A talk about divas and the art of cross-dressing with Sharonne, the latest winner of Drag Race Spain

Classic and modern… Sharonne (Buendía Estudios)

First, congratulations on your big win. doWhat does this coronation mean after so many years of work?

-Thank you very much. Well… it’s a great joy, a true personal achievement. Because those of us who have dedicated our lives to drag and cross-dressing know that it is a discipline that was always considered second class. So this is an icing on a cake that has ingredients such as effort, work, tenacity, desire, preparation. It is an injection of energy since I can say that, despite being 46 years old, putting myself to the test as I have done in the program, I gave everything with what was put before me, so to live life and enjoy the work that I like so much. This has reached many more people, but it is not the end of the road.

When they announced that you were the winner, did you remember any person in particular that had marked your training?

—Look, I started studying theater at the age of 14 in a small school where I lived. So I must admit that I was lucky to have great theater teachers who were the ones who helped me. The cross-dressing thing came a little later, because at that school they used to invite significant people from the world of culture to give talks, such as theater directors, film actors, and even cross-dressers who were performing at El Paralelo in Barcelona at that time. . I remember that some of the transformists of the moment came. Today the “impersonator” is not so much, that is, the typical artist who imitates Marlene Dietrich, for example. There is not so much imitation. And that is something that has always fascinated me. At that time, a Pirondello came who was a drag queen who did Dietrich, Edith Piaf and gave us a very interesting talk. Over time I met Angel Pavlovsky, an Argentine who settled in Barcelona and became Catalan for life, and I went to see his shows on several occasions because he is someone I learned from just by sitting in an armchair. So even though there was no one specific person who helped me in my career, many people who spoke to me, taught me, or who acted on stage served as teachers.

Solés make a lot of emphasis on how hard this profession is.

—Note that I started in smaller venues, with less glamor or with less budget for changing rooms, but I consider them just as important because they have given me the tables, and what in some way has shaped me to be who I am today. If I have to criticize something about those spaces, it is that many times the owners want to take advantage of the artist. And unfortunately there are artists who survive doing their work. So I don’t think it’s bad at all to act with few costumes or with less budget or for a small audience. That seems wonderful to me. What would seem much more wonderful to me is that there is support for these artists so that they can dedicate themselves to it, eat and live. Because there are still artists who end up not living but surviving, and that’s difficult. Just as we find actors who have an agreement when it comes to working, well, perhaps it would be nice if the world of drag had its own. It is somewhat complicated but necessary.

How much legacy is there in your art?

-Very much. Look, there is something that was not very fashionable in Spain and now it is again: drag houses. The groups of drag artists who lean on their mothers and learn and evolve. I didn’t have a reference from my mother, but I had a reference from music, movies and television. I always vindicate those references because I learned by watching Bette Midler movies or watching series like “The Golden Girls” or Angela Lansbury. Also listening to Aretha Franklin or Mahalia Jackson. A little of everything that could be accessed, because it was another time, not like now that everything is immediate and you go on the internet, put any reference and you get videos, movies, memes, songs, absolutely everything. At that time it was difficult because you had to move, go to the record store, ask, find out who that artist was, if you could ask for their record, or maybe you were lucky and saw a program on television where that artist performed, see how he moved, how he dressed. For me all this is my reference, because it is where I have learned.

The Spanish adaptation of the mega-popular talent show RuPaul's Drag Race has been a hit from the start.
The Spanish adaptation of the mega-popular talent show RuPaul’s Drag Race has been a hit from the start.

In a final episode of the season, a joke was made about remaining “the whore, the weird, the fat and the old”. At forty-six years old, are you “the old lady”? How can that be?

-I do not feel old at all because age is in the head, but it is true that I was one of the oldest and that I have been the oldest winner of the entire franchise. That, within a world of cross-dressing and drag where youth is a rising value -and it is very good that this is the case, since we have to listen to the young people who arrive and who arrive with enthusiasm-, it is logical that given the difference of age see you as “the old one”. Logically, I take it with humor, especially knowing that if I dedicate myself to this and I have no humor, I’m on the wrong path. For me it is not a problem. I take it as a compliment; there are young people who tell meI hope when I get to your age I can be like you!. That is very beautiful.

This learning is a back and forth, right?

