Nelson Rodriguez is a personal-friend and established drag star and award-winner of best Latina new-comer of South Beach. Rodriguez 34, of Cuban-Arabic heritage, has been in drag nightlife for 18 years and counting. He is kind to offer his time and other persona, Nelly Norell, during an interview.
“Learn to take criticism and be humble,” Nelly said.
In drag culture, usually one is appointed a mentor called a drag mother. The drag mother is cheerleader and educator for aspiring drag queens. They teach industry essential tips: hair, make-up, costume making, proper etiquette, and miscellaneous tips.
“My Mother’s name is Erika Norell. She is known and has a lot of crowns,” Nelly said. “I like to entertain people. I like to have fun, but, in competitions, you have to work within their rules,”
Ms. Nelly is referring to pageants, competitions that drag queens enter in aims of winning a crown. The purpose of winning is to secure notoriety and income- producing work. Most of the time, the drag queen’s employer will sponsor, or pay the entry fee in an effort to motivate employees and market their business.
“I stopped doing it because I saw a lot of things that were not right, you know what I mean,” Nelly said “Competitions are not fair. People pre-pay a premium to win.” Nelly attended one specific competition before, where she accidentally overheard staff members (non-judges) having a conversation about the identified winner already during the competition. Nelly was discouraged to continue participating in a “rigged” competition, so she walked out.
"You perform in different clubs and start making more than $100 because you have a crown. It’s discriminatory because you can have talent and not a crown, Nelly said “TP doesn’t need a crown to show people she has talent, to me is stupid-ness. I’m not against those who have crowns, but I find it a waste of time and money.”
Nelly debuted 18 years ago at club Ozone, where she sported a body-suit and loud-big hair. She imitated Thalia and lip-singed “Amor a la Mexicana.” It takes Nelly normally about half an hour for makeup and an additional forty minutes for hair.
Nelly’s tips for aspiring drag queens and admirers alike.
• Always be humble.
• Learn to take criticism the right way.
• Practice songs to explore inner talents.
• Don’t doubt yourself. People will put you down; ignore it.
• If it makes you feel good, do it.
• Practice your makeup and hair.
•“Nothing was built in a day, keep working on it til you get it” Nelly said.
• Love yourself.
Nelly is available to be devoured at the Latin-room on Wednesday Nights at Twist Night club, located at 1057 Washington Avenue. Miami Beach, FL.
Don't live in Miami Beach? dont freak out, she will make appearances at the new Eros lounge, 8201 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33138