Queef Latina

Queef Latina

The Hustle of Drag

By Denny Patterson

The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is proud to present Miami drag performer and sewing instructor as she hosts a seminar on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 from noon – 1:30PM. She will discuss her introduction to drag, her journey into self-branding, and the triumphs and tribulations of becoming a businesswoman. Originally from Miami, Queef Latina opened her own community sewing studio last July where she holds monthly workshops and private classes. Her sewing classes were recently featured nationally on Telemundo in an episode of Al Rojo Vivo, and locally on NBC 6. As for drag, Queef Latina has entertained at museums, performed at drag festivals, worked along celebrities such as nightlife guru Susanne Bartsch and Amanda Lepore, and she is the creator and co-owner of Wigwood, South Florida’s largest queer festival. I had the pleasure of chatting more with Queef Latina about her upcoming appearance at the NSU Art Museum, in addition to her passion for drag and design. Admission to the seminar is free, but a RSVP is required. For more information, visit www.NSUArtMuseum.org.

Who is Queef Latina and what is she all about?

Queef Latina is, I love to put it, the human of the future. She lives in a fantasy world where both genders coexist, as well as no gender exists. She likes to blend. She has hyper feminine and hyper masculine features, so there is almost this sort of perfect balance of a human. In practical terms, Queef Latina is a drag queen who owns a sewing studio in downtown Miami called Queef Enterprises. She teaches sewing to kids at the public library and teaches sewing to adults and private classes at the studio. She also does a lot of private events with children and she has been featured on NBC 6 and Telemundo because of her work with the community and outreach. Queef is also the creator and organizer of the Wigwood Festival, which is South Florida’s biggest queer celebration.

How did you obtain the name Queef Latina?

So, I never ever intended to do drag. It kind of just happened very organically. When I was living in New York, a friend and I were on a trip to the Hamptons, and he said to me that Queef Latina would be a great drag name. I remember thinking in my head if I ever do drag, that would be my name. Fast forward six years later, I moved to Miami, I am originally from Miami, and one of my friends started a party called Counter Corner. At that moment in time in Miami, drag really didn’t exist and I really missed that artsy drag scene when I went out to the bars with the queers and drag queens. There was South Beach drag and Wilton Manors drag, but there was no kind of a downtown artsy club kid scene. So, my friend said she wanted to put my name on the flyer for her party and I said put down Queef Latina. Then a few months later, I was asked to perform, and I was like, oh my God, I don’t know, I’m not really a drag queen, but okay. So, that was my first time ever doing drag and I have not stopped since. It has been quite a journey.

How did it feel getting in drag for the very first time?

It felt great, and I think because I was doing something for my friends. It wasn’t at a nightclub, it was at this tiny, tiny little dive bar. There was no stage, no lighting, literally just right there on the floor in front of everybody, and there were no limitations. They let me do anything I wanted, and it felt great. I didn’t have any rules. Things have changed since then by a lot, but it was wonderful. I think when you do things and you have the support of friends and have no fear of judgment, you can absolutely bomb and suck, you know they are still going to clap for you. I think it’s a wonderful and freeing experience.

Is drag considered your full-time profession?

I like to consider it my hobby, but because of my studio and the platform I have now, it has become a full-time job. I am back in school for my master’s. I am a tailor by trade and have a technical design degree and I am getting my master’s in fashion business, so that is what I really want my career to be. It blends and lends itself so well and so perfectly to drag because a lot of drag is creating these looks and fantasies. So, I could not have picked a more perfect hobby to supplement my career. While in school, it really is my main form of income. Between teaching classes and making custom things, it helps keeps me afloat.

Where did your passion for sewing and fashion come from?

It actually started as a teenager watching Project Runway. I was very much a fan of the show. I love it, I thought the whole concept of that show was amazing. So, when I went to high school, I went to this high school in Miami called Design and Architecture Senior High which has a fashion program. Before I got into the school, I would use my mom’s sewing machine and kind of cut up a few shirts and sew them. My mom was never like into it, I had to do it in secret. She would be like, why are you so into sewing. While at that school, they taught me proper techniques, proper design patterns, and I was really into it. I got a lot of scholarships to go to college, so I continued this track because, you know, follow your passion. From there, I moved to New York and I went to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and I worked in the industry as a designer for several years. Unfortunately, it really was not for me. When you are in high school as a teenager, you think, oh my God, I’m going to be a designer! Then you hit the real world and you’re like, oh wait. Designers just have an office job and sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day. They do not have that exciting life that you think. So, I did that for a few years and when I started doing drag, it became my creative outlet. Working as a designer, I was just taking measurements, producing polos, and yelling at factories. I did not enjoy it at all. Drag was my creative outlet and my boss for my last job has a brother who is gay, so she was fully supportive of my drag. She was always loving and asking to see my latest looks and creations. It was amazing to have her support. I would come in the next day after doing a gig wearing eyeliner and she didn’t give me crap about it. When I realized that I enjoyed teaching, sewing, and fashion more instead of actually doing it, that is why I decided to go back to school and get my master’s.

You are hosting a seminar at the NSU Art Museum. Can you tell us a little more about that?

They reached out to me a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in speaking basically about creating a brand and being a business person, but also in the drag field and how, now thanks to show like RuPaul’s Drag Race and social media, something that was more of a hobby has become a profitable career for a lot of people. Whether you are on TV or not. They asked me if I could come and speak about my own personal experiences and about my own studio and about Wigwood and how it all came to be. I agreed and I am definitely excited. I don’t know what kind of questions are going to be asked, but I am very excited to talk about the whole process and journey. The person I envisioned Queef Latina being in the beginning and the person Queef Latina is now could not be any more different.

Have you hosted a lot of seminars and workshops before?

No. I participated in two panels before, but more about gender. I never had to talk about business or branding.

What is the number one lesson you hope audiences will take away from this workshop?

I want them to come out of there feeling not scared to follow their passion, no matter how weird it may come across, and how to not push down any ideas they might have just because they might not be conventional or traditional or conservative or whatever. Just go with the flow of life. I want them to make sure they understand that no matter how much you plan in life, at least this is true for me, no matter how much I planned my life or anticipated doing one thing, life just kind of took me in a different direction. By just accepting it and going with the flow and not trying to fight it, you find yourself in a place you didn’t expect, but a lot happier.

It sounds like fashion, sewing, and drag has been very rewarding for you.

Yes, very much so. Even like with the little odd jobs I’ve had over the years like working backstage for Chippendales and this and that jobs, I never thought the skills I was learning was going to come in handy. You never know how some little job is going to impact your future. I have had so many weird jobs and gigs, but I’m like okay, I need to make money. Before you know it, a few weeks ago I was working with Jennifer Lopez. I was her onset seamstress. Never in a million years did I ever imagine being in the same room with her. I never thought sewing could provide so many opportunities.

What celebrity would you love to work with?

Bad Bunny.

Have you ever auditioned for RuPaul’s Drag Race? If not, do you have any desire to?

No. I have never auditioned, and I never will. I don’t have any issue with the show. I watch every single episode. I am not one for competition. It’s the same reason why I never applied to Project Runway because I had an opportunity to be on that show, but I turned it down because I do not like pressure or stress. I do not like to be in that competitive environment. I like to watch it, but I don’t like to be in it. I don’t think I do well under pressure.

What else should we be on the lookout for from Queef Latina?

Wynwood Pride. This will be Wynwood’s first ever Pride and it’s happening in June 2019. I am helping them with all programming. It’s going to be really fun and I am very excited to be curating that. Also, I will be at Miami Beach Pride on April 7, 2019. I am working on a few other projects, but there are no defined end dates.

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