Jun 16, 2013

[Pink Scene] Know Your Oh Divas - Bernie

One of the things that I love the most about drag queen culture is that there is no one "right" way to be a drag queen. In the same way that the LGBT community has enough color to make up any number of rainbows, so does drag culture include a wide variety of queens. You have pageant queens and comedy queens and you have those queens whose sheer physicality is beyond reproach. And the Oh Divas of O Bar Ortigas certainly demonstrate quite a wide range of those different types of queens.

I don't quite know how to classify Bernie - one moment she can be soft and feminine and the next she's an intensely fierce performer. She can strut with grace and charm and then shift into some pretty wicked dance moves. And that transition between the different aspects of Bernie is totally seamless - thus she always leaves the audience guessing as to what she's going to do on stage next.

This week's Know Your Oh Divas feature interview is the one and only Bernie!

One name only - (Bernie) po ung tunay kong pangalan. Hindi po ako gumagamit ng screen name - pero ang tawag saking ng mga nakakakilala sa'kin is NICKI. (Bernie is my real name. I don't use a screen name - but those who know me call me NICKI).

How did you get started in drag? - Nag start ako sa pagiging drag queen sa PLANET XANADU. Back-up dancer lang po ako dun, then nakitaan ako ng putensyal ng OIC ng bar na si Genesis Galios na mag-diva -  hanggang sa nakilala ko na si Miss EVA PAPAYA. Sinama nya ako sa isang event sa Market Market, doon na ako nag-disisyon na karirin ko na ung ganitong trabaho. Hanggang naka pasok na ko sa mga comedy bar like Sitcom Comedy Bar sa Las Piñas, then O Bar, then The Library. (I started as a drag queen at PLANET XANADU. I was just a back-up dancer there, then I met Miss EVA PAPAYA. She brought me along to an event at Market Market, and it was there that I decided to make this a career. Eventually I got into different comedy bars like Sitcom Comedy Bar in Las Piñas, the O Bar, then The Library).

How did you get started at O Bar? - Pinapunta ako ni Miss EVA PAPAYA sa O BAR MALATE. Pinag-set nya ako nung nagustuhan naman ako ng may-ari si Daddy Non. Tinawag ako ni Daddy Mon habang nag-peperform ako - sabi nya kung wala akong set ng Tuesday, mag regular Tuesday ako. Yun ang una kong schedule sa O Bar Malate. (Miss EVA PAPAYA made me go to O BAR MALATE. She had me perform a set and the owner, Daddy Mon, liked it. Daddy Mon called me during the performance and told me that if I didn't have other gigs on Tuesdays, then I should perform regularly on Tuesdays there. That was my first schedule at O Bar Malate.)

What do you love most about performing in drag? - Love ko make-up, dresses, gowns, costumes, and higit sa lahat mga shoes! I love wearing heels! And masaya ako sa ginagawa ko kasi gusto ko ung ginagawa ko. And mahal ko trabaho ko - happy ako pag-happy yung mga nanonood sa'kin. (I love the make-up, dresses, gowns, costumes and most of all the shoes! I love wearing heels! And I'm happy with what I do because I lenjoy what I do. I love my job - I'm happy when I make my audience happy.)

What is your biggest challenge as a drag queen? - Na-chachallenge ako sa pag-gawa ng creative costumes and wigs - nahihirapan talaga ako. And sa mga sinusundan kong number na matataas - dun ako na-chachallenge. (What challenges me is making creative costumes and wigs - it's really difficult. And for those high energy numbers that I perform - those challenge me, too.)

What are some of the misunderstandings among drag queens? - Maling bagay na ginawa o ginagawa sa'kin ng tao siguro yung kinukumpara ako sa ibang drag queen and yung pagiging-judgemental nila. (Some of the mistakes done against me are probably those times when people compare me to other drag queens and when they're judgemental.)

Who is your biggest celebrity inspiration? - Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

Has performing in drag taught you anything about yourself? - Marami din naman akong na-pundar sa ganitong work and hindi na ko mahiyain katulad ng dati. Natuto ako makisalamuha sa mga tao. (I've done a lot to establish myself in this career and I'm not as shy as I used to be. I've learned to get along with people more.)

What has been your favorite moment in your drag career? - Favorite moment ko sa career ko - siguro yung marami akong napapasayang tao at maraming natutuwa sa'kin pag nag-peperform ako, kahit 4 years palang ako sa ganitong trabaho. (My favorite moment in my career - probably whenever I make a lot of people happy and entertain a lot of people while I perform, even if I've only been performing in this industry for only 4 years.)

What is your message to the drag queen hopefuls who want to get started in the art? - Mahalin natin trabaho natin, be humble, at higit sa lahat maging creative sa lahat ng bagay. (Love this job, be humble and above all, be creative in everything you do.)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the ever fierce and fabulous Bernie. A drag queen whose performances speak volumes more than any interview can capture. And should you want to pay homage to this particular drag queen, then you best visit O Bar Ortigas on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays!
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