By Lauryn Daniels and Clay Peters
Graphics by Nick Fore
The talent show presents students with a chance to show their peers something about themselves beyond what is seen throughout the halls each day. This year the crowd went wild when two students, Senior Anthony Penarejo and Sophomore MJ Dizonhit the stage oozing charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, giving the very first drag performance ever at Timberline. The Blazer sat down with these gentlemen to get details about everything from their pre-performance nerves to the story behind their drag alter egos. Read all about it:
Q: What inspired you both to do this wonderful performance?
MJ: Honestly, all the honor goes to Anthony. It was his idea, he came up with it. He just asked me if I’d be willing to work with him. I was so down!
Anthony: So it’s my senior year, and I really enjoyed the talent show for the three years I’ve watched it. I’ve always wanted to do something, like a dance, or some talent. At the time I was thinking of ideas, maybe some sort of choreography, or just anything to do with friends. Then I was scrolling through my YouTube recommended and it had drag race on it I started watching a drag race clips, and I thought ‘wait a second,’ ‘what if I did a drag routine?’
Q: How long have you both been doing drag? Was this the first time?
MJ: That was my first ever drag show, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing. So much adrenaline and thrill!
Anthony: My first full drag outfit, in a sense, was during homecoming spirit week. That Friday where there was red carpet [day], and for some reason I was just called to do a drag outfit. So I put on a ponytail extension, a businesswoman suit, and some heels.
Q: Tell us about your drag alter egos!
MJ: Her name is Jass Divine. I came up with the name in the stereotypical Drag Queen fashion. They say if you take the first name of your first pet and the street you grew up on and put it together, you have your drag name. So my dog’s first name was diva, and then I grew up on a street called Jasper Street. So, Jass Divine!
Anthony: Her name is Angel Rosas. The name went through a few phases, the early names were not good. But I when I found my true name it was also inspired by another drag queen and look up to, Plastique Tiara Oh yeah. She is amazing in and out of drag. I remember, again, I was looking through my recommended and there was an interview with her where she was talking about the inspiration for her drag name and how it was related to My Little Pony, and her childhood shows. So, I thought of Lilo and Stitch. In the TV show, they bring in experiment named Angel. For the last name, I really liked a flower name. I also wanted to relate to my Filipino heritage, so I took the word ‘rose,’ which in Tagalog is ‘rosas.’
Q: How did you feel leading up to this performance?
MJ: Leading up to it, I felt very anxious because I wasn’t sure what people had to say about me. I thought people were going to cuss me out. I’ve been called the ‘f’ word before, and I just felt really worried. But I had to learn to be confident. I just had to reassure myself that I have people that will support me no matter what I do. So that’s what really gave me the confidence to go out there.
Anthony: I was definitely very nervous, but at the same time I was very excited. It was a very big, mixed bag of feelings. I was just nervous for how people would react, if it would look good, but I really wanted to do it because I enjoy it.
Q: How do you feel about the preformance and people’s reaction to it?
MJ: So far I’ve been getting really positive feedback from a lot of people. The guys too, it was actually really surprising for me. It feels really good that people recognize me without all that makeup too. You can also hear people screaming my name and recognizing it was me [at the performance]. I haven’t heard anything negative lately, which is really good. I think I want to do it for years to come.
Anthony: The performance went really well. In practice it felt okay, but when we were out there, it felt amazing. The crowd was standing up and cheering us on, and it was fantastic. Having people yell at you and cheer you on as you strut your stuff is kind of, indescribable. Aside from the positives, there were a few people who didn’t like it as much, and that’s okay.
Q: Are you planning on pursuing drag in your futures?
MJ: Maybe not professional career yet. So far I see it as a fun hobby.
Anthony: Drag is a very expensive hobby. The price of good wigs and good outfits, some queens even make their own outfits, so you have to have knowledge in sewing. I definitely would want to pursue it, but it would take a lot of time, so it’d be a lowkey hobby that maybe I wouldn’t do 100% of the time.
Q: What do you have to say to any other aspiring drag queens at Timberline and abroad?
MJ: I would say it’s definitely scary at first to put on drag. I was definitely nervous that maybe I was gonna get backlash and people were going to come at me, call me out. I’d say it’s really worth it, just as long as you’re comfortable with who you are, and you’re willing to do that. I say go for it, because it’s a really fun experience to go up on stage and strut in heels.
Anthony: If you enjoy it, then definitely go for it. I didn’t know that I would enjoy drag at first. I’d always see people do drag, and they were amazing. There’s so much effort put into it, they’re so beautiful. So if you feel like you want to drag then don’t let anything stop you. Don’t let money or resources stop you, because if you work for it, and you really want it then you can get in to drag.