By Daiva Repeckaite
As he entered the small lecture room as Moises, intrigued eyes of makeup students followed him in anticipation; for he would soon share with them valuable secrets of drag makeover.
“Men who dress as women use cosmetics as a transformational tool. It takes a lot of makeup and skill to turn an ordinary guy into a glamorous diva,” his lecture slides proclaimed.
As he spoke, students opened their cosmetics cases and began to size up their volunteer models in order to practice what Moises preached.
The Malta-based drag queen and make up artist Lakesiss, who hosted Malta Pride 2017, is named after the Greek goddess of destiny Lachesis, who controls the thread of human destiny.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment this unassuming, cheerful, chatty guy, transforms into the glamorous goddess known as Lakesiss.
At what stage in his cosmetic transformation does Moises’s exotic and larger-than-life alter-ego take over?
During one such transformation, Moises spoke to aMuseZine’s Daiva Repeckaite about his experiences during Malta Pride 2017 and his life as one of Malta’s best drag queens.
D: We had a chance to see your different outfits at Malta Pride recently. What was it like for you?
M: It’s not the first time I’ve taken part in Malta Pride, but this one was the best experience. It’s a bigger event every year. In the past it was very small and concentrated with very few people. This year the event was huge. I was contacted to be the host of the Pride. I was taking part in the floats, dance, I had three different costumes. After that I prepared my own show. Finally, I had to host the afterparty and change outfits again. It was a long day for me but it was very exciting.
D: How do you build each character that you are on stage?
M: There are many types of characters in drag. Some are more ladylike, others prefer cabaret, funny or extravagant styles. Back in Panama, where I come from, I was using big costumes, big accessories, big wigs – extravaganza. When I moved to Malta and started performing in a gay club, I realised that the crowd sees me every week. At the time my friend and I were the only drag queens, and the audience would get bored with the same outfits. So, it was a challenge to change every week, to appear sometimes ladylike, sometimes like a showgirl. I became a chameleon.
D: When exactly does the transformation happen?
M: It happens step by step. When I start applying make-up, I am already starting to change. Everything is on my mind before I plan it. I make faces in the mirror to start feeling the change and my voice changes.
D: What was it like being a drag queen in Panama? I’m afraid I don’t know much about it.
M: Yes, few people knew anything about Panama until they heard about the Panama Papers. It’s a nice country with nice people, as we say, the heart of the world. Every week we had drag productions and beauty pageants – the Queen of the Club, Miss Universe Gay Panama, Three Crowns, best bodies and so on. In beauty pageants outfits are more ladylike. What I do is different.
D: You’ve been in Malta for 11 years – before the country opened up to this kind of expression. What brought you here?
M: A friend of mine, who used to dance with me at the school academy, had a friend living in Malta, who wanted to open a business with his Maltese girlfriend. She had gay friends in Malta. My friend, the intermediary, was a gay dancer. So, the Panamanian friend in Malta told him about his plans to open a gay club in Malta. This was in 2006. We came here, two drag performers and two dancers. At the time I only knew how to create costumes, but not hairstyle or makeup. The other drag queen was good at those and we tried to help each other. In Panama, when you perform, you have stylists for everything, and designers.
D: It’s fascinating that you progressed from a beginner to an esteemed and recognised makeup artist here in Malta.
M: In the beginning the other guy used to do my make-up, but he didn’t stay. I was lucky, I applied for a permit and received it. I planned to stay for only six months, but here I am. The club owners wanted me to stay, because they trusted me. In 2015, I got married and now live in Malta with my Spanish husband. Settling here was a big change for me, first of all because I came to Europe. At the age of 21, I moved to a foreign country, and I didn’t speak English. It was a challenge.
D: Never thought of moving somewhere else?
M: I have performed in Spain and in Amsterdam. In Spain it was more in the gay scene, go-go drag, hosting, parties, animation for gay parties and so on. In Amsterdam I went to represent Malta in a gay pride drag competition in 2009. To my surprise, I won.
D: It must have been very different from Malta.
M: At the time the Maltese gay scene was very small. The Klozet Club, which I started in, was very new and fresh. We used to work as a team and had thematic parties each week – Chinese, African, movie-inspired, etc. We decorated the club according to the theme and in the beginning the club did not charge entrance. For people in Malta it was unexpected.
D: Now you also share your knowledge with Maltese make-up artists in training. How do you feel about it?
M: I have a course at a makeup school called Makeup For Stage. I show it to them on myself, change from one person to other. I give them 200%. It makes me happy to see the final result. Some of my students have already qualified. When I have too many requests, I refer them, or hire them as assistants.
D: What is your best advice to your students?
M: To believe it is my best advice. When you transform yourself, you’re another person, you’re not the same. You see me as one person, you see me as Moises, and as a man I don’t even wear makeup in everyday life. If you saw me with makeup in daily life, it wouldn’t be a big change in drag. But when you transform yourself and you separate your daily life and transformation, you have to believe it.
To find out more about Lakesiss, go to https://www.facebook.com/lakesiss.dragqueen?fref=ts
For more from Daiva Repeckaite, visit her blog at http://www.daivarepeckaite.com/en/