the rest is still unwritten

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fash'illz 2 x People Watch: Manila Luzon

It seems to me that a birthday blog pattern is forming. A year ago today, I posted a People Watch entry on a Filipino Drag Queen who was a contestant on RuPaul's Drag RaceONGINA. This year, again on my birthday, I am posting an entry on another Filipino Drag Queen who was also a contestant on RPDR's latest season. For this post, I've decided to do a series crossover between Fash'illz (fashion illustrations) and People Watch (people who have caught my eye for one reason or another). So without further ado, because she is fashionable, someone to watch and is inspiring in so many ways I present to you:

THE Asian Glamasorous!!!
Under the definition of the words vivacious, stunning, witty and outspoken, you will find a picture of this NYC glamazon.

Manila Luzon (né Karl Westerberg) was born in Minnesota to an American father of German/Swedish descent and a Filipino mother. Manila Luzon takes pride in her Filipino roots (Really?! With a name like Manila Luzon, I could never have guessed...). Her Asian inspiration takes form in many of her drag looks and comedy.

Kawaii! Harajuku realness.

Pinay and Proud.

With lesbian drag queen girlfriend: Sahara Davenport. Sahara competed on season 2 of RPDR. The two have been together for about 5 years now.

Jocks in Frocks: challenge was to transform heterosexual jocks into their drag sisters. Manila won, duh! Meet her sister, Fuschia - she's a true Luzon!

The First Lady of Drag.

Manila easily becomes an early favorite in the competition. In the first few challenges, her presence, sense of style, polish, grace and humor win over audiences and judges (particularly Michelle Visage) alike.

Not to mention this queen serves some serious face.

Christmas Couture Challenge: Desperate Housewife of the North Pole

Disco Diva: Now that's a 'fro.

Manila DeVil: category is FACE!

Along with a captivating runway presence, her signature style and hybrid type of drag (she mixes glamour, club kid, pageant, and camp) consistently landed her in the top three each week. She has been lauded for her ability to theme couture, see exhibits A to H:

Manila Luzon on Big Bird: "Big Bird was a tranny pumping home from the club with her pot-head lesbian fag hag, Snuffleupagus."

Stealing cookies from the nookie jar.

Drag Race Reunion Special: Goldfish gown complete with golden goldfish earrings and hair pieces.

Serving evil henchwoman realness!

Imelda Mark-Up: Million dollar gown, yep, Manila made that dress and hairpiece out of moola.

What's up doc? A look inspired by carrot cake.

The infamous pineapple dress. "That's a Tina Knowles original!"

Whatchu buzzing bout?! Yes, that outfit's made from hair, made by Manila.

The following look is what inspired my fashion illustration. It was for the Hair Extravaganza Challenge wherein they had to create 3 looks that featured distinct hairstyles. The look I chose was for the "Classic Era" portion wherein Manila Luzon decided to do a mix of 80's and 1800's.

Marie Antoinette meets Shaft!

Rock me Amadeus!

At the conclusion of the 3rd season, Manila Luzon finished as the runner-up. It was a tough finale as the judges had to decide between the high-fashion supermodel Raja (to be featured soon) and the incorrigible kookie all-arounder Manila. The decision could have gone either way as both queens were equally as fierce. Ultimately though, Raja was crowned as the Next Drag Superstar.

Manila Luzon, the self-dubbed Asian Glamasorous, in her own brand of quirky unapologetic humor, quips "I'm first runner-up. So if Raja dies of old age, then maybe I'll get the crown".

Manila Luzon awards herself the Blue Ribbon. How cheeky!

Manila's runway presentation for the season finale: "She gone and brought her own crown!"
A standout in her season, Manila Luzon is truly unforgettable. Perhaps one of her most unforgettable performances was during her lip synch against her friend Delta Work in the now legendary battle of "MacArthur Park".

Much like Ongina, Manila's fun, spunky and upbeat personality is what drew me in.

Filipina Fish: Manila Luzon and Ongina!!!
Her joie de vivre, her celebration of life and beauty add to what makes this queen truly magnetic. Manila speaks from a place of love. She is one of the brighter faces, and happier voices of the drag and LGBTQ community today. She is proof that hardship, pain and suffering are not always necessary in cultivating a strong sense of character. Instead, she is the result of a good life—a loving and supportive family. She speaks not only to individuals who are LGBTQ, but to our friends and families as well. Her experiences should inspire us, all of us, to inspire each other—mutual support, acceptance and growth. We should foster the creativity and uniqueness within each of us and each other. Because really, unless you are an absolute literal hermit with no human contact, life is a team effort, we absolutely cannot (and in reality do not) go it alone.

I am certain that as a member of the LGBTQ community Manila has had to battle it out at one point or another, but that is not what she focuses on, that is not what she’s about. She shows that it is possible to be different and beautiful and secure without having to be a Cinderella story.

Amongst the multitude of LGBTQ warriors who have fought their way into the mainstream, who have fought for their voices to be heard, who have fought and fought and fought stands this drag queen who is a testament of the opposite. She is the result of love. She is proof that from love and support and understanding, too, can come a fiercely sickening queen.

So keep an eye out for this fierce queen. Because as Miss RuPaul herself has predicted:

This Manila is gunna be a Thrilla'!


*NOTE: The video provided was simply recorded off of my computer screen, for full episodes and other fabulous extras, visit

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