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The Next World Drag Queen Is Brazilian

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This month, Sao Paulo’s main avenue was packed with thousands of people dressed in the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag, drawn to a majestic figure on a trailer equipped with loudspeakers.

Seen from above, the scene could have been just one of many political rallies held at the same location by former President Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian far-right leader who once infamously declared that he Never Love a Gay Son.

(Though, to be fair, a giant rainbow flag would give the secret away.)

In fact, it was one of the largest pride parades in the world, and the man on top of the broadcast van was Phabullo Rodrigues da Silva, 30, the gay son of a working-class single mother in northern Brazil.

However, everyone in the crowd knew him as Pabllo Vittar, the 6-foot-2-inch drag queen. Sparkling Brazil football jersey and Ripped denim shorts — one of the greatest pop stars in this country of 203 million people.

“It’s so beautiful to see you in your yellow and green!” Pablo Vital shouted to the crowd, many of whom were dressed in fishnets and thongs. She called on revelers to wear the colors of the Brazilian flag and take it back from Bolsonaro’s right-wing movement. “Let’s dance!”

RuPaul may still Queen of Queensbut the heir to the global crown has arrived.

Over the past seven years, Pabllo Vittar has become, by some measures, the most successful drag queen in the world, with six studio albums (one gold, one platinum, and two double platinum), her own fashion collection with Adidas, a global ad campaign with Calvin Klein, and 1.8 billion streams.

She has toured the United States and Europe; performed at Lollapalooza and Coachella; performed with Madonna at her biggest concert; and sang at the United Nations for Queen Elizabeth’s birthday.

Pablo Vittar calls American drag queen pioneer RuPaul, 63, his inspiration, even though they have never met. RuPaul rejected any talk of competition. “I love and support @PablloVittar,” RuPaul said. Wrote on Twitter in 2022. “Shame on you malicious twitter trolls trying to create competition.”

Yet by modern internet standards, it’s hard to deny that Pablo Vital has begun to surpass her childhood idol. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, she has 36 million followers, three times as many as RuPaul.

In the process, Pabllo Vittar has become the face of Brazil’s LGBTQ paradox.

In addition to having all staff of break out Drag StarBrazil has adopted some of the world’s The broadest gay rightsSame-sex couples can marry and adopt children; transgender people can legally choose their gender; slurs against homosexuals are a crime; and so-called conversion therapy, which attempts to make homosexuals straight, is banned.

However, Brazil has also ranked One of the countries with the highest death rate Since 2008, more than 1,840 transgender people have been murdered in Brazil, more than double the rate in second-place Mexico. Transgender Europe Trackingan advocacy group. Brazil has Top ranking Per year Since the start of tracking.

“We never know when it’s going to be my friends, when it’s going to be my family, when it’s going to be me,” Pablo Vital said in an interview. “That’s my biggest goal in my career: to make sure young people don’t feel scared when they go out.”

Pablo Vittar is one of Brazil’s loudest gay voices, opposing the country’s right-wing movement, led by conservative Christian groups, which has made heteronormative views on gender, sexuality and marriage a central part of its political strategy.

Pablo Vital was a harsh critic of Bolsonaro during the 2022 election campaign. Make a formal complaint From the former president’s campaign Demand his removal From the Lollapalooza stage. Bolsonaro lost Left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Pablo Vital Lead singer at Lula’s inaugural concert.

“Being a drag queen on stage is a political act in itself,” Pablo Vital said. “I show the kids and mothers behind me that they can be like me, and not be afraid and not give up on themselves.”

For queer and transgender fans of Pabllo Vittar, she is a powerful source of inspiration.

“She gave us a sense of security,” said João Rabelo, 28, a public relations worker in the northern Brazilian city of Pablo Vittar. “Today I can walk easily on the street with my boyfriend without fear of death.”

Although the public often thinks that Pabllo Vittar dresses as a woman, the star lives as a man. Gender “is a social construct,” said Mr. Rodrigues da Silva (the star’s real name). “What matters most is how we feel inside. I feel like a boy, and when Pabllo Vittar appears, I don’t become a woman.”

She doesn’t mind pronouns – as long as she’s not wearing women’s clothes. “If I’m wearing women’s clothes, for God’s sake, I’ll use female pronouns,” she said.

In a way, this lifestyle has created two very different lives: Phabullo the man and Pablo the drag queen.

Fablo is a housebound person who lives with his mother, stepfather and sister in a mansion in a small city in central-western Brazil. When she played Pablo, she lived in a small apartment in São Paulo, the largest city in Latin America.

Fablo is shy and doesn’t like to talk about himself. Pablo is the opposite. “If that blonde was here, she would hit on you,” the star told me in an interview, not in cross-dressing, but talking about his alter ego. “She’s naughty. She’s naughty. And I’m not.”

Yes, he talks about his drag performances in the third person. “Because she’s really in the third person,” he says. “When I do something as Pabllo Vittar, it spills over into my life, and I’m shy and I hate it. I want to crawl into a hole.”

Born in Maranhão, Brazil’s poorest state, Mr. Rodríguez da Silva’s mother was a nurse technician. At age 5, he began seeking stage performances, starting in the church choir. “I just wanted to sing,” he said. “I wanted people to see me sing.”

Classmates teased him for being effeminate, he said, but his mother supported him. As a teenager, he sang on YouTube and in bars. Then, on his 18th birthday, at a Halloween party at a gay club, he tried cross-dressing.

“I’ve never experienced such a strong sense of freedom – being able to express what’s going on in my head,” he said.

Meanwhile, a video of him singing a Whitney Houston song went viral. Club owner Yan Hayashi and music producer Rodrigo Gorkyquickly saw the potential and began managing Mr. Rodrigues da Silva as Pabllo Vittar. (The name was a nod to a drag queen Mr. Rodrigues da Silva had known before.)

Pablo Vital soon got a gig as the lead singer for a band on a late-night variety show. She then started releasing music, and by 2017, her songs became number one in Brazil.

Pablo Vittar has become one of Brazil’s most watched singers, with her soaring voice, sophisticated dance moves and energetic performances. She has also gained an international following, mainly in the LGBTQ community, but is currently working on an album in English and Spanish.

Owen Mallon, a Chicago native and one of three agents for Pabllo Vittar, was tasked with finding a way to turn a Portuguese-speaking drag queen into an international box-office star. Yet he has been impressed by the audience response.

“Even though people didn’t understand English, they loved her and everything she stood for, and the show spoke for itself,” he said.

Her music ranges from pop to electronic to Brazilian, and her latest album covers the popular music of the north and northeast of Brazil where she grew up, including forró on accordion and tecnobrega on synthesizer.

After being interviewed as Mr. Rodrigues da Silva, she appeared a few hours later as Pabllo Vittar A charity concert in her native Maranhão state. The transformation process usually takes three hours. (Just like athletes collect free sneakers, she collected 200 wigs from london wig maker.

Wearing a tight top modeled after the Brazilian flag, a blonde wig, white boots, a miniskirt and a thong, her hairstylist used a fan to cool her bottom as she waited to take the stage with a group of male dancers in the sweltering Brazilian heat.

“This is my favorite place,” she said. Then she strutted onto the stage The crowd cheered.



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