LARUICCI X PAPER MAGAZINE
The Brooklyn drag scene celebrates every aspect of the fashion industry — hair, makeup, nails, styling, performance and more — without sacrificing authenticity. This genuineness is what pulled local performer Missleidy Rodrigez (AKA Jimi Urquiaga) from her fashion funk after working for more than 10 years as a stylist and creative director in New York.
"After a decade in the fashion industry, I grew tired of the same old generic editorial stories and I wasn't feeling fulfilled artistically,” Missleidy tells PAPER. “Fashion was so stale, structured and full of politics that it took out all of the fun of creating. It wasn’t what made me fall in love with it back in 2008.”
Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and thinking, I think I could do that, pulled Missleidy into the world of drag and, through that, back into fashion. “[The drag community] encourages everyone to come into their own unique perspective on all the facets of fashion,” she says, and Brooklyn is where she found all the refreshing takes she'd been looking for.
Brooklyn drag icons taught her how to showcase her art “boldly, fearlessly and unapologetically,” Missleidy notes, specifically crediting icons such as Merrie Cherry, Horrorchata, Charlene Incarnate, Tyler Ashley, untitled queen, Maddelyn Hatter and Alotta Mcgriddles for being sources of inspiration when she first started drag.
These performers paved the way for a new generation, carving out “space for us to be free and create without boundaries,” Missleidy says, naming Chiquitita, Junior Mintt, Rify Royalty, La Zavaleta, Klondyke, West Dakota, Jenn D Role, Patti Spliff, Julie J, Mthrtrsa and countless others. Serena Tea’s 2022 book, Centerfold, jumps out to Missleidy as a prime example of their creative capabilities.
Events like Madd Mondays, DRAGnet, Bitch Fest, Sad Songs, Oops, hole pics, in living color, Takes The Cake, Switch n' Play, Sylvester and — the event of all events — Bushwig, meanwhile, have become homes to New York’s queer community. “These are all different and have their own identity, but a common thread that ties them together is community,” Missleidy says. “The power that emanates when we come together and move as one is undeniable.”
Now that she's back into designing and creating visuals for herself, Missleidy decided she needed to create something bigger — a project where she could bring her community along with her for the journey of rediscovering the beautiful intersections of fashion and drag.
So she invited dozens of New York's finest drag performers and production icons to craft a photo series for PAPER that showcased NYC drag excellence in its scope and influence. “I want [this project] to be a time capsule that archives where we are in regards to hair, makeup and fashion at this specific moment.,” she says. “I want to celebrate the power and magnetism of each of these entertainers.”
Most importantly, as Missleidy notes, drag “isn’t only a form of self-expression — it’s art, it’s political and, in its truest form, it’s love.”
In light of the continued wave of anti-trans and anti-drag legislation throughout the US, PAPER encourages readers to donate to grassroots organizations like the Trans Formations Project through the month of April, when we’ll be rolling out Missleidy’s project in parts, right here.
Photography and director: Luke Dickey
Stylist, creative director, producer and casting director: Jimi Urquiaga
Set design: Anthony Morfa
Styling and production assistant: Chancey Bridges
Location: Noah Fecks Studio
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