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I, Drag Queen

Vinz Calvin Sagun can still remember how – as a child – he really wanted to be lady-like. So “nagdadamit ako ng kumot (I would turn blankets into dresses),” he said, and then – like some beauty queen – “kakaway nang ganyan-ganyan (I’d wave like this and that).”

Looking at where life took him, he said “may konek naman (there’s a connection).”

Because now Vinz is also known as Lumina Klum, a drag queen; and one of those who’ve been constantly carving a name in the local drag industry.

O, di ba, ngayon, nakakapagsuot na ako ng pambabae (Now, you see, I am able to wear clothes reserved for women),” he laughed.

THE BIRTH OF LUMINA

“I started doing drag out of curiosity,” Vinz said.

When a friend auditioned to do drag in one of the bars in Metro Manila, he thought: “Gusto ko ring i-try (I want to try it, too).”

He found work as a drag queen then, though “not that big yet.”

And then one of the pioneers of the drag show in O Bar saw Vinz and told him he wanted to take him in to mentor him, and so “‘yun na nga (that was that),” he said.

Since then, he has performed in O Bar and the now defunct The Library; as well as in events like the commercialized Pride festival.

Interestingly, the name Lumina did not come from Vinz himself.

Isa sa good friends ko… Nakita daw niya ako Starbucks sa Cubao. Tinext niya ako, sabi niya: ‘Lumina dapat ang name mo.’ Kasi pag nasisinagan daw, lumiliwanag daw ako (One of my good friends… He saw me in Starbucks in Cubao. He texted me, he said: ‘Lumina should be your name.’ Because when light shines on me, I sparkle),” he said. “So… okay.”

As a drag queen, “you should be able to connect with the people,” Vinz Sagun said. “Hindi puwedeng bumubuka lang ang bibig mo and yung tao walang reaksyon (It’s not enough to just lip sync and the people watching you couldn’t care less about you).”

DEALING WITH LUMINA

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At home, it was Vinz’s sister who first found out he does drag after seeing all his stuff in his room. She then told their mom, who just laughed.

“She said okay lang na mag-drag ako as long as di ako magpapabutas ng tenga (it’s okay to do drag as long as I don’t have my ears pierced),” Vinz smiled.

Vinz’s father passed away already, but he remembers him saying that “it’s okay for me to be gay as long as I don’t cross-dress,” he said. “I started doing drag a year after he died.”

THE LIFE OF LUMINA

Doing drag isn’t easy, Vinz admitted.

First, “you have to look good onstage.” This means spending on what you have since “kailangan mo ng magandang wigs, magandang make-up, magandang damit (you need nice wigs, good/quality make-up, good clothes).”

It helps if one has good skin “para kumapit ang make-up (for the make-up to work well),” he said.

Beyond the look, the drag queen also has to study – e.g. new songs, and old songs.

A drag queen also has to learn how to dance “para maganda ang presence mo sa stage (so you look good onstage).”

And more importantly, “you should be able to connect with the people,” Vinz said. “Hindi puwedeng bumubuka lang ang bibig mo and yung tao walang reaksyon (It’s not enough to just lip sync and the people watching you couldn’t care less about you).”

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A drag queen like Lumina earns “just enough”; maybe not from regular shifts but from sidelines.

The matriarchs of drag

FUTURE OF LUMINA

When he started doing drag at 23, Vinz told himself he’d stop when he reaches 30. But then he kept going, so that “I’ve worked in the drag industry longer than I did in the BPO industry,” he smiled.

He realized that one can make a career in this; like the Lola Divas who – already in their 60s – still call the stage their home. “Puwede pala (It can be done),” Vinz said.

For Vinz, the best thing in being a drag queen is “napapakita mo sa mga tao ang creativity mo (it allows you to show people your creativity),” he said. Not just with how a drag queen presents, but “how you encourage people to bring out the drag queens in them.”

In the end, “we all have drag queens in all of us, you just have to learn to bring your inner drag queen out,” Vinz ended.

Lumina Klum performs from Thursday to Saturday at Che’lu at the corner of Julio Nakpil and Ma. Orosa, Malate, City of Manila. The cover charge ranges from P100-P350.

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