Exclusive Interview with Grag Queen

Image via Maicon Doulglas Fotografia

If you were wowed by Grag Queen’s show-stopping performances of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” just imagine what else she has in store. The fierce Brazilian entertainer, who catapulted to superstardom last year after winning the debut season of Paramount+’s Queen of the Universe, is putting her platform to use and moving on to new adventures.

Signed to SB Music in Brazil, Grag – born Gregory Mohd – recently released her five-song Desperta EP and is currently working on an English-speaking album, with “You Betta” being the first sampling. Along with releasing new music, Grag appeared at RuPaul’s Drag Con earlier this month, is gearing up to launch her U.K. and U.S. tour, and will be featured on the upcoming Love, Victor soundtrack.

Additionally, Grag is a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ community in Brazil and is very well-aware of how many young people are afraid to come out and be their true selves. She hopes to use her newfound platform to combat the country’s raging queerphobia and be a beacon of light for many.

Instinct caught up with the newly crowned queen to talk more about competing and winning Queen of the Universe, her new music and projects, LGBTQ Pride, and more.

I would like to begin by talking more about competing on Queen of the Universe. How incredible was that experience for you, and what did you take away from it?

It was so unreal, and I’m still processing it in my mind. I went straight from the quarantine routine of being locked away in my room to being up on a global stage with 13 fierce other queens from around the world. I got to learn new ways to do drag, new perspectives, and I got the chance to showcase my talents to the world. That is amazing. Taking a chance to be a part of this platform is very, very hard. Then, of course, I took away my crown, my money, and I’m extremely happy to have this sisterhood with these girls. As well as everything else that comes with winning.

What was going through your mind when they announced that you won?

I was like, okay, you asked for this. Now you’re going to have it. Let the games begin (laughs).

What was the first thing you bought with the prize money?

A very expensive caramel wig that touches my ass. Very luxurious, crossdresser realness. This girl had just won the prize, so I think the first present ought to have been something for her.

Image via Rodolfo Magalhaes

What initially made you audition for the competition for Queen of the Universe?

The format of the show. You’ve got to sing, you’ve got to be pretty, you’ve got to speak English – I said, girl, this was made for me!

Out of all the judges, who were you hoping to impress the most?

Of course, Michelle Visage. She can be severe, but not in a bad way. You need to show her the love that you have for the gig, and that’s something I have. I really wanted to show her how much I could evolve through the love that I have for this art. Drag queen meets singing.

Have you always had a passion for singing and performing?

Yes. I don’t know where it comes from, but I just love it. I feel free. I am constantly building strategies to be somewhere performing and singing to people. It’s everything I have.

When and how did drag come into play with your art?

She just kind of came up on her own. With performing, you execute so many things together. Singing, dancing, tucking, lashes, makeup, giving interviews, and it’s like, girl, how many more things can you add? It’s kind of a circus number, and I think that’s kind of what drag is. It’s the grouping of everything that I love. It can also be political, and I think that is extremely important. I fell in love with drag for the art of transformation, and it helped me love myself and make me feel more confident.

At the end of 2021, you released a five-song EP entitled Desperta. How has it been received?

Here in Brazil, it has been extremely well received. That was something that I dropped before my newer singles “Party Everyday” and “Fim de Tarde,” but I released it while competing on Queen of the Universe, and they are messages full of despair. The pandemic and quarantine were very hard and disturbing, so I wanted to use my art to talk to people and say, there’s still time. If we’re here, it’s for a reason.

So, wake up, desperta, and come to life! The moment is going to come, so wait for it. I love giving my people hope because we have a freaking lack of that. We are taught to be losers and to not succeed, so I want to show them that it’s still worth it to dream.

What can you tell us about the English-speaking album you are currently preparing? Can you talk more about the concept and inspiration?

Image via Rodolfo Magalhaes

My inspiration is always myself because I really love to sing what I believe. The melodies just come from me. I’m writing and producing with some amazing people, like Leland, and I’m excited to work with them. They can see the good things in me, which makes me feel more confident. To talk about it and explore new sounds, types, and ways of making music, and adding English, the bubble is giant. It’s drag, pop, Brazilian, and Latin American. We’re trying to get the best of everything.

You also have a new song coming out for the Love, Victor soundtrack. How did that come about?

It came about because Leland, he’s also a producer on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Queen of the Universe, he is the music director of Love, Victor. I think he just showed me up to Disney, and they just loved it. We made up a song, and it’s fire!

You are also about to embark on a U.K. and U.S. tour. What can one always expect from a Grag Queen performance?

Charisma, good outfits, beautiful hair and makeup, and a little bit of skin. Don’t expect any padding. I’m from Brazil and it’s hot as hell, so you know I’m showing my real ass (laughs). When everything comes together, I am giving you the Brazilian Queen of the Universe!

Some of these performances are for Pride events. What does Pride personally mean to you?

I will be celebrating a lot of Prides being an openly proud gay, an openly proud drag queen, and an openly proud Brazilian artist. Celebrating this and being able to share the same stage as other amazing stars like Christina Aguilera, it makes me want to celebrate even more and show off just how proud I am to be who I am.

What is the importance and responsibility of being a drag entertainer?

I think nowadays, even though we are getting somewhere with our art, I think we still need to speak out about everything. Just because we are drag artists, we’re not just going to deliver simple things. I want to show my vocals and do everything with excellence, as well as show the children and teenagers that they can be whatever they want to be. I always try to emphasize that.

You have been using your newfound platform to raise awareness of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence in Brazil. How bad is it there?

It’s still very bad. We are still the country that kills the most LGBTQ people, and that’s crazy because it’s extremely big and people just don’t want to talk about it. We are under a very homophobic, transphobic, and racist government. People like this are getting empowered by this government, and it’s very bad living here.

Of course, we still have the Queen of the Universe. We have people like Pabllo Vittar, who is one of the biggest drag queens in the world. At the same time, this reality is happening, and I want to use my platform to speak out about this. People are getting killed just because of their beliefs and who they love. It’s crazy, but it’s happening.

Image via Maicon Doulglas Fotografia

What are some future goals you would like to achieve with your career?

I just want to keep making music and I would love to collaborate one day with people like RuPaul, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Anitta, Lizzo, Camila Cabello, and even Trixie Mattel and Michelle Visage. I think we can make some amazing things happen.

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