Makeup Artist and Singer
Written and photographed by Andy Armano | www.AndyArmano.com
This series focuses on individuals who give to our community and make a positive impact on the lives of others. Often it is through our personal adversities that we discover who we are and transform the challenges into strength.
Charisma Adore is a makeup artist and singer. She has released five singles (some under the name Chris Dissario). In addition, Charisma has developed a dedicated following on social media for drag makeup. A teacher at Cosmix Makeup School of Artistry, Charisma is deeply engaged with developing new talent and nurturing open minds and hearts.
Andy Armano: I know you are a drag artist, makeup artist, and singer. Which came first?
Charisma Adore: Singing. As a kid, I have a vivid memory of being 12 years old watching American Idol. There was a moment when a contestant named Diana DeGarmo was performing her very last solo song before they announced the winner. All of a sudden there was this eruption energy and power from her that surged through me. And in that moment, I remember I looked at my dad and said, “I want to be a singer, and I want to do this for the rest of my life.” So, then from there I started singing as much as I possibly could to anyone who would listen.
AA: Was your family supportive?
CA: My dad was. He raised me right, and he showed me what love is and how to love someone else. He was a great guy. He was my best friend growing up.
AA: How has your drag helped you evolve creatively? What did you find out about yourself?
CA: Drag transformed my performing. I’ll be very honest, for a long time I didn’t want to do it because I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. I thought to myself, “No one’s ever going to take me seriously if I do drag.” But, one day I was asked to do the Pink Nail Society event at Georgie’s Alibi to raise money for prostate cancer by my friend, Steven. I had lost my dad to prostate cancer, so it came to me – it felt like my dad was telling me, “Hey, it’s time to get into it.” It was almost like the universe was telling me something and I needed to listen. So, I decided to listen.
AA; How was that first drag performance received?
CA: The reaction was so powerful. As I sang live in drag, it ignited something in me. I had that same feeling that I had when I had first watched Diana DeGarmo sing. From that day, I decided to really hone my craft and I decided to go to school for makeup. I now get to teach drag makeup, which is really exciting.
AA: What did you find out about yourself as a person when you began drag?
CA: Drag, for me, was very game changing because I’m not a very confident person in general, but when I put on drag I feel like it’s like armor. It feels like when a superhero puts on the cape and mask; they feel that strength and that power. That’s exactly how I feel. I feel like when I’m in drag no one can push me down.
AA: We all know social media drives the celebrity engine now, and we know beauty is huge on those platforms. When did you start developing your following on social media?
CA: My following did not start immediately for me. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I went on an app called Likee that I started actually getting significant attention. The very first day that I went on the app, I went live in full drag as Charisma, and I was singing for them. I got 59,000 likes on that day. And, I have been building it ever since. Currently, I have about 35,000 fans on the app that are constantly watching me. I have, I think, a little over a million views on the app as well, which is exciting.
AA: I know you and I have talked about what you get out of teaching at Cosmix. You are such a generous, giving spirit. Tell me a little about that.
CA: It’s so funny how teaching started because I wasn’t sure that I would like teaching, actually. But, I wanted to give it a shot. I had done little things here or there with teaching voice lessons. After I graduated from Cosmix Makeup School of Artistry, I had just randomly asked them one day, because we had chatted in the past about it, about me bringing a drag class; [nothing] official. Then after I graduated, I went to the CEO, Kathleen. I just asked her one day, “You know what? Remember we had chatted about a drag class. Would you be interested? She said, “Yeah.” We decided to do a trial run and see what would happen. We did the first class, which was only one day. All of a sudden it was just such a major success, but it wasn’t right away that I thought I was going to end up loving it. Now, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m absolutely in love with teaching them because these kids really, really want to learn. They really want to understand and be great at the craft. I think that the one thing that I bring to them, as one of my students, Sam, told me the other day that she really appreciates that I am my authentic self in front of them because when we’re doing class I’ll sing and dance. I just genuinely try to give them a very fun and unique experience when they’re with me. I feel like everyone learns so differently. Sometimes you just need a little bit of a reality check. You need a bit of calmness and comfort while you’re learning because it allows you to really excel. They did that. My last class that I just had did a photo shoot and everything. I was completely blown away. They were absolutely wonderful.
AA: Wow. It’s such an amazing thing to learn to live as your authentic self, and then for you to be passing that experience on to other people is really laudable. Speaking of being your authentic self, sometimes that is a struggle.
CA: There’s a reason that I’m working this hard, and there’s a reason that I was given all of this ability and gifts. I really think that I could also bring other people through with me, if that makes any sense.
AA: Yes, it does. I really admire how you want to lift others up. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.