-Of course. We learn from the younger generations who come with new proposals, and many of them want to listen to the older ones tell how our path has been. Hence, in my coronation speech I wanted to thank all those who have preceded us, because they have opened the way and we should never be forgotten. Because they have been there, fighting not only for a better future for our artists but also for the rights of our LGBT+ collective. Because you have to be on a constant war footing so that people don’t forget that we all have to have the same rights. So back to your question, none of us who were in that episode were bothered by the age joke and whatnot. Facing the public there are things that are not said, but in a small committee no one interrupted us and we said what we wanted as if we were four friends together. Therein also lies the success of this format in which they allow us to be who we are.

It is our form of humor.

-Also.

You imitated several “Almodóvar girls” this season like Veronica Forqué and Marisa Paredes, what does Pedro mean in your career and in your life?

-It has been very important. Because I dedicated my crown to the women in my life, who are my sisters and my mother, and Almodovar has always had a very rich personal feminine universe in his films. The world needs women yes or yes, and trans women, and non-binary. I think you have to be a feminist and I think being a feminist is defending the rights of everyone. It is very necessary. And in that sense, Almodovar has told me stories that I have lived in a very close way; her cinema has penetrated me. Her characters have had such a great meaning that I could say that watching an Almodovar film I have also learned as I have done watching La Pavlovsky’s shows.

And what happens now? How do you face the demand that is experienced after winning a contest as popular as Drag Race Spain?

—I could tell you that I will face whatever comes with common sense. We will go as far as it can go, and as far as it cannot, no. For now I’ve had time to do dozens of interviews, photos, live talks and many activities, but this week I’m already starting the rehearsals for the “Grand Hotel de las Reinas” and logically I’ll stop all that because I can’t bend over and be two people. At the moment there is no pressure. Today, for example, I was making some videos, and then I had two interviews, and it was five in the afternoon and I noticed that I needed to eat. I told them directly Look, we’ll do these videos another time, because I need to eat. I just needed to eat. I don’t want to demand more of myself than a person can do in their day to day.

And what would you like to do from now on?

—I want to have time to study, rest and work. Like I told you, with common sense. We cannot cover everything. This year my colleagues and I have it covered with the tour, even with many more cities and that we will reach the end of the year performing. “Queens to the rescue” is also coming, that wonderful format that allows us to travel to rural Spain to meet the rural LGBT+ community, which also exists and from which we learned a lot, with great stories to tell the world. At the moment I’m not getting much further. We learned with the pandemic that it is better not to program too much, but what comes out we will see.

Sharonne often imitates great divas like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe (Buendía Estudios).
Sharonne often imitates great divas like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe (Buendía Estudios).

Will you cross to Latin America?

-I’d love to. I receive many messages from Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, from many countries. It is such a beautiful continent and what I have done has permeated so much, which is something that I would love. Either with Drag Race or with my show that I was doing until I entered the contest. As I was telling you, my references come from the cinema, television and theater, so the show I offer is called Big Stars Show and It’s with a life-size projection screen that I go in and out of black-and-white movies, TV shows, concerts, and make a case for mid-century film and music, then I do singing duets with Marilyn. Monroe, with Judy Garland, and is a constant projection of good vibes.

You could carry it perfectly then.

—Sure, because it’s a show in which I need a projection screen, a microphone and a technician, or two, and me. Nothing more. It is quite simple. In fact, before entering Drag Race I was doing my concerts singing the songs that had inspired me from the divas in my life, and I moved around with that. And it would be wonderful to be able to take it to Latin America because we also share a cultural meeting point and I have many personal stories.

Can you count any?

-It is that I was in Argentina almost a month in 2006, when we traveled to make the presentation of the Hotel Axel at that time. We were in several television programs and it was a beautiful trip and a unique experience. So I would love to repeat it. I am very close friends with Daniel Busato, whom I met on that trip when he was with Caviar doing a show called congas, and I thought it was wonderful. With Dani we are sisters! She has now been in Sitges for several years working and succeeding. From then on we became friends and when she came to Spain we became intimate. We have conversations in which everything unites us. For me it is a reference. Especially because of his professionalism. She is the best Marilyn ever. We’re so connected that when we got into Drag Race, we couldn’t tell anyone we got in, but sometimes you need a little help getting ready. So lastly, almost going in, I told her that I needed a Marilyn wig, because I wanted her wig to use in the makeover challenge if she came. And Dani, who is so good, told me: Why didn’t you tell me before? I would have helped you more. But we couldn’t say anything! So the wig I’m wearing by designer Petro Valverde is Dani’s, and he also had all the symbology of having something with me from such a dear friend.

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