Sing out, Grag Queen! The 26-year-old Brazilian performer was the first winner of the drag singing competition Queen of the Universe (on Paramount+) and is moving on to new adventures. Having wowed with her rollicking “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and a rousing version of Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” Grag — born Gregory Mohd — has won kudos from fellow drag stars like Alaska Thunderf*ck (“Grag is one of the most technically skilled singers out there, but it’s her stage presence, sense of humor, and charisma that make her an absolute superstar”) and Trixie Mattel (“She’s a star before the song even starts, and then when she begins singing… it’s over, b*tch.”)
Grag recently released the five-song Desperta EP and is readying her first album in English, the first sampling being the single “Party Everyday” (which she co-wrote). The track has already been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube. Grag will also be represented on the Love, Victor soundtrack, coming soon, and is launching a tour of the U.K. and the U.S. this month. Not only can this queen turn it out onstage, but she is deeply political, especially in response to the raging queerphobia in her native country. I talked to Gregory/Grag about all of the above and then some.
Hello! Did you expect to win Queen of The Universe?
I actually didn’t. The most beautiful thing about this competition was never feeling that I was competing. I just had one mission, and that was having fun. “Girl, you gotta be enjoying what you’re doing.” Fun plus fun, plus more fun. The bitch got it done!
You did both upbeat and poignant numbers on the show.
That was my strategy. Showing everything I can do. Being a versatile artist.
In the process, you showed off both your upper and lower registers. Sort of your boy voice and your girl voice?
Yes, that was my double personality. But I don’t actually feel it’s a boy or girl thing. It’s a range. What I did on “Rise Up” was saying, “Girls, look what I can do.” It was on the “Rise Up” performance when my hands touched the money and the crown. I think it was the first time I felt I was competing. “Now I’m gonna eat! Now it’s dinner time! Bring it!” I always get emotional. I always cry when I see the performance. Singing “Rise Up,” it was taking the suffering of my people and saying, “We’re gonna rise up 1000 times up and look at me, look at what I’m winning!”
That’s inspiring. What will you do with the money you won on the show? Invest it in your career?
I’m doing that right now. You’re gonna see that the b*tch is really spending her money on her career, on video clips and costumes. The money is hers, and she’s wearing it! And in Brazil, costumes are expensive. Costumes, makeup, wigs with human hair. Girl, I’m a luxury crossdresser right now, not just a drag queen! (laughs)
We’re looking forward to your first English language album. Will the musical influences include genres you’ve previously tapped into, like pop, dance, reggae, and Brazilian?
Of course, mommy is cooking some things in English. Get ready to know a brand new Grag Queen. I’m bringing all my inspirations and putting it together with amazing songwriters like Leland (RuPaul) and Jesse Saint John.
What is the importance of drag entertainers in the world?
We’re so interesting. Imagine a pop diva that changes her hair and makeup every time they show up. I would love to have had a pop diva like that when I grew up. Now it’s a drag queen with brown hair, now with no hair, now with a mustache. We’re gonna be the new superstars of everything.
Do you respect drag queens who don’t sing live but only lip sync?
Of course I do. If they weren’t lip-syncing around the world, I would never have found out drag. I love drag, and I add my vocals. And I do lip sync too. I’d love to have a chance to show my lip sync. I’m really good at that and would love the world to see that one day. I do “Lady Marmalade,” “I Have Nothing.” I’m a Cancer, so I love being dramatic.
Your dramatic skills come into play when you get political about bigotry in Brazil. You’ve made a difference. But is it still awful there for queers?
It is still homophobic and transphobic. But I gotta say we’re getting somewhere. Being political and being a drag queen, it takes us somewhere. But it’s still extremely crazy being an artist and trying to change things for respect. People still get beaten up and killed on the street, and nobody talks about that. I take every opportunity to talk about it that I can. Trans people in Brazil are only expected to live till they’re 35 years old. When I talk to my trans friends, they really know it. And it’s not just killing, but cut in pieces — a religious symbol. It’s disgusting and crazy. In the same country, we have the most successful queer artist (drag singer/songwriter Pabllo Vittar) and also the most violent way to live.
With your varying textures, it seems like you’re showing the world that you can be a good-time gal yet also profoundly serious?
Do you think? (Laughs) I’m kidding. Of course, yes. Life is like this. I’m a winner in the art of being like a clown in serious places and serious in clown places.
Final question: Is there love in your life, or is it lonely at the top?
Grag Queen is my biggest love. Having a relationship with my drag queen makes me so full of jobs and interviews, and I’m dating her. Nightlife is a mess. I’m full of stuff to do. I don’t think somebody would take it, being part of the washing machine turbo power craziness that is my life. But since I love Grag Queen, I’m not dating, but I’m never alone.
Grag Queen is on tour throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. this summer, including RuPaul’s DragCon in Los Angeles, May 13-15.
Michael Musto is a longtime writer for the Village Voice and a well-known commentator on all things pop culture. He’s written four books, been named to the Out 100, and won eight Glam awards for Best Writer. His “Read Now, Cry Later” column appears on Queerty every month.