s murder being replayed in the media.

“Even with [the] corona[virus] going on, I felt immediately compelled to be involved in protests here in Los Angeles because enough is enough,” Symone recalled. “Things need to change.”

Lala Ri put some light on Rayshard Brooks‘ murder by the police.

During the discussion, LaLa Ri brought up that the murder of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendys in Georgia happened very close to their home.

“It kind of just really hit me that I could easily be in that drive-thru, and there’s a situation where they can pull me over just because I look like I don’t belong in that type of car,” LaLa Ri said.

As LaLa Ri relived that realization, she got emotional talking about it on the show.

“You could just be a Black person in the world and you could just get killed for nothing,” the queen said in tears. “It’s scary that you could just be killed just because of the color of your skin.”

Olivia Lux, an Afro-Puerto Rican queen from New Jersey, also mentioned how Black trans women are being murdered at a high rate.

“Statically Black trans lives at the most at risk,” Olivia Lux said.

Tamisha Iman wrapped things up with the words of John Lewis.

Tamisha Iman, a Black queen from Georgia, evoked the words of late Georgia Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis to wrap up the conversation.

“Get in some good trouble!” the Georgia queen said in an empowering moment.

The clip was uploaded to RuPaul’s Drag Race YouTube channel on Feb. 1 in honor of Black History Month. Be watch the full video to see more of this necessary conversation.

READ: Denali is Serving Mexicana Representation on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

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